NHL Playoff Preview + Predictions

Will the Canes do it?

B. Hays

More stories from B. Hays


The Stanley Cup Playoffs have returned. 

The 2020-2021 season was one of a lot of changes and modifications. Some of the major changes are listed below. 


  • 56 game season vs the usual 82 games
  • The league was split into 4 divisions: North, East, West, and Central. 
  • You ONLY play teams in your division. 
  • 4 teams from each division make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 
  • The first two rounds of the playoffs are divisional rounds.
  • One team from each division advances to the Stanley Cup Semis. 


Here are the qualifiers from each division. 


North Division

1- Toronto Maple Leafs 

2- Edmonton Oilers 

3- Winnipeg Jets

4- Montreal Canadiens


Playoff Matchups: 

Maple Leafs vs Canadiens

Oilers vs Jets


Prediction: I think the Edmonton Oilers will come out of the north victorious. Connor Mcdavid is playing hockey at the highest level in the league and he will be the difference maker the Oilers need.


East Division

1- Pittsburgh Penguins 

2- Washington Capitals 

3- Boston Bruins 

4- New York Islanders


Playoff Matchups:

Penguins vs Islanders

Capitals vs Bruins


Prediction: I think a highly motivated Islanders team will make it out of the east. This is certainly a wild card prediction, but I think it’s fair to say that the teams in the east are all very strong. I think the underdog Isles really want to prove themselves and they have the opportunity to do so. 


West Division

1- Colorado Avalanche

2- Vegas Golden Knights

3- Minnesota Wild

4- St. Louis Blues


Playoff Matchups:

Avalanche vs Blues 

Knights vs Wild


Prediction: It’s hard to go against the Avalanche in the West. The President’s Trophy champions look like the best team in the league right now and with talents like Nathan Mackinnon it’s pretty easy to see why. The Knights or Wild have potential to give them some trouble in the second round, but I’m sticking with the 1 seed Avs advancing through the West. 


Central Division

1- Carolina Hurricanes 

2- Florida Panthers 

3- Tampa Bay Lightning

4- Nashville Predators


Playoff Matchups:

Hurricanes vs Predators 

Panthers vs Lightning 


Prediction: As much as my heart tells me the hometown team is going to advance through the Central Division, I am going with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Even though Tampa didn’t have a magnificent regular season by their lofty standards, it’s pretty clear that they’re the strongest team in this division, at least on paper. We’ll see if they’re able to play to their potential. I truly believe the only team that can knock the Bolts out in a 7-game series are the Florida Panthers, who they’ll face in the 1st Round. If the Panthers can out-do them, that would clear the path for Carolina to claim the Central. I’m hopeful, but I’m still sticking with the Lightning.