The NHL Qualifying Round begins tomorrow at 12:00 PM Eastern Time. Things will start to get wild in the West when the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks get things started off at 3:00 PM Eastern Time at Rogers Place.
Now, let’s dive in to each series and make a prediction!
Western Conference Qualifying Round Predictions
Edmonton Oilers versus Chicago Blackhawks
EDM vs CHI: The first series on the NHL docket out West is going to be a goal bonanza. Neither team’s defenses or goalies is going make you think impenetrable. Let me tell you, this is the series I want to watch as die-hard fan, and one that casual fans will be thrilled with watching.
OUTLOOK: This is basically an offensive heavyweight battle where in one corner you the league’s scoring champs in the last two seasons in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. In the other corner, you have to season winners in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Let the fireworks begin!
PREDICTION: Oilers in 4 games
Winnipeg Jets versus Calgary Flames
WPG vs CGY: If Hawks and Oilers is going to be an offensive show, then Jets and Flames is going to be a nasty hitting showdown. These are two evenly matched teams and will give fans of tough hard-nosed hockey what they are looking for.
OUTLOOK: In the end, it is going to come down to just how good Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will be. Winnipeg also boasts some strong goal scorers in Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor to counter Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
PREDICTION: Jets in 4 games
Nashville Predators versus Arizona Coyotes
NSH vs. AZ: The Yotes are a mess that just had their GM, John Chayaka quit. The Predators are an established group of veterans. I think you can see where this is heading.
OUTLOOK: This is a no contest in my eyes. Yes, the Notes have Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel but it will do them no good against the Preds defense. In goal, Pekka Rinne will be his usual stellar self, and Arizona is going to be overwhelmed by Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Roman Josi.
PREDICTION: Predators in 3 games
Vancouver Canucks versus Minnesota Wild
VAN vs. MIN: This is my too close to call matchup in the West. You can look at both teams and see it going either way. It’s a series where either veteran experience wins the day or youth will be served.
OUTLOOK: For many members of the Minnesota Wild, their days in the NHL are numbered. Mikko Koivu (36), Eric Staal (35), Zach Parise (35), and Mats Zuccarello (32) are looking at retirement soon. On the other side, the Canucks boast some great young guns led by Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, and Brock Boeser. That will compensate for question marks in Vancouver’s goal and those young legs will win out.
PREDICTION: Canucks in 5 games