It’s the best time of year. The playoffs begin anon, so here come our predictions.
As usual, our prediction series pits Peter (me) against Ian (boo), plus a coin named Keith that makes both of us look like bozos.
But not like usual, this time around we’ve got the actual Hershey Bears legend himself, the real Keith Aucoin, joining us for predictions. This is not a joke.
Keith, a Coin, is a 2002 quarter minted in Pennsylvania. He knows nothing about hockey but somehow he guesses right about half of the time. That’s the bit. Well, two bits to be precise.
Special guest predictor Keith Aucoin played 145 NHL games across nine seasons. In the AHL, Aucoin scored 217 goals and led the Hershey Bears to multiple Calder Cup championships. Also he’s a very good sport for hanging out with us here.
Our results will appear in the table below, using the universally understood 🚽/🌮 score-keeping system.
|Florida vs Washington|
|Toronto vs Tampa|
|Carolina vs Boston|
|New York vs Pittsburgh|
|Colorado vs Nashville|
|Minnesota vs St Louis|
|Calgary vs Dallas|
|Edmonton vs LA|
Peter: We have this bit in the RMNB Discord where we’re all very very pessimistic about the Caps’ chances against the Panthers, who are plainly a superior team. But to avoid making our Discord vibes depressing, the rule is that when you say something fatalistic about the Caps losing, you have to set it off with an emoji. That way, you turn the bad energy into a performance, making space for maybe some sarcasm and hope. The Caps are doomed. 🐿 Florida in 6.
Ian: The Capitals have been frustrating to watch this season. In some games, the team looks like one of the best in the league and then in others, destined for the lottery. The Capitals’ holes are obvious: the goaltending performances from Sammy and Vitek are inconsistent, the team’s speed especially without any young players is suspect and can send games into blowout territory very quick, and the head coach seldom fully optimizes the lineup or matches-up well (best away team in the league!), which is admittedly a strange thing to observe about a guy who’s taken three different teams to the Stanley Cup Final. But just like nothing about this team making sense, I think the Capitals are going to pull off a massive upset here. As we all know, being a Presidents’ Trophy winner comes with a certain amount of pressure to perform. And I think the Capitals’ third line of Mantha-Eller-Wilson (which would be even better with McMichael at center) will create fits for Florida from the start. It’s going to be a forechecking clinic. The Caps goaltending will be rock solid. Well, until the next round, when we all start to believe in it. Washington in 5.
Keith, a coin: Florida
Keith Aucoin, actually: I see this being a high-scoring series. Love Ovi and the Caps organization, but I think Florida is playing too good with too much firepower. I’m also pulling for Jumbo Joe to win the cup. Florida in 6.
Peter: I’m not sure how good this series will be. Toronto has thunderous offense, but they’ve got the worst even-strength goaltending among playoff teams. The defending champs, meanwhile, are somehow a sleeper. I’m kinda throwing up my hands here. Toronto in 7.
Ian: Oh man. This series pits two very similar teams against each other. I can’t wait to watch. One team is a rising power while the other may finally be seeing its best days behind it. I want to pick Toronto here. They have so much speed and skill and the best goal scorer in the league. But as we know in the postseasons past, that type of stuff doesn’t really translate well from the regular season. What does though is special teams. I think the Leafs’ first-ranked PP will struggle — there’s so much pressure to win in Toronto — while Tampa’s eighth-best PP will feast. Andrei Vasilevskiy will be the MVP of this series. Tampa in 7
Keith, a coin: Tampa
Keith Aucoin, actually: Tough series for me. Two real good teams and will be fun series to watch. But I think the Leafs will finally break through and win a playoff series. Mathews is playing too good, and I think after couple playoff runs last few years Tampa runs out of gas. Toronto in 7.
Peter: A real clash of titans. I think this could be the best series of the first round, especially if Marchand pulls the limelight towards his goon ass. Anyway, the Bruins controlled 57 percent of expected goals during the regular season. I’d be a fool not to pick them. Carolina in 6.
Ian: The Hurricanes have a ton of skill and can come at teams in waves, but Boston is a great team that’s been there before. If the Bruins can get adequate goaltending, this may be a surprisingly easy series for them. Boston in 6
Keith, a coin: Boston
Keith Aucoin, actually: Real tough matchup. Love the way Hurricanes play. Bruins are healthy now with Pasta back in lineup. Two really good teams. I’m from Boston, so I’m going to stick with Boston in 7.
Peter: The conventional wisdom is that New York has Pittsburgh’s number. I don’t know about that. The Rangers have some fun young players, but their strength still depends way too much on goaltending. Anything could happen, but I put my trust in Sidney. Pittsburgh in 6.
Ian: The New York Rangers are a young, dangerous team that has the possible NHL MVP in Igor Shesterkin. I think the Penguins are the worst team in the postseason this year and are going to be absolutely dominated in this series – just like they were in the regular season by the Rags. New York in 4
Keith, a coin: Pittsburgh
Keith Aucoin, actually: I really like the way the Rangers are playing right now. I think their goaltending has been real good. I hate to go against Crosby, but think Rangers from top to bottom will be too much. New York in 6.
Peter: RIP Preds. Whatcha gonna do when the Avalanche run wild on you? I don’t think will be close. I’m still mildly surprised Nashville made the playoffs. Colorado in 5.
Ian: The Avalanche are on a mission and will bring down Thor’s hammer at times on the Predators. But I think this series will go the distance because of the huge home ice advantage Predators’ fans give the team. Should be a fun one! Colorado in 7
Keith, a coin: Colorado
Keith Aucoin, actually: Avs have been best team in the NHL all season and are primed for a deep run. MacKinnon and the Avs will be too much for Predators. Could see a sweep here, so I’ll go Colorado in 4.
Peter: Here’s another lopsided matchup, in a Western conference that seems kinds filled with uneven first round series. The MAF-augmented Minnesota Wild improves the back end of a team that was already like the second best (behind Boston) at limiting opponent offense. On the other hand, the Blues had the highest shooting percentage in the NHL, but I think they’re about to get hushed up. Minnesota in 6.
Ian: I was already a huge believer in the Wild before the MAF addition. Honestly, this is probably my Stanley Cup Final pick out of the West. This team has everything, especially great defense. Minnesota in 5.
Keith, a coin: Minnesota
Keith Aucoin, actually: Really like this Minnesota team. Old friend Dean Evason will have them ready for a nice run. With Fleury in net and Kaprizov will have a coming-out party, I’m going Minnesota in 5.
Peter: A polite round of applause to the Dallas Stars for beating out the Vegas Golden Knights. Okay, now that that is done, they’re mincemeat. The Flames are a monster — the best team in the West by a good bit. The Dallas Stars are fine. They’re just fine. Calgary in 6.
Ian: I think it’s possible Dallas could find a way to make this series close, but Calgary is built for the playoffs. Matthew Tkachuk had over 100 points. Good luck to anyone playing them. Calgary in 6.
Keith, a coin: Calgary
Keith Aucoin, actually: No matter who plays Calgary they will be a tough matchup. They are a heavy, physical team and Johnny Gaudreau will lead the way. Calgary in 5.
Peter: Ah, the series I’m least likely to be awake to watch. Two flawed teams, albeit in different ways. The Kings generate a lot of looks but lack finishing talent. The Oilers have the best player in the league, but they lack, uh, everything else. Call this an upset pick, but I think the Kings can squeak through this. LA in 6.
Ian: I feel sorry for Oilers fans. Edmonton, defensively, is just an absolute mess and in the postseason, where a team can game plan against holes like that, I just think that’s going to be too much for them to overcome here. McDavid and Draisaitl deserve so much better. LA in 7.
Keith, a coin: Edmonton
Keith Aucoin, actually: Too much McDavid and Draisaitl. As long as Oilers get good goaltending, I think the Oilers offense will be too much for the Kings. Edmonton in 5.
Please share your predictions below. Say the team city and the number of games. Then make fun of our picks.
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