NHL playoff predictions

            As the NHL regular season closed on Sunday night, all eyes shifted to the playoffs. So many matchups, so little time. Five Three Sports breaks down each matchup and picks the winners.

Western Conference

Nashville v Colorado

Christian

Colorado emotionally rode into the playoffs with a decisive 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Expect the Avalanche to ride the emotional wave and take a surprising series win over the heavily favored Predators.

Avalanche win 4-3

Ethan/Blaise

The president trophy winners face a tough first round matchup against Nathan Mackinnon and that Av’s. But goaltending matters the most in the postseason, and Pekka Rinne is the best goalie in the West. They also have a really good defense to counter the Avalanches quickness and craftiness.

Since our experts chose the same outcome, I have paired them together for this series.

Predators win 4-2

Winnipeg v Minnesota

Christian

Minnesota is on the fritz even going into the playoffs, Winnipeg is riding high.

Winnipeg win 4-1

Ethan

The Jets have had a great year but are very overrated. Yes, they have a goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck, but depth also plays a role in the postseason. There first two lines are good but from there it's a huge drop off. The Wild will make it tough for the Jets with their toughness and desire to win. They also have Devan Dubnyk in net, who is one of the best in the league.

 

Wild win 4-3

 

Blaise

The Jets have lost one game in their last 10 and ripped off five straight wins. Oddsshark also has the Jets as a top 5 offense and defense in the entire league. The Jets also rank second to the Lightning in goal differential on the season.

Winnipeg win 4-1

 

Vegas v Los Angeles

Christian

Vegas falls in the first round. The miracle of the expansions teams run is quickly shut down by a much more experienced Los Angeles Kings team.

Kings win 4-0

Ethan

The Kings are back, well sort of. They have power and are a fundamentally good all-around team, however, they don’t have as much talent as their prior Stanley Cup squads. The Golden Knights don’t care if they’re a new team, they’re going for it all. The Knights have everything it takes to make a deep run in the postseason.

Knights win 4-1

Blaise

Maybe the excitement of March Madness is still alive and well, but the Golden Knights are the Cinderella story that keeps being written. On top of their dominate 109 point season, the Knights lit the lamp 272 times, or the fourth most in the league.

Knights win 4-2

Anaheim v San Jose

Christian

Two beat up team’s head into a bruising playoff matchup. A tough, well fought series that goes the distance, Sharks squeak it out in seven.

Sharks win 4-3

Ethan

The Ducks come in flying high, but this doesn't feel like the Anaheim teams of recent years. The Sharks are an older team with a lot of skill. In the battle of the elders, the Sharks come out victorious.

Sharks win 4-3

Blaise

Even though the Ducks tallied one more point than the Sharks all season, they played better on the ice. The Ducks scored more goals and allowed less goals than their first round counter-parts.

Ducks win 4-3

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay v New Jersey

Christian

Taylor Hall is the end all be all for New Jersey this season and if Tampa can shut him down, they should win quick.

Tampa Bay win 4-1

Ethan

Taylor Hall is my pick to win the Hart Trophy and the Devils have overachieved all year long. They could be dangerous during the postseason, but they run into the favorites to win it all. The Lighting have more speed, more stars, much better goaltending and way more playoff experience.

Tampa Bay win 4-2

Blaise

I’m always a fan of a potent offense, and the Lightning rank No. 1 in scoring. When the Lightning take to the ice they will be matched up against a sub-par defense, according to Oddsshark. Tampa Bay has put up the second most point in the season for a reason, and come playoff time they’ll prove why.

Tampa Bay win 4-1

 

Boston v Toronto

Christian

Boston is coming into the post season with a full head of steam and a close to healthy team, but Toronto is a high scoring team. Although young, the Leafs have plenty to put the Bruins away in round one.

Toronto win 4-3

Ethan

The Leafs are young, fast and very skilled. Auston Matthews is a superstar and could lead the Leafs to the second round, however, Boston has good size, strength and solid defenders to make this a good series. Boston also has the thing that matters the most in the playoffs, goaltending. Tuukka Rask has been unreal all year long and he will continue to be in the postseason.

Boston wins 4-3

Blaise

The Bruins and Maple Leafs are two well matched teams who both enter the playoffs lukewarm. In their last 10 games, each team won five games, and both put up about the same amount of goals. However, the Bruins kept their opponents out of the net more often than the Maple leafs did. It’ll be close but the Maple Leafs defense will be just enough for a series win.

Toronto win 4-3

Washington v Columbus

Christian

Another series gone wrong for the Caps. Their playoff troubles continue, this time, it’s a little earlier than expected.

Columbus win 4-2

Ethan

While the Caps will most likely choke, they should be able to breeze through this one. The Blue Jackets do have a good goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky, but they don’t have the stars and scoring to keep up with the Caps.

Washington win 4-0

Blaise

Each league has a team that is good in the regular season, but bad in the playoffs. In baseball it’s the Nationals, in basketball it’s the Raptors and in hockey it’s the Capitals. Even though the Caps are coming into the playoffs red-hot they will scuffle in the playoffs once again.

Columbus win 4-2

Pittsburgh v Philadelphia

Christian

The playoff series turns out to be much like the season series, with the Penguins easily sliding by the unpredictable Flyers. Claude Giroux’s impressing season is over too soon.

Pittsburgh win 4-0

Ethan

The Flyers just squeaked into the playoffs, and face a really tough series right off the bat. Philly has good young players, but with claude Giroux at the end of his prime and Wayne Simmons being good not great, they don’t have that superstar to push them pass the 2x-defending champs.

Pittsburgh win 4-1

Blaise

The Penguins are the reigning champs and one of the best teams in the league. Whether they go all the way again or not remains to be seen, but they are too talented for a first round exit. But I do expect the Flyers to put up a fight.

Pittsburgh win 4-2