Toronto Maple Leafs (A3) at Boston Bruins (A2)
The Leafs have been struggling with consistency the whole second half of the season and have a leaky defense. The Bruins have been a model of consistency in the second half despite numerous injuries. Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Marchand make up one of the best lines in the NHL and will prove to be too much for the Leafs to defense to handle. Bruins in 5.
Las Vegas Golden Knights (P3) at San Jose Sharks (P2)
Both the Knights and Sharks have been inconsistent, especially since the All-Star break. The Sharks goaltenders have save percentages below.900. The Sharks have an offense that can dominate at times but the Knights Fleury is more than capable of frustrating the offensive stars of the Sharks. The edge would have to go to the Knights in goal. Knights in 6.
Columbus Blue Jackets (WC2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (A1)
The Lightning appear to have very few weaknesses and have managed to avoid any significant slumps or losing streaks the entire season. The Jackets acquired 4 players at the trade deadline to setup for a deep playoff run but their acquisitions have struggled to fit in as the Jackets barely made the playoffs. The Jackets have never won a playoff series and I don’t expect that to change. Lightning in 5.
Carolina Hurricanes (WC1) at Washington Capitals (M1)
The Canes have offensive depth and good goaltending but the Capitals know what it takes to win in the playoffs. Defending champs in 6.
Pittsburgh Penguins (M3) at New York Islanders (M2)
This series will be explosive offense of the Penguins against the stingy defense of the Isles. This series will go the distance but the experience of the Penguins and their offensive skills will defeat the Isles. Penguins in 7.
Dallas Stars (WC2) at Nashville Predators (C1)
The Stars have a strong defense and superior goaltending if Bishop is healthy. Even if Bishop is healthy, the Stars lack of scoring will be their downfall. The Preds second half effort has been less than stellar but they seem poised for the playoffs. Preds in 6.
St. Louis Blues (C3) at Winnipeg Jets (C2)
The Jets have suffered from inconsistent play since Christmas. The Blues have been the best team in the league since January 1st , earning more points than even the Lightning. Blues in 6.
Colorado Avalanche (WC1) at Calgary Flames (P1)
The Avs barely limped into the playoffs. They started the season on a great run but like so many teams the Avs second half has been terrible except the final two weeks of the season. The Flames have dominated the Pacific and Central Divisions the second half. The Flames have the offensive depth to stymie the Avs into submission. Flames in 5.