The NHL postseason is formally right here.
Sixteen groups are set to start the gauntlet of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, and there is not any telling who would be the final membership standing and consuming out of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The West Division was made up of eight groups that stretched from the West Coast to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” At the tip of the season’s 56-game dash, 4 groups had been left standing, together with the 2021 Presidents’ Trophy-winning Avalanche.
Here’s a take a look at the West Division and the way Sporting News thinks the primary spherical will shake out.
- NHL playoffs bracket 2021
- NHL playoffs 2021: West Division predictions
- West Division first-round odds
- Sporting News’ 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs predictions
NHL playoffs bracket 2021
NHL playoffs 2021: West Division predictions
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues
The Avalanche waited till the final recreation of the season to snag the 2021 Presidents’ Trophy, however this workforce has been dominant all yr lengthy. Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and captain Gabe Landeskog led the way in which with 183 factors mixed with 65 of these factors coming from MacKinnon in simply 48 video games. Colorado was additionally deep on the backend with guys like Norris Trophy contender Cale Makar (44 factors in 44 video games) and Samuel Girard (32 factors in 48 video games), plus netminder Philipp Grubauer (30-9-1, .922 save share).
St. Louis gained the Cup two years in the past however hasn’t been capable of finding the identical spark since. The membership could possibly be with out high factors man David Perron (58 factors in 56 video games) after he was positioned on the COVID-19 protocol listing on Saturday. The Blues can have high scorer Ryan O’Reilly (24 objectives) and a wholesome Torey Krug on the blueline.
X-factor: Nazem Kadri
Colorado has depth up entrance, and Kadri is a giant a part of that. During the common season, he collected 11 objectives and 32 factors in 56 video games. If he can put up the numbers he did within the 2020 bubble — 9 objectives, 9 assists in 15 video games — the Avalanche may go far. It additionally would not harm if he replicated his 5 game-winners from final summer time.
The large quantity: 58.98
The energy play is excellent. The penalty kill is nice. But the place the Avalanche completely dominated in 2021 was 5-on-5.
Jared Bednar’s squad had an NHL-best 58.98 Corsi For share; by comparability, the second-best squad, the Canadiens, was at 54.50 %. The Blues had been at 47.71. The membership additionally led the NHL in Expected Goals For share (60.08) and Scoring Chances For share (60.43)
SN’s decide: Avalanche in 5
|Date||Matchup||Time (TV channel)|
|Mon., May 17||at Colorado||10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports)|
|Wed., May 19||at Colorado||10:30 p.m. (CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Fri., May 21||at St. Louis||9:30 p.m. (USA, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Sun., May 23||at St. Louis||TBD|
|*Tue., May 25||at Colorado||TBD|
|*Thu., May 27||at St. Louis||TBD|
|*Sat., May 29||at Colorado||TBD|
(* If vital)
(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (3) Minnesota Wild
Vegas is without doubt one of the most balanced franchises within the NHL from high to backside, starting with the perfect 1-2 punch in between the pipes in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. At 36, Fleury put collectively one in all his greatest seasons ever, with a 1.98 goals-against common and .928 save share. Oh, and if he had been to wrestle within the postseason, there’s nothing higher than turning to a fellow William M. Jennings Trophy winner. Then add within the ahead group and the protection, and the Golden Knights are stacked.
On the flip facet, the Wild are among the finest tales in hockey this yr with rookie sensation — and anticipated Calder Trophy winner — Kirill Kaprizov. Not solely did he tally 27 objectives and 51 factors (16 in his final 13 video games), however he is additionally elevated the sport of everybody round him, together with Mats Zuccarello (11 objectives, 35 assists in 42 video games). Jordan Greenway has additionally had a profession yr with 32 factors in 56 video games, alongside his linemates Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. As for the Wild’s goaltender, Cam Talbot was stellar, posting a 19-8-5 document in 33 begins, with a .915 save share.
X-factor: Cam Talbot
If there’s anybody who can steal this for the Wild, it is the netminder. In his final two playoff appearances, Talbot boasted .924 save percentages annually. Both occasions, he elevated his recreation when it mattered most, and he ought to proceed that tempo in 2021.
The large quantity: 22
In 2021, Fleury and Lehner allowed 115 objectives in opposition to mixed. Of these, 22 had been tallied by the Wild — essentially the most of any West Division workforce. If they’ll proceed that development, the scales may tip of their favor.
SN’s decide: Golden Knights in 6
|Date||Matchup||Time (TV channel)|
|Sun., May 16||at Vegas||3 p.m. (NBC, SN, TVA Sports)|
|Tue., May 18||at Vegas||10 p.m. (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Thu., May 20||at Minnesota||9:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|Sat., May 22||at Minnesota||8 p.m. (NBC, SN360, TVA Sports)|
|*Mon., May 24||at Vegas||TBD|
|*Wed., May 26||at Minnesota||TBD|
|*Fri., May 28||at Vegas||TBD|
(* If vital)
West Division first-round odds
Betting odds courtesy of FanDuel as of May 16.
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|