free geoip
17.1 C
New York
Saturday, May 18, 2024

NHL Playoffs 2024: Picks for each first-round collection, predicting the Stanley Cup winner

Watch Now Free



It is formally time for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs to start.

The New York Rangers secured the Presidents’ Trophy with the most effective report all through the 2023-24 common season. When the mud settled on the 2023-24 common season, the Rangers completed with a 55-23-4 report (114 factors) as they only edged out the Dallas Stars for the crown.

Within the opening spherical, the lower-seeded wild card workforce faces off towards the division winner with the most effective report. The opposite wild card workforce takes on the opposite division winner. The second and third-place groups from the divisions battle it out within the different playoff matchups. Within the opening two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, home-ice benefit is given to the upper seed, which implies that they’d the higher common season report.

With the playoffs right here, our NHL specialists revealed their first-round predictions together with their Stanley Cup picks.

Western Convention

(1) Stars vs. (WC2) Golden Knights

Chris: This really pains me to select towards the defending Stanley Cup champions, but it surely’s such a troublesome matchup. The Stars are one of the dominant offenses all through the NHL as they averaged 3.59 objectives (third within the league) throughout the common season. The scoring depth is astounding with Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Wyatt Johnston lighting the lamp on a constant foundation. Including Chris Tanev to stabilize the blue line was an enormous addition on the commerce deadline. My solely query mark lies within the crease for Dallas. We have seen goaltender Jake Oettinger thrive previously, but it surely’s been an up-and-down marketing campaign for the previous first-round choose. Coming into the postseason, Oettinger has tallied a 5-1-0 report, a 1.67 goals-against-average, and a .941 save share over his final six begins, so maybe he has turned the nook. The Golden Knights will give the Stars all the pieces they will deal with after including Tomas Hertl to a loaded group of facilities on the commerce deadline. Captain Mark Stone may additionally return sooner or later on this collection, however the Stars are too well-rounded to go towards. Choose — Stars beat Golden Knights 4-3

Austin:   This matchup may simply be a convention remaining, which it was final 12 months, however as a substitute we get to see it within the first spherical. The Stars labored all season to earn the highest seed within the Western Convention, and their reward is a date with the defending Stanley Cup champs and the workforce that eradicated them from the 2023 postseason. It is a heavyweight battle, and it seems to be just like the Golden Knights are getting wholesome on the proper time as soon as once more. Mark Stone has began training after lacking prolonged time with a lacerated spleen, and he joins a loaded lineup that has added the likes of Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl since final 12 months’s Stanley Cup run. In fact, this Dallas lineup additionally seems to be completely different from the one which fell to Vegas final summer time. The signing of Matt Duchene has supplied some additional pop to the Stars’ ahead group, and Chris Tanev solely solidifies the workforce’s blue line. As intimidating because the Golden Knights look on paper, the Stars are simply as scary, they usually have been the higher workforce this season. Dallas will get its revenge in a hard-fought collection. Choose — Stars beat Golden Knights 4-2

(2) Jets vs. (3) Avalanche

Chris: This could be the hardest collection to foretell out of the eight within the opening spherical. The Avalanche actually pale during the last month of the common season as they dropped seven of their final 11 video games. Consequently, Colorado was out of the race for the Central Division crown, and even misplaced out on home-ice benefit on this collection. Nonetheless, Nathan MacKinnon simply produced a Hart Trophy-caliber season, and that is nonetheless a well-rounded group that put the puck within the internet greater than some other workforce on a nightly foundation (3.68 goals-per-game). It definitely will not be a straightforward street on this collection with doubtless Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck in between the pipes for the Jets. My largest challenge with the Jets is that I am unsure if they’ve sufficient of a scoring punch to maintain up with the Avalanche. That is going to be a really entertaining collection, however I will go along with the workforce that is been there earlier than. Choose — Avalanche beat Jets 4-2

Austin: Very like the above collection, this can be a brutal first-round matchup for each side. The Jets and Avalanche each had nice common seasons, and one might be going residence early. The powerful half is determining which workforce that might be. The Avalanche are led by Nathan MacKinnon, who simply tallied 140 factors and appears to be taking part in a special sport than everybody else proper now. Add Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar and Devon Toews into that blend, and Colorado has the sting on the high of the lineup. The difficulty for the Avs is that the goaltending state of affairs is on shaky floor heading into the playoffs. Alexandar Georgiev has struggled, and Justus Annunen has about as a lot NHL expertise as me. The Jets haven’t got that challenge in internet. Connor Hellebuyck will doubtless win the Vezina Trophy, and he provides his workforce an enormous benefit at that place. On high of that, Winnipeg has some stable depth that solely received higher with the additions of Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli forward of the commerce deadline. If the Jets’ shutdown line consisting of Adam Lowry between Nino Niederreiter and Mason Appleton could make life tough on the Avs’ high gamers, this collection will go in Winnipeg’s favor. Choose — Jets beat Avalanche 4-3

(1) Canucks vs. (WC1) Predators

Chris: The Canucks have come a great distance in a calendar 12 months, to say the least. Since bringing in Rick Tocchet, the Canucks have been a juggernaut, and are a really deep workforce. Vancouver did get goaltender Thatcher Demko again within the lineup over the common season’s remaining week after lacking time with a knee harm. Having Demko again within the crease is very large, and actually makes life that rather more tough for the Predators. It has been a really profitable season for the Predators, however the Canucks are simply too loaded from an offensive perspective. Choose — Canucks beat Predators 4-1

Austin: These two groups are fascinatingly comparable. Overachieving rosters? Test. Norris Trophy candidates? Test. Jack Adams Award candidates? Test. Elite Swedish ahead on the high of the lineup? Test. Goaltender able to stealing a collection? Test. That is why this collection could be nearer than the standings would point out. With Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and J.T. Miller main the best way, the Canucks have greater than sufficient offensive firepower to advance. That mentioned, no workforce generated anticipated objectives at the next price than the Predators down the stretch. Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, and Ryan O’Reilly have been driving that bus, however all 4 strains have been chipping in on offense. This collection may finally be determined by which goalie blinks first. Juuse Saros and Thatcher Demko are two of the most effective within the enterprise, they usually can erase loads of errors. Given the best way they performed down the stretch, in addition to the wealth of playoff expertise on the roster, I feel the Predators pull off the upset towards a extremely expert Canucks workforce. Choose — Predators beat Canucks 4-3

(2) Oilers vs. (3) Kings

Chris: The Kings practically ended up going through the Stars, however have been capable of come again and defeat the Blackhawks in Sport 82 to earn this matchup towards the Oilers. Whereas the Stars are a juggernaut, the Oilers are definitely no slouch. After coping with a lower-body harm late within the common season, Connor McDavid returned to the ice and even made some historical past within the course of. The largest query mark in terms of Edmonton’s postseason possibilities has all the time lied in between the pipes. Nevertheless, Stuart Skinner performed extraordinarily properly over the ultimate two months of the common season. So long as that continues to be the case, I simply suppose that the Oilers have an excessive amount of firepower for the Kings to deal with. Los Angeles is a middle-of-the-pack scoring workforce, and I consider that McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and firm might be a buzzsaw that the Kings aren’t prepared for. Choose — Oilers beat Kings 4-1

Austin: It is Groundhog Day over again. In every of the final two years, the Oilers have eradicated the Kings within the first spherical. Is the third time the attraction for Los Angeles? We’re about to search out out. As is often the case, the Oilers boast an explosive offense with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl able to placing a landing on the scoreboard at a second’s discover. They’re joined by now 50-goal-scorer Zach Hyman, who has dominated the netfront all season. The excellent news for the Kings is that they appear uniquely positioned to fight the high-powered Oilers. Los Angeles is content material to tug the sport into the mud, and it stays an elite defensive squad. The large drawback for the Kings is that not even the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils may fully shut down McDavid and Co. They’ll get their possibilities and their objectives. When Edmonton does mild the lamp, who can Los Angeles depend on to reply the bell? Kevin Fiala and Adrian Kempe are proficient gamers, however the Kings may lack the horses to maintain up with the Oilers on this one. Choose — Oilers beat Kings 4-1

Watch Now Free

Japanese Convention

(1) Rangers vs. (WC2) Capitals

Chris:  The Rangers’ postseason hopes have been dashed early on throughout the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, however they definitely rebounded with a stellar 2024 common season. Artemi Panarin had a sensational 12 months by which he tallied his first profession 100-point season with 120 factors (49 objectives & 71 assists). Panarin has been underwhelming at occasions all through his playoff profession, so the Rangers will certainly want Panarin to cleared the path all through the postseason from an offensive standpoint. In the meantime, the Capitals drug themselves throughout the end line to qualify for the postseason, but it surely’s onerous to think about the Capitals giving the Rangers a run for his or her cash. So long as Igor Shesterkin has a stable efficiency in internet, the Rangers ought to roll. Choose — Rangers beat Capitals 4-1

Austin: Something can occur within the Stanley Cup Playoffs, however this matchup is admittedly pushing the boundaries of “something.” These Capitals and their minus-37 aim differential could be the worst workforce to make the playoffs in my lifetime. Beating some other workforce on this playoff area can be a tall process for them, however knocking off the President’s Trophy winners appears particularly far-fetched. The Rangers have some filthy offensive weapons with Artemi Panarin coming off a 120-point season, and he’s surrounded by Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere. Merely put, the Caps haven’t got a fraction of that offense. As enjoyable as it will likely be to see Alex Ovechkin within the playoffs as soon as once more, that is not sufficient for Washington to tug off the upset. If Charlie Lindgren can maintain his awe-inspiring play between the pipes going, the Capitals may need a puncher’s likelihood. The kicker there’s that the Rangers have the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin, within the crease. I would be stunned if this turns into an extended collection. Choose — Rangers beat Capitals 4-0

(2) Hurricanes vs. (3) Islanders

Chris: The Hurricanes have added fairly a little bit of expertise during the last calendar 12 months, and look primed for a deep Stanley Cup run. Jake Guentzel has been great since coming over from the Penguins on the commerce deadline. Skating with a line alongside Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis has actually elevated Guentzel’s sport to a different stage. The Hurricanes are also one of many few groups within the playoff area which have the posh of two top-tier netminders in Frederik Andersen and Pyotr Kochetkov. Andersen will presumably be the starter for Sport 1, however even when he struggles, head coach Rod Brind’Amour can flip to Kochetkov, who performed extraordinarily properly when Anderson was out of the lineup earlier this season. Choose — Hurricanes beat Islanders 4-1

Austin: In a single nook, the Hurricanes are a official Stanley Cup contender that solely upgraded because the season progressed. Within the different nook is an underwhelming Islanders workforce that wanted a loopy late-season push simply to get right here. Carolina has been making an attempt to recover from the postseason hump for a number of years now, and this looks like the 12 months to do it. The Canes’ protection continues to be borderline impenetrable, and Frederik Andersen returned late within the common season and seemed like a goaltender able to dominate the postseason. The one query in regards to the Hurricanes was their ending expertise, and that was addressed with the commerce deadline acquisitions of Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Islanders, however, have been a little bit of a multitude all through the season. They made a training change, going from Lane Lambert to Patrick Roy, and their defensive numbers did take a notable step ahead with Roy behind the bench. On high of that, the Islanders goaltending duo of Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov could be the most effective within the playoffs. The slender path to victory for New York is obvious. Play lockdown protection and have the goalie stand on his head. It may occur, however I am not betting on it. Choose — Hurricanes beat Islanders 4-1

(1) Panthers vs. (WC1) Lightning

Chris:  The battle for bragging rights within the Sunshine State is arguably one of many extra intriguing collection of the primary spherical. The Panthers seemed like arguably the highest workforce within the East coming into the ultimate month of the season, however they did have caught a slide coming into the ultimate two weeks. Nevertheless, Florida did sufficient down the stretch to edge out Boston for the Atlantic Division crown. Alternatively, the Lightning are confirmed playoff contenders which are paced by NHL factors chief Nikita Kucherov. Clearly, having a goaltender that’s battle-tested like Andrei Vasilevskiy is a big plus, however I simply suppose that the Panthers are a proficient sufficient workforce to resolve Vasilevskiy to win what may very well be a prolonged collection. Choose — Panthers beat Lightning 4-3

Austin: The Battle of Florida all the time delivers, and for the primary time in current reminiscence, I feel the Panthers have the clear higher hand. After their unbelievable run to the Stanley Cup Ultimate final 12 months, the Panthers have been among the many NHL’s easiest in 2023-24. Whether or not it is producing scoring possibilities or suppressing scoring possibilities, Florida has been wonderful at five-on-five. The identical can’t be mentioned for the Lightning, a workforce that was barely underwater with its anticipated objectives share. Regardless of that clear edge in favor of the Panthers, it isn’t onerous to think about the Bolts springing the upset. Tampa has a championship pedigree, a dominant energy play, and the most effective goalies on this rotating rock. That may be a recipe for fulfillment within the playoffs. It additionally helps that Nikita Kucherov simply dropped 44 objectives and 100 assists on the remainder of the league. All that mentioned, the Panthers discovered what it takes to go on a deep postseason run final 12 months. Gamers like Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, and Sam Reinhart will not be intimidated by the rings on the opposite aspect. The Panthers lastly get the electrical monkey off their again. Choose — Panthers beat Lightning 4-2

(2) Bruins vs. (3) Maple Leafs

Chris: Maybe I will remorse this, however I am siding with the Maple Leafs on this collection. Toronto is totally loaded on the high, and Auston Matthews has been a confirmed playoff producer in every of the final two seasons. Sure, it is noteworthy that the Bruins received all 4 matchups throughout the common season, however the Bruins limped into the postseason and ought to be going through the Lightning quite than the Maple Leafs. One of many largest storylines on this collection may very well be the expertise drop-off after David Pastrnak. Certain, Pastrnak tallied 110 factors on the season, however they did not have anybody else that even touched the 70-point mark. If the Maple Leafs protection can do sufficient to restrict Pastrnak’s alternatives, this may very well be a collection that Toronto can steal. Choose — Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-3

Austin: As Maple Leafs followers know all too properly, this matchup has all the time gone the Bruins’ approach in current historical past. If Toronto goes to recover from this hurdle, it has to discover a method to persistently beat the most effective defensive groups and the most effective goaltending duos within the sport right this moment. Letting Auston Matthews shoot the puck early and infrequently could be a great begin in that regard. Matthews scored 69 objectives within the common season, and the Leafs’ star energy would not finish there with William Nylander, Mitch Marner and John Tavares rounding out the “Core 4.” In fact, that core hasn’t executed a lot towards the Bruins, a workforce that retains plugging alongside regardless of key offseason losses. Even after dropping Patrice Bergeron, Boston was capable of stay atop the NHL because of David Pastrnak being a stone chilly killer, excellent workforce protection, and rock-solid goaltending. All that mentioned, the Bruins have seemed extra susceptible than standard this 12 months, with their five-on-five play sagging a bit. If the Maple Leafs can seize the chance, they’re going to exorcise this New England demon in dramatic vogue. Choose — Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-3

Stanley Cup winner

Chris: I’ve all the time been a proponent of sticking with my preseason Stanley Cup choose barring one thing catastrophic occurring with that workforce. The Hurricanes have been my choose at first of the 2023-24 season, and I see no motive to not journey the wave. When the commerce deadline rolled round, the Hurricanes did one thing that they historically shrink back from — making a splash. Carolina acquired star winger Jake Guentzel and ahead Evgeny Kuznetsov to bolster a ahead group that was already fairly proficient. Guentzel has been sensational since arriving in Raleigh, and makes this workforce all of the extra harmful. The likes of the Rangers, Panthers, and Bruins are definitely worthy foes, but it surely’s value noting that the Hurricanes have been nipping on the Rangers’ heels down the stretch after not having goaltender Frederik Anderson for almost all of the 12 months. From a Western Convention standpoint, the Stars are positively able to making a deep run if they will get previous the scrappy Golden Knights within the opening spherical. These would definitely be the 2 finest groups in my ebook, however I belief the goaltending and scoring depth of the Hurricanes far more in a collection. Choose — Hurricanes beat Stars 4-3

Austin: The Stanley Cup Playoffs are sometimes a warfare of attrition, and the Stars have a novel mixture of high-end expertise and depth. The ahead group is suffering from massive names like Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, Matt Duchene, Wyatt Johnston and Jamie Benn. The blue line, led by shutdown professional Miro Heiskanen and budding star Thomas Harly, solely received higher when Dallas snagged Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames final month. The Stars’ solely clear flaw for a lot of the season was in aim, with Jake Oettinger struggling. Effectively, within the closing weeks of the common season, Oettinger lastly seemed like himself once more and is crimson sizzling heading into the postseason. Now you’d want the Hubble telescope to search out a problem with this workforce. There’s a non-zero likelihood Dallas has to undergo the Golden Knights, Oilers and Avalanche simply to succeed in the Stanley Cup Ultimate. That is an arduous path, however no workforce is best positioned to navigate it than the Stars. On the opposite aspect of the bracket, the Hurricanes’ upgrades repay, they usually lastly recover from the hump to succeed in the Ultimate. Sadly for them, they run right into a loaded and battle-tested Stars lineup. Choose — Stars beat Hurricanes 4-2



Watch Now Free

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles