Get ready for some fast, fire-wagon hockey out West. It will be must-see TV when you have the likes of Connor McDavid or Nathan MacKinnon skating smoothly across our screens. There’s also far more parity in the West than in the East, making it difficult to predict who will win each series, but that’s what we’re here for.
Below are this year’s matchups, along with our predictions. These guesses go great with OfficePools.com’s NHL Playoff Bracket Challenge. You can either follow our drunk picks or make your own; beer is optional.
Round 1 NHL Playoffs West Conference Predictions
No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC1 Seattle Kraken
Injuries have plagued the defending Stanley Cup champions this season, with Captain Gabriel Landeskog out for the year and doubts over Cale Makar’s playoff fitness, raising questions about their ability to make another deep run.
Don’t sleep on Seattle. They could make things interesting.
The Kraken have a solid scoring record of 3.52 Goals For/GP and strong defense, but weak goaltending could be problematic in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Avs have a potent offense, top-ranked powerplay, robust defence, reliable goaltending, and championship pedigree to overcome any challenge from Seattle.
Pick: Avalanche in 6
No. 2 Dallas Stars vs. No. 3 Minnesota Wild
The Stars have aligned, and this series is about to get Wild. The Dallas Stars head into the playoffs on a roll, boasting a six-game winning streak and a formidable offense led by five players with over 70 points, including standout defenseman Miro Heiskanen. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild have a scoring threat in Kirill Kaprizov, and they bring a physical style of play well-suited for playoff hockey. However, the Wild will be without top defensive forward Joel Eriksson Ek, who is week-to-week with an injury. His absence is a significant blow, as he would have been tasked with stopping the Stars’ top line led by Jason Robertson.
With both teams featuring solid goaltending, expect a tightly contested series. While the Wild have their strengths, the Stars’ potent offense may prove to be the difference-maker, allowing them to break through and advance.
Pick: Stars in 7
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. WC2 Winnipeg Jets
The outcome of this series is unpredictable, much like the roll of a dice in a casino. Although Vegas boasts a strong offensive team, they do not rely on a single game-breaking player. Conversely, Winnipeg’s offense has been inconsistent lately, but when they are on form, they have the potential to score enough to support their ace goalie, Connor Hellebuyck.
The critical factor in this series will be the quality of goaltending, an area where Vegas is lacking due to injuries. The team must depend on the experienced Jonathan Quick or the young Laurent Brossoit. The team with the most reliable goaltending will have the advantage. I predict Vegas will come out fast, but if the Jets can keep the games close and play a tenacious, grinding game, Hellebuyck might be able to steal the show, leading the Jets to victory.
Pick: Jets in 7
No. 2 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 3 Los Angeles Kings
This is not a hard series to predict. The Kings have a good team with many great young players coming up in their system, so this playoff experience will do them well. But it’s going to be a shock to the system. The Oilers have Connor McDavid, the engine that drives the machine. Edmonton has the scariest powerplay in the league, and for the first time in years, a goalie in Stuart Skinner, who might be young, but he just needs to stop enough pucks and allow Edmonton’s offense to take over. LA, on the other hand, doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up. It just feels like Edmonton is a team of destiny, and the Kings are in the way.
Pick: Oilers in 4
Round 2 NHL Playoffs West Conference Predictions
No. 1 Avalanche vs. No. 2 Stars
This is where we might find an upset, for lack of a better word. Dallas is a great team, and they’re extremely good on special teams and have more depth in the forward position. The Avs powerplay is great, but Dallas has the penalty kill to make it hard on them. This series will be won in the trenches, hard-grinding hockey and the Stars are built for it. They play better defensively, and if their keeper Oettinger can steal a game on the road, look out. There just seems to be something missing with this Colorado team this year, but they’re not just going to roll over. This will be a hard-fought series, with Dallas being able to do just a little more in the end. Whoever wins this, it’s going to be entertaining hockey.
Pick: Dallas in 7
No. 1 Jets vs. No. 2 Oilers
A classic showdown. These two teams are no strangers in postseason play. The Jets will need to stay out of the penalty box but, at the same time, play a grinding style of hockey to try and slow down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitle. Good luck with that. This could be a goaltending duo, but Connor Hellebuyck will need to stand on his head for the Jets to have any chance. It will be the Oilers who make short work of the Jets. This year’s team of destiny continues their deep playoff run.
Pick: Oilers in 5
NHL Playoffs West Conference Final Prediction
No. 2 Stars vs. No. 2 Oilers
This will be a potent offense vs. a top defense. In fact, the Dallas Stars did a great job of containing McDavid in their three matchups during the regular season; he only scored twice. Edmonton has the depth in scoring, and they can also handle the physical play the Stars will try and dish out to rattle them. The Stars are good enough to beat the Oilers, but how do you stop a motivated Connor McDavid, who can taste a Cup final at this point? This will be a big test for Edmonton, and it’s going to be tight. But this Edmonton team is ready for the next step.
Pick: Oilers in 6