We almost forgot to do this, so here we go. As we have done in the past, we will try to predict the Stanley Cup playoffs, knowing that even if we do it round by round, we will never pick all series matchups correctly. It is impossible, and we dare anyone to prove us wrong! Hockey itself is too unpredictable as we have seen with the last two teams to set historical records (the 1996 Detroit Red Wings and the 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning). So, here we go!
Edmonton vs. Los Angeles: The Oilers not only top the Kings in overall SRS rating, but they also led the Western Conference in regulation wins (45). Just five points separate Edmonton from L.A. in the standings, but the Kings had just 37 regulation victories this year. This is the trick to analyzing the bloating standings in professional hockey. We see the Oilers and their three 100-point skaters dominating the Kings here. Edmonton in five games.
Vegas vs. Winnipeg: The Golden Knights finished atop the Western Conference in points (111), although seven teams in the conference reached triple digits (hello again, bloating). Vegas holds half the advantage in the SRS ratings that Edmonton does in respective matchups here. Also, the Jets only trailed their opponent by two wins in regulation during the season, so we see this as a very close series. Vegas in seven games.
Dallas vs. Minnesota: The Stars rate out as the top team in the conference using the SRS system, while the Wild are way down the list. In fact, the gap here for SRS is larger than the Oilers/Kings series. Dallas also has a five-victory edge over Minnesota when we look at that factor. We will never predict a sweep, though, even in a situation where it seems most probable (or at least the more probable of the current matchups to go that way). Dallas in five games.
Seattle vs. Colorado: It’s weird to know the Kraken did so well in just its second season. But the Avs were third in the conference for SRS, ahead of Seattle, which came in fifth. That’s a narrow gap, in comparison to the above. Here’s the kicker—the Kraken had one more regulation win than Colorado did. That makes this close, too. So which team topped the other for home ice? The Avs, who are the defending champs, of course. Colorado in seven games.
New Jersey vs. New York (Rangers): It’s like an old Seinfeld episode! Where is David Puddy when we all need him for levity? The Devils have a 5-point edge in the standings, and they also have a minimal edge on the Rangers in SRS ranking. As for regulation wins, Jersey again has a small edge on New York. So, we’re going with the default prediction for such a close situation here. New Jersey in seven games.
Carolina vs. New York (Islanders): The Hurricanes posted 20 more points than the Isles did during the regular season, which is a pretty significant gap. The SRS rating edge for Carolina is considerable, too, although not the largest we’ve seen here. The RW margin for the ‘Canes is only 3 victories, though, which is always a great indicator. In a weird way, since New York doesn’t have home ice, we’re picking this strange outcome. Carolina in six games.
Toronto vs. Tampa Bay: The Maple Leafs have a firm edge over the Lightning in the standings, even as Tampa goes for its fourth straight trip to the Cup Finals. Toronto has the same solid SRS advantage that Carolina has, and the Leafs also have a 4-game edge on the Lightning for regulation victories. But it’s still hard to see the proud Tampa Bay team go out without a whimper or six, so we go with a strange prediction (again). Toronto in six games.
Boston vs. Florida: Okay, so the Bruins broke every record in the NHL with 65 victories and 135 points. The Panthers notched just 92 points. Florida has the lowest SRS rating of any team in the conference, while Boston obviously had the highest in the league. Regulation wins? Well … The Bruins had 18 more victories that way than the Panthers did. This is one of those cases where we should predict a sweep, but we still can’t bring ourselves to do it. Boston in five games.
Check back before the second round for our next batch of worthless predictions!