A Little Q&A To Get You Ready For The NHL Playoffs

by Vegas Writer

There are always questions before the playoffs begin, and as one of the winningest NHL handicappers this season, I wanted to answer any and all questions you may have.

Thus, here is a Q&A with the Vegas Writer before the NHL Playoffs begin:

Q: Is "home ice" an advantage in a seven-game series?

VW: Don't get caught up in the home team/higher seed in hockey. Spanning the last 10 postseasons, the lower seed has stunned the higher-ranked seed in 45.3% of all seven-game series, including a 41.3% showing in the opening round. The biggest upsets have been in the conference final, where 13 of the past 20 series (65.0%) have been won by the lower seed.

Q: How likely is it we'll see a wild-card team advance past the opening round?

VW: Over seven postseasons with wild-card teams in the current format, wild-card entries are 10-18 in the opening round of the postseason. In 2018-19, we saw all four wild-card teams advance past the opening round. Two wild-card teams have won two or more rounds in a single postseason, with the Predators advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. The Hurricanes made it to the Eastern Conference Final in 2019.

Q: How has the regular-season head-to-head series factored into postseason meetings?

VW: Well, spanning the past 10 seasons, a team that won the season series vs. an opponent has a 71-51 series record when facing the same opponent in the ensuing Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Q: The Bruins set an NHL record with 65 wins, making them one of four teams in league history to reach the 60-win plateau in a single season. Did any of the other three win the Stanley Cup?

VW: The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (60-8-12) went 12-2 in the postseason en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62-13-7) lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado. And, the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16-4) fell in the opening round to Columbus.

Q: Has the Presidents’ Trophy jinx become an annual plague for the team that finishes first in the overall League standings?

VW: My favorite postseason trend, as the team that finished No. 1 in the overall NHL standings has gone on to win the Stanley Cup only 35% of the time (19 of 54), dating back to the first season of expansion (1967-68). Most recently, it has only happened four times since 1999-2000: Avalanche in 2001, Red Wings in 2002 & 2008, and the Blackhawks in 2013. The Bruins are hoping to become the first Presidents’ Trophy winner to advance to a Conference Finals in eight years, last done by the Rangers in 2014-15.

Q: With Connor McDavid scoring 150 points this season, what are the chances he leads Edmonton to a Stanley Cup title?

VW: Slim to none. Of the five previous skaters in NHL history to register 150+ points, Wayne Gretzky is the only player to accomplish the feat and win the Stanley Cup the same year. Gretzky did it on three occasions: in 1983-84, 1984-85, and 1986-87.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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