First round playoff predictions

Who doesn't like a good playoff prediction blog? I don't have a crystal ball or the ability to see into the future so this is my best educated guess as to who will advance to the second round and who won't. But then again, even the professionals who get paid big $$ to make these predictions are in the same boat, so whether it's me or, say, Craig Button who makes the predictions, we're both in the same boat. Neither of us can predict the future, these are simply our best guesses. We'll see who's right.
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages
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This is a battle that IMO will be one of the shortest series of the playoffs. The Canuck's top six have been rolling for so long that Elias Lindholm and Conor Garland were playing on the third line at the end of the regular season. That's nuts having that kind of depth in the forward group.

Having a superstar anchoring the D corps in Quinn Hughes doesn't hurt either. 34 year old Tyler Myers decided to finally start earning his $6 million paycheque as well by putting up 29 points and a +16, both marks a career renaissance for him. I guess it helps when the team around is overall better. Add in Quinn's partner Filip Hronek who put up 48 points and a +33 in the regular season, with Carson Soucy partnering with Myers to help take some of the defensive load off and this is a formidable front four on D.

Add in the fact that Thatcher Demko is healthy enough to play in the playoffs now and the Canucks will be a formidable opponent, at least in the short term. The Canucks are a weird franchise - their pattern throughout their existence is to catch fire for one season, then disappear for a decade or more, then catch fire for another season, disappear again, and so on. Personally, I don't think the Canucks have enough playoff experience to win the Cup this year but they should be able to at least advance past the first round.

Nashville is a solid enough team but they just won't have the horses to be able to compete with Vancouver. Four players - namely Filip Forsberg, Ryan O'Reilly, Roman Josi, and Jusse Saros - will make things interesting for them but beyond those four I don't think the Preds can compete with the Canucks.

My winner - Canucks win 4-0


These two teams are fairly evenly matched on paper. Winnipeg has the more unheralded roster, but the numbers don't lie. The Avs have Cale Makar who put up 90 points in the regular season but the Jets have Josh Morrisey who put up 69 (giggity) points. The Jets don't have an answer for Mckinnon or Rantanen but there's less of a dropoff between top scorer Mark Schiefele and the rest of the pack, so the Jets have the more balanced roster, although the Avs are hardly slouches in their top six. The Jets knew they had trouble scoring in the regular season so at the trade deadline they made two good moves to narrow the gap by trading for Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli, both of whom stepped up for the Jets.

Where the difference will come in, however, is in net and healthwise. Avs starter Alexandar Georgiev faltered in the regular season and is thus coming into the playoffs on a low point. His backup is 24-year-old Justus Annunen, who has but a mere 18 NHL games over three seasons under his belt and none in the playoffs. He's done very well this season albeit in limited sample size, leaving head coach Jared Bednar with having to make a ballsy decision to throw Annunen to the wolves if Georgiev doesn't recapture his .914 sv% ways from last year's playoffs. a

Countering for the Jets will be one of the league's best goalies in Connor Hellebuyck, who will use this year to atone for a poor performance in last year's playoffs for the Jets - or so the team is hoping, anyway.

As far as injuries, the Jets are coming into this one almost 100% healthy, while the Avs are limping into the playoffs, missing key forwards in Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Drouin, blueliner Samuel Girard will be a game-time decision, while goalie Pavel Francouz is calling it a career due to injuries.

This is a tough series to call since both teams match up fairly well, but largely due to the injuries inflicting the Avs, I'm calling this one for the Jets.

My winner - Jets win 4-3

Golden Knights-Stars

This is another series that will be determined by health. Specifically, the health of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights ended the season barely grabbing the last wildcard spot limping into the playoffs. They are a good team when healthy but they just don't have the horses to be healthy this season, effectively ending any chance of a Cup win repeat. Mark Stone, Anthony Mantha, and Alex Pietrangelo are all listed as game-time decisions for the Knights. Even having one of those players out for any length of time is a knockout blow for them - not to mention when they come back they will need time to get back up to speed, especially Pietrangelo and Stone who have been injured more than anyone. The fact that Mark Stone is magically healthy enough to skate with the team after the regular season and the salary cap ends is sketchy but not against the rules. Also, somehow Chandler Stephenson is still listed as day-to-day but also on the roster at the same time....not sure what's happening there.

Dallas, on the other hand, is coming into this series 100% healthy, no injuries on their roster at all.

These are both two good evenly matched teams and it will be a tough one to call but I'm picking Dallas because they have all their weapons intact, while Vegas.....not so much. They'll make it interesting but Dallas will be victorious IMO.

My winner - Stars win 4-3