The Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have already advanced from the first round of the 2021 NHL playoffs, but who will join them in the final eight?
Number one seed Colorado advanced with a 4-0 clean sweep of the St Louis Blues, with the latter not leading at any point in the first three matches of the series. Colorado is the 11/4 favorites to win the Stanley Cup according to the odds at 22bet.com.
On the same half of the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets caused an upset by thrashing the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 in their seven-game series. The Oilers had won seven of the nine head-to-head meetings during the regular season, including the last six.
Boston advanced with a 4-1 series victory over the Washington Capitals. Although the Bruins were the lower seed of the two from the East Division they had been the favorites to advance.
The remaining ties are currently in the balance, and here’s who we think will advance:
Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 Minnesota Wild
Vegas missed the opportunity to close out the series on Monday as they were beaten 4-2 to keep the series alive. The pre-season Stanley Cup favorites didn’t disappoint during the regular season and have recorded post-season victories over the Minnesota Wild with scores of 3-1, 5-2, and 4-0. Expect order to resume in game 6 and the Golden Knights to advance.
Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 Montreal Canadiens
The two most successful teams in NHL history meet in the first round of the playoffs thanks to the unique schedule this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs won the North Division and are expected to reach the championship game as being the strongest Canadian team. Currently leading the series 2-1 we expect they will advance with another two or three games.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2-3 New York Islanders
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the number one seed from the East Division but need to win the final two games of the series in order not to be upset by the New York Islanders. The winner of this series will face the Boston Bruins in the next round.
New York ended the regular season in hot form whilst the Penguins were arguably the weakest team among the number one seeds. Two straight wins for the Islanders have given them the upper hand ahead of welcoming Pittsburgh for game 6 on Wednesday.
Carolina Hurricanes 2-2 Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators have surprised many in fighting back from 0-2 to tie the series after four games. Both of those victories were hard-fought in Tennessee with back-to-back second overtime periods.
However, expect order to resume over the next two games or three max, as Carolina is widely expected to advance. The number one seed from the Central Division is desperately missing Jaccob Slavin in defense but should be capable of outscoring Nashville over the remainder of the series. Juuse Saros has set records in Nashville over the past two games for the number of saves the goaltender has made, but surely that streak will end next time out.