NHL Playoff Predictions

PlayoffsThe best time of the year is here for all hockey fanatics around the world. Playoff hockey has begun. And this year, all the talk is about the Las Vegas Golden Knights and their phenomenal regular season and tremendous 4-0 start in the playoffs, clinching the first round series against 2014 and 2012 Stanley Cup champions LA Kings.  Two of The Mirror’s staff reporters have their Stanley Cup predictions.

 

Shane McGrath ‘18:McGrathPicks

 

Senior Shane McGrath’s 2018 NHL Playoff Bracket

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to be the franchise that will “3Peat,” winning the Stanley Cup this season against the Jets in the finals. Pittsburgh’s unbelievably strong forwards put them at an advantage against whomever they play. With three players finishing with 90 or more points at the end of the regular season, no other team can compare.  Murray in the pipes and Letang leading the D core on the back end will be very difficult to defeat. These guys are playing some of the best hockey in their lives. Sidney Crosby has just passed Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux for most playoff points in franchise history. They will easily take down the Flyers in the first round, giving them a bit of a rest to prepare for the following rounds, which will only get more difficult.

The Winnipeg Jets, however, will put up quite a fight. With veterans such as Scheifele, Byfuglien, Hellebuyck, Wheeler, Little and elite rookies such as Laine and Tanev, the Jets can be lethal. The Jets outweigh the Penguins by an average of nearly ten pounds, which plays a big factor in playoff hockey. The Jets will use this to their advantage to slow down and take down some of the Penguins’ all-stars.

The Golden Knights will make it to the semifinals, where they will fall to Winnipeg in a long series matchup. Vegas has been phenomenal all year. I will not take anything away from them, but I do not believe they are a championship team yet, because they don’t have enough players with playoff experience. This is going to come into play after they defeat the Sharks in the quarter-finals. Not even a handful of the quad is used to the amount of hockey being played every second night. Only their goalie, the all-star Fleury, has significant playoff experience. The wear and tear on the body will come into play, and not enough of them have been through such an intense amount of tearing and injury.

Winnipeg and Nashville are both incredibly talented, tough, fast franchises with a surreal home ice atmosphere. It will be a very interesting and intense series.

 

Santeri Hartikainen ‘18:SanteriPicks

 

Senior Santeri Hartikainen’s 2018 NHL Playoff Bracket

 

It is finally Nashville Predator’s time to hoist the Cup. They were close last year, and with learning from last season, along with the experience of once being that close, will lead to their victory. They are a fast and well-balanced team with star players like Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, P. K. Subban, and Pekka Rinne. On top of this, they have depth and discipline in their game. The Preds will have a strong opponent in the Western Conference Finals: the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas is my second candidate for the Cup, but due to their players’ lack of experience in the playoffs, I see Nashville having what it takes to win in the Western Conference Final. It will be a close series, but Nashville will come on top because they are more thirsty and ready for the Cup.

The Eastern Conference champion will be the Tampa Bay Lightning. They will defeat the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Final. Lightning has played a strong season, having the most wins out of every team in the NHL. They have a strong core that consists of star players like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Around these star players is a strong team with depth, which is crucial in the playoffs.

The Washington Capitals will have to work to earn their shot at the Eastern Conference Final. They will have to beat their playoff nemesis the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Pittsburgh has a strong team with talent and depth with a goal of winning their third straight Cup. The last time a team did that was when the Islanders won four in a row in the early 1980s.

The Stanley Cup Finals will be a hard battle between the Nashville Predators and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams hungry for the Cup, the Nashville Predators will have home advantage which will be crucial as the championship will be won in Nashville in either game five or a legendary game seven.

Santeri Hartikainen ’18 co-wrote this article with Shane McGrath ’18.

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