The NHL Playoffs are here! The 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs will get underway on Saturday afternoon. It’ll kick off a long journey as 16 teams vie for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
This year is a bit different with four teams from each division making the playoffs. The teams only played their divisional opponents during the regular season, giving us a good read on the matchups. The winners of the divisional tournaments, so to speak, will advance to the final four.
Make sure to bookmark our NHL Picks page for picks for every game this postseason!
We’re going to start our NHL Playoffs previews with the East Division. It’s the only division playing on Saturday afternoon before the rest of the divisions start on Sunday and Wednesday.
As always, odds are provided by PointsBet.
NHL Playoffs Predictions: East Division
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #4 New York Islanders
NHL Playoffs Series Schedule
Sunday, May 16, Noon.: Islanders at Penguins | NBC, SN, TVAS
Tuesday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.: Islanders at Penguins | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS
Thursday, May 20, 7 p.m.: Penguins at Islanders | NBCSN, SN360, TVAS
Saturday, May 22, 3 p.m.: Penguins at Islanders | NBC, SN, TVAS
*Monday, May 24, TBD: Islanders at Penguins | TBD
*Wednesday, May 26, TBD: Penguins at Islanders | TBD
*Friday, May 28, TBD: Islanders at Penguins | TBD
Regular-Season Series Summary
The Penguins won six of their eight games against the Islanders this season, all in regulation. They outscored the Islanders 26-19 in the season series.
The Islanders’ two wins against the Penguins both came at home. They won 4-3 on February 6th and 2-0 on February 28th in the second half of a back-to-back between the two teams.
Their final regular-season series came on March 27th and 29th in Pittsburgh. The Penguins won 6-3 and 2-1 in those two games.
NHL Playoffs: Penguins vs. Islanders Prediction
The Penguins handled the Islanders rather easily during the regular season. However, with all eight games coming before April, both teams have a different look to them now.
Pittsburgh added Jeff Carter at the trade deadline. Carter had 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in 14 games with the Penguins.
The Islanders traded for both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac after losing Anders Lee to injury. They have disappointed, however. Palmieri had just four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games. Zajac had two points (one goal, one assist) in 13 games while missing a few as a healthy scratch.
This first-round playoff series should follow a similar path to the regular-season series. The Penguins will dispose of the Islanders in five or six games.
Penguins vs. Islanders Bet: Pittsburgh to advance -150
East Division: #2 Washington Capitals vs. #3 Boston Bruins
NHL Playoffs Series Schedule
Saturday, May 15, 7:15 p.m.: Bruins at Capitals | NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS
Monday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.: Bruins at Capitals | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS
Wednesday, May 19, 6:30 p.m.: Capitals at Bruins | NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS
Friday, May 21, 6:30 p.m.: Capitals at Bruins | NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS
*Sunday, May 23, TBD: Bruins at Capitals | TBD
*Tuesday, May 25, TBD: Capitals at Bruins | TBD
*Thursday, May 27, TBD: Bruins at Capitals | TBD
Regular-Season Series Summary:
Both the Capitals and Bruins each won four of the eight games in the regular-season series. All four of the Bruins’ wins were in regulation, while two of the Capitals’ wins came in overtime/shootout.
The teams split their first two two-game sets of the season in late January and early March. The three games to focus on are the ones in April.
The Bruins beat the Capitals 4-2 in Washington on April 8th. On April 11th, the day before the trade deadline, the Capitals got the Bruins back with an 8-1 win in Boston. However, after the trade deadline, the Bruins beat the Capitals 6-3 on April 18th.
Their final meeting of the season on Tuesday didn’t have meaning for either team with playoff position locked in. The Capitals beat the Bruins 2-1.
NHL Playoffs: Capitals vs. Bruins Prediction
The Capitals are the higher seed, if only barely, but the Bruins are the better team right now.
After the trade deadline, when the Bruins acquired Taylor Hall, Boston went 12-4-1 and outscored opponents 59-32. They’re fully healthy and ready to roll in the playoffs.
The Capitals are playing pretty good hockey as well, though. They’re 9-4-1 since the trade deadline. However, they’re a bit banged up. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson, and John Carlson have all missed games recently.
The Bruins are rolling with Hall in tow. They’ll “upset” the Capitals as the lower-seeded favorite.