Golden Knights Playoff Preview
Photo Credit: NHL

First Round NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions


“August Madness” has wrapped up and it is on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Five and six games most days, thirteen plus hours of hockey, and wild finishes.  How could you not love what the National Hockey League has put together?



Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions     
Photo Credit: San Diego Union-Tribune

I guess if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins or Edmonton Oilers, you are not happy with how things played out. But if you support the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadians, …you love it! The NHL’s plan to play out the season is not perfect by any means, but they did the best they could with what they had to work with.

I think it was a blessing in disguise that Vegas was not chosen as a hub city. How well did that work out for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers? There must be something deflating about playing in your barn with no fans.



Before we get into my round by round predictions, let us take a moment to see how I did for each play in series.



#5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens – Prediction – Montreal over Pittsburgh in five Games
Carey Price
did what everyone expected him to do, and he got support from his teammates. Pittsburgh looked flat and are looking for tee times as a result.


#6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. #11 New York Rangers – Prediction – New York over Carolina in four games
Now and then, you close your eyes and swing as hard as you can. Most of the time, you miss the ball completely, and then there is that one time you crank one out of the park. I swung and missed on three straight pitches. Carolina looked great and outclassed the Rangers. They’ll
be a tough out moving forward.


#7 New York Islanders vs. #10 Florida Panthers – Prediction – New York over Florida in five games
This was a very intriguing matchup; I thought the designated home team would win each game because of having last change. Florida just could not keep up.


#8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets – Prediction – Toronto over Columbus in three games
Easily the most entertaining series of the qualifiers. Only series to go five games. No lead was safe with multiple overtime games. Columbus earned this one, and Toronto has another year of disappointment that the media will grill them about.


#5 Edmonton Oilers vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks – Prediction – Chicago over Edmonton in four games
This was the most entertaining matchup in the West—lots of scoring and plenty of skill on display. When the game was on the line, Corey Crawford stepped up and reminded the hockey world that he is a two- time Stanley Cup Champion. If Crawford can continue to play at the same level as he did in the third period of game four against Edmonton, Vegas will have their hands full.


#6 Nashville Predators vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes – Prediction – Arizona over Nashville in four games
Sometimes a hunch pays off. Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel earned their keep, and Arizona got solid goaltending from Darcy Kuemper. Do not sleep on the Coyotes against the Avalanche.


#7 Vancouver Canucks vs. #10 Minnesota Wild – Prediction – Vancouver over Minnesota in three Games
It was a standard Minnesota Wild year in the sense that they dropped the first-round series. Minnesota won via shutout in game one, however in true Minnesota fashion, they lost the next three. The jury is out as to how competitive Vancouver will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


#8 Calgary Flames vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets Prediction – Winnipeg over Calgary in four games
played well, and Winnipeg was not able to overcome their injuries. This ended up being the most lopsided matchup in the West, and Calgary will have a much tougher road ahead. 


Now for my predictions for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Western Conference


#1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks


Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions     
Photo Credit: Second City Hockey

I grew up a Chicago Blackhawks fan and have fallen in love with the Vegas Golden Knights. I support VGK first and foremost, but this one will also be tough to watch. The teams rank equal in offensive skill; it would be like splitting hairs to determine which team has more offensive firepower. Defense and goaltending will determine which team advances. Corey Crawford played great in game four against Edmonton, and he will have to play at that level every game against Vegas for Chicago to have a shot.  Chicago, you will always place in my heart, but Vegas advances.
Prediction – Vegas over Chicago in six games


#2 Colorado Avalanche vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes

I said it above, and I will repeat it, do not sleep on the Coyotes. Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall are going to set an example for the rest of the Coyotes to follow. Arizona is playing with house money and has nothing to lose.  Colorado has elite skills, and if their defense can hold up, Arizona will have their hands full.
Prediction – Colorado over Arizona in six games


#3 Dallas Stars vs. #9 Calgary Flames

Tough to put a pulse on this one. Dallas scored just four times in the round-robin games, and the Flames scored four or more goals in three of their four games in their series versus the Winnipeg Jets. Calgary also was playing against a team that suffered injuries to key players. Dallas may not have revealed the contents of their hand yet; perhaps they held back a bit during the round-robin games? I like Calgary’s aggressive style to make things difficult for Dallas.
Prediction – Calgary over Dallas in seven games


#4 St. Louis Blues vs. #7 Vancouver Canucks

St. Louis
fell from first place to fourth place when they failed to log a win in round-robin play. Digging a bit deeper into the Blues’ games, game one they lost with .1 on the clock, game two they held a two-goal lead over Vegas, and game three they lost in overtime. I like the foundation that the Vancouver Canucks have, and they will be a force for a long time to come…starting next year.
Prediction – St. Louis over Vancouver in five games


Eastern Conference


#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #12 Montreal Canadians

I predicted Montreal to handle Pittsburgh with relative ease, and they did. The expectation was a lot of low scoring games and Carey Price to be the main storyline. Price was excellent, but he also had plenty of help from his teammates. Philadelphia is in top form and just won three straight in their round-robin games versus the best teams in the east. Montreal is a cute story; however, their season will come to an end here.
Prediction – Philadelphia over Montreal in five games


#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets


Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions     
Photo Credit: ESPN

These two teams met in the first round last season when the Blue Jackets swept the Lightning. I want to find a reason to predict an upset here, but Elvis is about to leave the building. Tampa has been preparing for this since April of 2019.
Prediction – Tampa Bay over Columbus in four games


#3 Washington Capitals vs. #7 New York Islanders

Not often in professional sports does a coach win a championship and switch employers immediately. That is precisely what New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz did after he won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2017. No one knows the Capitals better than Barry Trotz outside of Washington. That said, I believe the Capitals have too much firepower. Trotz will keep this one close, but the Caps advance.
Prediction – Washington over New York in six games


#4 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Carolina Hurricanes

will be on upset alert after going 0-3 while scoring four goals in their round-robin games. The Hurricanes had a grand opening round and will be well-rested when this series kicks off. Carolina last played on Tuesday, August 4th. This series will be extremely close and will go the distance. I will take it a step further and predict Boston to be down three games to one and rally to win the next three.
Prediction – Boston over Carolina in seven games

Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions     
Photo Credit: NHL

So, there you have it! I still maintain Vegas over the Avs to win the West and Vegas over Boston for the Stanley Cup.


The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off Tuesday!

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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