Our long break is over and with exhibition games now out of the way, the play-in bubble games can begin to decide which eight teams will be competing for the number one draft pick and which sixteen will be competing for the Stanley Cup.
The first of the qualifying games will take place on Saturday the 1st at noon Eastern (Rangers vs. Hurricanes, and that will be followed by three other games. For a full schedule of games, you can get that here.
With Wings fans watching from the sidelines, we’ll be running daily open threads to discuss the day’s games where we’ll find a way to root against absolutely everybody at once. With that in mind though, we wanted to run our predictions for what would happen in this first-round-before-the-first round. We collected predictions from the crew and have those for you to enjoy.
Pittsburgh (5) vs Montreal (12)
Took the Pens:
J.J. (3) – Montreal wins as many games against Pittsburgh as they did against Detroit
Rob (3) – Pens are the better team and Montreal fans don’t even care
Josh (4) – Price steals one but that’s it, the gap is just too wide here
Mike Bremer (4) – Montreal will win game 1 just to make everyone panic about the Pens winning the draft.
Paul (4) – Price sneaks one out but pens are too talented
Took the Habs:
Sara (4) – Pens win the first game, headlines proclaim last year’s playoff demons are exorcised, and then both teams try not to look like they’re tanking for Lafreniere.
Peter (4) – There needs to be at least the chance for Pittsburgh to pick first overall again to fit in with this hellscape of a year.
Carolina (6) vs NY Rangers (11)
Took the Canes:
Peter (4) – It’s the story of the Hurricanes. The ones the New York Rangers came to blame.
Mike Bremer (4) – This one would just be better if the Canes were still in Hartford.
Josh (5) – The Rangers aren’t quite there yet, but this one will be close
J.J. (5) – Rangers suck.
Took the Rangers:
Sara (4) – The Rangers are boring and we don’t deserve excitement.
Paul ( 5) – Panarin and Zibanejad pick up where they left off and can score at will and whoever starts in net for the Rangers (whether it be the King or Georgiev) is lights out.
Rob (5) – Probably the best series of the first round and the winner becomes a dark horse Cup Contender.
NY Islanders (7) vs Florida (10)
Took the Isles:
Paul (5) – This series is going to be a shootout but the Isles are too defensively sound in the end
Rob (4) – Good talent on both sides, Bobrovsky is a notorious slow starter
Mike Bremer (5) – Isles eliminated the Cats once before, but can they do it without Tavares??????
Peter (3) – Florida has never defeated the Islanders in a playoff series.
J.J. (4) –
Took the Cats:
Sara (5) – Florida ruins everything because Florida is always there.
Josh (5) – Bobrovsky shakes off a rough season and uses the restart to steal this one
Toronto (8) vs Columbus (9)
Took the Leafs:
Paul (4) – Don’t want to pick them but if they blow this series there are going to be some serious issues in Toronto
Rob (4) – Torts and Co steal one, but Toronto is just too talented up front
Sara (4) – It will be worth it for the inevitable collapse.
Josh (4) – The quick startup allows Toronto to squeak this one on talent without having to be grinded out in a long series
J.J. (4) – Not what the heart wants, but what the brain insists.
Took the Jackets:
Mike Bremer (3) – J.J. might be able to listen to his brain on this one, but I cant. 4 goal spread, every game.
Peter (5) – Toronto is up 4-1 in Game 5, but lose. Maybe adding a third first overall pick will push them over the finish line.
Edmonton (5) vs Chicago (12)
Took the Oilers:
Rob (3) – Chicago could maybe steal one game with Crawford in net, but not Malcolm Subban
Mike Bremer (3) – Forced passing the torch narrative incoming.
Peter (5) – Fans will have to worry about Edmonton getting another first overall pick, but in the end, Chicago will get the chance. Wait, is that better or worse?
J.J. (3) – It would be two, but Brent Seabrook is out.
Josh (4) – The Oilers have the elite players for the early run and gun series
Paul (5) – Another shootout. Mcdavid, Draisaitl, and the emergence of Kailer Yamamoto will be too much for the Hawks
Took the Hawks:
Sara (5) – How will the NHL rig the lottery for the Oilers if they aren’t in it?
Nashville (6) vs Arizona (11)
Took the Preds:
Josh (3) – Coyotes will be the first team eliminated and immediately give Hall a blank cheque to ensure the lottery win
J.J. (3) – Chayka’s drama outlasts his team.
Rob (4) – Arizona needs to be in the lottery, Tayler Hall’s legacy demands it
Mike Bremer (4) – Can’t wait for all the 2012 Western Conference semifinals clips to remind us of this matchup history.
Peter (3) – Even bolder prediction, Arizona scores fewer than 4 goals in the series.
Paul (5) – Coin toss.
Took the Yotes:
Sara (4) – Coyotes let Twitter set the lineup every game and it works.
Vancouver (7) vs Minnesota (10)
Took the Nucks:
J.J. (5) –
Rob (4) – The Pettersson, Hughes led Nucks are just too much for the “meh” WIld
Mike Bremer (5) – Canucks have the bigger talent, but Minnesota still has some veteran swagger to make it a series.
Peter (3) – I forgot Minnesota was even in this tournament.
Paul (3) – Wild have no gas in the tank and can’t keep up with Vancouver’s young core
Josh (3) – The most forgettable team in the tournament fades away quickly
Took the Wild:
Sara (4) – Let’s get WILD. And by wild I mean bored.
Calgary (8) vs Winnipeg (9)
Took the Flames:
J.J. (3) –
Sara (4) –
Rob (3) – Low key tough series
Took the Jets:
Josh (5) – Hellebuyck….that’s it
Peter (4) – Jets offense overpowers Calgary
Mike Bremer (4) – This may well end up being the best series in the play-in round.
Paul (4) – Connor Hellebuyck stands on his head and gets the job done for the Jets
BONUS: Round Robin Seedings:
J.J. – Bruins, Caps, Bolts, Flyers – Avs, Blues, Stars, Golden Knights
Rob – Bruins, Capitals, Lightning, Flyers – Blues, Avalanche, Golden Knights, Stars
Peter – Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Flyers – Avalanche, Stars, Blues, Golden Knights,
Sara – Lightning, Capitals, Flyers, Bruins – Stars, Blues, Avs, Knights
Josh – Flyers, Capitals, Bruins, Lightning – Avs, Knights, Blues, Stars
Paul – Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Flyers – Blues, Golden Knights, Avs, Stars