The day is finally here…
Flames (8) vs Jets (9) – Even though the Flames are the better seed in this match-up, they do not match up well against the Jets. Calgary’s top line of Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm took quite a dive compared to their spectacular season last year. The Jets on the other hand had 5 players with over 50 points this season. Another disadvantage for the Flames will be goaltending, with Rittich most likely getting the start vs Connor Hellebuyck, a Vezina nominee. After getting upset 4 games to 1 by the Avalanche last year, the Flames will be looking at redeeming themselves in this year’s playoffs, but they will come up short.
Winners: Jets in 4
Oilers (5) vs Blackhawks (12) – The two players you instantly think of for both teams, McDavid/ Draisaitl for Edmonton, Kane/Toews for Chicago, are at different spectrum’s of their career. Kane and Toews easily still have gas in the tank, but it will be hard to keep up to the dynamic duo of Draisaitl and McDavid. Yet, where comes age, comes experience, and that is where the Blackhawks edge out the Oilers. It will be a closely contested series down to the final game.
Winners: Oilers in 5
Canucks (7) vs Wild (10) The Canucks had a surprisingly successful regular season considering where most people had them penciled in at the beginning of the year. They have elite talent in young players Elias Pettersson, defenceman and Calder Trophy nominee Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser. The Canucks also got a great season out of goalie Jacob Markstrom, posting a 23-16-4 record in 43 games, along with a .918 save percentage. Looking at the Minnesota Wild, everything about them is mediocre. From their forwards, to their defense and goaltending, nothing spectacular stands out.
Winners: Canucks in 3
Predators (6) vs Coyotes (11) Depth is a major factor when it comes to the playoffs, and the Predators have it. The Preds had 12 players register 30 points or more in the regular season, so they shouldn’t be looking at just their top line to contribute. The strength for the Coyotes this season was without a doubt their goaltending. They had a tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta splitting the games almost 50/50, both posting save percentages over .920, as well as Adin Hill coming in to play 13 games. Arizona was lead offensively by their youngsters, with 4 out of their top 5 leading scorers being under 25 years old. This series will be Nashville’s more conservative, defensive style, against the youth and speed of the Coyotes.
Winners: Predators in 5