2022 NHL Playoffs: B/R Staff Predictions for a Wild Night of Game 7s

Bleacher Report NHL StaffFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2022

2022 NHL Playoffs: B/R Staff Predictions for a Wild Night of Game 7s

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Strap yourselves in, hockey fans. You're in for an epic night of drama.

    Three Game 7s will be played Saturday night as six teams clash for the right to move on to the second round. 

    The stakes get raised in a Game 7, with every play heightened and every decision under more scrutiny.

    Will the Maple Leafs erase their playoff demons and end the Lightning's dominance in the postseason? Can the Hurricanes continue the trend of holding home ice and end the Bruins' season? Will the Oilers find a way to put the plucky Kings away in Edmonton?

    Our B/R NHL Staff came together for another roundtable and provided their picks for every Game 7.

    Disagree with our picks? Share your thoughts on each series in the comments below!

Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes have thus far staged a dandy of a first-round series. It's only fitting that this clash should go the distance to decide which one advances to the next round to meet the winner of the New York Rangers-Pittsburgh Penguins series.

    Home-ice advantage has made the difference in this series, with each club winning in their home arenas. The Hurricanes will try to maintain that course in Carolina for Game 7 while the Bruins hope to pick up their first road victory.

    Special teams have made the difference for Boston. They're getting the job done with the man advantage, sporting a power-play percentage of 21.4 compared to Carolina's 15.2. They've done a better job killing penalties, sitting at 84.9 percent compared to the Hurricanes' 78.6.

    The Hurricanes have successfully used the last line change at home to garner more favorable line matchups for stars Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Jaccob Slavin, second-line center Vincent Trocheck and rookie winger Seth Jarvis have stepped up offensively while backup goalie Antti Raanta has done a fine job filling in for sidelined starter Frederik Andersen.

    Experience, however, should tilt this contest in the Bruins' favor. Long-time leaders Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have faced several Game 7 scenarios in their long careers. So has sniper David Pastrnak, who has successfully shifted between the top two lines in this series. Blueliners Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are also no strangers to Game 7 pressure.

    The final game of this series should be every bit as entertaining as the six that preceded. Ultimately, the Bruins' special teams, veteran leadership and their ability to cope with big-game postseason situations should overcome the Hurricanes' home-ice advantage.


    Prediction: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2

    - Lyle Richardson

Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    It's one of those nights that can define a franchise.

    Game 7 between the Leafs and Lightning will not only decide which team reaches Round 2 of the Atlantic Division playoff fray, but it'll go a long way toward determining whether one will free itself from generations of organizational despair or the other will continue adding to an already stellar legacy.

    And if you think that veers a little too close to the hyperbolic end of things, go ahead and ask a die-hard Toronto fan how they're feeling in the aftermath of the OT loss in Game 6 Thursday.

    The Leafs entered the third period with a one-goal lead after rallying from a two-goal deficit but couldn't hold on and instead saw the two-time defending champs clinch it less than two minutes into extra time.

    The question now becomes whether the gut-punch loss sapped the mettle of a Toronto team that lost a 3-1 series lead last year on the way to a Game 7 flop at home against Montreal. Playing at Scotiabank Arena against Tampa Bay again this time around is a privilege earned by a superior record in the regular season, but it could quickly turn into an emotional bloodbath if the Lightning get on the board first.

    Could Tampa Bay once again flex elimination game muscles and get a step closer to the first NHL three-peat since the early 1980s? Of course. And no one would be surprised. After all, they've got a cadre of players who know the way to the promised land and are hungry to get there again.

    But it says here they won't. Because these Leafs seem different.

    They've developed a layer of mettle over the sublime talent of past seasons, and the guess is that a guy like Auston Matthews is just as hungry to prove his worth on the biggest stage. He'll get the goal that matters most on Saturday night, and chances are it won't be the last big one he scores this spring either.

    Buckle up for a classic, eh.


    Prediction: Maple Leafs 3, Lightning 2 (OT)

    — Lyle Fitzsimmons

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Full credit to the Los Angeles Kings. This is a team still in rebuild mode. In fact, they haven't fully integrated most of their top prospects yet. Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and Helge Grans are merely a sample of the talent injection the Kings will see over the next couple of seasons. Had they been completely out of the playoff race by March, nobody would have blinked.

    But here they are not only in the playoffs, but putting up a respectable fight. Playing against a team with the best one-two punch in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the underripe Kings have made this series against Edmonton a deadlock. Frankly, they've been the better team from top-to-bottom. If not for the individual game-breaking ability of McDavid, this series could be over.

    The Kings are playing with house money. Even a blowout loss in Game 7 would result in the Kings entering the offseason with their heads held high. The pressure is off, but at the same time, veterans like Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Alexander Edler will ensure this young team embraces the opportunity with an appropriate amount of professionalism.

    After four-straight seasons in which the Oilers failed to advance past the first round, including twice missing the playoffs altogether, all the Oilers care about is getting to the second round. A Game 7 win gets the job done, and they'll have the opportunity as favorites on home ice. 

    It's still, frankly, pathetic that it has even come to this. The Oilers have the aforementioned elite talents and made major moves over the summer to push for contention; Zach Hyman, Duncan Keith, and Tyson Barrie's re-signing among them. Thanks to an incredibly weak Pacific Division, the Oilers were gifted a soft matchup in the overachieving Kings, which became even more fortunate once the team's best defensemen, Drew Doughty, underwent season-ending surgery.

    The Oilers, as has been the case this season and years past, are being bailed out by the team's top line, led, of course, by Connor McDavid, who has 12 points through six games. In a do-or-die matchup, I expect McDavid and the other top players to stave off the plucky Kings on home ice. But it should never have come down to this, and a loss will mean offseason fireworks.


    Prediction: Oilers 4, Kings 2

    - Adam Herman