The playoffs are fast approaching, which means it is time to look at some of the boldest NHL Playoff predictions 2023 edition.
10 NHL Playoff predictions in 2023
Looking at the schedule for 2023 NHL postseason, the first round will begin on April 17, while the Stanley Cup Finals will take place starting June 8.
There are many teams capable of winning it all this season. Some are obvious favorites that have garnered lots of attention throughout the season, but the others should not be overlooked despite the lack of attentiveness. With so many great teams and not much separating each one, we could be in for some of the best playoff games in NHL history.
When it comes to playoff hockey, it is best to expect the unexpected. To get ready for the wild ride that is the NHL postseason, here are 10 bold NHL predictions for 2023.
No Stanley Cup rematch
Last year, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lighting in the Stanley Cup Final. I believe that this season, neither team will make it to the Stanley Cup Final.
Colorado and Tampa Bay have not taken any major steps back this season, however, there are many teams who have had a better regular season.
Teams like Toronto and Boston pose the biggest threat to the Lighting early on, while the Avalanche will have to worry about teams like the Stars, Oilers, and Golden Knights.
The Maple Leafs win a first-round series
This is perhaps the boldest prediction of the bunch given Toronto’s lack of playoff success. The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since 2004.
Toronto will be playing the Tampa Bay Lighting once again in the first round. The Maple Leafs are built to succeed in the postseason, despite the heartbreaking losses. They are one of the most talented teams in the league and should be the favorites entering the series.
I believe that the heartache for Toronto’s players and fans will finally come to an end this season. With the future of the team’s core players on the line, it is now or never for the Maple Leafs.
No Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final
The Boston Bruins are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. Boston’s current odds are at +200 to win the East, according to DraftKings.
The Bruins have a chance to be regarded as one of the greatest NHL teams of all-time. They have already set the record for most wins and points in the regular season and are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Despite all the regular season success, I believe the Eastern Conference is full of contenders who can beat Boston. The Maple Leafs, Lighting, Hurricanes, Rangers, and Devils all have what it takes to beat the Bruins in the postseason. With Boston most likely having to defeat two of these teams to win the Eastern Conference, I like my chances of going with the field instead of Boston.
Connor McDavid leads the playoffs in scoring
Connor McDavid has had one of the best regular seasons in history, collecting over 150 points this year. He is one of just six players to ever reach 150 points in a single season.
I believe that McDavid will cap off his incredible regular season by leading the league in playoff points this postseason. He did it last year but will need the players around him to step up if he is going to do it again.
To lead the postseason in points, the Edmonton Oilers will likely need to reach the Western Conference Finals. I think they have a great chance to do just that, and it will be with McDavid leading the way.
Stars make it out of the Western Conference
The Western Conference does not have a clear favorite, as each team has a real chance of making it to the Stanley Cup Final. With that being said, I predict Dallas will pull off a couple of upsets and win the Western Conference.
Dallas reached the Stanley Cup Final just three years ago. They have many of the same players from 2020 on the roster today, so the Stars will know what it takes to get there again.
No sweeps in the first round
As far as NHL Playoff predictions in 2023 go, this is one of the more unique predictions.
I believe there will be no series sweeps in the first round, meaning every series will go at least five games. A first-round without a sweep has not occurred since the 2020 playoffs. However, there was one sweep in the best-of-five qualifying round that year.
The main reason for this prediction is that the standings are so tight this year and I genuinely believe every team has a solid chance at winning their first-round matchup.
Rangers win the Eastern Conference
The New York Rangers were two games away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season. This year, I think they go that extra step and win the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Rangers have five players with more than 50 points this season. Their lineup is deep, and they have a great goaltender in Igor Shesterkin who can steal a few games if the offense struggles.
With most of the core pieces from last year still on the team, along with the additions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane, New York has the experience and star power to make a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Lots of Game 7s
The standings could not have been much closer this regular season. I believe this means we will see a higher-than-usual number of Game 7s throughout the postseason.
The record for most Game 7s in a season is seven, which occurred in 1994, 2011, and 2014.
I predict there will be at least six Game 7s in this year’s postseason, with the majority of them coming in the first two rounds. I would also not be surprised if the record gets broken this year, as each playoff team has the potential to push a series to seven games.
A wild card team wins a playoff round
I believe one of the four wild card teams will pull off an upset in the first round of the postseason.
I think the best chance for a wild card to advance is in the Western Conference. Looking at the regular season standings, not much separates the division leaders in the West and the first wild card team.
I would also not count out seeing two wild cards advance past the first round, as the Metropolitan Division winner will have their hands full in the opening round as well.
The Rangers win for the first time since 1994
To cap off the NHL Playoff predictions 2023 edition, I have the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994.
Each postseason matchup is going to be tight, as not much separates the best and worst playoff teams. With that being said, New York has experience winning tight playoff series, advancing in seven games twice last season.
I believe that the Rangers will defeat the Dallas Stars in six games to capture their fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history.