Two of the most well-oiled machines in the NHL today unsurprisingly advanced to the Conference Finals.
The Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers also managed to move on.
There are parallels between these two Conference Finals matchups. Both Colorado and Tampa Bay have long been favourites to make it to the Cup Finals. On paper, they’ve been two of the strongest teams in the league all season long.
That’s not quite the case in Edmonton or New York. In Edmonton, the Oilers are better than in years past, but they still rely on the heroics of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
With the Rangers, they’ve made some great steps towards becoming a team like Colorado or Tampa, but Igor Shesterkin has pushed them ahead of schedule. His heroics mask the fact that New York is a below-average defensive team. They’re also top-heavy on offence, although that’s changed somewhat thanks to deadline additions such as Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano. Youngsters such as Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil have also provided some offensive punch during these playoffs.
There are clearly two favourites and two underdogs. Will any of our NM staff pick against the favourites, and side with one of Mark Messier’s old squads?
Here are the NM standings after two rounds.
Round Two Results
1. Jimmi: 3-1 (2 exact)
2. Kent: 3-1 (2 exact)
3. Westy: 2-2 (1 exact)
4. Beggsy: 2-2
2022 Playoff Prediction Results
1. Westy: 10-2 (3 exact)
2. Jimmi: 8-4 (4 exact)
3. Kent: 8-4 (3 exact)
4. Beggsy: 8-4 (2 exact)
Western Conference Finals
Colorado Avalanche (1st in West) vs. Edmonton Oilers (5th in West, 2nd in Pacific)
Westy — The Oilers surprised me last series...wait, sorry...the Flames sucked. The forwards for both teams are high-flying, but I believe that the Avs defense is far superior and their goaltending is better. Now having said that, McDavid could just decide that he wants to score 4 goals a game. I still don’t think it would matter. Avs in 5.
Jimmi — Now that the ‘fun’ rounds are over, only the serious games remain. Although... in all seriousness, for a league hooked on viewer revenue, seems weird to keep eliminating fanbases. To be fair, many at NM have called for the elimination of several fanbases.
Anyways... fun part of the media spectacle is over, we can only watch from afar as inevitably, draft day moves closer. And sadly... Amurica closes its border to the SCF once again - Avs in 4(ish).
Kent — I hate that I am going to enjoy the hell out of this series, but here we are. The Oilers are actually doing all this with Mike Smith in goal, and that actual defence. Credit where credit is due, though. They clowned Calgary, and enjoyably so. And while it may not be cool to say things like this about a team in your division, but Connor McDavid is a joy to watch as a hockey fan.
The Avs are pretty damn fun, too. And anyone who makes Jordan Binnington all mad and red the way they did is okay in my books. Colorado looks like they have all the tools until you get to the crease, and man, if Darcy Kuemper can’t put up a brick wall here, we could be looking at the Oilers in the finals. Screw it. Bring on the chaos. Oilers in 7.
Beggsy — McDavid and Draisaitl have been unbelievable in these playoffs, as they both have 26 points in 12 games. Even during “quiet” nights, they both find a way to register at least two points.
Darcy Kuemper (.904 save percentage) hasn’t been a difference-maker for Colorado in these playoffs. Still, the Avalanche have better depth and the overall talent to take this series.
I’m getting smacked with deja-vu since I said the same thing about Calgary vs. Edmonton, but I think Colorado’s elite talent will push them onward to the Stanley Cup Finals. If it gets to Game 7 though, I’m not betting against McDavid. Avs in 6.
Eastern Conference Finals
New York Rangers (4th in East, 2nd in Metro) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5th in East, 3rd in Atlantic)
Westy — I am not sure that the Rangers should be here, but when you have a hot goalie anything is possible. Speaking of hot goalie, that Vasily guy is pretty good. Tampa did a great job of gliding through the regular season to some degree and then turning it on for the playoffs. Tampa has 4 lines that either have skill or will hit the crap out of you. Did I mention the Rangers have a hot goalie. That might get them a couple games. Tampa in 6
Jimmi — There can be nothing worse for the game, for our northern hopes and dreams than a 3-peat offender. Altho... some say seeing the Rags in the SCF would be worse. We’ll never know. For better or worse (it’s worse) T-Bay in 6.
Kent — Despite their regular season, the New York Rangers haven’t been getting a ton of respect in this post-season, and that’s a shame. They’ve been getting balanced scoring, have a great young offensive Dman in Adam Fox, and the 1-2 punch of Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad have been a ton of fun to watch. Igor Shesterkin has settled into a nice groove, and they’ve also got Tyler Motte on that fourth line, who has a knack for scoring timely goals. While Jimmi thinks the Rangers in the finals would be bad, it’s certainly easier to swallow than another Tampa Cup. The Lightning are so easy to hate apart from Stamkos, and I wish to see them and their fans silenced. Rangers in 7.
Beggsy — I completely forgot that the New York Rangers actually have home-ice advantage in this series. Both teams finished the season with 110 points, but the Rangers had one more outright win.
This is going to be a goaltending duel for the ages. Andrei Vasilevskiy single-handedly shut down the Panthers with a .981 save percentage in four straight wins. Shesterkin was also brilliant against Carolina, posting a .949 save percentage in their series victory.
Similarly to Avs vs. Oilers, I like the Rangers if this series gets to seven games. I’m betting it doesn’t go that far. Tampa is the superior team until proven otherwise. Bolts in 6.