The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs have arrived.
Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Playoffs kicks off on Monday May 2nd. The matchups for both the Eastern and Western Conference have been set. Due to the current playoff format, Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs is loaded with incredible matchups.
In this article, we’ll give our official predictions for Round 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Some of the most intriguing Round 1 matchups are Lightning vs Leafs, Penguins vs Rangers and Blues vs Wild.
The unpredictability of the NHL Playoffs is what sets it apart from other postseasons in sports. While these are official picks and predictions from our team, we wouldn’t be surprised if several of these series go the other way.
Here are Round 1 Predictions for the 2022 NHL Playoffs:
Colorado Avalanche vs Nashville Predators
There was once a time where we didn’t think any team could get in the way of the Colorado Avalanche this season. We still like the Avs’ Stanley Cup odds, but there’s some cracks in their armour. The big storyline here is the injury to Nashville goalie Juuse Saros. We simply don’t trust backup David Rittch to get the job done against this explosive Colorado offense. This Nashville squad is sneaky underrated, however, and has kept pace with the Avs in each meeting this season. Analytics darlings also know the Predators have been better than Colorado at generating and suppressing high-danger chances over the past month. The Avs will get it done, but it’ll be far from a cakewalk.
Prediction: Avalanche in 6
Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues
Wild vs Blues might be the hardest series to predict in the 2022 NHL Playoffs. Many will look at the St. Louis’ 3-0-0 record against Minnesota this season and think they’ll have their way with the Wild. Dive a bit deeper, though, you’ll realize two of those games were decided in overtime and one was played outdoors. These are two very evenly matched teams, but the Blues’ explosive offense is hard to ignore. St. Louis showed their potential during a recent 12-game stretch in which they scored at least four goals in each contest. Our concerns with Minnesota revolve around goaltending and the injury to Mats Zuccarello. Blues’ netminder Ville Husso, meanwhile, is underrated and has put up some insane underlying numbers. The young goalie will be the difference in a wild back-and-forth series that’ll go the distance.
Pick: Blues in 7
Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars appear to be the NHL team getting discounted the most in the 2022 NHL Playoffs. That makes senses when you consider they were the last team to clinch a berth in the postseason. On paper, this best-of-seven series should require only four games for Calgary to win. Darryl Sutter’s club holds the edge in almost every major statistical category versus Dallas. But hasn’t that exact recipe led to major upsets in the past? We’re not calling for an upset here, but the Stars deserve a bit of credit. Our concern for Calgary revolves around the lack of playoff experience for Jacob Markstrom and the previous postseason struggles of the big guns. Jake Oettinger will steal a game for Dallas, but the Flames’ depth will takeover and gets them the series win.
Prediction: Flames in 5
Edmonton Oilers vs Los Angeles Kings
Is 2022 the year Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl finally take the Oilers on a deep playoff run? Or will this be a 2012-like postseason where the lower-seeded Los Angeles Kings go on a miraculous Cup run? We’d be more leaning towards the latter if star defenseman Drew Doughty hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury. Without Doughty in the lineup for Los Angeles, McDavid and Draisaitl should have their way with this lacklustre LAK defense. In a battle of two veteran goalies (Jonathan Quick, Mike Smith), we’re going with the home tendy who has played far better than his opponent over the past month. The Oilers’ playoff misery will end with a convincing series win over Los Angeles.
Prediction: Oilers in 5
Florida Panthers vs Washington Capitals
Predicting the Presidents’ Trophy winners to get upset in the first round is bold, but most Presidents’ Trophy winning teams don’t rank bottom-half in the league for goals against. As much as we love this explosive offense, we have serious concerns about their defense and goaltending. This is the exact same goaltending tandem that allowed the Lightning to score 24 goals in the first round against them last season. Fortunately, this Panthers’ offense is so loaded they can outscore those issues; at least in Round 1. The mysterious injury to Alex Ovechkin is why we can’t quite get ourselves to pick the Capitals vs the Panthers. Furthermore, the Caps goaltending is even more questionable than Florida’s. Washington will make it interesting, but the Panthers offense will eventually be too much for the Caps to handle.
Prediction: Panthers in 6
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Full disclosure before we make our prediction for Lightning vs Leafs: We’ve said “It’s the Leafs year” multiple times over the past several seasons. As the old saying goes…fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Auston Matthews is the greatest goalscorer in the game, but the Bolts just have the better overall roster. There’s a common belief going around that Tampa will be out of gas against Toronto after back-to-back Cup runs. We’re not doubting this Lightning core, especially Andrei Vasilevskiy. Goaltending is once again the reason to pump the brakes on the Leafs in the playoffs. The Bolts can turn it on whenever they feel like it, as evidenced by their current 5-0-1 run. Jon Cooper will lead his team to a seven-game series win that’ll result in big offseason changes in the Six.
Prediction: Lightning in 7
Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins
The Carolina Hurricanes have to beat the Boston Bruins in the playoffs eventually, right? Boston is likely a popular upset pick against Carolina due to their previous playoff history against the Canes. Bruce Cassidy’s club defeated the Hurricanes in both the 2019 and 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both these rosters are quite different now, however, and Carolina won both regular-season meetings this calendar year by a combined score of 13-1. The injury to Canes’ goalie Freddie Andersen is the only thing preventing us from taking the Canes in four or five games. Bruins’ netminder Linus Ullmark has been on fire and could be the surprise starter against Carolina. We still don’t think, however, that Boston’s gonna get the scoring outside of the “Perfection Line”. The Canes have been dominating in advanced metrics all season and that’ll show up in Round 1 versus Boston.
Prediction: Hurricanes in 6
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
While Blues versus Wild might be the hardest series to call in the West, Rangers vs Penguins is possibly the hardest series to call in the East. The x-factor here is Vezina Trophy candidate Igor Shesterkin, who put up ridiculous numbers in the Rangers’ crease this season. We also love what New York did in the offseason adding players like Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves who are built for gruelling and physical playoff runs. This Penguins team still has plenty of talent, but is this aging core really capable of one final run? Perhaps the even bigger question is which version Tristan Jarry are we going to see? The Jarry that looked like a legit Vezina candidate at times in 2022 or the Jarry that cost the Penguins their first-round playoff series last year? We’re not picking against an MVP-calibre netminder facing several players whose best days are behind them.
Prediction: Rangers in 6