It is late Might. The climate is getting nicer and nicer however all anybody desires to be is inside a chilly rink. And who can actually blame them? It is the very best time of the yr — Stanley Cup playoff time — and issues are getting fairly attention-grabbing.
Seven groups have punched their ticket to the second spherical with not solely a division crown on the road but additionally the purpose of taking one step nearer to discovering out who will win the sports activities world’s best trophy. The remaining groups are a who’s who of NHL royalty. The Avalanche, Golden Knights, Hurricanes, Lightning and Bruins had been all within the high 10 in 2021 with the Islanders simply on the skin wanting in.
Talking of the Bruins, the 2019 Stanley Cup finalists are at all times within the combine, and let’s not neglect the reigning champs from Tampa Bay are wanting poised for a long term. Each of these golf equipment will face stiff checks in opposition to two groups you possibly can by no means rely out: the Islanders and Hurricanes, respectively.
The first spherical was simply good, outdated playoff hockey with a lot of motion, together with loopy last-second objectives and big-time saves, and the second spherical’s slate of best-of-seven collection are positive to show issues up one other notch.
What’s going to occur within the second spherical and past is anybody’s guess. Will Vegas lastly get its Cup? Are the Lightning the NHL’s subsequent nice dynasty? Or will franchises which were ready many years lastly elevate the Stanley Cup once more? The reply is, no person is aware of … and that is what makes the playoffs oh, so particular.
NHL playoffs bracket 2021
NHL playoff predictions: East Division
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (4) New York Islanders
If this was a traditional season, there is a good likelihood this might have been the Jap Convention closing matchup. As an alternative, the Bruins and Islanders are dealing with off within the second spherical within the East Division — and the collection positive to be a doozy.
The Islanders are sending the Nassau Coliseum off in type because the group not solely beat the division champion Penguins in six video games but additionally did it by clinching at residence for the primary time since 1993. By the way in which, the group they despatched packing 28 years in the past additionally hailed from the Metal Metropolis. The Boys from Beantown, in the meantime, dispatched the Capitals in 5 video games by outscoring the “Nice 8,” Alex Ovechkin, and crew 16-10.
This collection pairs two evenly matched golf equipment — as Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy stated: “We’re taking part in ourselves a bit of bit” — who’re taking part in high quality hockey on the excellent time. Each are sporting related GF/GP (3.20 for the Bruins and three.50 for the Islanders) and GA/GP (2.00 for Boston and a couple of.67 for New York) within the playoffs. It is just about how they lined up of their regular-season collection, through which the Islanders gained 5-2-1 however solely outscored the Bruins 20-18 and managed simply three objectives within the final three video games.
|Jan. 18||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 1-0|
|Feb. 13||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 4-2|
|Feb. 25||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 7-2|
|March 9||Bruins||Islanders||NYI, 2-1 (SO)|
|March 25||Islanders||Bruins||NYI, 4-3 (OT)|
|April 15||Islanders||Bruins||BOS, 4-1|
|April 16||Islanders||Bruins||BOS, 3-0|
|Might 10||Islanders||Bruins||BOS, 3-2 (OT)|
X-factor: Taylor Corridor
There are various gamers, on all sides, who will play large roles, however Corridor is the one who might be the important thing. After being acquired by Boston on the deadline, the ahead notched 4 objectives in three video games in opposition to the Islanders — which had been additionally the Bruins’ solely three wins of the season collection. He additionally has a historical past of taking part in properly in opposition to the Lengthy Island group with 14 objectives (tied for his second-most in opposition to a group) and 24 factors in 27 profession video games.
The massive quantity: 26.3
With the squads evenly matched at 5v5, this collection might come all the way down to particular groups, and the Bruins’ energy play was clicking on all cylinders in opposition to the Capitals. In 5 video games, Boston scored 5 objectives in 19 alternatives, which interprets to 26.3 % effectivity with the person benefit The Islanders’ penalty kill struggled in opposition to the Penguins’ energy play, permitting three objectives in 12 alternatives for 75 % efficacy.
SN’s prediction: Bruins in 6
East Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Sat., Might 29||at Boston||8 p.m. (NBC, SN360, TVA Sports activities)|
|Mon., Might 31||at Boston||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports activities)|
|Thurs., June 3||at New York||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|Sat., June 5||at New York||7:15 p.m. (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|*Mon., June 7||at Boston||TBD|
|*Wed., June 9||at New York||TBD|
|*Fri., June 11||at Boston||TBD|
* If crucial
East Division second-round collection odds
|Boston Bruins||-225||New York Islanders||+178|
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders
- SN’s decide: Islanders in 6
- Sequence end result: Islanders in 6
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins
- SN’s decide: Bruins in 5
- Sequence end result: Bruins in 5
NHL playoff predictions: Central Division
(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning
Each groups closed out their first-round collection in six video games in opposition to formidable foes.
The defending champions dispatched the Panthers within the first Sunshine State Showdown within the postseason, backed by the return of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Kucherov missed the complete common season following hip surgical procedure however got here again with a flourish as he potted a league-best 11 factors (three objectives, eight assists). Stamkos missed the final 16 video games of the common season with a lower-body damage after which returned to chip in eight factors (three objectives, 5 assists).
Jon Cooper’s squad is likely one of the strongest groups on the again finish, and it is backstopped by 2021 Vezina Trophy contender Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian netminder earned 31 of the group’s 36 wins within the common season and noticed his save proportion tick up from .925 to .929 within the postseason.
Carolina will give the Lightning all they’ll deal with on this collection, led by fiery bench boss Rod Brind’Amour. Not solely does he have younger studs Sebastian Aho (5 objectives in six video games), Martin Necas (5 factors) and Andrei Svechnikov (66.84 Corsi For proportion at 5v5, per Pure Stat Trick) at his disposal, however grizzled vets like Jordan Staal (4 objectives) are getting issues accomplished too.
And people are simply the fellows up entrance. On the blue line, Dougie Hamilton has turn into “Playoff Dougie Hamilton”; he has chipped in 4 factors and elevated everybody else’s recreation and puck possession. That is an enormous deal contemplating Jaccob Slavin solely suited up in three video games due to damage however put the puck on web for Aho’s overtime-winner deflection in Sport 6.
X-factor: Alex Nedeljkovic
Talking of Carolina’s again finish, the most effective tales this season has been Nedeljkovic. The Parma, Ohio, native has stabilized the Hurricanes’ web with a .922 save proportion and a shutout within the postseason. That quantity represents a slight dip from his regular-season .932, however that is anticipated when the depth is turned up. Whereas each save percentages are fairly sparkly, they pale compared to his .962 save proportion in opposition to the Lightning within the common season.
The massive quantity: 14.27
Whereas the Lightning absolutely have firepower, Carolina led the 16 groups within the first spherical in Anticipated Targets For (xGF) at 5v5 (14.27), per Pure Stat Trick. In case you’re pondering that is a fluke as a result of they performed the Predators within the first spherical, that may be a no. They had been second-best this season with a 117.09 at 5v5. By comparability, Tampa Bay was at 98.57 within the common season and 9.76 in its first-round assembly with the Panthers.
SN’s prediction: Hurricanes in 6
Central Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Solar., Might 30||at Carolina||5 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports activities)|
|Tues., June 1||at Carolina||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports activities)|
|Thurs., June 3||at Tampa Bay||8 p.m. (USA, SN, TVA Sports activities)|
|Sat., June 5||at Tampa Bay||4 p.m. (USA, SN, TVA Sports activities)|
|*Tues., June 8||at Carolina||TBD|
|*Thurs., June 10||at Tampa Bay||TBD|
|*Sat., June 12||at Carolina||TBD|
Central Division second-round collection odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-134||Carolina Hurricanes||+110|
(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (4) Nashville Predators
- SN’s decide: Hurricanes in 5
- Sequence end result: Hurricanes in 6
(2) Florida Panthers vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning
- SN’s decide: Lightning in 6
- Sequence end result: Lightning in 6
NHL playoff predictions: West Division
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (2) Vegas Golden Knights
Buckle up. Inject this collection into everybody’s veins. Each single thrilling analogy you possibly can consider is that this collection, as a result of it should be an absolute magnificence. These two groups completed 1-2 within the NHL with the Avalanche profitable their first Presidents’ Trophy since 2001 — which was additionally the final time they gained the Stanley Cup.
The Avs have been off for a bit after sweeping the Blues in completely dominating vogue. Usually, it might be simple sufficient to say they outscored St. Louis 20-7, however once you see that they scored 5.00 objectives per recreation and solely gave up 1.75, properly, these are simply mighty spectacular numbers. Additionally they scored on 50 % of their power-play alternatives, so yep, they seem to be a juggernaut.
Nathan MacKinnon continues to show he belongs within the dialog of greatest gamers in at present’s recreation; he scored 9 factors (six objectives) within the sweep. Captain Gabriel Landeskog added eight factors and the third linemate, Mikko Rantanen, had seven factors. It’s going to be attention-grabbing to see how secondary scoring goes with out the suspended Nazem Kadri, however when you’ve blue-liners like Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Devon Toews and Ryan Graves including tallies whereas additionally shutting down the opposition, that helps to even issues out.
Do not simply write Colorado’s ticket to the semis, nonetheless. Vegas is simply as spectacular and confronted a extra decided foe within the Wild within the first spherical. The upstart Minnesota squad pushed the Golden Knights to a Sport 7 however Vegas posted a 6-2 win backed by the return of game-winning goalscorer Max Pacioretty. The ahead, by the way in which, led Nevada’s group with eight factors (six objectives, two assists) in opposition to the Avalanche within the regular-season collection.
He’ll add one more layer of offensive punch alongside perennial Selke Trophy contender Mark Stone, Alex Tuch, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Sport 7 hat-trick scorer Mattias Janmark. Whereas they’ve a formidable entrance 12, the Golden Knights even have the likes of Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Whitecloud on the blue line.
Then there’s the dynamic duo between the pipes. Vezina Trophy contender Marc-Andre Fleury carried the load and began each recreation in opposition to the Wild, boasting a .931 save proportion (.001 decrease than his 2021 regular-season save proportion in opposition to Colorado in seven begins). His 1.71 goals-against common is just some ticks higher than Avalanche backstop Philipp Grubauer’s. However here is the factor: If Fleury ought to start to wrestle, bench boss Pete DeBoer has Robin Lehner to show to, and, properly, that is not a nasty factor.
X-factor: Marc-Andre Fleury
There’s actually just one participant who can management this collection and he goes by the nickname “Flower” (however, you realize, a troublesome flower, like a snapdragon). If Fleury does Fleury issues — like twice shutting out the Avalanche this season — he can flip this collection that is anticipated to be a barnburner on its head.
The massive quantity: 58.98 %
The Avalanche weren’t solely dominant on the scoreboard, however Jared Bednar’s crew was additionally the highest puck possession group within the common season with a Corsi For proportion of 58.98 at 5v5 (in accordance with Pure Stat Trick). Additionally they out-chanced the remainder of the West Division with a 60.53 Scoring Possibilities For proportion coupled with scoring 66 Excessive-Hazard Targets. Vegas scored 69 however gave up 67; Colorado gave up simply 42.
Within the collection in opposition to the Blues, the Avalanche did not let up; they managed play 58.29 % of the time and scored six HDGF whereas solely permitting one in opposition to. Within the common season, they led the division with a 52.59 % in opposition to the Golden Knights however the groups had been even in high-danger objectives.
SN’s decide: Golden Knights in 7
West Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Solar., Might 30||at Colorado||8 p.m. (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|Wed., June 2||at Colorado||10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|Fri., June 4||at Vegas||10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|Solar., June 6||at Vegas||8:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports activities)|
|*Tues., June 8||at Colorado||TBD|
|*Thurs., June 10||at Vegas||TBD|
|*Sat., June 12||at Colorado||TBD|
* If crucial
West Division second-round collection odds
|Colorado Avalanche||-194||Vegas Golden Knights||+156|
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues
- SN’s decide: Avalanche in 5
- Sequence end result: Avalanche in 4
(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (3) Minnesota Wild
- SN’s decide: Golden Knights in 6
- Sequence end result: Golden Knights in 7
NHL playoff predictions: North Division
(3) Winnipeg Jets vs. (1) Toronto Maple Leafs or (4) Montreal Canadiens
Keep tuned . . .
North Division second-round schedule
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Wed., June 2||TBD||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|Fri., June 4||TBD||7:30 p.m. (USA, SN, CBC, TVA Sports activities)|
|Solar., June 6||TBD||6 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports activities)|
|Mon., June 7||TBD||TBD|
|*Wed., June 9||TBD||TBD|
|*Fri., June 11||TBD||TBD|
|*Solar., June 13||TBD||TBD|
(1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens
- SN’s decide: Maple Leafs in 7
- Sequence end result: TBD
(2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3) Winnipeg Jets
- SN’s decide: Oilers in 5
- Sequence end result: Jets in 4
NHL playoff up to date odds to win Stanley Cup
(Odds courtesy of FanDuel as of Might 29)
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+550|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+600|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+700|
|New York Islanders||+1200|
Sporting Information’ Stanley Cup predictions
Stanley Cup semifinals
|(1) Golden Knights vs. (4) Bruins||Golden Knights in 6|
|(2) Hurricanes vs. (3) Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs in 6|
Stanley Cup Remaining
|(1) Golden Knights vs. (3) Maple Leafs||Golden Knights in 6|
|Conn Smythe Trophy||Marc-Andre Fleury|