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Bubble Hockey Predictions: Eastern Conference Play-In Round

With the (sort of, almost) playoffs set to start August 1st (weird, right?), we’re predicting who will win in the East.

Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The schedules are set. The players are in the bubble zones in Toronto and Edmonton and so far, all healthy. It’s a massive undertaking to bring hockey back in this pandemic landscape we find ourselves in, but there’s a certain comfort in the return of something that maybe we took for granted. The NHL’s back, and starting a number of best of 5 series to determine who will make it to the 1st round of the playoffs. Confused? So are we. But who gives a shit, because hockey’s back. So crack that pregame beer and let’s take a look at how the Nucks Misconduct writing staff predicts the Eastern Conference match-ups will play out!

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers
Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens watches the exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on July 28, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (5) vs MONTREAL CANADIENS (12)

Westy - This series shouldn’t even be close, unless the Penguins play down to the Habs level, which they might actually do. Carey Price might be asked to score a few goals while trying to stop Malkin, Rust, Sheary and, oh yeah...Crosby. Pens win in 4

jimmi - Westy is correct. For at least the 2nd time in unrecorded history.

Rob - Carey Price will only have six seasons left on his exorbitant contract after the Habs go quietly in three lopsided games. Pens in 3

Markus - This series has been overhyped, I don’t think it will be close. Penguins in 3

Beggsy - Everyone thinks this series will be a walk in the park for Pittsburgh (and it should be), but something tells me this young Canadiens team can steal a game or two. Penguins in 5

Kent - In these unprecedented times, we must prepare ourselves for things to not make a lot of sense. One of these things will be the Montreal Canadiens in the post-season. Bring on chaos! Madness! Epic collapses! Canadiens in 5

Bailey- Look out when Sid and Malkin have had 4 months off to get ready. I think Price can steal one game, but it won’t be all that close. Pens in 4

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on December 27, 2019 in New York City.
Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

CAROLINA HURRICANES (6) vs NEW YORK RANGERS (11)

Westy - Carolina can’t really surprise me with their play after last years playoffs. But what will come as a surprise is the fact the Hurricanes don’t play well against the Rangers. Rangers in 5 (cuz they can’y play 7 games jimmi)

jimmi - Westy is incorrect. For at least the umpteenth time in unrecorded history. The ‘Canes will play upset in this series in 4 or 5 or 7 games. Or however many it takes to keep the Rags out. See booing protocol below.

Rob - It will be a close series. Carolina though will miss the injured Dougie Hamilton’s offence too much. Artemi Panarin will earn his huge contract Cap hit and score the game winning goal in Game 5. Rangers in 5

Markus - This will be a tight one. NYR have done well against the Canes but I think Carolina is just a deeper, better team. Hurricanes in 5

Beggsy - In my opinion, this is the best match-up in the Eastern Conference. These two young, speedy teams with mobile defensive units should put on a show.

I think the Rangers are probably getting too much love here after going 4-0 against Carolina in the regular season, but I don’t trust Carolina’s goaltending. I think Artemi Panarin goes bananas in this series, and the Rangers do pull off the upset. Rangers in 4

Bailey- This is a toss-up on paper, and the Rangers defense isn’t the greatest, but my gut just says New York.

I think we’ll get some OT action in this series and a lot of goals, but in the end Panarin and Zibanejad will lead the Blueshirts to the series victory with an OT winner in game 4. Rangers in 4

Kent - The whole bunch of jerks thing was fun, but in these troubling times, the real jerks here are the Rangers, who pretty much own the Canes. Rangers in 4

New York Islanders v Florida Panthers
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders tangles with Mark Pysyk #13 of the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on December 12, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida.
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (7) vs FLORIDA PANTHERS (10)

Westy - The series I don’t care about. The Islanders haven’t lost to the Panthers this year, so why would they start now. Sergei Bob will have to play better than he did in the exhibition game for the Panthers to have a chance. Islanders in 4

jimmi - Westy is correct. For at least the 2nd 3rd time in unrecorded history. Especially about the not caring part. Although I don’t think he not cares as much as I do. Isles in 3, but who cares.

Rob - Sergei Bobrovsky will only have six seasons left on his exorbitant contract after the Cats go quietly in three lopsided games. Islanders in 3

Markus - I’ll echo that I do not really care. Bobrovsky is no longer good, so I’ll say Isles take it. Islanders in 4

Beggsy - For the sake of not being a hypocrite, I have to stick with the predictions that Kyle Bhawan and I made on the Silky N’ Filthy podcast. However, after seeing Sergei Bobrovsky and the Panthers defence implode against Tampa, I can’t say I’m loving my pick here. Perhaps they’ll fare better against an Islanders team that has nowhere near the firepower that Tampa has. Panthers in 5

Bailey- The Isles have had an up and down season that was nowhere near as up and down as the Panthers’ year. I just can’t pick the most inconsistent team in the league in this series, with porous defense and suspect goaltending.

I also just can’t pick against Barry Trotz. Islanders in 4

Kent- These being the troubling and unprecedented times that they are, we’re all looking for some glimmer of hope in the virus/murder hornet/environmentally disastrous/why the hell are nazis a thing again world. The Florida Panthers are not the team to give that to us. Islanders in 4.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks to make a play against Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 21, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jackets defeated the Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (8) vs COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (9)

Westy - Wherever the Leafs are you can hear me booing. I think Torts was a little extra cranky during practices, since he hates Toronto as much as I do. This should be a close series. Screw you Toronto. Blue Jackets in 5

jimmi - Westy is correct. For at least the 3nd 4th time in unrecorded history. Especially the part about the Leaf booing. While the crowd will be taken out of the rink, the HNIC bias can never be removed. Even if the BJs win in 3, Toronto will move onto the next round. Not fair? Take it up with the media cabal that owns the Laffs.

Rob - Kyle Dubas will join fellow number cruncher John Chayka on the former analytics GM sidelines after career hockey man John Tortorella leads Columbus to victory. Blue Jackets in 4

Markus - I think this will be the upset here. Jackets are a scrappy group and I remain unimpressed by the Leafs blue line. Blue Jackets in 5

Beggsy - Are the Leafs really going lose to the Blue Jackets and miss the playoffs?

Just think about that for a second. Their recent playoff defeats at the hands of the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins were understandable. However, if this team loses to the BJs, will the Center of the Universe cave in front of our very eyes?

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen since 10 other NHL teams are in the CoTU right now. Hey, maybe the Center of the Universe moniker does have truth to it...Leafs in 4.

Bailey - Something tells me Torts will have his team ready to fly in this series. The Jackets have proved the hockey world wrong all year long, and the Leafs will continue to disappoint, even on “home ice” for every game in the Toronto bubble. Jackets in 4

Kent - The world as we know it is changing. And that means some things you never thought you’d ever see in this lifetime. Leafs in 4.