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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: The House’s first round predictions

It's the best and worst time of the year for hockey fans. For the faithful of 15 teams, these next few months will result in total heartbreak and desolation. But for one lucky fanbase, pure ecstasy will fill the room, the arena will buzz, the city will celebrate all summer long, and lifetime memories will be made.

If you're a fan of a team that unfortunately missed out on the chance to play for Lord Stanley's Cup, kick back, relax, pour yourself a beer and enjoy the ride.

Here at House Enterprise, we have a small yet passionate group of hockey fans. Today, we'll lay it all on the line and give you our predictions for how the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs will unfold. Which teams will go home, and which teams will live to see another series?

Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog lifting the 2022 Stanley Cup (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


Boston Bruins (A1) vs. Florida Panthers (WC2)

For the top six teams in each of the two Eastern Conference divisions, the playoff matchups were all but decided months ago.

Unfortunately for these Eastern Conference teams, they all have the unlucky chance to have to go through Boston at some point in time. The Florida Panthers got the short end of the stick, as they have to play the Bruins in the first step of their journey.

The 2022-23 President's Trophy winner Boston Bruins, who set an NHL record in points and wins with 135 and 65 respectively, go up against the 2021-22 President's Trophy winner Florida Panthers. The Panthers struggled mightily all season long to put themselves back in the postseason, and while I do think the Presidents Trophy curse will strike again with the Bruins, I don't think it'll be in this particular series.

Prediction: Bruins in 5 (-320)


Carolina Hurricanes (M1) vs. New York Islanders (WC1)

Honestly, as much as I hate to say it, I like the way the Islanders match up against the Hurricanes here. The Isles played some good hockey to close out the season, winning the big games they needed to in order to secure themselves a playoff spot. Alot of those wins came without their best player, Mat Barzal. Barzal is confident that he'll be ready to go for Game 1 in Carolina, which means the Islanders Cinderella run has just become that much more realistic.

Prediction: Islanders in 7 (+165)


New Jersey Devils (M2) vs. New York Rangers (M3)

I'm not sure if my heart can handle this one. 14 miles and one river separating Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The proximity between these two teams are so close that many of the players take public transit to the arena when they play each other.

These are two hated crosstown rivals going at it on the biggest stage in hockey. The fans will be into it, infiltrating each other's home arenas, the players will be into it, and the product on the ice for both teams is easily the most intriguing out of any of the first round matchups.

I'm obviously going with my boys, the Broadway Blueshirts.

Prediction: Rangers in 6 (+100)


Toronto Maple Leafs (A2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A3)

This is the year that the Leafs finally do it. Toronto has matched up well against Tampa Bay this year, taking the season series, which included a game 81 4-3 win which possibly set the tone for this first round matchup.

The Leafs are looking for revenge, as the Lightning were the team that eliminated them in the first round last year. Don't get it twisted though, I think Tampa Bay will make this one a dog fight. After all, they are currently sitting on a streak of back-to-back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals appearances, two of which they won.

Tampa has the playoff experience over the Leafs, but I think Toronto have much more to prove this time around.

Prediction: Leafs in 7 (-155)


Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs. Winnipeg Jets (WC2)

Credit where credit is due: I think the Winnipeg Jets played much better than most people thought they would this year. I myself certainly predicted them to miss the playoffs. There was even a point in time where they were straight up dominant in the regular season.

They hit a bump in the road and had a stretch where they faltered pretty badly, which resulted in them bitterly battling with the Calgary Flames for that final Wild Card spot in the West.

However, they're going up against the Vegas Golden Knights, the #1 team in the West this year.

While hopeful, I think even Jets fans know that this could very likely be the end of the road, unless the Jack Eichel effect finds it's way into the postseason.

Prediction: Knights in 6 (-170)


Colorado Avalanche (C1) vs. Seattle Kraken (WC1)

Your defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche, dealt with the most injuries in the entire NHL this year. They actually struggled for a good portion of the season. Captain Gabriel Landeskog missed the entire season and will miss the entirety of the postseason, Nathan MacKinnon spent a significant amount of time on the IR, and Cale Makar missed some important games late in the season due to injury.

Everything was seemingly spiraling for the Avs, until they made a final, strong push toward the end of the season, on the coattails on Mikko Rantanen's 55 goal campaign.

With Colorado (hopefully mostly) back to 100% in health, I think they take this series.

Keep in mind though that Cale Makar is still questionable for Game 1, so I think the Kraken can make one hell of a series out of this.

Prediction: Colorado in 7 (-300)


Edmonton Oilers (P2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (P3)

This will be another extremely interesting series to pay attention to. I don't think there's a single hockey fan outside of the city of Calgary that doesn't want to see Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl hoist the Stanley Cup at some point in their careers. There perhaps is not a more deserving duo in the entire league.

Before the season opened up, I put money on the Oilers to win the Western Conference. I was called crazy, then McDavid scored a whopping 153 points on 64 goals and 89 assists, putting Edmonton in second place in the Pacific with 109 points, effectively silencing a majority of the doubters. Edmonton was quite possibly the hottest team in the NHL heading into the playoffs, winning their last 8 games of the regular season.

The Oilers are hoping to ride that wave into the first round against LA. A truly historic season for the Edmonton Oilers.

Prediction: Oilers in 6 (-260)


Dallas Stars (C2) vs. Minnesota Wild (C3)

For quite a while there in the regular season, the Dallas Stars were the best team in the West and appeared as if they were running away with the whole conference. Jason Robertson had himself a Hart worthy year, while Jake Oettinger will certainly get some consideration for the Vezina Trophy.

Opposing the Stars are the Minnesota Wild, who head into Dallas for Game 1 with their own star studded corp of Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy.

While Minnesota seems like an intriguing pick, I have to stick with my gut here and go with Dallas. I just think the Stars have the edge in goaltending, as well as Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski and Miro Heiskanen, each of which can take over a game at any point.

Prediction: Stars in 6 (-150)


Will Tondo's predictions

BOS vs. FLA: Boston Bruins in 6

Back to back President's Cup Trophy winners battling it out in the first round? You love to see it. Obviously, the play here is Boston. 65 wins and 135 points, they are just built to cruise through this first round. This Bruins team is arguably the best in the salary cap era, and they should be table to shutdown Florida in 6.


TOR vs. TBL: Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 (+135)

Can the Leafs finally win a playoff series? It’s been almost two decades, and sadly, I think they’ll have to wait another year. Tampa Bay is limping into the playoffs, but they have the pedigree and experience to make it to the next round.


CAR vs. NYI: Islanders in 7

Don’t count out the underdog! The playoffs can be won by one position, and that’s the goalie. Ilya Sorokin (.924 save percentage, 2.34 GAA) is one of the leagues best, and he can help slow down the surging Carolina offense.


NJD vs. NYR: New York Rangers in 6

A crosstown matchup that truly could go either way. I have the Rangers here, not only to support my friend Hanold, but because this team is constructed in the “win or bust model.” You can’t waste trading for Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko to lose to the Devils.


VGK vs. WPG: Vegas Golden Knights in 5

The Knights have the experience and the talent to claim the West this playoff run, and they should have no trouble passing through Winnipeg. Now, Vegas will have a league star in Jack Eichel, who will make his playoff debut. I think it’s an unlucky draw for the Jets.


EDM vs. LAK: Edmonton Oilers in 5

McDavid, Draisaitl, Ekholm, Skinner, Kane. You name it. Edmonton is one of the leagues best, and this may be the year they get over the hump. They have a high powered offense and fixed their defense at the trade deadline, this team should make it to the Western Conference Final, without a question.


COL vs. SEA: Colorado Avalanche in 5

Congratulations to the 2nd year Seattle team. They are starting to follow the Knights in expansion team to contender quickly. But sadly, they're no match for the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche and their superstar trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar.


DAL vs. MIN: Dallas Stars in 7

This is going to be a fun series to watch, and I think it will come down to the wire. Minnesota has been rock solid this year, but the Stars are among the most balanced teams in this postseason. Jake Oettinger is brick wall, Dallas has young stars in Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen. Not to mention Jamie Benn. I see this one going to seven.


Jake Zimmer's Predictions

BOS-FLA: Boston Bruins in 5

Sure, the Bruins have the best regular season record in NHL history. More importantly, even though they split the season series with Florida, I like the way the B’s have played against the Panthers. It’s going to be fast-paced, high-energy, and full of goals; but if the B’s goaltending continues to play at the elite level they’ve shown they can do, the Panthers are going to have a tough time scoring.


TOR-TB: Tampa Bay Lightning in 7

Yet another curse to indulge in; the Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series in almost 20 years. I choose Tampa, not because of any curse, but because of one factor above all: goaltending... Andrei Vasilevsky has proven he can get it done in big situations, and it’s clear he can slow down even the most high-octane offenses. Toronto’s situation is more unclear; Ilya Samsonov will play game one, and Matt Murray’s comeback from a concussion has been slower than expected.


CAR-NYI: Carolina Hurricanes in 7 (-205)

Canes-Islanders pits two of the top five defenses in the NHL against each other. The Islanders’ scoring has accelerated slower than they would have liked, but all it takes is a couple of second-or-third-line guys to emerge. Problem is, the Canes have a fantastic first D line in Brent Burns & Jaccob Slavin, and the addition of Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere has been fruitful. This is a series that will get down and dirty, and the least confident of my predictions, but I give the slightest of edges to the Canes here.


NYR-NJD: New York Rangers in 6

I don’t want to discount the fact that the Devils have had an incredible season so far. Dougie Hamilton seemingly re-emerged out of thin air as one of the top-five point-scoring defensemen. Jack Hughes is exactly as advertised, and more. There’s a lot going right for the Devils. But the Rangers have too much to prove, and have too much riding on this playoff to be denied.


COL-SEA: Colorado Avalanche in 6

I’m conflicted here. I love what Seattle has done all year. They took Martin Jones, who spent the last few years as a backup, and turned him into a solid 27-13 “1A” goalie. Jared McCann and Matty Beniers were great all season. But if Colorado is healthy, is there really a shot that Seattle advances? Cale Makar - when playing - has been nothing short of incredible. Nathan MacKinnon casually dropped a 42-goal season with one of the best right-wingers in Mikko Rantanen on his same line. Alex Georgiev had another fantastic season when he was healthy. Injuries will be the question for the Avs, but if they are healthy then this should wrap up quickly.


DAL-MIN: Dallas Stars in 6

Dallas is hungry to silence its doubters after a heartbreaking Game 7 loss against Calgary last year. They responded well, especially off the back of Jason Robertson, who scored 109 points on the strength of 46 goals and 63 assists this season. I’ve liked Minnesota’s product this year, especially the emergence of Boston kid Matt Boldy, but they’re outmatched in just about every category this season by Dallas.


VGK-WPG: Vegas Golden Knights in 5

Vegas swept the Jets in their three games during the regular season, and I would expect similar results in this series. Sure, Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck can slow down any team, but the skaters around him have their hands full with a resurgent Golden Knights offense.


EDM-LAK: Edmonton Oilers in 7

Edmonton is definitely the trendy pick here, but let’s get one thing clear - the Kings are an extremely tough draw in the first round. Drew Doughty & Anze Kopitar proved they have a lot left to give. Adrian Kempe, Kevin Fiala, and Alex Iafallo have all been reliable this year. Pheonix Copley was a pleasant surprise in goal after Jonathan Quick started to show his age. Ultimately, I think the Oilers escape based on their sheer talent; they have too many weapons to be slowed down. It’s definitely the McDavid show in Edmonton, but their contributions from Leon Draisatil, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman have been solid this year as well. Edmonton’s draw for these first two rounds is about as tough as it could’ve been for them.


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