Just like the qualifying round, we went 2-2 with the quarterfinal predictions. It wasn’t surprising to see Vegas of Colorado advance, but watching Dallas destroy the Flames and the Canucks make Jordan Binnington look #NotGood was definitely different. Congratulations to the remaining team who are still in the hurt for Lord Stanley. This isn’t like every other year, but the grind to get there is just as hard. Let’s take a look at the semifinal matchups
If you missed the Eastern Conference semifinal predictions, you can find it here.
Dallas Stars Vs. Colorado Avalanche
Prediction: Colorado in 7
Game one was played on Saturday night, and Dallas came out flying, beating the Avalanche 5-3. The biggest news in that game was the injury to Philipp Grubauer. He went down in the second period with a knee injury and did not return.
Despite their loss in game one, I can’t see a scenario where the Stars get past the Avalanche. They may have lost game one, but I don’t expect them to give up five goals a game moving forward.
The Stars couldn’t score in the qualifying round, but now, it’s almost impossible to keep their offence at bay. Joe Pavelski and Denis Gurianov were key in their series against Calgary, and those two will need to continue to contribute if they want to keep up with Colorado’s dominant offence.
For Colorado, their strength is complete domination. We knew the Coyotes were going to have a hard time containing the Avalanche’s offence, but man, it was difficult to watch a time. Darcy Kuemper was really good all season, and Colorado made him look like Martin Jones. It was crazy to watch Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri just dominate an opposing team for long stretches. They didn’t do much of that in game one, but again, I expect that to change.
The deciding factor here will be the health of Grubauer and Ben Bishop. Pavel Francouz was good during the regular season, but this is the playoffs, and he’s going to find out that regular season success doesn’t always translate into playoff success. For Dallas, Ben Bishop has been “unfit to play” since the beginning of the postseason. Anton Khudobin was really good during the regular season, but he isn’t Bishop. While the Stars have scored a lot of goals in these playoffs (30 goals in ten games), they’ve also given up a lot of them (30). To put that into context: Chicago gave up the same amount of goals in one fewer game. We can talk about Khudobin being able to do the job, but the ultimate goal is to have Ben Bishop back in the blue paint.
In the end, Colorado’s offence will be too much for Dallas to handle. This series will be a lot closer than people think, and we should respect the Stars’ offence as being one of the best in these playoffs, but they can’t compete with the Avalanche in a seven game series.
Vegas Golden Knights Vs. Vancouver Canucks
Prediction: Vegas in 6
The Golden Knights reminded the Blackhawks, and the rest of the league, just how good of a team they are. Chicago gave it everything they had, but no one really expected them to be able to get past a Vegas team that seems built to have success in the playoffs.
For Vancouver, It was a little surprising to get past the former Stanley Cup champions, but they were able to take advantage of Binnington’s poor play and keep St. Louis’ offence under control.
In this series, the Canucks won’t have the luxury of facing a goalie struggling to find his game. Despite what Allan Walsh might think, Robin Lehner gives the Golden Knights the best chance to win, and we should see him a lot in this series. He might end up being the deciding factor in this series.
Jacob Markstrom has been really good since the beginning of the playoffs, but he’s about to be reminded that Vegas’ offence is much more dangerous than St. Louis’. The Golden Knights have almost all their weapons healthy, including Max Pacioretty, and have a ton of depth down the lineup.
For Vancouver, while they do have depth, they are still without Tyler Toffoli. We don’t have any news as to when he might return, but the expectation is that it won’t be any time soon. The Canucks are getting offence from their key players, but they will need more of it if they want to have a chance at getting to the next round.
This series will be a close one, and like we’ve already seen, anything can happen when a team gets hot and starts scoring goals. The Canucks will make this a series, but I don’t think they have an edge in any one particular category. Maybe Canada’s remaining team will surprise us all, but if all goes according to plan, the Golden Knights will be heading to the Western Conference Finals.