NHL Predictions: Experts pick for each Stanley Cup playoff semi-final conference series

NHL Predictions: Experts pick for each Stanley Cup playoff semi-final conference series

The opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is officially available in the books and was nothing short of amazing. We saw five 7s matches on Sunday deciding which teams would go on.

The top-ranked Florida Panthers got more test from the Washington Capitals than many might imagine with The Capitals jumping 2-1 to the top. However, Florida managed to reclaim three straight wins, which included two goals in overtime from winger Carter Verheig.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche managed to advance without much trouble in a four-game sweep of the Nashville Predators.

The semi-final matches will begin at the conference on Tuesday evening. In the Western Conference, the #1 seed Avalanche will face the No. 3 seed St. Louis Blues, while the No. 1 seed Calgary Flames will face the No. 2 seed Edmonton Oilers in the Battle of Alberta.

As the next round begins, NHL experts have revealed their predictions for the conference semi-finals.

Western Conference

USATSI

(1) Avalanches vs (3) Blues

Chris: The Blues definitely caught my eye after their impressive streak win over Wild in the opening round. Goalkeeper Jordan Bennington has found his 2019 Stanley Cup winning form and has scored 1.67 goals against average in three games against Wilde. The Blues will certainly win some matches in this series, but I can’t stand the avalanche and all their firepower. After all, the avalanche completely dominated the predators with 5.25 goals per game. Defending star Cal Makar has racked up an astonishing 10 points (three goals and seven assists) in just four matches. Even if Binnington continues to play well, I still don’t think it will be enough. Beck – Avalanche beat the Blues 4-2

Austin: Last season, the Blues met an avalanche in the first round, and they were swept away by Colorado with relative ease. St. Louis should be able to get on the board this time because they are a much better team, and they have been proven to beat the Minnesota Wild in six games. However, I doubt the Blues will be able to achieve four wins in this series. Perhaps the most obvious contrast between these two teams comes on the blue line. St. Louis doesn’t have anyone who can stack up with the likes of McCar and Devon Toes. The Blues have much more offensive firepower than the Predators, and this series might be entertaining as two teams attack each other out of the rush, but the Avs will go on to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Beck – Avalanche beat the Blues 4-2

(1) Flame Vs (2) Oilers

Chris: This might be the most exciting series of this roundup. Oilers star Connor McDavid and Flames star Johnny Gaudreau were very hot and won their own series. For the first time in his career, McDavid exited the opening round. On the other hand, Gaudreau was able to get rid of the label not appearing in postseason. This chain has the potential to be longer. However, I’m going to make the Stanley Cup Final, and I’m not going far from that now. The difference lies between the tubes. Give me Jacob Markstrom, who scored an insane 1.53-for-average against the stars, above Mike Smith on any given day. Beck – Flames beat Oilers 4-2

Austin: The Flame was one shot away from getting on target in the first round against the Stars. Calgary controlled 60.03% of the projected goals in five-for-five in that series, but the team needed extra time in Game 7 to reach the second round. Jake Oettinger was phenomenal for Dallas, and I would love the Flames’ chances if they played that way against the Oilers. However, Mike Smith did well in the last Edmonton Tour, and MacDavid played the world’s best with 14 points in seven games. In addition, the combination of McDavid and Evander Kane produced excellent results. This might be the hardest streak to anticipate given there are good reasons to like both teams, but the Flames have been the better team for a while now, and I’m betting that trend will continue. Beck – Flames beat Oilers 4-2

Eastern Conference

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(1) Panthers vs. (3) Lightning

Chris: I really thought the Maple Leafs had what it took to take down the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning. However, we saw in Game 7 what this tournament pedigree is all about. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made a big splash when his team needed him most. Now we have the Battle of Florida at hand. While it was impressive to see Lightning defeat the high-octane Maple Leafs, I don’t think there are three peats in a Tampa Bay card. This Panthers team is insanely deep from an offensive standpoint and I don’t see lightning being able to slow them down. It’s going to be a long streak without a doubt, and a seven-game marathon wouldn’t surprise me. On top of all the firepower the Leopards possess, Lightning can be reduced to a portion of the series where star center Brayden Point deals with a lower-body injury he suffered against the Maple Leafs. If he misses a game or two, the Lightning is in trouble. Choice – Panthers beat Lightning 4-3

Austin: The Florida Battle is back, and it promises to be even better than last season. It’s very difficult to pick against Lightning for the second series in a row, but this list of Panthers makes it a little easier. Florida’s depth eventually put it over the top against Washington, and although that gap is a lot smaller against Tampa Bay, it’s still there. Bolts Point’s health is an important factor here, but even if he was able to wear it, the Panthers’ ability to roll three lines without sacrificing any offense would see them make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Let’s just hope this series goes the distance before that happens. Choice – Panthers beat Lightning 4-3

(1) Hurricanes vs. (2) Rangers

Chris: The Hurricanes and Rangers each had to grind out a seven-game streak in order to advance into the opening round. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we played this series seven games. The biggest reason I beat the Bruins over the Hurricanes in the first round was the potential absence of goalkeeper Fredrik Andersen. However, Antti Raanta had a very strong streak and made me a believer. It’s doubtful that Andersen will be in goal this round. On the other hand, Vezina Trophy front-runner Igor Shesterkin struggled hard against the Penguins and was drawn on multiple occasions in the series. Both teams have two of the most dangerous combinations of attackers, but I think this game is all about goalkeepers. I don’t expect Shesterkin to continue to struggle and we’ll see the brick wall that was in the net during the regular season. With that being said, I’ll be going with the Rangers in what should be a great series. PICK – Rangers beat Hurricanes 4-3

Austin: How many times will I choose against Rangers because of poor core numbers only to see them throw it at me? Well, at least one. In the seven-game series against the Penguins, Rangers controlled just 37.69% of the projected goals in five against five. This was the worst mark out of all 16 teams. This does not bode well for New York as the team is about to face one of the best possession teams in the NHL. While the two teams might match well in terms of sophisticated firepower, Hurricanes are simply deeper. Unless Louis Domingue takes the ice to the Carolinas, this is where the New York race ends. Beck – Hurricanes defeated Rangers 4-2



2022-05-17 15:39:21

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