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2024 NHL Playoff Winners

NHL Eastern Conference 1st Round Series Winners

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins

Winner – Toronto Maple Leafs: I have the Leafs finally breaking their cursed rivalry against Boston in this series. The Leafs simply have the better forward group and with that comes scoring consistency. Boston has the better special teams, defense, and goaltending, but in a 7 game series you have to consistently score goals, and the Leafs can do that throughout their lineup. Ilya Samsonov proved last year that he can be a clutch playoff performer, and Boston, other than Pastrnak, often struggles to score. The Leafs are the underdogs here and lack home ice advantage. Luckily the Leafs are road dogs that do even better on the road than they do at home. I have the Leafs winning this series in 7 games, on the road in Boston.

Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Winner – Florida Panthers: The battle for Florida is taking place yet again, and I simply have to take the superior team here. The Panthers are literally better than the Lightning at everything, with maybe the exception of Andrei Vasilevskiy being the netminder in Tampa. The Panthers are the most physical team in the league and have home ice advantage. The Lightning are another year older, have tons of miles on them, and should still be without one of their elite defensive horses in Mikhail Sergachev. The depth and physicality will be too much for Tampa to overcome; which means that I have the Panthers winning this series in 6 games.

New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals

Winner – New York Rangers: No hot takes here, I have the Rangers easily winning this series. The Rangers are quite literally better at everything in regards to hockey. The Capitals have an overall goal differential of -36, while the Rangers goal differential is +52. Not to cherry-pick statistics, but those teams are nearly in completely different classes. This series could be a sweep, but I have the Rangers winning at the Garden to take the series in 5 games.

Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders

Winner – Carolina Hurricanes: Again, no surprises here; I have the Hurricanes as my Stanley Cup Champions this year, and the Islanders aren’t going to change my mind. This series could go anywhere from being a sweep, to a 7 game slog. My money is around that 5 game mark at home for Carolina. The Islanders are a more skilled team than people give them credit for, and Patrick Roy has them playing hard. Noah Dobson deserves some flowers for being absolutely elite, and being forgotten about in Norris Trophy voting. The problem for the Islanders is that they are up against the playoff hardened Hurricanes, with a hall of fame caliber coach, who added Jake Guentzel at the deadline this year. Frederik Andersen is healthy and getting hot at the right time, and the forward depth is unbelievable in Carolina. Hurricanes in 5 for me.

Oct 26, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The New York Rangers celebrate a goal scored by defensemen Adam Fox (23) during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Western Conference 1st Round Series Winners

Colorado Avalanche vs Winnipeg Jets

Winner – Winnipeg Jets: The lack of respect that has been shown towards the Winnipeg Jets is disappointing to see, although not surprising. The Jets quietly won over 50 games this season, and did so with a style of play that very much replicates the NHL playoffs. The Avalanche have 2 of the probably top 6 players in the NHL, and maybe even 3 of the top 15 if you include Mikko Rantanen. Even with those 3 superstars, and no bad contracts, somehow the Jets have the deeper and more physical team. There are 2 main reasons I am picking Winnipeg here. The first reason is because home ice advantage is a real advantage when it comes to Winnipeg, and I expect those white-outs to be crazy. Also with home ice advantage comes the ability for Rick Bowness to have the last line change; this lets him try to annoy Nathan Mackinnon in as many ways as he can with different matchups to wear him down. The second reason is that the Jets have Connor Hellebuyck in net, who should win the Vezina Trophy for being the best goalie in the world. I have the Jets winning a game 7 in front of that electric factory of a crowd.

Vancouver Canucks vs Nashville Predators

Winner – Nashville Predators: Oh boy, I probably have another super unpopular upset here, but here we go. What this series ultimately comes down to is if Thatcher Demko is 100% healthy or not. I personally trust Juuse Saros in net over a Thatcher Demko that is coming off of the injured list. Although Rick Tocchet has done a great job and is a demanding coach, the roster that Patrick Alvin built in Vancouver is not built for the brutality of the playoffs in my opinion. Quinn Hughes is an unbelievable talent, but can he withstand Nashville’s bottom 6 dumping it in and smashing into him for 23 minutes a night? It’s tough to say. Vancouver’s roster is built to score goals, and Nashville is one of the worst matchups for them stylistically. Nashville plays a ton of defense, has Juuse Saros in net, and can score timely goals, and that is what we are looking for in the playoffs. Andrew Burnette has done a great job this year, and has a team with Ryan O’Reilly and Roman Josi that can just wear you down. Oh yeah, and Filip Forsberg’s mustache can hop over the boards and roof one on you before you even realize that there was no beard to go with that mustache. I have Nashville shocking the world in 7 games here, and I feel like I am on an island.

Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights

Winner – Dallas Stars: This has got to be the biggest middle finger ever. You win the Eastern Conference, you get the old and bad Washington Capitals. You win the Western Conference, and congrats, you get to play the reigning Stanley Cup champions and their $100M payroll. Vegas played by the rules, and used the salary cap loophole to their advantage yet again with Mark Stone most likely coming back. With that being said, give me Dallas in 7 games at home. Home ice advantage is huge, and with both rosters looking absolutely elite, I am finding my difference in net. Oettinger played much better down the stretch of the season, while both Adin Hill and Logan Thompson looked beatable. The Stars have a lineup full of killers, home ice advantage, and a superior goalie. Give me those Stars in 7 games.

Edmonton Oilers vs Los Angeles Kings

Winner – Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton with home ice advantage is no joke, and it is hard to contain Connor McDavid in a 7 game series. The Kings could pull off an upset here, but I have to go with the reality of the situation and pick the more talented team. The Kings have had a major step up from young forward Quinton Byfield, who could be an X-factor in this series; but, I don’t deem it enough to make the Kings a winner. Home ice advantage, the best player in the world (Connor McDavid), and a healthy Leon Draisaitl, are why I am taking the Oilers in 7 games here. Mattias Ekholm is honestly the reason why I am giving the Oilers a bigger edge here as he has been fantastic this season.