2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs – Opening Round Predictions

by | Apr 10, 2019 | Soapbox | 18 comments

The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Wednesday, April 10. Here are my predictions for each of the eight opening-round series. As always, bear in mind that I don’t take predictions seriously and these are merely for fun. Feel free to offer up your predictions in the comments section below.

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning dominated the standings this season, winning their first Presidents’ Trophy and tying the league record for most wins (62) in a season. They have a very deep roster featuring the league’s leading scorer (Nikita Kucherov), the reigning Norris Trophy winner (Victor Hedman) and a potential Vezina Trophy candidate (Andrei Vasilevsky).

The Blues Jackets needed the second-last game of the season to clinch a playoff spot. They acquired Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Adam McQuaid before the trade deadline but the moves didn’t significantly improve them. They were swept by the Lightning in the season series and outscored 17-3. The Jackets will be gamers but they lack the depth to upset the Bolts. Prediction: Lightning in four.

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs The Lightning’s dominance in the East overshadowed a strong performance by the Bruins. They possess one of the league’s top scoring lines in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. The Bruins can also rely on a solid defense corps and two dependable goaltenders in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

The Leafs also have considerable firepower, led by John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews. Defensive depth, especially on the right side, is a concern. Starting goalie Frederik Andersen’s heavy workload and a lack of a reliable backup is another worrying issue. Prediction: Bruins in six

Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes. For the first time in 10 years, the Hurricanes reached the playoffs. They have talented young forwards such as Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov and a deep blueline corps, the Hurricanes are an entertaining bunch that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The Capitals could find it difficult to repeat as Stanley Cup champions but they have the talent to pull it off. Led by captain Alex Ovechkin, centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom, defenseman John Carlson and goalie Braden Holtby, their championship roster from last season remains largely intact. Their depth in experienced talent should see them through. Prediction: Capitals in five.

New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders defied the odds this season by clinching a playoff berth and home-ice advantage in the opening round. Under coach Barry Trotz, they’ve significantly improved on the blueline and between the pipes, with Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss having the league’s lowest goals-against average.

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Penguins, who weren’t assured of a playoff spot until the final week of the season. They still possess plenty of postseason experience and offensive skill, led by superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Goaltender Matt Murray played well down the stretch, which should provide them with a much-needed edge. Prediction: Penguins in seven.

Western Conference

Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche. For the first time in 30 years, the Flames topped the Western Conference. Led by Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames are a dangerous offensive club. They also have a strong blueline corps anchored by captain Mark Giordano. Goaltenders Mike Smith and David Rittich, however, have been inconsistent.

The Avs squeaked into the playoffs in the final week of the season. Of late, they’ve received stellar goaltending from Philipp Grubauer. They also have potent first-line scoring punch with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen, though the latter’s been sidelined since mid-March. The Avs could make a series of it but they won’t be a match for the Flames’ depth. Prediction: Flames in five.

Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars. The Predators finished atop the Central Division for the second straight season, but they’re not the dominating club that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season. Injuries to Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and P.K.Subban contributed to a decline in scoring, especially on the power-play.

While the Stars have their own offensive depth issues, they could pull off an upset. Ben Bishop posted the league’s best save percentage (.934) and second-best goals-against (1.98) plus he has plenty of postseason experience. If he can stay healthy and if captain Jamie Benn rediscovers his playoff beast mode from three years ago, the Stars could surprise in the opening round. Prediction: Stars in six.

Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues. Following last season’s march to the Western Conference Finals, the Jets looked like Canada’s best hope to end its 26-year Cup drought. However, they stumbled down the stretch and fell out of first in the Central. Injuries to Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey hampered their blueline while goaltender Connor Hellebuyck faced a league-high 2,051 shots.

The Blues, meanwhile, soared from dead last in the West on New Year’s Day into third in the Central. Interim head coach Craig Berube instilled a more aggressive puck-possession system while mid-season call-up Jordan Binnington provided them with much-needed clutch goaltending. The Blues are rolling while the Jets seem to be fading. Prediction: Blues in six.

San Jose Sharks vs Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights aren’t surprising anyone as they did in their debut a year ago, but they’re still a very good team. Marc-Andre Fleury is among this season’s top goaltenders. The addition of two-way winger Mark Stone at the trade deadline provided a welcome boost to the forward lines.

While a potent offense and a solid blueline carried the Sharks to second overall in the Conference, goaltending is their Achilles’ heel. Martin Jones and Aaron Dell have not performed well this season. If Jones cannot regain the form that carried the Sharks to the 2016 Cup Final, they will make an early exit. Prediction: Golden Knights in seven







18 Comments

  1. Well I will give it a shot. Hear is how I see things going.
    I will say
    Tampa in 5 (Bob steals 1)

    Bruins in 5 (they are just the better team unless Rask struggles)

    Caps in 6 (Carolina is just playing so well will push the caps)

    Pens in 5 ( reality hits NYI )

    Flames in 7 (goaltending will be interesting for both teams)

    Nashville in 5 (Preds have been waiting for the playoffs all season)

    Jets in 6 (Same as the Preds just waiting for the playoffs thinking Jets go a long way )

    Sharks in 7 (this is just going to be an amazing series )

    Just my thoughts

  2. I’ll try it too…. 😀

    Tampa Bay in 5
    Bruins in 5
    Canes in 7
    Pens in 6
    Avs in 7
    Preds in 6
    Blues in 7
    Vegas in 6

  3. Tampa in 5
    Bruins in 6
    Washington in 6
    NY Islanders in 7
    Dallas in 6
    St Louis in 6
    Calgary in 7
    Las Vegas in 6

  4. lighting in 4
    bruins in 5
    caps in 4
    islanders in 7
    flames in 6
    preds in 6
    jets in 6
    vegas in 7

  5. Anyone picking the Islanders to win are just Penguin haters pure and simple. A healthy Pens team is superior to the Islanders in every way. The Penguins have proven playoff performers and no holes in the roster. The Islanders are as top heavy as they come and have been relying on unsustainable svpct all year. I would be surprised if the Islanders could win one game.

    • While I do agree that NYI has very little chance of getting past PIT, it’s comments like these that make me want them to haha.

      Bruins fan, not a Penguins hater at all.

    • Deee

      as you know, I’m a Pens and Leafs fan… with you all the way w.r.t. health Pens as a much better team.

      That said, You Know Who can all on his lonesome actually cost the Pens a couple of games and could in fact lose the Pens the series. He is that friggin bad.

      I’m hoping and praying that he doesn’t play.

      My heart is all with Pens. I don’t see Leafs having a chance at all this year against the Bruins.

      Had my big annual NHL playoff draft last night. Unfortunately this is all business for that draft and no one picks with their hearts. 20 of us; each in for $500, so it was down to where you started drafting in the order and then seeing how the draft played out using pragmatic/logical picks only. All 20 guys are from the GTA and all but 2 are avid Leaf fans. Not a single Leaf was picked until round 7 (Tavares).

      I lost big time in that my pull from the hat ended me with pick #20 (so pick 20, 21, 60, 61 etc. etc.

      My future son in law went 15th, Gino 17th, and Guentzel 18th; …. so I had to make a decision at that point…. and I chose to pick from then on at whatever Bolts players were left and Flames and balance it out. Ended up with 7 Bolts, 5 flames …. Got Johnson and Hedman at 20 and 21.

      Looking at the draft as a whole, it appeared that most guys were looking at Bolts/Jets or Bolts/Flames or Bolts/VGK SCF.

      Fingers crossed on JJ and the flu!

      • Kuch, Stammer, Point went 1-2-3

    • Didn’t you just say a week or 2 ago the Pens could pass the lightning? Lol. I guess you’re a Tampa hater. Because THIS lightning team is far superior to this Pens team… healthy or not.

      People can have opinions. Every year we see some upsets. Too many people slap on the hater tag when someone States an opinion about the team they cheer for. It’s not that deep!

      • What do you mean pass the Lightning? In the standings? That would have been impossible 2 months ago let alone 2 weeks ago. Can the Penguins beat Tampa in a 7 game series if both teams are heakthy? Absolutely. Half the squad won back to back cups 2 years ago. The Pens 4th best forward scored 40 goals this year. If any team can beat Tampa in a 7 game series it’s Pittsburgh.

      • No, playoffs. 2 weeks ago you stated they could get by Tampa or Boston .

        Tampa’s 4th line center has 19 goals…. this Pittsburgh team is far from teams past, and it has been obvious the entire season. On the other side, this Tampa team has been one of the best teams in hockey’s history. And without question the best team in a very long time.

    • surprised?

  6. Here are my stabs at the first round:

    East to me is much easier to predict:

    Bolts in 5 (Clb wins game 4 in OT); Bolts trounce them at home in game 5

    Bruins in 5; 6 if Freddy somehow absolutely stands on his head.

    Wsh in 5– one win in Car just to see the “massive” crowd go nuts.

    Pens in 6 (both losses all on JJ)

    Outside of Nsh over Dal in 5; West to me , much more uncertainty

    Cgy for sure over Col but this just may go 6

    I’m kind of torn on the SJ/VGK match-up… I think goal tending with SJ will falter and VGK take it in game 6. If somehow SJ can keep shot count way down… they could take this in 5… it is a coin toss IMO.

    Now the upset (to me at least)—- Winnipeg by far IMO is the better team. They have faltered lately but they will get up for the playoffs and “should” win this in 6. That said, Mr. Binnington could in fact get in their heads, stand on his own; and this could be over in 5… it is possible. Probable— meh; but possible.

    🙂

  7. Tampa in 6
    Leafs in 6
    Caps in 4
    Pens in 5

    Flames in 6
    Preds in 5
    Jets in 7
    Vegas in 6

    95% of predictions I’ve read so far have Lightning winning the cup. They have the talent but can they handle the pressure of being labeled a shoe-in to go all the way? I’m going with Caps vs either the Preds or Golden Knights in the finals

  8. I posted mine a few days ago but since there’s a thread devoted to that now, I’ll just repeat it here

    TB vs Columbus – TB in 6
    Pitt vs NYI – Pitt in 6
    Nash vs Dallas – Nash in 5
    Winnipeg vs St. Louis – St. Louis in 7
    SJ vs Vegas – Vegas in 5

    Calgary vs Colorado – Calgary in 5
    Washington vs Carolina – Washington in 6
    Toronto vs Boston – Boston in 5

  9. Tampa Bay 5
    Boston 6
    Washington 5
    Pittsburgh 6
    Calgary 5
    Vegas 6
    Nashville 6
    Winnipeg 7

  10. Well won’t be Pittsburgh or Tampa in 4

  11. Some underdogs in my predictions:

    CLB in 6
    NYI in 7
    Tor in 6
    Wash in 5

    SJ in 7
    CGY in 6
    STL in 7
    Dal in 6