One member of Jets Nation’s full 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs predictions

Photo credit:© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
7 days ago
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It’s the eve of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Hundreds of thousands of brackets have been filled out. Millions of fans are waiting, filled with excitement and anticipation. 16 teams are making their final preparations before their first games of the playoffs. Only one team will be victorious and be crowned Stanley Cup champions in mid-June when it’s all said and the done.
An annual tradition before the playoffs is making your predictions. How I like to see and make predictions in general is a mixture of both opinion and reasoning. The NHL bracket challenge is one way of making your picks, but I’ve decided this year that I also want to make my predictions in writing form, going series by series with my picks. I’m by no means an expert in predictions, these are simply who I think will win each series, with hopefully enough reasoning to convince you to agree with me. It’s also important to point out that I’ll be making my predictions mostly based on who I think will win the series, and not so much on what the analytics might have to say. That being said, I will use some stats to back up some of my predictions that require a little more explaining.
Before I get right into my predictions, beginning with round 1, here’s a graph from moneypuck.com that shows each teams’ percentage chance of reaching each stage (round) of the playoffs. There’s no real clear favourite this year, which is part of the reason why making in-depth predictions this year is extra intriguing before the games get going here. To make it easier to follow, I’ll do the series in order of which they play the first game of their round 1 series. Round 1 will be a bit more in-depth to get you set up with each of the 16 teams in the playoffs. Without wasting any more time, let’s get in to the beginning of my predictions!

Round 1

Islanders vs. Hurricanes: Hurricanes in 5
This series should be almost all in favour of the Carolina Hurricanes. The New York Islanders finished the season with more losses than wins, at 39-27-16. Essentially, the Islanders only made the playoffs because of all the 1 point games they were in and because the Metropolitan division was weak apart from the Rangers and Hurricanes. I will give a little bit of credit where it’s due for the Islanders though, because they no longer play as “boring” as a play style as they used to. The Hurricanes should be able to match the speed of Islander star Matthew Barzal, and if they do that then they can shut down the rest of the Islanders forward group. Expect some low scoring games, as Ilya Sorokin and Pyotr Kochetkov / Frederik Andersen should be able to hold their nets steady throughout the series. If you like low-scoring playoff games, this series is for you. Hurricanes in 5 games.
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins: Maple Leafs in 6
No offence to the Islanders or Hurricanes, but that series is probably the least intriguing matchup of the 8 in the 1st round. Up next is a classic rivalry: the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Boston Bruins. I’ll be honest, out of all the 1st round matchups, this one was easily the toughest to pick a winner. Why is that? Well, it’s tough to pick the Leafs because I don’t trust their goaltending. Ilya Samsonov has had some good moments in the season, but can he have more of those good moments in the playoffs? For the Bruins, it was tough to pick them because of the lack of forward depth that they have this year compared to others. A word that I’ve heard people throw out there when it comes to the Bruins these playoffs is “vulnerable”. The goaltending situation favours the Bruins, as the dynamic duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have proven to be a dynamic 1-2 combo. That being said, I think the fire power of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and proven playoff performer John Tavares will be too much for the Bruins to handle. Maple Leafs in 6 games.
Lightning vs. Panthers: Panthers in 6
Another great matchup here between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. The battle of Florida. The Lightning struggled early in the season, but a major part of their struggles came from missing their star goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy due to injury. Meanwhile, the Panthers proved this season that their playoff run last year wasn’t so much a fluke, finishing at the top of a difficult Atlantic division. Every series will have some focus on the goalies, but this series in particular should be highlighted by which team gets the better goaltending. For me, Sergei Bobrovsky and Anthony Stolarz, along with the strong Panthers play in their own end, should be able to hold off the fire power that the Lightning have with Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Panthers in 6 games.
Capitals vs. Rangers: Rangers in 5
The final matchup in the Eastern conference: The Washington Capitals against the New York Rangers. On paper, this series should be the most lopsided, in favour of the Presidents trophy winning New York Rangers. The Rangers finished with 55 wins, and have seen improvements from some of their younger players in their lineup such as former 1st overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. All that I can say about the Capitals is that they appear to be a team who are very resilient. They may have finished the year with a -37 goal differential, but if you’ve watched some of their games this season you’ll know that they have the ability to have clutch moments when they need them. There’s not too much else that can be said about this series, the Rangers should have this one in the bag. Rangers in 5 games.
Avalanche vs. Jets: Jets in 7
Over to the Western conference now, and I must say, each of the 4 matchups look like they will be exciting in their own ways. Beginning with the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets, who are meeting for the 1st time ever in a playoff matchup. Important to note, this isn’t a bias pick here, as are any of my predictions throughout my picks. This is the toughest series to pick a winner from in the Western conference, and the Jets just seem to have the “it” factor over the Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen will cause all sorts of problems for the Jets, that’s almost a guarantee. However, Connor Hellebuyck and the overall depth of this Jets team is what gives them the slight edge in this series. Expect a lot of games in this series to be decided by 1 goal. Jets in 7 games.
Predators vs. Canucks: Canucks in 6
Another intriguing matchup here between the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks. This one is intriguing because it’s hard to get a feeling for how these two teams will fair in the playoffs. The Canucks exceeded expectations this season, winning the Pacific division. They were sitting at the top of the league for parts of the season before falling a little after star goalie Thatcher Demko got injured. The Nashville Predators had an average start to the season, but it was their 18 game point streak (16-0-2) that launched them into the playoffs. Canucks coach Rick Tocchet and Predators coach Andrew Brunette have done a great job with their teams this season. The edge here goes to the Canucks because their forwards have more fire power than the Predators. The trio of Elias Pettersson, J.T Miller and Brock Boeser, along with a potential winner of the Norris trophy, Quinn Hughes, will be too much for the Predators to handle. Canucks in 6 games.
Golden Knights vs. Stars: Stars in 6
2nd last round 1 matchup here, thanks for sticking with me thus far, almost in to round 2. The defending champions, the Vegas Golden Knights against the Dallas Stars. The Stars finished at the top of the Western conference and have been one of the most consistent teams in terms of results throughout the season. The Golden Knights on the other hand, have not been the same team that you saw win the Stanley Cup last season. There’s a few questions that Vegas will have to answer before the playoffs begin, in particular when will their captain Mark Stone return from injury? The edge that the Stars have that’ll push them past the defending champs is their ability to limit chances. With a 2.26 expected goals against per 60 minutes, the Stars are a top team when it comes to limiting quality chances against them. The Golden Knights will put up a good fight this series though, as defending champions always have an extra level of determination to repeat as champs. Stars in 6 games.
Kings vs. Oilers: Oilers in 6
Last but not least, the Los Angeles Kings against the Edmonton Oilers. Both teams haven’t exactly lived up to their expectations prior to what they might have hoped for before the season began. Especially the Oilers, who a quarter into the season sat near the bottom of the league with only 5 wins. The Oilers were able to turn things around though, finishing with 49 wins. A final day of the regular season win for the Kings allowed the Kings to avoid the Stars and match themselves up for the 3rd straight playoffs against the Oilers. The Kings 1-3-1 style of play might not work as well as it did during some games in the regular season. The only real question mark for the Oilers is their goaltending: can Stuart Skinner be good enough in the playoffs to give the Oilers a chance to win every night? Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl should be able to carry the play and will help the Oilers advance. Oilers in 6 games.

Round 2

Panthers vs. Maple Leafs: Panthers in 5
Phew, that was a lot to cover in the 1st round. I’ll keep it more simple for the rest of my predictions, beginning with the 1st Eastern conference round 2 matchup between the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs. What the Panthers have that the Bruins don’t have that’ll help them get past the Maple Leafs is depth on both ends of the ice. The Panthers are a team built to win in the playoffs, enough said. Panthers in 5 games.
Rangers vs. Hurricanes: Rangers in 7
It’s unfortunate that this can’t be a conference finals, because these have been the 2 best teams in the Eastern conference this season. I hate to keep using this as reasoning, but the Rangers roster has more depth than the Hurricanes. Depth is something that will keep coming up in my predictions, because that’s one of the most important things to have to be successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Rangers in 7 games.
Stars vs. Jets: Stars in 6
Depth, depth, and more depth. Both the Stars and the Jets have depth, that’s pretty easy to see. Both teams also have great goaltending, as Oettinger against Hellebuyck in a playoff series would be an epic matchup. This series simply comes down to experience. The Stars have more players who are battle tested in the playoffs, and that should give them the advantage as the playoffs continue. Stars in 6 games.
Canucks vs. Oilers: Canucks in 7
It’s hard to ignore the Canucks perfect record against the Oilers in the regular season this year when making this pick. The Oilers are a much different team than they were in the 1st half of the season, that’s for sure. The Canucks weren’t as successful in the 2nd half of the season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready for this round 2 matchup. I give the slightest of edges to the Canucks in this series because of goaltending and forward depth. Canucks in 7 games.

Round 3

Panthers vs. Rangers: Panthers in 7
Time for the conference finals. Beginning in the East, this one really could go either way, but the Panthers are out to prove that last year’s playoff run was no fluke. Great goaltending and a team built for the playoffs will get them past a talented Rangers team. Panthers in 7 games.
Stars vs. Canucks: Stars in 5
The Western conference finals won’t be as exciting as the East. The Canucks lack of playoff experience for most of their roster will play a big factor deeper into the playoffs. The Stars, much like the Panthers, are a team that is built for the playoffs. Just like the Stars previous series, the experienced roster in big playoff games will be what gets the Stars to the Stanley Cup finals. Stars in 5 games.

Stanley Cup Finals

Stars vs. Panthers: Stars in 6
At long last, the Stanley Cup finals. The Western conference winning Dallas Stars against the Eastern conference winning Florida Panthers. While this may not be the most marketable finals, each and every game will be a prime example of good, tough, and exciting playoff hockey. I’ve mentioned that the Stars biggest strength is limiting their opponents chances. The biggest strength for the Panthers is their controlled style of play on both ends of the ice. You’ve heard me talk about depth, both teams have that. The Stars have the edge in terms of players with playoff experience. But when it comes to the Stanley Cup finals, you need to go with and trust the team that is the complete package. That team this year is the Dallas Stars. The Stars take home their 2nd Stanley Cup in franchise history. Stars in 6 games.
Now that you know my predictions, how did I do? As I mentioned from the beginning, I thought it would be a fun opportunity to take a shot at making my predictions for the upcoming playoffs. I could be right about some of these predictions, but I could also be very wrong about some of these predictions, that’s the beauty of the unpredictability of the NHL playoffs. The 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin tomorrow afternoon, and just like every other fan of the game, I’m ready to see the action over the next 2 fantastic months of hockey.


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