2022 NHL playoff predictions: second-round winners, Stanley Cup champion, MVP and more

2022 NHL playoff predictions: second-round winners, Stanley Cup champion, MVP and more

The second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is here, with the Tampa Bay Lightning-Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues-Colorado Avalanche series opening Tuesday, and the New York Rangers-Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton series Oilers-Calgary Flames opening Wednesday. What do we expect to happen when the games start? What have we learned so far? Who will be left standing when we reach the conference finals?

Athleticism polled his NHL staff to get their predictions. We asked who would win each second-round series, and we updated the favorites to win the Eastern and Western Conferences, the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe.

Some of the results were expected. The Colorado Avalanche only gained momentum as the favorite to win it all after their first-round sweep of the Nashville Predators, and Avalanche star defenseman Cale Makar emerged as the even heavier favorite. to win the Conn Smythe. Other results were a bit more surprising, from a new first pick to win the Eastern Conference to a huge name missing from Conn Smythe’s vote.

Here are the full results of our survey.

Round Two Series Predictions

Metropolitan Division: Rangers vs. Hurricanes

Percentage of votes Rangers Hurricanes

4 games

0.0

0.0

5 games

0.0

15.9

6 games

2.3

70.5

7 games

9.1

2.3

Total

11.4

88.6

Can Rangers win this one without Igor Shesterkin playing at a higher level than we saw in the first round? It’s not just Shesterkin’s game that needs to improve. The Penguins dominated possession, zone time and scoring chances in the first round, moving easily in front of the Rangers net. Of the teams that like to funnel pucks and bodies into the net, no one does it better than the Hurricanes. That means not only Shesterkin has to be on top of his game, but also the Rangers skaters in the defensive zone. – Arthur Staple, beaten Rangers writer

Atlantic Division: Lightning vs. Panthers

Percentage of votes Flash Panthers

4 games

0.0

0.0

5 games

2.3

0.0

6 games

13.6

18.2

7 games

25.0

40.9

Total

40.9

59.1

The Lightning beat the Panthers in six playoff games last year and won back-to-back Cups. So why do we think they won’t win this series? The Lightning are not favored for two main reasons. 1) The Panthers are deeper and more experienced than last year’s version. They looked like a juggernaut all year round. And 2) There’s a question about the status of Lightning star Brayden Point, their No. 1 center and engine. The Cup champions don’t care who gets favored, though. They have the pedigree and the recipe to win, as they showed against the favorite Leafs in the first round. —Joe Smith, Lightning beat writer

Central Division: Blues vs. Avalanche

Percentage of votes Blues avalanche

4 games

0.0

0.0

5 games

0.0

36.4

6 games

2.3

52.3

7 games

0.0

9.1

Total

2.3

97.7

The Avs are big favorites here. How can the Blues slow them down? Frankly, it’s going to be hard. There’s a reason the Avs are prohibitive favorites and it’s more than their power, speed and skill. Much like the Blues before winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, the Avs have been knocking on the door for a few years. They’ve faced heartbreak, and that’s going to lead them to the playoffs first and foremost. To combat this, the Blues need to use their Cup experience to their advantage, and frankly, they will also need to use their underdog status as motivation. The Blues have the ability to beat the Avs, but if the Avs play like a team that has learned a few lessons along the way, this will be the challenge many expect for Craig Berube’s club. — Jeremy Rutherford, blues beat writer

Pacific Division: Oilers vs. Flames

Percentage of votes Lubricators flames

4 games

0.0

0.0

5 games

0.0

6.8

6 games

9.1

27.3

7 games

18.2

38.6

Total

27.3

72.7

Connor McDavid seems to be gaining momentum. Can the Flames stop him? The Kings certainly couldn’t do it in Games 6 and 7, with two chances to upset Edmonton in the first round. McDavid had five points on six Oilers goals in those two games, culminating in a 14-point playoff lead in seven games. Can the Flames stop him? This will partly depend on the availability of Chris Tanev. He’s Calgary’s most reliable defenseman and he missed Game 7. Having Jacob Markstrom as the last line of defense will also help. The Flames have shown their ability to dominate puck possession against Dallas five-on-five, and the best way to keep McDavid off the scoresheet is to keep him in the defensive zone. They will also have to minimize penalties as we know McDavid scoring on the power play is inevitable. Can Calgary do all of this? That remains to be seen. The only thing we really know about The Battle of Alberta Playoff Edition is that there is going to be (fun) chaos. — Hailey Salvian, screenwriter of the Flames

Beyond the second round

Eastern Conference Champion

Percentage of votes Pre-qualifying Now

16.7

38.6

39.6

34.1

20.8

25.0

4.2

2.3

10.4

0.0

4.2

0.0

4.2

0.0

The Hurricanes went from 16.7% to win the East to 38.6%. What did they show in the first round to convince so many people that they are for real? Yes, it took the Hurricanes seven games in the first round to beat a Bruins team they crushed in the regular season. And, yes, the Game 6 loss was irrelevant. But finally defeating the team that knocked them out in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals is a huge mental weight lifted, and Brad Marchand himself has said he thinks the Canes will come out of the East this year. Carolina showed in Round 1 that she has the depth, blue line production and discipline in her system to go a long way. —Sara Civian, Hurricanes Beat Writer

Western Conference Champion

Percentage of votes Pre-qualifying Now

58.3

77.3

39.6

18.2

0.0

2.3

2.1

0.0

Do you have any rust concerns with the Avalanche after a long break following their first-round sweep? Captain Gabriel Landeskog didn’t seem too concerned about the idea of ​​rust. “Everyone wants to make it a thing,” he said. “Rest is a plus at this time of year.” Landeskog mentioned the Blues also had an extended layoff between playoffs, and he and Nathan MacKinnon said the Avalanche had practiced well and were ready to go. But the game representatives are different from training, so there could be a period of sensation for both teams at the start of this next series against the Blues. — Peter Baugh, Avalanche beats writer

Stanley Cup winner

Percentage of votes Pre-qualifying Now

45.8

70.5

10.4

11.4

14.6

6.8

12.5

6.8

14.6

4.5

2.1

0.0

Why won’t the Avalanche win the Cup? I don’t know – why didn’t they win last year? Colorado was also a favorite at the time, and they came out fast against Vegas before losing four straight. Most of us thought the Blues would lose to the Wild in the first round; look how it went. They are used to winning games even if they lost the battle for possession. Potentially down the line, Calgary is an exceptional five-on-five team with an elite goaltender. There are four very good teams alive in the East. Hockey is inherently chaotic, a lot can happen in a seven-game series, and we should know better than to crown the Avs in the second round. That doesn’t mean they aren’t the smart choice, though. — Sean Gentille, NHL National Editor

Winner Conn Smythe

Cale Makar is a big favorite here. Is that also what the numbers say? In a word, yes. Makar has gone from having a stellar regular season and being known as the best two-way defenseman in the league to rightfully getting into the conversation as one of the best players in the league in the first round. Granted, it was against a weaker opponent, but he was absolutely phenomenal. With Makar on the ice at five-on-five, the Avalanche controlled 66% of the projected goal share and edged Nashville 6-2. Then there was his impact on special teams. Overall, he has 10 points in four games and he leads the league with an average game score of 3.56 so far in the playoffs. The expectation, based on his outstanding work at the NHL level, is that he’s just going to build on that. If the Avalanche keep moving forward, their game-changing game will be a vital part of that.

A few notable omissions here: Connor McDavid leads the playoffs in points (14 points), and if the Oilers do anything, it’ll be on his back. He is also second behind Makar in Game Score (3.00). And Carter Verhaeghe was once the Panthers’ most valuable player with 12 points and three wins, so it’s interesting to see Claude Giroux (seven points) on the board when he doesn’t. —Shayna Goldman, NHL Analytical Writer

How have we done so far?

First Round Series Predictions

The only majority series Athleticism the staff did not call correctly before the first round was Blues-Wild, who been predicted as the closest series, with two-thirds of the votes predicting it to last seven games. Here’s how all of our predictions held up, along with the actual series result, the percentage of voters who picked the right team and the percentage who picked the right team and the number of games:

Percentage of correct choices Team team and games
Hurricanes over the Bruins in 7

62.5

14.6

Rangers on Penguins in 7

66.7

18.8

Panthers vs. Capitals in 6

93.8

25.0

Lightning on the Maple Leafs in 7

70.8

33.3

Avalanche on Predators in 4

97.9

39.6

Blues over Wild in 6

37.5

4.2

Flames on the stars in 7

95.8

0.0

Oilers vs. Kings in 7

68.8

16.7

(Top photo of Connor McDavid and Elias Lindholm: Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

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