The NHL postseason is formally right here.
Sixteen groups start the gauntlet of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs and there isn’t any telling who would be the final membership standing and ingesting out of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The East Division was made up of eight groups that stretched from the Mid-Atlantic area as much as New England. Four groups stay: the Penguins, Capitals, Bruins and Islanders. There are some acquainted faces — and a few historical past — between these golf equipment.
Will or not it’s Sidney Crosby and the Penguins marching out of the division, or will or not it’s Mr. 700-Plus Goals Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals? And do not depend out the 2019 runners-up from Beantown or the fellows from Long Island.
Sporting News seems on the East Division playoffs and predicts how the primary spherical will shake out.
- NHL playoffs bracket 2021
- NHL playoffs 2021: East Division predictions
- East Division first-round odds
- Sporting News’ 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs predictions
NHL playoffs bracket 2021
NHL playoffs 2021: East Division predictions
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders
Two years in the past, these groups met within the first spherical of the postseason and the Islanders swept the Penguins in a lopsided affair with new bench boss Barry Trotz on the helm. It’s now Year 3 on the Island for the 2019 Jack Adams Award winner; will we see a repeat?
It has been some time since these groups have confronted one another; the final of their eight-game set in 2021 (the Penguins gained the season series 6-2-0 with one extra time win and one shootout win) was on March 29. Both groups have made adjustments up entrance since then: the Penguins added Jeff Carter and the Islanders, after shedding captain Anders Lee in mid-March, introduced on Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the Devils.
There additionally the mainstays on this series, together with the uber-talented and high Islanders level producer Mathew Barzal (17 objectives, 28 assists) and, in fact, Crosby. The Penguins captain posted a 62-point marketing campaign in 2021, which included three objectives and 9 assists towards the Isles. It’ll be attention-grabbing to see how he handles New York’s stifling protection this postseason; in 2019, he had one help because the Pens have been swept.
X-factor: Semyon Varlamov
The Russian netminder posted a Vezina Trophy-worthy season with a 19-11-4 document, a .929 save share and an NHL-best seven shutouts. Hot goaltending is normally the inform for a powerful membership. If he may replicate his .921 save share from the 2020 bubble, then the Islanders must be in a powerful place to make a long term.
The massive quantity: 125
Known for having a stingy protection, the Islanders allowed simply 125 objectives in 56 video games in 2021, second-fewest within the league. Only the Golden Knights allowed fewer (122). By comparability, the Penguins allowed 155 objectives.
Though New York allowed simply 2.23 objectives towards per recreation, the group solely scored 2.71 objectives for per recreation. The Isles will want their defensive recreation on this one because the Penguins have been second within the NHL at 3.45 GF/GP.
SN’s choose: Islanders in 6
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Sun., May 16||at Pittsburgh||Noon (NBC, SN, TVA Sports)|
|Tue., May 18||at Pittsburgh||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Thu., May 20||at New York||7 p.m. (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Sat., May 22||at New York||3 p.m. (NBC, SN, TVA Sports)|
|*Mon., May 24||at Pittsburgh||TBD|
|*Wed., May 26||at New York||TBD|
|*Fri., May 28||at Pittsburgh||TBD|
(* If obligatory)
(2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins
The squads have been evenly matched within the common season, splitting the eight-game set (two of Boston’s losses have been in OT/SO). The Bruins scored 26 objectives, the Caps pumped in 24 and every group averaged 30.0 pictures on purpose per recreation. Both groups have strong netminders, goal-scoring machines and robust protection, however just one has veteran rearguard Zdeno Chara. The massive man is now with the Capitals after spending the earlier 14 years together with his first-round series opponent.
It’ll be attention-grabbing to see how they match up within the postseason. The Bruins can have netminder Tuukka Rask main the cost whereas Caps rookies Vitek Vanecek (who left Game 1 early with a lower-body injury) and Ilya Samsonov (who earlier than Saturday was on the league’s COVID-19 checklist) may cut up time. Will the duo be capable to cease Boston’s “The Perfection Line”? Will Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Caps commerce deadline pickup Anthony Mantha, who’s making his playoff debut, be capable to match the Bruins’ offense? This must be a superb one.
X-factor: Taylor Hall
The winger was acquired by Boston around the trade deadline, and after scoring 19 factors (two objectives, 17 assists) in 37 video games for the Sabres, he was reinvigorated in Beantown. He potted eight objectives and added six assists in 16 video games with the Bruins. Hall has some postseason expertise: in 2020 with the Coyotes (six factors) and in 2018 with the Devils (six factors). He’s aiming for a brand new contract and an prolonged keep in Boston, so the 29-year-old might want to show his value.
The massive quantity: 86.0
Special groups may play a essential position right here. The Bruins’ penalty kill was second within the NHL at 85.9 p.c effectiveness throughout the common season, a essential reality contemplating the Capitals has the third-best energy play (24.8 p.c). In the season series, the Bruins’ energy play was solely 70 p.c efficient whereas the Capitals put house 9 objectives in 30 probabilities and averaged 1.13 power-play objectives per recreation. It can be finest if Boston stayed out of the field so Ovechkin cannot arrange in his workplace, but when it does rack up the penalty minutes, then it might want to lock it down the way in which it did towards the remainder of the division.
SN’s choose: Bruins in 5
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET) (TV channel)|
|Sat., May 15||at Washington||7:15 p.m. (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports, OMNI)|
|Mon., May 17||at Washington||7:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Wed., May 19||at Boston||6:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Fri., May 21||at Boston||6:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|*Sun., May 23||at Washington||TBD|
|*Tue., May 25||at Boston||TBD|
|*Thu., May 27||at Washington||TBD|
(* If obligatory)
East Division first-round odds
Betting odds courtesy of FanDuel as of May 14.
Sporting News’ 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs predictions
Rounds 1, 2
|(1) Penguins vs. (4) Islanders||Islanders in 6|
|(2) Capitals vs. (3) Bruins||Bruins in 5|
|(3) Bruins vs. (4) Islanders||Bruins in 6|
|(1) Maple Leafs vs. (4) Canadiens||Maple Leafs in 7|
|(2) Oilers vs. (3) Jets||Oilers in 5|
|(1) Maple Leafs vs. (2) Oilers||Maple Leafs in 7|
|(1) Hurricanes vs. (4) Predators||Hurricanes in 5|
|(2) Panthers vs. (3) Lightning||Lightning in 6|
|(1) Hurricanes vs. (3) Lightning||Hurricanes in 6|
|(1) Avalanche vs. (4) Blues||Avalanche in 5|
|(2) Golden Knights vs. (3) Wild||Golden Knights in 6|
|(1) Avalanche vs. (2) Golden Knights||Golden Knights in 7|
Stanley Cup semifinals
|(1) Golden Knights vs. (4) Bruins||Golden Knights in 6|
|(2) Hurricanes vs. (3) Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs in 6|
Stanley Cup Final
|(1) Golden Knights vs. (3) Maple Leafs||Golden Knights in 6|
|Conn Smythe Trophy||Marc-Andre Fleury|