NHL Playoff predictions: The Stanley Cup

Justin Rosser & Dave Carey- May 15, 2021

We have finally made it, the 2021 NHL playoffs! As the final games of the regular season come to a close, we now direct our attention to the post-season. As the Fantasy Marksmen; Justin Rosser (@Justinrosser10) and Dave Carey (@87_Carey) share their consensus bracket and who we predict come out as Lord Stanley’s Cup Champions for the 2021 season. We will be showing matchups and posting notes for the predicted winners of the first round, followed by predicted winners, and finally the Champion.

“The top four teams from each of the four divisions will make up the 16 playoff squads. From there, the top seed in each division faces the fourth seed, while the second faces the third. The winners face off in the second round. After the divisional bracketing is taken care of, the four remaining playoff teams will be re-seeded.” -NBC Sports

Central Division

  1. Carolina Hurricanes (80 Points)
  2. Florida Panthers (79 Points)
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning (75 Points)
  4. Nashville Predators (64 Points)

Round 16 Matchups

Carolina Hurricanes VS Nashville Predators

Marksmen Pick: Carolina Hurricanes

  • CAR ranks 2nd in the NHL at 25.6% PP% vs NSH – 17.6PP% and has as +43 DIFF vs NSH +2 on the season
  • CAR scores an avg of 3.13GF/GP and allows an avg 2.39GA/GP while NSH avg 2.70GF/GP and allow 2.75GA/GP
  • Carolina has incredible strength down the middle with Aho, Trochek and Staal who are all featured on the PP1 unit
  • These teams are fairly even in defensive strength. Carolina recently improved by trading for Jani Hakanpaa at the deadline
  • Injuries:
    • NSH: Arvidsson DTD, Fabbro DTD, Sissons DTD
    • CAR: McGinn DTD, Paquette DTD
  • Form: CAR: 5-2-3 / NSH: 7-2-1
  • Season series: CAR: 6-2-0 / NSH: 2-5-1

Florida Panthers VS Tampa Bay Lightning

Marksmen Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning

  • These two teams combined for 154 PIM in a single game May 8th setting up what should be a gritty series
  • Tampa Bay are set to have Kucherov/Stamkos back for round 1 which could shift the top end scoring to favor Tampa Bay
  • Florida has been without Aaron Ekblad on defense for quite some time
  • Vasilevskiy owns a league leading 31W on the season and edges both Driedger and Bobrovsky in talent
  • Injuries:
    • Hedman (Rumored to be playing through a required surgery this offseason), Goodrow IR, McDonagh DTD, Palat DTD, Rutta IR
    • Ekblad Week to week, Bennett DTD, Hornqvist DTD, Huberdeau DTD
  • Form: FLA: 8-2-0 / TB: 6-3-1
  • Season series: FLA: 5-2-1 / TBL: 3-5-0

Second round: Carolina Hurricanes VS Tampa Bay Lightning

Marksmen Pick: Carolina Hurricanes

East Division

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins (77 Points)
  2. Washington Capitals (75 Points)
  3. Boston Bruins (73 Points)
  4. New York Islanders (71 Points)

Round 16 Matchups

Pittsburgh Penguins VS New York Islanders

Marksmen Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Penguins strength down the center with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jeff Carter on the top 3 lines
  • 4th PP% in the league with 23.7%
  • 2nd in Goals in the NHL
  • Penguins have tons of playoff experience, the last time they missed playoffs was the ’05-’06 season (Crosby drafted in 2005/ Malkin 2004)
  • Crosby loves playing New York, he has more points against Islanders than any other team in his career
  • Penguins had success without Malkin all year
  • Jarry on fire: 14-2-2 with a .918% over his last 18 games
  • Injuries:
    • Islanders: Anders Lee and Johnny Boychuk
    • Penguins: Healthy
  • Form: PIT: 8-2-0 / NYI: 3-4-3
  • Season series: PIT: 6-2-0 / NYI: 2-4-2

Washington Capitals VS Boston Bruins

Marksmen Pick: Boston Bruins

  • Boston 2nd overall PK 86%
  • Dominant in the faceoff dot, league leading 55.3%
  • Addition of Taylor Hall at the deadline adds speed and skill in their top 6
  • The Perfection Line
  • Charlie Mcavoy stepped up his game this year and Grzelcyk played really well returning from injury
  • 4th in the NHL for goals against, as the defense and goaltending remain a strength
  • Injuries:
    • Boston: healthy
    • Washington: Ilya Samsonov(covid protocol), Evgeny Kuznetsov(covid protocol), T.J Oshie (lower body)
  • Form: BOS: 6-3-1 / WAS: 7-2-1
  • Season series: WAS: 4-4-0 / BOS: 4-2-2

Second round: Pittsburgh Penguins VS Boston Bruins

Marksmen Pick: Boston Bruins

West Division

  1. Colorado Avalanche (82 Points)
  2. Vegas Golden Knights (82 Points)
  3. Minnesota Wild (75 Points)
  4. St. Louis Blues (63 Points)

Round 16 Matchups

Vegas Golden Knights VS Minnesota Wild

Marksmen Pick: Vegas Golden Knights

  • Have scored the 3rd most goals in the NHL
  • Allowed the least amount of goals against in NHL
  • Finished second in the West Division with a 40-14-2 record
  • Top PK in the league with 86.8%
  • Arguably the best goaltending duo with Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner
  • Injuries:
    • Vegas: Ryan Reaves, Mac Pacioretty (DTD), Alec Martinez (DTD)
    • Minnesota: Healthy
  • Form: VGK: 7-3-0 / MIN: 5-3-2
  • Season series: VGK: 3-5-0 / MIN: 5-3-0

Colorado Avalanche VS St. Louis Blues

Marksmen Pick: Colorado Avalanche

  • 1st in goals for in the NHL
  • 3rd in goals against in NHL
  • First place in the divison with a 39-13-4 record
  • Cale Makar is a difference “Makar” on defense
  • Top line is unstoppable with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen
  • They are deep through their top 3 lines
  • Injuries:
    • Colorado: Erik Johnson, Brandon Saad
    • St. Louis: Vladimir Tarasenko, Colton Parayko, Vince Dunn
  • Form: COL: 7-3-0 / STL: 6-1-3
  • Season series: STL: 3-5-0 / COL: 5-3-0

Second round: Vegas Golden Knights VS Colorado Avalanche

Marksmen Pick: Colorado Avalanche

North Division

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs (77 Points)
  2. Edmonton Oilers (72 Points- 1 games remaining)
  3. Winnipeg Jets (63 Points)
  4. Montreal Canadiens (59 Points)

Round 16 Matchups

Toronto Maple Leafs VS Montreal Canadiens

Marksmen Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Matthews 66 PTS / Marner 67 PTS outshine the top end scoring for Toffoli 44PTS / Petry 42PTS
  • Toronto outscored Montreal on the season 184GF vs 158GF
  • TOR allowed only 2.62 GA/GP vs MTL with 2.95 GA/GP
  • Montreal has been without some crucial portions of their lineup recently missing Price, Weber and Gallagher
  • Jack Campbell is coming into the playoffs with a 2.11GAA and a .923 SV%. He finished the season 17-2-2 which should have earned him the crease over a now-healthy Freddy Andersson
  • Injuries:
    • MTL: Gallagher, Weber and Price are set to return for MTL
    • MTL: Drouin (personal) has no timetable for his return
    • TOR: Hyman, Foligno and Nash should all be back for TOR
  • Form: TOR: 7-2-1 / MTL: 4-4-2
  • Season series: MON: 3-7-0 / TOR: 7-3-0

Edmonton Oilers VS Winnipeg Jets

Marksmen Pick: Edmonton Oilers

  • Edmonton dominated the regular season series winning 7 of 9 matchups
  • McDavid 104PTS / Draisaitl 83PTS are #1 and #2 in the NHL in scoring and have heavily out produced Scheifele 61PTS / Connor 48PTS / Ehlers 46PTS / Wheeler 44PTS
  • McDavid averages 1.78pts per game against Winnipeg over his career. This year he destroyed that number averaging 2.44pts per game against them.
  • Winnipeg had the least success this season vs Edmonton with only two wins. Their lowest total vs all North Division teams
  • The HDCF were heavily in favor or Edmonton during the season series EDM-105 vs WPG-81
  • Mike Smith has edged Connor Hellebuyck in GAA, SV% HDGAA and HDSV% this season
  • Injuries:
    • WPG: Ehlers – could return in this series
    • EDM: Kassian – Resumed skating
  • Form: EDM: 8-2-0 / WPG: 2-8-0
  • Season series: WPG: 2-7-0 / EDM: 7-2-0

Second Round: Toronto Maple Leafs VS Edmonton Oilers

Marksmen Pick: Edmonton Oilers

After the divisional rounds are settled we project the 4 remaining teams to be

  • Carolina 80pts
  • Boston 73pts
  • Colorado 82pts
  • Edmonton 72pts *1 Game Remaining

These are 4 teams with amazing top end scoring, strong goaltending and above average defensive groups. Of the star players two stand out well above the rest in terms of their production in 2020/21 – Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The duo have currently combined for 187pts which, for perspective, is more than the entire top line for any of the remaining 4 teams. The offensive dominance of these superstars has our team boldly predicting that they take Edmonton through to become Stanley Cup Champions.

Marksmen Pick: Edmonton Oilers

Thanks for checking in on our playoff predictions. We hope that you enjoy watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and pick a team of your own to back all the way to the Cup finals!

Justin Rosser & Dave Carey- May 15, 2021

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