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Postseason Bracket Predictions 11 Days From the 2024 NHL Playoffs

Lyle Fitzsimmons @@fitzbitz Featured Columnist III April 9, 2024 Postseason Bracket Predictions 11 Days From the 2024 NHL Playoffs 0 of 8 Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images The NHL’s late season is, in a word…fluid. Four teams were within five points of the pole position in the league standings—and the Presidents’ Trophy that ultimately comes

Postseason Bracket Predictions 11 Days From the 2024 NHL Playoffs

Lyle LogoFeatured Columnist IIIApril 9, 2024

Postseason Bracket Predictions 11 Days From the 2024 NHL Playoffs

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    TAMPA, FL - MAY 6: Steven Stamkos #91of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates the series win and shakes hands with David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Scott Audette/NHLI by way of Getty Photographs

    The NHL’s late season is, in a phrase…fluid.

    4 groups have been inside 5 factors of the pole place within the league standings—and the Presidents’ Trophy that in the end comes with it—coming into Monday’s video games, whereas the chase for the three non-clinched wild-card slots included seven extra inside the similar margin.

    And although groups in New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville and Vegas had possession of the coveted “management their very own future” phrase because the evening’s abbreviated two-game slate received began, there’ll actually be substantial paradigm shifts inside 24 hours.

    This makes the problem of forecasting simply who’ll be concerned throughout eight first-round collection within the upcoming playoffs a frightening one. Nevertheless it’s exactly the type of job the B/R hockey crew revels in, which was all of the immediate crucial for the employees to reconvene and map out who’ll be matched with whom when the postseason puck drops on April 20.

    It is the second go-round for our bracket-focused crystal ball and we’re hoping the fine-tuning work since final week’s effort will straighten out the kinks. Check out what we got here up with this time and drop a thought or two of your personal within the feedback.

Atlantic Division: Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 27: Brandon Hagel #38 of the Tampa Bay Lightning against is pinned between goalie Linus Ullmark #35 and Andrew Peeke #52 of the Boston Bruins during the third period at Amalie Arena on March 27, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Mark LoMoglio/NHLI by way of Getty Photographs

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    What a distinction per week makes within the Atlantic Division.

    Seven days in the past, the Florida Panthers have been two factors off the tempo of the Boston Bruins however nonetheless gave the impression to be the crew that had resided at or close to the highest of the NHL standings all season, which prompted us to counsel they’d overcome the small margin and end first.

    Nowadays, not a lot.

    The Panthers have been a wonderfully pedestrian 1-1-1 throughout three video games whereas the Bruins have been profitable three straight by a 10-3 margin, stretching their division result in 5 factors and on the lookout for all intents and functions as if it will be them and never Florida that snatches the Jap Convention’s No. 2 seed and with it a presumed duel with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Barring a major late surge, the Lightning are locked into fourth within the Atlantic, the place they path the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs by 4 factors. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot, nevertheless, and their nine-point lead for the primary wild-card spot leaves their opening-round opponent—presumably whoever wins the Atlantic—as the one lingering thriller.

    For the report, they’ve performed the Bruins 4 occasions this season, splitting a pair of regulation video games and profitable as soon as every in extra time and a shootout.

Atlantic Division: Florida Panthers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    TORONTO, ON - MAY 12: Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers shake hands after the Florida Panthers clinch the series during 5 in the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 12, 2023, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada. (Photo by Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs

    There are lots of causes to imagine within the Florida Panthers.

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    Their 48 wins are tied for fourth within the league, their +58 aim differential is tied for second, and so they have a number of gamers among the many leaders in a number of important statistical classes.

    They’re simply 8-8-2 throughout 18 video games because the begin of March and have step by step ceded place within the total standings, although, and have fallen from a tie for first to open final month to a tie for fifth to start this week.

    Presuming they can not overcome the five-point hole to win the Atlantic and so they do not squander the five-point edge they’ve on third-place Toronto, it will be them and the Maple Leafs opening the primary spherical of this yr’s match at Amerant Financial institution Enviornment.

    Toronto is 4 factors forward of fourth-place Tampa Bay however has performed nicely sufficient these days—6-4-0 of their final 10 and 10-6-1 since March 1—to assume they will not fall into wild-card uncertainty.

    It would be a frightening first-round job due to momentum and the season collection for Florida, which received a 3-1 choice at dwelling in October earlier than shedding by 2-1 and 6-4 counts in subsequent video games at Scotiabank Enviornment in November and April.

    They will meet one remaining time within the season’s penultimate recreation on April 16, which may set the stage for a second straight postseason get-together on the heels of final yr’s second-rounder received by the Panthers in 5.

Metropolitan Division: New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 01: Jack St. Ivany #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 01, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Photographs

    Go forward, you inform the New York Rangers they are not the NHL’s finest crew.

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    The residents of the World’s Most Well-known Enviornment have a three-point lead on the sphere within the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, they’ve received three straight video games and eight of their final 10, and their 13-4-1 report since March 1 is tied for the most effective within the league.

    They’ve prolonged a lead over second-place Carolina from three to 5 factors within the final seven days and appear a protected wager to keep up that lead with simply 4 video games remaining.

    Doing so would virtually certainly yield the East’s prime seed and a first-round date with its second wild-card crew, which for the time being is Detroit however may simply as simply wind up Pittsburgh.

    The Penguins have been crimson scorching for just a few weeks now, profitable 4 straight video games and going 6-2-2 of their final 10 to resurrect relevance from a season that appeared to be in “enjoying out the string” mode when Jake Guentzel was despatched off to the Hurricanes.

    Pittsburgh entered Monday’s video games a degree behind the Purple Wings for the coveted remaining spot and simply two factors behind the New York Islanders for third within the Metropolitan. Each are on the schedule within the crew’s remaining 4 video games, with a go to from Detroit set for Thursday and a visit to Lengthy Island on the docket for the 2023-24 finale on April 17.

Metropolitan Division: Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

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    ELMONT, NEW YORK - MARCH 19: Jordan Staal #11 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on March 19, 2024 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Photographs

    The opposite aspect of the topsy-turvy Metropolitan consists of the Carolina Hurricanes, whose report because the begin of March is pretty much as good because the Rangers’ mark, however hasn’t allowed them to achieve any floor past the aforementioned five-point margin.

    The groups are first and second within the Jap Convention in wins, regulation wins, and regulation/extra time wins, which implies a second-round collection between them can be among the many must-see matchups of the bracket’s preliminary half.

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    However there’s nonetheless some work to be performed.

    For the Hurricanes, which means a first-round collection towards a yet-to-be-determined opponent given the ever-changing nature of the division’s second tier, however we’ll go forward and counsel it will be the New York Islanders given their standing as that tier’s hottest crew.

    Coach Patrick Roy’s group had received 4 straight heading into Monday’s video games and was 6-4-0 in its final 10, vaulting previous Detroit (4-4-2), Washington (3-5-2) and Philadelphia (2-5-3) within the final couple weeks. The Capitals, Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins have been simply two factors behind, although, which means every of New York’s remaining 5 video games—together with two with the Rangers and one every with Montreal, New Jersey and Pittsburgh will determine issues for good.

    By the way, the Islanders are 2-1-1 towards Carolina this season, regardless of permitting 16 objectives and scoring simply 14.

Central Division: Dallas Stars vs. Nashville Predators

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    NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 15: Dallas Stars left wing Mason Marchment (27) challenges Nashville Predators center Ryan O'Reilly (90) for the puck as defenseman Roman Josi (59) looks on during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, held on February 15, 2024, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs

    Whereas the New York Rangers have a reasonably good declare to prime honors within the Jap Convention, the Dallas Stars are making a reasonably robust case out west.

    They’ve received 9 of their final 10 video games and have lastly put a long way between themselves and the remainder of a aggressive Central Division, opening a five-point lead on Colorado and a seven-point edge on Winnipeg coming into Monday’s video games.

    They’re 5 factors up, too, on Pacific chief Vancouver, which means they’d get the lower-seeded wild-card crew to open the playoffs. That’d be the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights after Sunday’s video games, however the guess right here is that the Cup winners will skip up at the least a spot, leaving the Nashville Predators to share the marquee with the Stars.

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    Vegas trailed the Predators by two factors coming into Monday however had two video games in hand and can play their remaining 4 at dwelling after a Wednesday go to to Edmonton.

    Dallas and Nashville break up 4 conferences this season with the Stars permitting fewer than 30 photographs thrice, profitable twice. The groups have met within the playoffs as soon as, in 2019, with the Stars profitable in six video games.

Central Division: Colorado Avalanche vs. Winnipeg Jets

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    WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 16: Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Colorado Avalanche and Dylan DeMelo #2 of the Winnipeg Jets keep their eyes on the puck during third period action at Canada Life Centre on December 16, 2023 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Jonathan Kozub/NHLI by way of Getty Photographs

    There could also be no safer wager within the NHL than the Central’s different first-round collection.

    The Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets reached Monday’s video games with the Avalanche sitting 5 factors behind first-place Dallas and the Jets having established a six-point edge on fourth-place Nashville. The one thriller can be which of the pair takes dwelling ice.

    Winnipeg had received three straight and had a recreation in hand by way of Sunday over Colorado, which had misplaced two straight. They will wrap up their season collection on Saturday in Denver, the place the Avalanche will play thrice throughout their remaining 4 video games.

    Now precisely who’d win the collection…that is the hardest name of all.

    Colorado was a Cup champ the season earlier than final and has checked out occasions like one other deep run is imminent this spring, however they’ve dropped two straight and gone simply 5-4-1 of their final 10. To not point out two earlier video games with the Jets, who received 4-2 on the highway on December 7 and 6-2 at dwelling 9 days later.

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Pacific Division: Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 06: Nils Hoglander #21 of the Vancouver Canucks loses his balance in front of Mikey Anderson #44 and Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in a 6-3 Kings win at Arena on April 06, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    Harry How/Getty Photographs

    The Vancouver Canucks are the Western model of the Florida Panthers.

    They’ve resided among the many league’s elites since thrashing Edmonton twice to start the season and so they’ve carried the flag for the Pacific Division ever since, arriving to Monday’s schedule with a three-point edge over the Oilers with one head-to-head recreation remaining.

    They will play Edmonton as soon as extra on Saturday, so ceding the division’s prime place remains to be attainable. However assuming they will navigate the ultimate 11 days with out careening off a aggressive cliff, it might be all however locked in that they’d face the West’s top-seeded wild card.

    That, nevertheless, may imply just a few various things down the stretch.

    Nashville entered Monday’s video games with a two-point edge over Vegas for the primary wild-card slot, although the Golden Knights managed their very own future within the standings.

    And remember the Los Angeles Kings are just one level up on Vegas for third within the Pacific, which implies the Golden Knights and their four-game stand at T-Cell Enviornment to complete the season may wind up decisive and ship L.A. into wild-card oblivion.

    Put all of it collectively and it appears the Kings are destined to be handed out of a 3rd consecutive first-rounder with Edmonton and right into a duel with the Canucks, which will not be the most effective information for Vancouver followers given a 1-3-0 head-to-head report and a -7 aim differential.

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Pacific Division: Edmonton Oilers vs. Vegas Golden Knights

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 06: Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers and Alex Pietrangelo #7 of the Vegas Golden Knights scuffle in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on February 06, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Oilers 3-1. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    Ethan Miller/Getty Photographs

    Sound acquainted? Effectively, it ought to.

    The Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights took the highest two spots within the Pacific Division final season and engaged in a aggressive second-round playoff collection that many Vegas gamers contended was their hardest on the best way to a Stanley Cup hoist.

    They have been among the many gaggle of groups chasing the Canucks all season within the Pacific and have been separated by simply seven factors heading into Monday’s video games, with the Oilers sitting in second and Vegas inside a degree of overtaking Los Angeles for third.

    Each the Golden Knights (7-2-1) and Kings (7-3-0) have performed nicely of their final 10 video games, however Vegas will play only one playoff crew in its final 4 video games after a season-series finale in Edmonton on Wednesday evening. That ought to give them sufficient runway to catch Los Angeles and safe the rematch with the Oilers, offered Edmonton would not go by Vancouver.

    They performed twice earlier this season, with the preliminary recreation ending in a 5-4 choice for the Oilers whereas the second was 3-1 for the Golden Knights, ending Edmonton’s franchise report 16-game profitable streak on February 7.

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