It’s second Christmas! It’s NHL Playoff time! The first games start tonight and here are your friendly neighborhood staff writers from the Turf with their calls March Madness style. No monetary bets have been made…yet.
RYAN KELLY-A Loyal and Realistic Bostonian
Call me a homer. Call me a Bruins honk. I can’t help it. This team is as deep as it’s ever been, and if Tuukka is solid and health isn’t a concern, I feel like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand can take these guys to the promised land. While I’m on the East at the moment, let me just also say how incredible a Columbus/Pittsburgh Round 2 series would be. Of all non-Boston series, this would be the one I’d be most excited to watch. Two evenly matched divisional rivals, almost a lock for 7 games.
In the West, I like Laine & Co. to emerge as Stanley Cup finalists after beating both Western 1 seeds in consecutive series. Why? Because one team always gets hot in the playoffs, and my money is on the team that quietly finished with the second most points in the NHL (until right now I thought it was Tampa, seriously had to check that). But in the end, I think Boston gets the better of them in a 7-game Finals.
NED DONOVAN-The Mainer Swinging for the Fences
Straight-up this bracket is wild. Let me explain:
- New Jersey over Tampa Bay in 6 – I LOVE picking an 8 seed to walk in and punch somebody in the mouth. So I’m doing exactly that.
- Boston over Toronto in 7 – This is going to be a rough one. I think what gives it to Boston will be the home-rink advantage. 2 of the 3 Maple Leaf wins are blowouts. All of the Bruins wins are within 2 goals. The 7th game goes to OT.
- Washington over Columbus in 5 – This could even go in four. Washington is so goddamned good, and the Blue Jackets are just not.
- Philadelphia over Pittsburgh in 6 – The Penguins of this year are not the Penguins of recent years. The Flyers are riding high right now, coming in hot and ready to kick ass. The 6th game goes to OT with the Flyers holding out.
- Nashville over Colorado in 4 – Does this need explaining?
- Winnipeg over Minnesota in 4 – The Wild won’t touch Winnipeg, who are (spoiler alert) going to win it all. The Wild are so so at best, and missing Ryan Suter? Goodbye.
- Vegas over Los Angeles Kings in 7 – This is going to be a tough as nails series. When it pushes to the 7th game, the Golden Knights find a little extra somewhere to pull it out and win by 3 goals all scored in the 3rd period.
- San Jose over Anaheim in 7 – This is probably the closest matchup in the first round. So I had a hard time picking this one. I did some research and Anaheim has a history of losing home game 7s. So I’m going with that happening again.
- Boston over New Jersey in 6 – New Jersey is going to get through round 1 on adrenaline and then have nothing left in the tank when they arrive in Boston. Bruins take it in 6 as the Cinderella story ends, and Boston gets a surprisingly easy second round.
- Washington over Philadelphia in 7 – This is my favorite second round lineup. Some people are going to get punched in the mouth, both teams are going to get a hell of a lot of shots on net, and I foresee both goalies playing the series of their career. When the dust settles, Washington wins the 7th game and moves on.
- Winnipeg over Nashville in 7 – Both teams will be completely rested from their cakewalks in round 1 and be ready to battle. In a pure talent against talent I don’t think the Predators can stand up to the Jets. This will be a hard fought battle resulting in the Jets pushing through their hardest matchup.
- Vegas over San Jose in 5 – Long shot, but I think Anaheim kicks the crap out of San Jose and they have nothing left in the tank. The one game they pick up will be when the Golden Knights let their foot off the gas for a little bit and get blown out. Everyone will forsee San Jose coming back from that, but that’ll be their last gasp of the playoffs.
- Winnipeg over Vegas in 7 – This has the makings of being the best matchup of the Playoffs. Here’s where the Jets prove to everyone just how good they are. Vegas is great, but they don’t have the kind of fire power that the Jets do. If the Jets start to falter, it’s because they have the hardest road to the Stanley Cup finals. But I don’t think they do. Jets over Golden Knights in 7.
- Washington over Boston in 5 – Washington gets a present in this matchup. Boston won’t be ready for the firepower that Washington brings to the table, and they will be caught off guard. The youth of Boston will cause them to make errors, and Washington comes out on top in 5 close games.
- Winnipeg over Washington in 6 – Winnipeg will come in guns blazing, and I think they will overpower Washington. The only thing that will keep Washington in this series will be how beat up I expect Winnipeg to be after battling it out with Vegas. Look for close games, potentially even multiple OT games, but Winnipeg comes out on top where it counts and lifts the Stanley Cup.
ANDREW WILHELM-The Silent Gauntlet Thrower
Andrew is letting his bracket speak for itself. That’s it. That’s all. Stay tuned.
MICHAEL TRIMM-Your Pittsburgh Boy
The wild ride of the NHL playoffs doesn’t disappoint. The heavy weights/favorites all make it out of the first round, with the exception of slumping Tampa Bay, who look poised for a huge round one upset.
Round two has marquee matchups in Washington/Pittsburgh and Winnipeg/Nashville. I couldn’t help myself, Pittsburgh is in Washington’s head, which leads to a Game 7 loss in round 2 for Ovi again. Nashville outlasts Winnipeg in the battle of maybe the two best teams. Boston clears upstart New Jersey, and Vegas makes it to get to the conference finals in their first season.
The conference finals has Boston unseating defending champs Pittsburgh on their bid for the three-peat, and Nashville finally ending the Cinderella story of Vegas. Would’ve loved to have seen a Vegas Pittsburgh final but oh well. 🤷♂️
The Cup Final goes 6 games of exciting well rounded hockey, but Nashville wins out due to better D play, and Boston having no one besides resident behemoth Chara to clear the crease. Nashville avenges falling short last year. Party in Smashville.
SARAH JANE SCHOSTACK-The Lone Female with a Predisposition to Upsets
Part of this bracket is idealistic. I’m a Pittsburgh fan: I’d love nothing more than to se Ovi go home in the first round with a tail between his legs. Some of this is practical. Vegas started faltering in the last few games and lower seeds in the West like L.A. and San Jose were getting hot. The league was starting to fundamentally shift and that can make or break the playoffs.
The playoffs are one long existential crisis for most teams. They make mistakes out of desperation and go down. No one has a clean record and no one gets out unscathed. Vegas will go because they will switch goalies too often and neither will get hot. Tampa’s smarts will lose to Boston’s grit and the healthy Rask. Pittsburgh will go down after getting beat up by Philadelphia in an inevitable grudge match. Washington will lost out to Columbus cause they will already be looking to Pittsburgh for that grudge match. Nashville wants it. They can taste how close they were last year. P.K. Subban is gonna bring a cup home by the skin of his teeth. No threepeat, not miracles, just solid hockey in the end and a redemption story for Boston waiting to happen next season.
JUSTIN COLOMBO-Our Commander in Chief, and another Bostonian…
Welcome to the best playoffs in all of sports. For real. The Stanley Cup has been proven time and time again to be the most difficult championship trophy to win. It is a trophy for warriors, grinders and guys who battle. It’s the Champions trophy. That being said, I’m 100% being a homer and picking the Boston Bruins to win it all. Do they have the easiest road? Absolutely not, especially since their road to Valhalla runs through Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
Every recent Stanley Cup run has featured a seasoned team grinding it out and conquering tough opponents and younger squads. This Bruins team is relatively untested in it’s youth, but I think the tide turns for them in Playoffs. With seasoned pros peppered in and some seriously strong newbies, I’m looking for the Bruins to come through and act like they’ve been there, even if the competition (Pittsburgh especially) lives for the playoffs. In the West, I am also going with a team who has been there before: The Los Angeles Kings. While newer squads like Winnipeg can do damage, this Kings team knows the road to the Cup and that’s why they’re my sneaky favorite to make a run for Lord Stanley’s cup. Nashville puts up a good fight, but the Kings have the experience and the grit to pull it off.
That all ends with a loss to the Bruins in 6 games. #KingSlayers
And with that…LET THE GAMES BEGIN!