The 4B Team gives their First-Round Playoff picks!

PuckGamer

The 2018 NHL Playoffs have begun! We are primed for one of the most fun and intense playoff tournaments in years, and even though our beloved Rangers are on the outside looking in, there’s still plenty to like. Will Nashville get back to the final and win? Will Pittsburgh three-peat? Will Vegas shock the world? Should we expect any big upsets? We’re in for some awesome hockey these next two months and now the writers of Forever Blueshirts give you their picks for their first-round winners. Some just sent their picks and others included reasons why they chose what they chose.

Editor’s Notes: All predictions were made prior to the start of the NHL Playoffs. For Zak and Russell’s picks, listen to the latest episode of The Tilted Ice Podcast here:

Jonathan Marrero – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Tampa Bay in 5 – Powerhouse talent, elite goaltending and seem to have found their game just before the playoffs with a point in four of their final 5 games of the regular season.

Toronto in 6 – This series is a literal coin toss. Both teams have good goaltending, both teams have serious depth but Boston’s injuries hurt them.

Pittsburgh in 5 – Talent, depth, and speed. Philadelphia needs to groom a little more before they can be true contenders.

Washington in 6 – Columbus is a tough team and this will be the toughest first-round series in my opinion but Washington is set to meet Pittsburgh again in the second-round as long as Grubauer plays well.

Nashville in 4 – Powerhouse, depth, and goaltending, Nashville should have no problem with Colorado, especially with Bernier in net.

San Jose in 6 – It seems like the Sharks are a sneaky team that can make some noise and turn some heads.

Winnipeg in 5 – First off, the White-Out being back makes hockey great. Second, the talent on the Jets just outweighs the Wild. 

Vegas in 7 – The toughest western conference series, Fleury has experience and the Knights are a tough team that defied most experts. Good times keep rolling in Vegas.

Justin Bonhard – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Pittsburgh over Philadelphia – The Penguins just have too much firepower and so much more experience in the playoffs. Sure, the Flyers had a great season this year, bouncing back from a ten-game losing streak to have 98 points, but the experience and firepower just aren’t there. Crosby, a healthy Brassard, and Malkin will be all over Brian Elliott.

Tampa Bay over New Jersey – Tampa Bay has a very good shot at winning the cup this season. It is clear that with the deal for Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller that they were going for it all this season and possibly next. New Jersey’s success has been as shocking as the Ranger demise this season, with Taylor Hall being on fire, literally and figuratively, with the Devils in the latter stages of this season. Like the Flyers, the firepower isn’t enough to out-match and out-skill the Lightning.

Washington over Columbus – Alex Ovechkin wants to win more than ever this season. The Capitals are going with Phillip Grubbauer instead of Holtby, which may be a good move. If it doesn’t work, they can always put Holtby back in and salvage the series. Columbus has a chance to steal this series through their defensive production in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. This one will be a very close matchup.

Boston over Toronto – As much as I want to see Toronto win it all, Boston will knock them out early. Eight members of their team had 40 point seasons, and I firmly believe that Rick Nash will be a factor in their success. Bergeron and Marchand will once again be the center of the offense, with Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug helping from the blueline.

San Jose over Anaheim – San Jose is a fun team to watch. They can outhit and outscore the Ducks easily in this matchup. Brent Burns will be the main focus as he led the Sharks in scoring, and for Anaheim, it is again the tandem of Getzlaf and Perry. This matchup will be close but I’m giving the edge to San Jose.

Vegas over Los Angeles – This inaugural season is already one to remember for the Vegas Knights, and it will continue past the first round. William Karlsson will continue his dominating season, and the Knights will slide right by the Kings. Despite LA having the least amount of goals allowed this season, they won’t stand toe-to-toe with the Golden Knights.

Winnipeg over Minnesota – The Jets take this matchup, but it will be closer than it would appear. Minnesota’s Eric Staal showed up late in the season with 23 points in the last 23 games of the season with 16 goals. Winnipeg gets the slight edge due to overall point production. Four guys on the Jets roster scored 60 plus points this season, including Blake Wheeler, who had 68 assists.

Nashville over Colorado – The Predators are the team to beat out in the Western bracket, but history is not with them. The last team to win the President’s trophy and win Lord Stanley’s Cup was the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-2008. It may be time for the Predators to break the decade-long drought. Colorado has a possible Hart Trophy winner in Nathan MacKinnon, with Mikko Rantanen and their captain Gabriel Landeskog. But still, Nashville is solid on defense with P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, and Ryan Ellis all having a CF% of over 50%.

Noah Weiss – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Lightning vs Devils – Lightning in 6

Boston vs. Toronto – Bruins in 7

Washington vs. Columbus – Capitals in 7

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia – Penguins in 6

Nashville vs. Colorado – Predators in 6

Winnipeg vs. Minnesota – Jets in 6

Vegas vs. Los Angeles – Kings in 7

Anaheim vs. San Jose – Sharks in 7

Steve Bowman – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Tampa Bay in 5 – While the Lightning has been struggling somewhat into the playoffs, they still have an ungodly amount of firepower with which to come at the Devils in waves. Taylor Hall has made a great case for the Hart Trophy. However, after Taylor Hall, rookie Nico Hischier is the next highest scorer with 52 points. The Lightning has Kucherov, Stamkos, Point, Gourde, and Hedman all above the 60 point mark with great additional depth, including JT Miller, who has been a PPG player since the deadline. The Devils will win one game on the backs of Taylor Hall and Keith Kinkaid, but the Lightning is far too talented to lose this series.

Boston in 7 – One of the most intriguing matchups in the first-round, this series will go seven games. Toronto has a ton of forward depth and talent that will allow them to score goals. However, Boston is the more talented team and has better goaltending, depth, and playoff experience. Boston will win this series in seven games, however, I will not be shocked if the Leafs are able to upset the Bruins.

Washington in 6 – Is this the year Ovi gets his cup? No. However, look for the top-seeded Caps to control the play. The X-factor in this series is Philip Grubauer who was just named the starter for Game 1. How short will his leash be with Braden Holtby on the bench? Will the Blue Jackets be able to take advantage of his relative inexperience in the playoffs? Time will tell, but the Caps will win this series with relative ease.

Philadelphia in 7 – In the most anticipated matchup, the two Pennsylvania teams fight for state supremacy. Claude Giroux has had a huge bounce-back season scoring his 100th point against the Rangers last week. On the backs of Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers will be an extremely tough team to play against when combined with their skill on the backend and their toughness. Pittsburgh will have their hands full in this series. Combined with a Stanley Cup Hangover, although, we all know how that worked out last year, the Penguins will lose the series in seven games.

Nashville in 6 – Nathan Mackinnon is playing as well as anyone can. Mackinnon is the type of player who can take over a series and overcome the differences between talent. However, Nashville’s defense is far too strong for Colorado and with a healthy Ryan Johansen at center, Nashville looks to be a dangerous team in the west.

Winnipeg in 7 – Can the State of Hockey take the next step? Can the Winnipeg White-Out turn the series in favor of the Jets? The Jets have a solid offense led by Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Blake Wheeler. Minnesota is led by the renaissance season of Eric Staal (where was this Staal two years ago?). A tight series in two great hockey towns, Winnipeg’s offense wins out in 7 games.

Vegas in 5 – The feel-good story of the year continues on. The Vegas Golden Knights. Yes, the expansion team Golden Knights. The Golden Knights leaped out of the gate hard this season and did not slow down. We have been doubting their success at every turn. Doubt no more, the Golden Knights are for real. The Kings have a great winning pedigree. However, unless the Kings can turn back time, preferably not 4 years, the Knights will make short work of the Kings behind the goaltending of Marc Andre Fleury.

San Jose in 7 – Once more the Ducks and Sharks will meet in the Western Conference Playoffs. Two teams whose playoff windows are closing fast with aging stars in Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Pavelski, and Ryan Kesler. The Ducks may be the two seed and have home ice advantage, however, the recent return of Joe Thornton will propel the Sharks past the Ducks in this series.

Kevin Crupi – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Lightning in 4 – The Lightning is just too good of a team. Consisting of a huge plethora of former Rangers and superstars in Hedman, Stamkos, Kucherov, and Vasilevskiy, it’s going to be hard to even take a game from these guys, especially since the Devils barely made the playoffs this year.

Maple Leafs in 7 – The young Maple Leafs made the playoffs and barely missed advancing past the Washington Capitals last year in seven games. They’re hungry and their fans are even hungrier. The Bruins missed an opportunity to play the second wild card team by losing to the Panthers Sunday night, which could be a costly one. This could be a deflating loss going into the playoffs and the Maple Leafs can exploit that.

Capitals in 5 – Who doesn’t love number 8? The Capitals have always been a good regular season team but unfortunately, they aren’t a good playoff team. That doesn’t mean they won’t destroy the Blue Jackets. In my opinion, the Blue Jackets don’t have the defense to compete with an offensive powerhouse like Washington and their reigning Vezina winning goaltender won’t be able to stop everything.

Flyers in 7 – This series will definitely go seven games no matter the outcome, but I think the surge the Flyers were on to get them into the playoffs and excel to the third spot in the Metropolitan division will carry them into the second-round. It’ll be a hard fought series where there will probably need multiple overtimes. This series can go either way but the Flyers will use their young players such as Nolan Patrick to beat out the current champions.

Predators in 6 – For the first time in their franchise, the Preds won the President’s trophy. Hungry for another cup run, this team has forward depth that will make your head spin and a blue line that not only stops you in your tracks but can score at will. Pekka Rinne has learned from last year and will be just as dangerous in the crease. I don’t see this series going past six games and that’s if the Avs luck out at home.

Golden Knights in 6 – The Knight takes King, checkmate. Or at least that’s what the headlines will be reading after the Knights take control of this series with force. Who would have guessed the Knights would be in this position in their first year? Clinching the Pacific AND going over 100 points sets quite the bar for the next expansion team, but nevertheless, it means nothing if they can’t produce in the playoffs. The Knights have James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury who both have Stanley Cup experience and with the play of William Karlsson, it’ll be hard for the Kings to pull out of this series with more than two wins.

Sharks in 7 – This series will go the distance and from the ashes, I don’t see either team getting past the second round. Both of these teams continue to show up but don’t do enough damage when it counts. They have nearly identical stats when it comes to top goal scorers and their points leader. The deciding factor will be which team can score on the power play and with the Sharks having the second best penalty kill in the league I think it’s fair to say they have a slight edge.

Jets in 6 – Though the Jets are second in the Central, they’re also second in the league in points behind the Preds. Three points away from the President’s trophy isn’t bad. They have 13 points over their opponent in the first round, and with Blake Wheeler leading the charge with 91 points and Patrik Laine coming in second in goals this season, this offense will be trouble for Devan Dubnyk and the Wild. Though the playoffs have surprised us before.

Ricky Milliner – Wolf Pack/Minor League Correspondent

Lightning vs Devils – Lightning in 5

Boston vs. Toronto – Bruins in 7

Washington vs. Columbus – Capitals in 6

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia – Penguins in 6

Nashville vs. Colorado – Predators in 5

Winnipeg vs. Minnesota – Wild in 7

Vegas vs. Los Angeles – Golden Knights in 5

Anaheim vs. San Jose – Ducks in 6

Sadie – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Lightning vs Devils – Lightning in 5

Boston vs. Toronto – Bruins in 5

Washington vs. Columbus – Capitals in 6

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia – Penguins in 6

Nashville vs. Colorado – Predators in 6

Winnipeg vs. Minnesota – Jets in 5

Vegas vs. Los Angeles – Golden Knights in 6

Anaheim vs. San Jose – Sharks in 6

Daniel Lodato – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Lightning vs Devils – Lightning in 4

Boston vs. Toronto – Bruins in 5

Washington vs. Columbus – Capitals in 7

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia – Penguins in 7

Nashville vs. Colorado – Predators in 7

Winnipeg vs. Minnesota – Jets in 5

Vegas vs. Los Angeles – Kings in 6

Anaheim vs. San Jose – Sharks in 6

Farrell Shine – Forever Blueshirts Writer

Lightning vs Devils – Lightning in 5

Boston vs. Toronto – Maple Leafs in 6

Washington vs. Columbus – Capitals in 6

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia – Penguins in 5

Nashville vs. Colorado – Predators in 5

Winnipeg vs. Minnesota – Wild in 6

Vegas vs. Los Angeles – Golden Knights in 6

Anaheim vs. San Jose – Sharks in 6

We would love your thoughts! Comment Please!