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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / 2022 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round Preview and Predictions

2022 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round Preview and Predictions

First round preview!
Publish Date: 05/02/2022
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin 31 follows the puck after blocking a shot during the second period at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxONLY PIT2022032916 ARCHIExCARPENTER

NHL Playoffs

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Bruins vs Hurricanes

Carolina dominated the season series out-scoring the Bruins 16-1. That alone should make this an easy series to pick, shouldn’t it?

The power play will be the key for the Bruins to turn around what happened during the regular season against the Hurricanes. The Bruins’ 5-on-5 scoring was much improved at the end of the season, and they have a real chance if they can get the power play going.

The Bruins were ranked No. 6 in goals and No. 1. Since Jan. 1, they were an offensively poor 5-on-5 team over the first three months. However, in January, Bruce Cassidy’s line changes led to a dramatic turnaround.

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The Hurricanes were the most successful penalty-killer in the regular season, with an 88 per cent success ratio. This means that the Bruins must execute well.

The Hurricanes need to shut down Boston’s second line of Taylor Hall, Erik Haula and David Pastrnak. They played well the last week of the season.

Another critical factor is that the Bruins played the three games against Carolina early in the season; they are a much better team than they were in the middle of January. Learn how to bet on hockey!

Prediction:

I like the Bruins in this series; I think the Hurricanes are struggling in Goal, and that, combined with a newfound Bruins offense to go with an already stout defense, leads to a Bruins win in 6 games.

Rangers vs Penguins

The New York Rangers won three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a span of fewer than two weeks from March, 25-April 7. They limited Pittsburgh to four goals in four games in their regular-season series.

But this is the playoffs, which means it likely won’t matter now; the playoffs are a different entity.

Goaltending is always big come playoff time, and the Pens have some issues there., Due to a lower-body injury, Casey DeSmith is expected to be the Game 1 starter, with Tristan Jarry still out. Jarry was the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie all season until he sustained his injury during a 6-3 win against the New York Islanders on April 14.

The Rangers’ outlook in Goal is much brighter and settled. Shesterkin is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie this season, and he’s been in the national discussion for the Hart Trophy, which is given to the NHL’s most valuable player. Shesterkin leads the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, going 36-13-4 with six shutouts in 53 games (52 starts). The Rangers have a massive advantage in Goal. Check out the top sports betting sites for betting on the playoffs!

Prediction:

The Rangers will win this series; they are just the better team right now. Rangers in 6

Panthers vs Capitals

The Florida Panthers are the highest-scoring team of the cap era and something of a throwback — the Panthers are the first team since the 1995-96 Penguins to average over four goals per game (4.11). A young-ish team that’s taken some time to mature, this core lost in the qualifying round two years ago and the first round last season. Can that translate to winning the Stanley Cup? We have seen high-powered teams come up short over the previous decade. Can the Panthers win it all with offense?

This year’s Caps are less intimidating than those of a decade or so ago but fully seasoned and capable of jumping up and biting when you least expect it. Ovechkin is still at his peak, and the top of the roster can still bring the offense.

Prediction:

I do not think the Panthers will win it all this year as there are just too many questions on defense. But they will win this series handily in 5 games. Pick Panthers in 5!

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Maple Leafs vs Lightning

By many measurements, 2021-22 was a historically good season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fifty-four wins. One hundred and fifteen points. Sixty goals and a new franchise record for Auston Matthews. The Maple Leafs are looking to win the Stanley Cup in more than 50 years, and a season like this would be a great chance to end the curse? But the two-time defending Cup Champions await the Leafs.

Four meetings yielded 28 goals, with Tampa outscoring Toronto 16-12. A pair of April games showed how emotionally charged this series could be.

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will have to come up big for the Leafs to win this series, and in last year’s collapse against Montreal, they did next to nothing.

Prediction:

This is the worst possible matchup for Toronto, and the difference in this series will be between the pipes, where the Lightning has a considerable advantage. Pick Tampa Bay in 6!

 

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