Will the Tampa Bay Lightning preserve their first step toward a third consecutive Stanley Cup or will the Toronto Maple Leafs utilize up their first playoff series utilize since 2004?

Will the Edmonton Oilers salvage their first playoff utilize since Todd McLellan coached the team or will McLellan’s Los Angeles Kings stop them?

Can the West-main Colorado Avalanche soar help from a 1-5-1 cease to the season? Will the Florida Panthers be the first Presidents’ Trophy winner since 2013 to utilize a Cup?

Those are amongst the questions that can be answered when the NHL playoffs salvage underway on Monday evening.

USA TODAY Sports actions’ NHL specialists predict the winners for the first round and the Stanley Cup:

Leading scorer Jonathan Huberdeau and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will lead the top-seeded Florida Panthers in the playoffs.

Leading scorer Jonathan Huberdeau and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will lead the tip-seeded Florida Panthers within the playoffs.

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Jimmy Hascup

Florida vs. Washington: Panthers in five. The most attention-grabbing team within the regular season will wouldn’t have any issues taking down a team that’s too reliant on one player, Alex Ovechkin, (yes, an all-time huge) to lift the offense.

Carolina vs. Boston: Bruins in seven. In a fight of two of the suitable coaches, Boston will get the nod attributable to Patrice Bergeron soundless being at the height of his powers and a more stable goalie distress.

Toronto vs. Tampa Bay: Lightning in six. Tampa Bay done this season admire a team that knew it may possibly maybe possibly maybe gather the playoffs without taking half in its most attention-grabbing but would ramp up but again within the postseason.

N.Y. Rangers vs. Pittsburgh: Rangers in six. The Rangers misplaced the first meeting with the Penguins then won the subsequent three and loyal appear to be a more whole team.

Colorado vs. Nashville: Avalanche in five. There appears to be like to be too worthy doubt about goalie Juuse Saros‘ playoff availability and lacking him will sink Nashville even sooner in this series.

Calgary vs. Dallas: Flames in five. The Stars are too reliant on the Joe Pavelski-Jason Robertson-Roope Hintz line and haven’t confirmed sufficient secondary scoring to compensate in opposition to a deeper Calgary team.

Minnesota vs. St. Louis: Blues in seven. The Wild had more capabilities (113-109) but the Blues had six more regulation wins (43-37), and I admire their defensive depth more.

Edmonton vs. Los Angeles: Kings in seven. Maybe essentially the most lopsided series on paper, what’s the NHL playoffs without some chaos to open? Los Angeles is better than you focus on.

Stanley Cup Final: Panthers vs. Flames

Champion: Panthers in six. Florida has a properly-rounded team with elite gamers (Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad), dreadful depth, a stable defensive core and a goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky) who had a stable season (and depth there, too, if he struggles).

Conn Smythe winner: Aleksander Barkov, Panthers.

Mike Brehm

Florida vs. Washington: Panthers in five: The Panthers are a deep, extremely efficient team and the Capitals may maybe possibly maybe have anguish shutting them down, particularly with their inconsistent goaltending.

Carolina vs. Boston: Hurricanes in seven. Both are properly-coached and this may likely maybe possibly come all the vogue down to Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour having dwelling ice for Game 7.

Toronto vs. Tampa Bay: Lightning in six. The Lightning’s offense is help not off target. They’d maybe possibly furthermore no longer romp admire they did in a present 8-1 utilize vs. Toronto, but their championship pedigree will utilize out.

N.Y. Rangers vs. Pittsburgh: Rangers in six. Rangers No. 1 goalie Igor Shesterkin will utilize the Vezina Trophy. Penguins No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry is bother.

Colorado vs. Nashville: Avalanche in six. This can be fun to survey Norris Trophy candidates Roman Josi and Cale Makar. The Avalanche can be more fit than the team that stumbled down the stretch.

Calgary vs. Dallas: Flames in five. Goalie Jake Oettinger may maybe possibly maybe salvage the Stars a utilize in Dallas. But two-time Stanley Cup-successful coach Darryl Sutter has had the Flames taking half in playoff hockey.

Minnesota vs. St. Louis: Blues in seven. This may likely be the suitable series of the first round. The Blues’ offense has a lot of traces that can maybe possibly bother an opponent, and Minnesota’s Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno are coming off injuries.

Edmonton vs. Los Angeles: Oilers in six. The Oilers can be eager to assemble up for last twelve months’s playoff embarrassment and coach Jay Woodcroft has them taking half in to their seemingly.

Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche vs. Hurricanes

Champion: Avalanche in six. This is the third consecutive season that I picked the Avalanche. They addressed their weaknesses at the switch deadline. In the event that they will loyal salvage previous the 2nd round, they’ll put it to use all.

Conn Smythe winner: Cale Makar, Avalanche

Jace Evans

Florida vs. Washington: Panthers in five. The Capitals’ unsettled goaltending distress appears to be like admire a most essential obligation in opposition to the suitable offense within the NHL.

Carolina vs. Boston: Hurricanes in seven. This is an efficient toss-up series and though I distress referring to the Hurricanes’ goaltending to an extent, their machine is so sound as to abet alleviate those worries.

Toronto vs. Tampa Bay: Lightning in seven. I even have been burned too many instances by the Maple Leafs to have faith them to salvage their first series utilize since 2004 in opposition to the 2-time defending champs.

N.Y. Rangers vs. Pittsburgh: Rangers in six. The Penguins have a few playoff ride but they’ll be without their All-Big establish goalie for no longer lower than the starting up of the series whereas the Rangers have the suitable goaltender within the NHL by some distance this season.

Colorado vs. Nashville: Avalanche in four. I’m no longer scared about their closing stretch of play: The Avalanche have been a machine most of this season they every so often’ve taken care of switch within the first round three years in a row.

Calgary vs. Dallas: Flames in five. The Stars are essentially the most efficient team within the playoffs with a detrimental arrangement differential. The Flames’ plus-85 trailed simplest the Presidents’ Trophy-successful Panthers for the suitable ticket within the NHL.

Minnesota vs. St. Louis: Wild in seven. The Wild have a honest correct superstar in Kirill Kaprizov and dwelling ice. Marc-Andre Fleury is furthermore 9-2 since coming over to Minnesota.

Edmonton vs. Los Angeles: Oilers in six. Edmonton is rarely a pillar of consistency thanks to shaky goaltending and questionable depth, but the Oilers have two of the suitable offensive gamers within the league and the Kings are lacking their No. 1 defenseman.

Stanley Cup Final: Flames vs. Lightning

Champion: Lightning in six. In a rematch of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay will cement its location as an all-time huge team and preserve away all talk of “asterisk championships” with a third consecutive title. The Lightning are deep, talented and – most essential – they know what it takes to utilize.

Conn Smythe winner: Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

This text firstly looked on USA TODAY: NHL playoffs picks: 2022 first round and Stanley Cup predictions

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