The Stanley Cup Qualifiers begin today and the Boston Bruins will begin their quest for their seventh Stanley Cup tomorrow in the round-robin round. Can the Bruins recapture the top seed in the Eastern Conference? Check back here tomorrow for more in depth Bruins coverage and any Bruins updates but for now, it’s prediction time!
The National Hockey Now crew has submitted their picks for the qualifiers and round-robin and now after 142 days, it’s Game On for the NHL again!
Boston Hockey Now: 1. TB; 2. WSH; 3. BOS; 4. PHI
Sheng Peng’s San Jose Hockey Now: 1. TB 2. PHI 3. BOS 4. WSH
Adrian Dater’s Colorado Hockey Now: 1. PHI; 2. TB; 3. BOS; 4. WSH
George Richards’s Florida Hockey Now: 1. TB; 2. BOS; 3. PHI; 4. WSH
Christian Arnold’s NYI Hockey Now: 1. BOS; 2. TB; 3. PHI; 4. WSH
Dan Kingerski’s Pittsburgh Hockey Now: 1. WSH; 2. TB; 3. PHI; 4. BOS
Rob Simpson’s National Hockey Now: 1. WSH; 2. TB; 3. BOS; 4. PHI
Boston Hockey Now: 1. COL; 2. VGK; 3. DAL; 4. STL
Rob Simpson, National Hockey Now: 1. COL; 2. STL; 3. VGK; 4. DAL
Sheng Peng, San Jose Hockey Now: 1. VGK2. DAL; 3. STL; 4. COL
Adrian Dater’s Colorado Hockey Now: 1. STL; 2. COL; 3. VGK; 4. DAL
George Richards’s Florida Hockey Now: 1. COL; 2. VGK; 3. STL; 4. DAL
Christian Arnold’s NYI Hockey Now: 1. STL; 2. VGK; 3. COL; 4. DAL
Dan Kingerski’s Pittsburgh Hockey Now: 1. VGK; 2. COL; 3. STL; 4. DAL
Stanley Cup Qualifiers
Montreal Canadiens vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Rob Simpson, Toronto Correspondent: Penguins in 4. Carey who? Are Penguins healthy with fresh legs? A sweep wouldn’t shock me. Man to watch: Conor Sheary.
Dan Kingerski, Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins in 4. The Penguins will control their own fate. Montreal is fast, but so are the Penguins, as well as more talented, bigger, stronger, and more experienced. Only the Penguins can beat the Penguins in this series.
New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers
Arnold, NYI Hockey Now: Islanders in 5. A healthy Islanders squad will be a tough challenge for the Florida Panthers. This won’t be an easy series for the Islanders, but a healthy Casey Cizikas and Adam Pelech returns them to the team that won 10 straight games and recorded points in 17 consecutive contests.
Richards, FHN: Panthers in 5. If the Panthers cannot stay patient and wait out the steady-handed Islanders, they’ll be in trouble. But the Islanders don’t offer the kind of firepower that should scare Sergei Bobrovsky too much.
New York Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes
Kingerski, PHN: Carolina in 5. New York was a galloping thoroughbred towards the end of the season, but Carolina has something special. It will be a fun, not overly physical series. New York’s goaltending and scoring depth could make the difference here.
Rob Simpson: Rangers in 5. Never underestimate the puck pressure and determination of the Canes. NYR with a plethora of goaltending. Hocus pocus focus: Jesper Fast
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Toronto Maple Leafs
BHN: Blue Jackets in 5. The Blue Jackets offense from the blue line is an underrated topic heading into this round. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski did a splendid job of helping their forwards fly the coop against one of the NHL’s best defenses this season in the Boston Bruins Thursday in a 4-1 exhibition win. That and a two-headed monster between the pipes with Elvis Merzlikens and Joonas Korpisalo will slow down the free-wheeling Maple Leafs.
Dater, CHN: Leafs in four. Columbus is just too boring of a team to watch, and Toronto’s high-flying forwards will just plain outskate them. Torts will blow a gasket at some point.
Edmonton Oilers vs Chicago Blackhawks
Dater, CHN: Blackhawks in 5. Corey Crawford is healthy again, and Toews and Kane have designs on one more run.
Murphy, BHN: Oilers in 3. Like in Toronto, home ice isn’t really home ice, yet it is. These wheels too much to handle, and #97 is possessed. Watch: Oscar Klefbom
Calgary Flames vs Winnipeg Jets
Richards, FHN: Jets in 5. Winnipeg has one of the best goaltenders going in Connor Hellebuyck, and he is going to be the difference-maker here. This could be a wild series, the only all-Canadian one on the qualifier docket.
Arnold, NYI HN: Flames in 5. Winnipeg’s defense is suspect heading into this matchup. Calgary has a roster that can take advantage of that.
Nashville Predators vs Arizona Coyotes
Peng, SJHN: Coyotes in 4. Arizona has been a sleeper team for me the entire season, here’s their chance to prove it.
Simmer: Predators in 4. Other than the off-ice nonsense, likely the least intriguing series. Pred’s have been down this road and still have a decent backend. Fresh old legs. Who wins the goalie matchup wins the series. Besides the men in the cage: Matt Duchene
Minnesota Wild vs Vancouver Canucks
Kingerski, PHN: Vancouver in 4. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and a young but hungry Vancouver team should steam roll the Minnesota Wild who are caught in the middle of rebuilding without enough young pieces. Dubnyk was abysmal this season.
Murphy, BHN: Wild in 5. A series of question marks: Depth on D, goaltending. This comes down to who’s ready to play, who has the legs and the heads to match. I’ll go with age.