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 Western Conference match-ups will play out!
EDMONTON OILERS (5) vs CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (12)
Westy - This is the series where I want them both to lose. But it seems like the league has decided that the team with two of the best players in the world, should also get to play at home because they need all the help they can get to win. The Hawks defense is going to get pummeled by the Oilers. Oilers in 3
Rob - Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford will lead the young Blackhawks to a better showing than expected. But the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will come out on top in the end. Oilers in 5
Markus - Should be a fun series, but the Hawks should not be here. They have some nice high end talent but this is the Oilers’ to lose. Oilers in 4
jimmi - I agree with Westy. Again. I want both to lose. And agree with the genius analysis above as well. However, McD’s power pout after losing a series is what makes made-for-TV-only fake hockey so compelling. All the drama of great HNIC soap opera homer hockey and the farking Fawks in 4.
Beggsy - McDavid and Draisaitl missing the playoffs would be a travesty...but it would be quite the story if the Hawks could pull this off.
They won’t though. Their defence is just too porous to slow down two of the best players in hockey. Coilers in 4
Bailey - It has been said that Connor McDavid will come out like a “house on fire” in these playoffs, and I agree. Him and Draisaitl have probably been chomping at the bit for months to continue to dominate, and it’ll be easy against one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Oilers in 3
Kent - As much as it would be fun to see the Hawks upset the heavily favored Oilers, no one really wants to see that. And while the Oilers laying the boots to this Blackhawks squad would be thoroughly enjoyable, it’s apparent that there’s no acceptable result in this one, because both of these teams are far too easy to dislike. Since we need a prediction though, let’s go with Oilers in 5.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (6) vs ARIZONA COYOTES (11)
Westy - Arizona as a franchise is in shambles and they have Taylor Hall, the playoff jinx. They should go quick and painless. Preds in 3
Rob - Former GM John Chayka bolted before the coming debacle of the Arizona analytics disaster. Preds in 3
Markus - Preds were turning things around at the pause and the Yotes were cratering. Don’t know if it matters, but it may be an indicator. Regardless, Predators have better depth and more weapons. Predators in 4
jimmi - Once again Westy sets the bar and we all drink up. Cheers - Preds in 2. Or so.
Nashville is chock full of underperformers, and their goaltending leaves something to be desired. The Coyotes are boring as hell, but they have the defensive structure and the goaltending to pull off the upset here.
Arizona is a complete mess — from John Chayka quitting to the growing number of COVID cases in the state. They need some good news and they find it against Nashville. Desert Dawgs in 5
Bailey - I think this will be the weirdest series of the qualifiers, with the underachieving Preds against the dumpster fire in the desert. It’ll come down to goaltending though, and Darcy Kuemper is one of the league’s best. It also won’t be pretty, but Arizona will somehow find a way. Coyotes in 5.
Kent - The constantly underachieving Predators versus the poster child for dysfunctional franchises in the Arizona Coyotes. Someday, they might have a decent team in the desert. It’s not this one, and even Nashville can’t screw this up. Predators in 3.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (7) vs MINNESOTA WILD (10)
Westy - This young Canucks team now has some vets with playoff experience. Minnesota has their own experience and success against the Canucks. I feel bad writing this, but unless the Canucks third line can find a way to score goals or the PP actually gets some power, it will be a sad series. Wild in 4
Rob - Jacob Markstrom will stymie the mostly aged Wild forwards. Quinn Hughes will show why he deserves the Calder Trophy. Petey will take his first step to being spray painted in silver. Canucks in 3
Markus - The Canucks should have this — better high end talent, forwards, and goaltending — but I refuse to be disappointed by being wrong. I’ll hedge my bets, say the defence craters, and Minnesota takes it. Wild in 5
jimmi - I’m calling Kent on you Westy and Markus! Sure, the Wild might win the series (as if), but they’re not winning my fake prediction - Nucks in 3 FFS!
Beggsy - So we have either a Canucks sweep or the Wild winning....quite the set of predictions above me here!
I do think a large portion of the fan base is underestimating Minnesota. However, the Wild are a mediocre team and they looked the part against Colorado in their tune-up game. This is a fascinating series and I do think it will be close. In fact, I think it comes right down to the wire in Game Five. Somehow, some way, the Canucks find a way to pull this one off. Canucks in 5.
Bailey - I’m gonna predict what should happen based on these two teams on paper. The Canucks are younger, faster, and have better goaltending and special teams, and the latter two usually are great indicators of success in the playoffs.
However, as we all know, this team has a penchant for things not going according to plan. But I’ll still take the blue and green. I think Marky comes up big. Canucks in 4.
Kent - The media likes the Canucks. The analytics crowd like the Wild. It’s gonna come down to a decent offensive team with good defence and terrible goaltending against a great offensive team with poor defence and outstanding goaltending. They say goaltending wins championships. It will probably win them this series. Canucks in 5.
CALGARY FLAMES (8) vs WINNIPEG JETS (9)
Westy - Winnipeg, as we all saw in an exhibition game, has the ability to sit back let Hellebuyck dominate a game and then turn it on and score quick goals. Calgary might sneak out a win but they will be over-matched. Jets in 4
Rob - Connor Hellebuyck hasn’t missed a beat. Neither David Rittich nor Cam Talbot are up to the crease challenge. Jets in 4
Markus - Looking forward to this one. Two teams with talent and skill. I won’t bet against Hellebuyck ultimately, though. Jets in 5
jimmi - Westy has sobered up from that sad drunk prediction - he is on the side of Hell and back. Jetskis in 4.
Beggsy - The Jets are the sexy pick here with better offensive talent and the better goaltender. They also have a terrible defence and they were a bottom-10 team in the latter half of the regular season.
Sometimes seems off in Calgary but they were quietly the 11th-best team in the NHL after Christmas. I do think Connor Hellebuyck could win this on his own...but he wont. Flames in 5.
Bailey - I saw enough out of Hellebuyck in the Canucks’ tuneup to see that this is a guy ready to carry his team in the playoffs. Also, the Flames hit the pause right when it looked like they were getting things together. I think they’ll be back to the out of rhythm, mediocre team we saw in the first half of the year.
It’ll be a somewhat surprising, lopsided series. Jets in 3
Kent - The Flames are starting to compile some pieces that are going to help them be competitive again down the road. While that’s good news for Flames fans, the bad news is the Flames need to be able to beat the Jets 3 times and the way Hellebuyck has played this year, that seems like a pretty tall order. Jets in 5.