Hockey

NHL Western Conference First Round Predictions

Central Division:

1. Nashville Predators v.s. W. Dallas Stars:

In a wild last day of the Regular Season, we saw the Nashville Predators defeat the Chicago Blackhawks to steal the Central Division for the second consecutive year.

With the roster Nashville has, the consistency has not been there all year long which is my main concern with the Predators, on top of the fact that they have the worst power play in the entire NHL.

With the help of Ben Bishop, the Dallas Stars allowed the second fewest amount of goals against this season in the NHL, and now found themselves back in the Playoffs for the first time since 2016.

This is one of the better match ups in the First Round as either team could run away with this series.

However, when looking at rosters I do like Nashville’s depth, and top four Defensemen compared to Dallas’ which gives Nashville the edge in this series.

Prediction: Nashville 4-2

2. Winnipeg Jets v.s. 3. St. Louis Blues:

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The Winnipeg Jets finished the season 4-5-1; the St. Louis Blues finished the season 8-1-1, you tell me who’s playing better hockey right now.

Winnipeg does have home ice however, and that Winnipeg White Out is a factor against any team.

The Jets have the offensive skill, and goaltending in Connor Hellebuyck to defeat the Blues, but like Nashville, Winnipeg has not been consistent with their play all season.

Heavily backed by Rookie Goalie Jordan Binnington, the Blues have arguably been the best team in the NHL since late January.

Tarasenko, O’Reilly, and Pietrangelo are the key factors for St. Louis in this Playoff run.

Despite getting off to a terrible start, St. Louis has fought their way back to make it to the Playoffs, which speaks a lot about a team and their will to win.

How the Blues finished the season, and how the Jets have not looked like the Winnipeg Jets we expected this year gives St. Louis the edge in this series.

Prediction: St. Louis 4-2

Pacific Division:

1. Calgary Flames v.s. W. Colorado Avalanche:

The Calgary Flames have had a tremendous season finishing first in the Western Conference for the first time since the 1989 season.

This Calgary team is ready for a deep playoff run, as Gaudreau recorded 99 points, and four other players recorded over 70 points this season.

For the second year in a row, the Avalanche find themselves in the second Wild Card Spot.

Colorado’s only chance of making it past the Flames is their deadly line of MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen; the only three players for Colorado to record over 70 points this season.

This series just does not favor the Avalanche in any way, which leads me to believe it could be over quickly; especially with the Flames showing their offensive ability as of late.

Prediction: Calgary 4-1

2. San Jose Sharks v.s. 3. Vegas Golden Knights

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San Jose certainly had a rocky finish to their Regular Season, going 3-6-1 in their last ten games.

Unless this team turns things around drastically by Wednesday, the Sharks are going to have a tough time getting out of this round against the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Vegas was certainly the biggest winner after the Trade Deadline, finishing third in the Pacific Division.

The biggest factor to how far this team goes is how well Marc-Andre Fleury plays.

If Fleury goes down again, or does not play at the exceptional level he played at in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals run, Vegas will certainly not be back in the Finals this year.

However, going off the fact that Fleury did finish the final two games of the season, and San Jose has not played great in the past two or three weeks, I see Vegas taking this series.

Prediction: Vegas 4-3

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