Time to see if our B/R NHL Staff has true powers of prognostication.
After predicting the winners of every division for the upcoming season, we're back at it. In this roundtable, our experts go in deep and give us their predictions for the 2022-23 playoff field.
Have the Ottawa Senators done enough in the offseason to get over the hump? Will Johnny Gaudreau's addition to Columbus power the Blue Jackets to the playoff promised land? And will there be any surprise contenders?
See what we had to say about the teams that will be in contention, and don't hesitate to send us your playoff predictions in the comments below.
Expect More of the Same in the East, but Look Out for the Kings in the West
- Carolina Hurricanes
- New York Rangers
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Florida Panthers
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- New York Islanders
- Boston Bruins
The Eastern Conference feels like it’s ready for a playoff upheaval…but it’s not quite there yet. Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington are all aging, and the latter two have a bunch of key players missing the beginning of the season at the least. Thing is, they’re all still filled with talent, and what Boston may lack in offensive punch will be made up by new coach Jim Montgomery’s strong defensive style. The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy last season, but they’ve got a new coach in Paul Maurice and a new guy in Matthew Tkachuk to give them an edge.
The Lightning have been to three straight Stanley Cup Finals, and they’ve got to get tired at some point, right? We’ll see how they do losing a clutch player in Ondrej Palat and if others can step up. For those questions, Andrei Vasilevskiy answers a lot of them. If the Rangers improve their defense, they’re an even bigger threat to win the East. Meanwhile, Carolina looks beastly, and that’s not just because it added Brent Burns and his beard to the blue line. Yes, the Islanders are going to be back. Ilya Sorokin is a dynamite goaltender, there’s a new voice behind the bench in Lane Lambert, and the horrible luck they had with injuries and on offense is poised to flip.
The Capitals have all the spooky signs around them that things could be a bit more difficult this season. They might be without Nicklas Backstrom for a long time after hip surgery, and they’re starting the season without Tom Wilson and Carl Hagelin because of injuries. They severely lack quality depth, and any more injuries will really stress things out. Adding Darcy Kuemper in goal is a big upgrade, but I'm not sold on whether he’s enough to make up for the other questions. They’ll tussle with the Islanders and Bruins for the postseason and have to fend off Ottawa, Detroit and Buffalo, who should all be improved and will close the gap between the haves and the have-nots for the playoffs.