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Pacific Division – First Round Picks

Will the Oilers get by Los Angeles for a third straight year?

It took until the last game of the last day on the NHL schedule, but the Western Conference playoff bracket is finally set! Now, it’s time for our picks and predictions. Before we dive into the Pacific Division, make sure to also check out our Atlantic Division and Metropolitan Division picks. Once you’re done here, sign up for our FREE Bracket Challenge before the madness begins at!

Vancouver vs Nashville

While the Canucks are in the playoffs for just the second time since 2016, they come into this first round matchup as Pacific Division champs and favorites against the Nashville Predators. Vancouver had a terrific season, but now, it’s a clean slate with a mostly unexperienced roster in playoff hockey. The team limped in a little, but the return of Thatcher Demko instantly makes them better. Demko stopped 39 of 40 shots against the Flames in his first game back, reassuring Canucks fans that he’s fully ready to go for the postseason. If there’s one thing most fans are still waiting on, it’s a return to form from Elias Pettersson. They young Swede hasn’t been at his best for some time now, and if the Canucks have real plans on a Cup run, he’ll need to be a big part of it.

The Preds, on the other hand, missed the playoffs last year for the first time in nine seasons. Despite their ability to get in, they haven’t won a series since 2018. This year’s team overachieved with a mix of veterans and younger players looking to step into bigger roles and surged through with an incredible 18-game point streak near the end of the season. They’ll have their work cut out for them against Vancouver, though, who won all three matchups this season in regulation. If the Preds want to upset the Canucks, they’ll need to play a very tough, disciplined game. Vancouver’s powerplay can be a dangerous one, but if Nashville stays out of the box and makes everything hard on the talented Canucks’ forwards, they’ll keep games close.

At the end of the day, these teams are seeded where they are for a reason. Nashville will put up a fight, but we like the CANUCKS IN 6. 

Edmonton vs Los Angeles

For the third straight year, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings will meet in the first round of the playoffs after finishing second and third in the Pacific Division. They may be familiar with each other, but nothing stays the same over twelve months in the NHL. The Oilers are a similar team on paper, but Evan Bouchard has taken a full step as one of the most offensive blueliners in the NHL. His 82 points this year ranked fourth among defencemen behind Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar and Roman Josi. Stuart Skinner is also one year older and one year more experienced. For a young goaltender, that can make a world of difference. 

Los Angeles also brings a similar team into the postseason, led by franchise cornerstones Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. They’re a little deeper than last year at forward thanks to the growth of Quinton Byfield and the acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois, although the latter has been a bit of a disappointment in his first year with L.A. By now, the Kings should have a good plan to stop Edmonton over a seven-game series. The question, though, is whether or not they can execute it. Slowing down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is a very tall task, and the Kings know it. The two have a combined for 44 points in 13 postseason games against L.A. over the past two years. 

The Kings are a tough team to play against in the postseason, there’s no doubt about it. However, Edmonton has proven they can rise above them in each of the last two years. With a healthy McDavid and Draisaitl leading the way, I just can’t see this year going any differently. Once again, I’ll take the OILERS IN 6. 

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