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

by Vegas Writer

Monday, Apr 17, 2023
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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