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National Hockey Now’s Playoff Predictions

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Sheng Peng's bracket

Five of eight ain’t bad.

That’s how many play-in round predictions I got right.

I didn’t fall for the Rangers’ buzz, picking the Hurricanes. I called Coyotes and Flames in four. The Canucks and Islanders advanced too, as I predicted.

On the other side of the ledger, in a toss-up series, I went with Toronto in five. I correctly predicted that Edmonton/Chicago would be the highest-scoring series, but I tabbed the Oilers in four. Finally, I bet against Carey Price — oops.

Now to the playoffs — and National Hockey Now’s predictions.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Sheng Peng: Philadelphia is on fire. I was wrong versus Pittsburgh, but I’m going to bet against Carey Price again. Flyers in 5.

Jimmy Murphy (Boston Hockey Now): If the Habs lose this series, they will have lost not just a chance at the Stanley Cup but also at Alexis Lafreniere, the top pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and a potential French Canadian superstar. That scenario won’t happen though as Claude Julien outcoaches Alain Vigneault again! Habs in 6.

Rob Simpson: Super Carey their main hope. Nah. Flyers rolling.

George Richards (Florida Hockey Now): It was fun watching the Canadiens in the qualifier and Carey Price is going to be a bear night in and night out. Philly just has too much going on not to win this. PHL in 6.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

SP: Victor Hedman potentially being out is huge. Columbus, as we saw against Toronto, is surprisingly deep up front, in the back-end, and between the pipes. Blue Jackets in 6.

JM: Once again, nobody is giving the Blue Jackets a chance here and still writing their 2019 first-round sweep of the Lightning off as a fluke. Well, maybe they should’ve watched the Blue Jackets more this season and in the qualifiers. Blue Jackets in 5.

RS: The Bolts will exorcise this demon. Vassy will be strong. Hedman’s health is very important, but they’ll win without him if necessary. Stammer already is missing but the forwards are deep. Lightning in 6.

GR: Yes, the Lightning are now beat up and the Blue Jackets are (pretty) healthy. Tampa Bay has a major league chip on its shoulder after the way last season ended in Columbus and aren’t going to let that happen again. TB in 6.

New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals

SP: New York will find Washington tougher to slow down than Florida. Capitals in 5.

JM: The professor comes back to beat his protege and former students as Barry Trotz faces Todd Reirden and the Capitals for the first time in the playoffs. Isles in 5.

RS: Not enough here for the Islanders. They’ll have to play and win 4 perfect games. Not gonna happen. Teams/coaches know each other well, but Caps will get after it. Capitals in 6.

GR: Can the Islanders bottle up the Capitals the way they did Florida in the opening round? Maybe. But this is a seven-game series and the Capitals are better in too many areas. WSH in 6.

Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes

SP: Boston finds its game but Carolina proves to be a tough out. Can go either way, but Bruins in 7.

JM: The Boston Bruins could be playing with fire given the way they approached the round-robin games and looking at them as what Brad Marchand termed on Monday as “preseason games.” Can they turn the switch on and go from preseason to playoff mode? The read here is, not as much as they think they can but enough to pull the series out in seven games.

RS: Bad ice helps the Canes and their puck pressure. Former Bruin Dougie Hamilton is the key if he’s healthy. My upset special. Canes in 6.

GR: The Hurricanes completely outclassed the Rangers (sure they felt terrible about that outcome Monday night) but Boston is a different animal. This series will not be as lopsided as last year’s Eastern Finals, not even close to that, but Boston still moves on. BOS in 6.

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

SP: Boston in 6 over Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Finals.

JM: Reverse of ’93, Isles over Habs.

RS: Flyers vs. Capitals, Philly in 7.

GR: Tampa over Boston.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Sheng Peng: I’ll be disappointed if Vegas doesn’t steamroll Chicago. Golden Knights in 4.

Jimmy Murphy: Unlike the Canadiens in the East, I don’t see the Blackhawks’ Cinderella run going any further. Knights are just too deep, balanced, and too strong between the pipes. VGK in 4.

Rob Simpson: The magic wears off for the old posse. Vegas in 5.

George Richards: Vegas looked like the best team on the ice in Edmonton, play-in or round-robin, and is a team hitting its stride. The Knights are going to go deep in this thing. Real deep. VGK in 5.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes

SP: Colorado shouldn’t have too much trouble with Arizona. Avalanche in 5.

JM: Kudos to the Coyotes for making it to the dance after their GM bailed on them just prior to the qualifiers, but the Avs and Knights appear to be on a collision course in the West here. Darcy Kuemper will make it interesting but Colorado pulls away. Avs in 6.

RS: Next! Avs in 5.

GR: It has been fun watching the Coyotes do their thing, but now it is time to see the Avs do theirs. Going to be a lot of scoring in this one. COL in 6.

Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames

SP: Dallas is underrated, they’re a deep team that can grind things down effectively and should be able to score enough to win. Stars in 6.

JM: I picked the Jets to win the Western Conference so the Flames already made me eat major crow. I don’t like the taste of crow so going with the Flames here but in a battle. Flames in 7.

RS: Goaltending has suddenly become a strength for the Flames. Love the attack. Flames in 6.

GR: The Flames looked as good as they have in a long time in the opener and are feeling it right now. When the Flames are going, they are trouble. CAL in 6.

St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks

SP: Vancouver isn’t ready for prime time. Blues in 6.

JM: I know it’s hard for contenders like the Blues and Bruins to take the round robin seriously but it does matter when you’re facing a fast, hungry, and young team in the first round as the Blues are with the upstart Canucks. Vancouver in 6.

RS: Defending champs will find their stride. All-around game superior.

GR: This is going to be one heck of an exciting series with games going back and forth. The Canucks have the potential but the Blues have the depth and the experience. That usually plays in the postseason. STL in 6.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

SP: Vegas in 6 over Dallas in the Western Conference Finals.

JM: Knights over Avs.

RS: Calgary vs. Colorado. Colorado will win it in 6.

GR: Vegas over St. Louis.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

SP: Bruins in 6 over the Golden Knights.

JM: VGK over Isles.

RS: Hart wins the Smythe as Philly upsets Colorado in 6.

GR: VGK over Boston.

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