SCHAUMBURG, IL MAY 2, 2022

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us! There is nothing more entertaining than playoff hockey and this first round has some very interesting matchups. I think the East has greater potential for upsets with more complete teams throughout. The West though could get interesting with some skids and streaky teams having entered the playoffs this season.

Minnesota Wild (2) VS St. Louis Blues (3)

Head to Head: Blues: 3-0-0, Wild 0-1-2

Wild: 305 Goals(5th), 249 GA (16th), 3.7 G/GP(5th), 2.99 GAA(13th), 2,666 Shots(11th), 11.4 Shot%(2nd), 2577 SA(15th), .903 SV%(17th), 882 PIM(30th), 53 PPG(12th), 20.5 PP%(18th), 76.1 PK%(25th), 2 SHG (30th), 1,846 Hits(18th), 1,115 BLK(15th),47.6 FO%(27th).

Blues: 309 Goals(3rd), 239 GA(11th), 3.77 G/GP(3rd), 2.89 GAA(11th), 2,492 Shots(18th), 12.4 Shot% (1st), 2,591 SA(16th), .908 SV%(8th), 611 PIM(3rd), 65 PPG(2nd), 27 PP%(2nd), 84.1 PK%(5th), 9 SHG(6th), 1,656 Hits(28th), 1,004 BLKs(26th), 50.2 FO%(14th).

This might be the most even matchup in the first round. The Blues and Wild are neck in neck in almost every category except for Special teams and FO%. The Blues were top half in FO% while the Wild ranked in the bottom six. The Blues were the only team in the NHL to be ranked in the top 5 on both the Power play and penalty kill which should be scary for a Wild team that gathered the 3rd most penalty minutes. Both teams ranked in the middle of the league in shot attempts but were ranked 1 and 2 in shot percentage due to their high quality shots from the slot. The wild had six guys with 20+ goals and 9 players having 10 or more while the Blues lead the league with 9 20+ goal scorers and 10 with 15 or more. The wild have Talbot and Fleury in net will the Blues have Husso and Binnington. Both Wild goalies have been lights out while Binnington has struggled mightily this season. Expect Husso vs. Talbot to be the main goalie matchup.

Verdict: These teams are extremely similar but the wild’s biggest weakness is their lack of discipline and terrible special teams play while the Blues Strength happens to be their discipline and strong special teams play. Blues in 5.

Edmonton Oilers (2) VS Los Angeles Kings (3)

Head to Head: Oilers: 3-1-0 Kings: 1-2-1

Oilers: 285 Goals(7th), 251 GA(17th), 3.48 G/GP(7th), 3.02 GAA(19th), 2,7090 Shots(10th), 10.2 S%(11th), 2,647 SA(21st), .905 SV%(13th), 666 PIM(10th), 61 PPG(6th), 26 PP%(3rd), 79.4 PK%(17th), 11 SHG(T3rd), 1,853 Hits(15th), 1,018 BLKs(25th), 51.3 FO%(8th).

Kings: 235 Goals(20th), 232 GA(9th), 2.87 G/GP(20th), 2.79 GAA(8th), 2,865 Shots(5th), 8.2 S%(32nd), 2,341 SA(2nd), .901 SV%(19th), 635 PIM(6th), 40 PPG(24th), 16.1 PP%(27th), 76.5 PK%(22nd), 11 SHG(T3rd), 1,667 Hits(27th), 1,667 BLKs(17th), 52.2 FO%(5th). 

The Oilers are a far better team in every offensive category but the Kings’ size and defense could be trouble. The Oilers have a solid top two lines, behind that is a big question mark. The Kings don’t have any standout lines but none that are worse than the others either. All of the stats point to Edmonton to win but they playoffs aren’t their friends.

Verdict: Oilers win in 6

Colorado Avalanche (1) VS Nashville Predators (WC2)

Head to Head: Avalanche: 1-1-2 Predators: 2-1-1

Avalanche: 308 goals (4th), 232 GA(10th), 3.76 G/GP(4th), 2.80 GAA(10th), 2,872 Shots(4th), 10.7 S%(T6th), 2,625 SA(19th), .912 SV%(7th), 742 PIM 21st), 67 PPG(1st), 79.7 PK%(15th), 6 SHG(16th), 1,764 Hits(23rd), 1,764 BLKs(20th), 47.3 FO%(28th). 

Predators: 262 Goals(13th), 250 GA(16th), 3.20 G/GP(13th), 3.01 GAA(17th), 2,439 Shots(24th), 10.7 S%(T6th), 2,646 SA(20th), .906 SV%(12th), 1,035 PIM(32nd), 63 PPG(T4th), 24.4 PP%(T5th), 79.2 PK%(18th), 2 SHG(T30th), 2,470 Hits(1st), 2,470 BLKs(11th), 51.2 FO%(10th). 

If Saros wasn’t hurt, I would be predicting a first round upset over the Stanley cup favorite. The Predators are far from disciplined as they lead the league in PIM and their PK doesn’t help fix that issue. The Avalanche’s offense is high powered and dynamic but Nashville has the size to keep them in line. 

Verdict: If the predators can steal a game and have Saros come back for game 3, ill take Nashville in 7. If not I’ll take the Avalanche in 6. Either way, Colorado is going to be banged up by the end of it.

Calgary Flames (1) VS Dallas Stars (WC1)

Head to Head: Flames: 2-1-0 Stars: 1-2-0

Flames: 291 Goals(6th), 206 GA(3rd), 3.55 G/GP(6th), 2.49 GAA(3rd), 2,908 Shots(3rd), 10 S%(12th), 2,374 SA(5th), .913 SV%(T3rd), 744 PIM(22nd), 54 PPG(T9th), 22.9 PP%(10th), 83.2 PK%(6th), 7 SHG(T12th), 1,836 Hits(20th), 956 BLKs(30th), 51.1 FO%(11th).

Stars: 233 Goals(21st), 244 GA(14th), 2.80 G/GP(21st), 2.93 GAA(14th), 2,486 Shots(19th), 9.4 S%(T19th), 2,545 SA(13th), .904 SV%(T14th), 551 PIM(1st), 54 PPG(T9th), 22.5 PP%(11th), 79 PK%(19th), 7 SHG(T12th), 1,850 Hits(16th), 1,170 BLKs(9th), 54.8 FO%(2nd). 

The Flames are far and away a better team and this should be a sure win for them. The Flames have too good of an offense for the stars to keep up with especially since the Stars’ chemistry has been on and off. The stars stellar FO ability could make it interesting though if they turn in FO wins in the offensive zone

Verdict: Flames in 5.

Carolina Hurricanes (1) VS Boston Bruins (WC1)

Head to Head: Hurricanes: 3-0-0 Bruins: 0-3-0

Hurricanes: 277 Goals(9th), 200 GA(1st), 3.38 G/GP(9th), 2.41 GAA(1st), 2,798 Shots(9th), 9.9 S%(13th), 2,310 SA(1st), .913 SV%(T3rd), 758 PIM(23rd), 51 PPG(13th), 22 PP%(13th), 88 PK%(1st), 4 SHG(25th), 1,804 Hits(21st), 858 BLKs(32nd), 53.9 FO%(4th).

Bruins: 253 Goals(15th), 218 GA(4th), 3.09 G/GP(15th), 2.64 GAA(4th), 2,962 Shots(2nd), 8.5 S%(30th), 2,356 SA(3rd), .908 SV%(T9th), 809 PIM(25th), 50 PPG(T14th), 21.2 PP%(15th), 81.3 PK%(9th), 5 SHG(22nd), 2,205 Hits(3rd), 1,017 BLKs(26th), 54.2 FO%(3rd.

This Series has game 7 and a potential upset written all over it. You have a high powered, speedy team in Carolina going up against a bruising team from Boston. Neither team will thrive playing the other’s game so this is going to come down to who is able to force their kind of game to be played. The biggest note though is Anderson is out for the Hurricanes leaving the door wide open for the Bruins. 

Verdict: When in doubt all else fails, go with the better special teams play. Carolina had the best PK in the NHL and it should make its presence known here. If Anderson comes back, Carolina in 7.

Toronto Maple Leafs (2) VS Tampa Bay Lightning (3)

Head to Head: Leafs: 2-2-0 Lightning: 2-1-1

Maple Leafs: 312 Goals(2nd), 252 GA(18th), 3.80 G/GP(2nd), 3.04 GAA(20th), 2,835 shots(7th), 11 S%(T4th), 2,511 SA(9th), .900 SV(21st), 702 PIM(15th), 63 PPG(T4th), 27.3 PP%(1st), 82.1 PK%(8th), 13 SHG(1st), 1,746 Hits(24th), 972 BLKs(29th), 55.1 FO%(1st).

Lightning: 285 Goals(8th), 228 GA(6th), 3.48 G/GP(8th), 2.74 GAA(6th), 2,535 Shots(17th), 11.2 S%(3rd), 2,441 SA(7th), .907 SV%(T9th), 901 PIM(31st), 62 PPG(5th), 23.9 PP%(7th), 80.6 PK%(11th), 7 SHG(T12th), 2,125 Hits(4th), 1,044 BLKs(22nd), 50.1 FO%(15th). 

The Lightning are trying to three-peat while the Leafs are hoping their offense can make up for they lack of goalie play. The Leafs have the best FO% in the NHL and if they can turn offensive zone FO into goals, they can steal this series.

Verdict: The Pat Maroon (3 straight cups) effect will carry over for at least one more series, Tampa in 6.

New York Rangers (2) VS Pittsburg Penguins (3)

Head to Head: Rangers: 3-1-0 Penguins: 1-3-0

Rangers: 250 Goals(17th), 204 GA(2nd), 3.05 G/GP(17th), 2.46 GAA(2nd), 2,392 Shots(28th), 10.5 S%(T8th), 2,528 SA(11th), .919 SV%(1st), 675 PIM(13th), 55 PPG(8th), 25.2 PP%(4th), 82.3 PK%(7th), 8 SHG(T9th), 2,094 Hits(5th), 1,167 BLKs(10th), 48.1 FO%(24th).

Penguins: 269 Goals(11th), 222 GA(5th), 3.28 G/GP(11th), 2.67 GAA(5th), 2,849 Shots(6th), 9.4 S%(T19th), 2,576 SA(14th), .914 SV%(2nd), 566 PIM(2nd), 50 PPG(T14th), 20.2 PP%19th), 84.4 PK%(3rd), 3 SHG(28th), 2,010 Hits(10th), 1,094 BLKs(16th), 51.1 FO%(12th).

This series would’ve been one of the most intriguing ones a month ago but the Penguins seem to have forgotten how to play hockey while New York has remained the most underrated team all season long. The Rangers have a mix of grit and offense that the Penguins won’t be able to control. The Penguins Pk could attempt to control the Rangers Powerplay but even that won’t be enough.

Verdict: Rangers in 5.

Florida Panthers (1) VS Washington Capitals (WC2)

Head to Head: Panthers: 2-1-0 Capitals:1-2-0

Panthers: 337 Goals(1st), 242 GA(T12th), 4.11 G/GP(1st), 2.91 GAA(T12th), 3,062 Shots(1st), 11 S%(T4th), 2,515 SA(10th), .904 SV%(T14th), 832 PIM(27th), 64 PPG(3rd), 24.4 PP%(T5th), 79.5 

PK%(16th), 12 SHG(2nd), 2,050 Hits(7th), 995 BLKs(38th), 48.2 FO%(23rd).

Capitals: 270 Goals(10th), 242 GA(T12th), 3.29 G/GP(10th), 2.91 GAA(T12th), 2,577 Shots(14th), 10.5 S%(T8th), 2,378 SA(6th), .898 SV% 23rd), 631 PIM(5th), 48 PPG(16th), 18.8 PP%(23rd), 80.4 PK%(12th), 8 SHG(T9th), 2,068 Hits(6th), 1,150 BLKs(12th), 47.1 FO%(30th).

This series could be interesting but I think not. The Panthers have been lights out all season long and they they decided to add Claude Giroux and they only made them deeper. Their biggest issue is their FO% but the Capitals are even worse. Panthers should control this series and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sweep.

Verdict: Panthers in 4.



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