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Metropolitan Division – First Round Picks

Here’s how we see these series playing out.

The first round of the NHL playoffs is finally set in the Eastern Conference, and we can’t wait for things to get underway. Like every year, each matchup brings storylines and intrigue in the East. Today, we’ll go over those things to follow in the Metropolitan Division as well as our predictions for both series in the first round. You can also check out our predictions for the Atlantic Division series here. After reading, take our picks or bet against us in the FREE NHL Bracket Contest at! 

New York Rangers vs Washington

Many people would have rather seen the young and upcoming Red Wings in this matchup against New York, but the Capitals somehow found a way to grab the Conference’s last spot in the final game of the season. All year, the Caps were counted out. Now, they’re going up against the Metropolitan Division and Presidents’ Trophy winners and find themselves in a very familiar situation. This series will be the most one-sided in the sportsbooks, but with a hot goalie and proven champions all over the Washington roster, anything could happen. There may not be anyone in the league who enjoys winning more than Alex Ovechkin, and I’m sure he’ll be working to get the absolute most out of his young team. 

Across the benches, this New York team looks primed to make a deep postseason run. They’ve been circling the waters with back-to-back appearances, but after following up their 2022 Conference Finals run with a disappointing first round exit last year, they’ve still got a lot to prove. Thankfully, Igor Shesterkin is in net and once again looking like one of the best goaltenders in the world. He’s also got a solid, healthy core of defenders in front of him, which makes scoring a lot of goals on the Rangers right now a very tall task. When you add to that their depth of scorers up front led by elite talent Artemi Panarin, you begin to see just why this team was the league’s best in the regular season. 

I’m hoping the Capitals can keep this series close, but I think it’s doubtful. The Rangers are simply a better team in every aspect on the ice and they won’t be taking any opponent lightly after last year. We’ve got the RANGERS in FIVE here.

Carolina vs New York Islanders

Neither of these Metropolitan Division teams have made the Stanley Cup Finals since Carolina won it all in 2006, but both have been in the mix quite a bit over the last five years. Since 2019, the Canes have been to the postseason every year, made the Conference Finals twice, and have won seven playoff series. The Islanders have been in the playoffs four times, have also made the Conference Finals twice, and have won six series. Clearly, both rosters are filled with guys who know how to get it done in the playoffs. Last year, though, the Canes got through New York in six games in the first round. Will we see a repeat in 2024? 

Carolina is coming into the playoffs playing some of their best hockey of the season. Since goaltender Frederik Andersen’s return, the team is 16-4-1, while the goaltender himself is 13-2-0 with a 1.84 GAA. Deadline addition Jake Guentzel has also been terrific for Carolina since coming over, scoring 25 points in just 17 games. They’re an experienced team that looks to be hitting their stride at the right time. That means nothing but trouble for opponents. 

On the other side, we’ve got the Islanders. They may have only won 39 games this season, but New York also finished on a tear, going 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov took over the crease in April and went a perfect 5-0-0 and I think he represents the key in this series. If somehow, he (or Ilya Sorokin) can steal a game or two, this series is definitely up in the air. If New York can’t win the goaltender battle, though, I’d say Carolina handles business again. Our pick is a repeat of last year, we’ve got the CANES IN SIX.

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