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National Hockey Now’s First Round Picks For the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Stanley Cup Playoffs

The New York Islanders will not be competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, for the first time in four years. But the playoffs will just have to go on without them, eh?

The first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Monday night. We have eight matchups and four beat writers from the National Hockey Now family to break down their picks for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Thanks to Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now for putting this piece together.

These predictions will only cover round one, and we will look to do this for each round of the playoffs. Drop your Stanley Cup Picks in the comment box down below.

NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW’S STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF PICKS

Florida Panthers v Washington Capitals

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now– Panthers in 5

  • You will see in many of my predictions how much goaltending weighs in on my decision. Both teams have strong players on both sides of the puck, but when you look at Washington, their goaltending is a big question mark. Against this dynamic Florida offense, I have little trust in either Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek to steal games. Florida’s offense will be too much and the Capitals.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now– Panthers in 5

  • The last eight Presidents’ Trophy winners all have one thing in common: none won the Stanley Cup. That curse might continue, but the Panthers will win this series anyway. Florida just has too much speed, skill, and depth for the aging Capitals. Washington still has Alex Ovechkin, sure, but there are problems with depth scoring, and the defense and goaltending are just average. Florida should be good and pumped for the playoffs here, and I like them to go to the second round.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now– Capitals in 7

  • I base a lot of my picks on history and the Panthers have not won a playoff series since 1996. Their high-flying offense should eradicate a Capitals team that doesn’t have a no. 1 goalie. But my gut is telling me they still won’t be able to get it done. Claude Giroux will have zero points and Sergei Bobrovsky will struggle which will cost the Panthers the series.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now– Panthers in 5

  • The Panthers boast everything a Stanley Cup contender needs — top guns, solid depth, and two goalies you can turn to. If Sergei Bobrovsky struggles like he did last year, Spencer Knight will be there and he is capable of taking the reigns. With Alex Ovechkin still harboring a shoulder injury, it is going to be an uphill battle for the Capitals. Florida has what it takes to take them down quickly.

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Bruins in 6

  • Despite how good the Hurricanes are, they are out-starred. Sebastian Aho is a fantastic player but if the Boston Bruins stars in David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Taylor Hall are able to play to the level that they can, they become more dangerous than ever. Not to mention, goaltender Frederik Andersen will not be ready for this series and that is a catastrophic loss for the Canes given how good he has been behind their defense.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now- Hurricanes in 6

  • Who will start in goal for the Hurricanes? Frederik Andersen seems doubtful to start the series. It could be youngster Pyotr Kochetkov. Boston’s two goalies – Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have a combined zero playoff starts between them. I think the Hurricanes will win, as Boston just doesn’t have the speed to match Carolina’s young team. Carolina has a strong playoff history against Boston, too.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now- Hurricanes in 6

  • I think the Boston Bruins are simply out of gas and the Hurricanes have them beat in every major category except for experience. The Hurricanes are a fun team to watch and I think they defeat the Bruins in what could be their last playoff series in a while. Sebastian Aho will score a playoff hat-trick.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now- Bruins in 7

  • Both teams have what it takes to make deep playoff runs, but Boston gets the edge because of its deep core. With the additions of Craig Smith and Taylor Hall on top of their deadly trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, I think it will be too much for Frederick Andersen and the Hurricanes. Speaking of Andersen — we all know his track record against the Bruins in past playoff series…

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Lightning in 7

  • Toronto has to get out of the first round eventually right? Not this year though. Although I think Toronto has been much better defensively than in years past and their offense is elite, Tampa Bay is just as good and wins in the goaltending department. After a strong start to this season, Jack Campbell was mediocre, then got hurt, and is an unproven goaltender in the playoffs. Vasilevskiy has won the Conn Smythe and has been integral in the Lightning being back-to-back champs.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now– Lightning in 6

  • Talk about a tough series to call. I just think the pressure will get to Toronto again. The Leafs still have issues on defense, and Tampa Bay has the best money goalie in the league in Andrei Vasilevskiy. If it comes down to goaltending, as it often does in the playoffs, I have to go with the Lightning.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now- Lightning in 7

  • Similar to my Capitals/Panthers pick I have history on my side here. The Maple Leafs have not made it out of the first round since 2004. Now up against the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, I still don’t see any possible way the Leafs come out winning this series. Steve Dange will make the shortest “Leafs Fan Reacts” after this playoff loss.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now- Lightning in 6

  • This Lightning team has too many components of their past two Stanley Cup runs still intact to be counted out. With Nikita Kucherov entering the playoff healthy this time, it will be too much for the inexperienced Maple Leafs. They will put up a good fight, as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner may steal a game or two.

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Rangers in 5

  • Back to the goaltending front we go for this series. Igor Shesterkin is likely to come away with the Vezina after a historic regular season. And the Penguins have to find a way to beat him four times. Penguins All-Star netminder Tristan Jarry is injured, a goaltender who was embarrassed last postseason against the New York Islanders. He’s not ready to go, so Casey DeSmith will get the call in what is a lopsided duel.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now- Rangers in 7

  • This is a tough series to predict. The Rangers were the better regular-season team, and have the likely Vezina Trophy winner in goalie Igor Shesterkin. But the Pittsburgh Penguins have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and other guys who have won Stanley Cups. Pittsburgh’s problems of late have been in goal. Casey DeSmith should start for the Pens, but he is just too inexperienced. The Rangers have plenty of guys who can score too, including 50-goal scorer Chris Kreider. I think the Rangers have enough of an edge with Shesterkin to go with them over the Pens.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now- Penguins in 7

  • This one is tough. The Penguins are the better team in every category except for goaltending- which is arguably the most important one. With Tristan Jarry hurt it will be Casey DeSmith against Vezina-caliber goaltender Igor Shesterkin. But if there is one thing I have learned in my time watching hockey it is to never count out a team led by Sidney Crosby. Sid will have extra motivation given that it could be the last shot the Penguins have at a Cup with the Crosby/Malkin/Letang core that has been together for 17 years.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now- Rangers in 4

  • I might look stupid for counting out a Sidney Crosby-led team in a playoff series, but with Tristan Jarry out, the Penguins have given the net to Casey DeSmith. Against a top-heavy Rangers team that added a few key depth pieces at the deadline in Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp, they don’t stand a chance.

Colorado Avalanche v Nashville Predators

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Avalanche in 4

  • You could say last year’s playoffs were a fluke for Colorado. They relied heavily on outscoring their opponents, which is not something that gets you far in a quest for a cup. But this season, the Avalanche are a more well-rounded team and that makes them a force. For Nashville, goaltender Juuse Saros, one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this season, is injured and will not play Game 1 & Game 2.  The Avalanche should be able to pot a lot of goals in his absence and there’s no saying he will be ready to go by Game 3. It could be too late by then.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now- Avalanche in 5

  • A final game choke job in Arizona dropped Nashville to the second wild-card spot in the West, and the Predators will regret that. Nashville wasn’t going to win this series before, but that’s especially true now with starting goalie Juuse Saros expected to miss some, and maybe all, of the series with a lower-body injury. Colorado only went 1-5-1 down the stretch but is expected to have a fully healthy roster for the start of the series. The Predators will be fortunate to win even one game.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now- Avalanche in 4

  • I am not going to even try to make a bold prediction here. The Avalanche are a wagon and are going to assimilate the Predators in eight days. Nazem Kadri will avoid a suspension this year.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now– Avalanche in 5

  • Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg can steal a game for the Predators, but with Juuse Saros out, the Avalanche are going to be too much for them to handle. It’s a shame because that team has some sneaky good depth pieces that could go on a run if their top goaltender was healthy.

Calgary Flames v Dallas Stars

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Flames in 5

  • The Calgary Flames have the ability to win the Stanley Cup this year and have all the tools needed. Their top players have shown up, their goaltending has been stellar, and they have that playoff grit-grinding ability that wears opponents down. The Dallas Stars have too many passengers and their starts have been M.I.A. That being said, this is likely to be a blood bath of a series.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now- Flames in 5

  • Dallas avoided a first-round matchup thanks to Nashville’s choke in the season finale, but it wasn’t much of a reward as they get the Calgary Flames. Calgary has a lot of talent, especially up front with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Goalie Jacob Markstrom had a fine season, and Darryl Sutter is a great coach. The Stars were up and down all year long. That makes them a very hard team to predict, but I don’t think they have it in them to upset the Flames.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now- Flames in 5

  • Up until the final game of the season, I thought the Stars were going to play the Avalanche in the first round. They dodged a bullet, but will still have to play a good team in the Flames. I don’t see them coming out on top in either series as the Flames are a dark horse Cup candidate. The Stars will use three goalies in the playoffs in an effort to get back into the series.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now- Flames in 6

  • The Flames have one of the most complete teams on the Western side of the bracket. But it all comes down to which version of Jacob Markstrom they are getting. At least in the first round, I think he will get off to a good start and shut down Dallas’ top guns in Tyler Seguin and Jason Robertson enough for them to pull this series out in six games.

Minnesota Wild v St. Louis Blues

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Wild in 7

  • This matchup is rather intriguing. The two sides were neck and neck this season, but something about this Wild team seems magical. Both sides have depth and can score, but the Wild have a two-headed horseman in goal. For the Blues, Jordan Binnington has become the backup and youngster Ville Husso will be making his playoff debut. This one will come down to the wire, but I think Kaprizov is going to wreak havoc in this series and help get the Wild to the next round.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now- Wild in 7

  • This might turn out to be the best, most fun first-round series of all to watch. The midwestern teams have a strong rivalry already, and both go into the playoffs playing pretty good hockey. Marc-Andre Fleury gives the Wild newfound swagger as the starting goalie, and Kirill Kaprizov is a heck of a talent up front. The Blues are a very good team, but there are questions as to who is the regular goalie and the defense still has some issues. I like this to be a seven-game series. Fleury should be the difference-maker.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now- Blues in 7

  • This series might be the one that I am most excited to watch as both the Wild and Blues have the depth needed to go on a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I see this one going down to the wire, with multiple games being decided in overtime and with Robert Thomas scoring a game-seven overtime game-winning goal.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now- Wild in 7

  • This series contains two of the deepest teams in the NHL, but the Minnesota Wild have the edge here. Why? Marc-Andre Fleury. Adding a goaltender with the playoff pedigree he has behind a roster led by Kirill Kaprizov and sneaky point-per-game players Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello is a recipe for success.

Edmonton Oilers v Los Angeles Kings

Stefen Rosner- NYI Hockey Now- Oilers in 5

  • The biggest thing with Edmonton and what’s stopped them from advancing far in the postseason is their defense and goaltending. While I think that will be the same issue this season, their offense will allow them to get by the Kings with ease. And the biggest thing is special teams. Oilers have the third-best power play in the NHL (26%) and the Kings had the 22nd worse penalty kill at 76.7%. Even though the Kings have been able to stay disciplined this season, the Oilers’ top six may force them to take more penalties and that could be their downfall.

Adrian Dater- Colorado Hockey Now- Oilers in 5

  • Jay Woodcroft did one heck of a job in turning around the Oilers. Now, Edmonton has home-ice advantage in the first round against the Kings and there’s a lot to like about them. Edmonton still doesn’t have good enough defense and goaltending to win a Cup, and not enough depth after Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl up front. But they should have enough to outlast the Kings in this series.

Owen Krepps- Vegas Hockey Now– Oilers in 6

  • In a series that the Vegas Golden Knights wish they could have been in, I don’t see either of these teams as a true Stanley Cup threat. That being said, someone has to win this thing and I will go with the Oilers simply because of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. It is about time they won another playoff series. Evander Kane receives a suspension in this series.

Colby Guy- Florida Hockey Now- Kings in 6

  • The Kings, riding off the emotions of Dustin Brown’s retirement announcement, will upset the Oilers in six games. Edmonton’s offense is too reliant on McDavid and Draisaitl and Los Angeles has players who know how to win, especially after adding Stanley Cup Finalists Viktor Arvidsson and Philip Danault to add to the remains of their championship teams of 2012 and 2014.
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