NHL playoff predictions

Patrick Koeppen '23 , Web Editor

The defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning looks to repeat their success this year.

The final days close in the wacky NHL season, and with the shortened season and shaken up divisions, some teams look better than others to hoist the Stanley Cup. The playoff official start date is yet to be announced, and many teams were hit hard with COVID restrictions and quarantines. Teams have yet to make up games, making predictions this year a bit harder. However, some teams look like clear-cut frontrunners.

The Washington Capitals added depth during the trade deadline by trading for Anthony Mantha. While some look at the trade between the Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings as lopsided, the Capitals extend their bench by adding more depth to their lines. The Caps are in a win-now situation, as they are in the cap space limbo. Washington currently is leading in first in the East division, and if they hold their spot, they will enter the playoffs as a one seed.

The Vegas Golden Knights stand one game back from the Colorado Avalanche in the West Division. Colorado currently doesn’t have the depth yet to make a deep run into the playoffs, but Vegas has a very deep bench and solid goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights have the potential to become the champions in only their third season in the NHL. The Golden Knights are hot and may head into the playoffs a two seed.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been historically bad in the playoffs, but their incredibly efficient offense and increasingly better defense and goaltending. The Leafs have struggled to make it out of the first round in the past few playoffs. However, the Leafs have cleaned up their mistakes in previous postseasons. The Leafs hope to keep the fire burning into May, as they lead the North Division.

The final team on the list is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The reigning champions are still running through the Central Division. The highly competitive division is led by the Carolina Hurricanes and the Lightning, but the Bolts have proven themselves. Most of their roster returned to defend their title, and there are no doubts about their ability to win. The Bolts head into the playoffs a certain favorite.

With games waning, teams look to finish out the significantly shorter season. These teams listed are solid and deep. The playoffs for this unique season will certainly bring surprises to the favorites, but one of these teams will hope to not get upset by an underdog. The playoffs are yet to be determined, but it may be the most anticipated in history.