Looking back at pre-season 2021 NHL predictions


(Courtesy of Carolina Hurricanes/Twitter)

By: Lucas Reyes


Nothing in life is perfect, and whatever I predicted back in January certainly wasn’t either (although they did turn out pretty well). Let’s take a look at who I had making the playoffs prior to the commencement of the 2021 NHL season, for better or worse.


MassMutual East Division


My picks

  1. Philadelphia Flyers

  2. Washington Capitals

  3. Boston Bruins

  4. New York Islanders


Reality

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins

  2. Washington Capitals

  3. Boston Bruins

  4. New York Islanders


Almost spot on minus the fact I had the wrong Pennsylvania team finishing first. Philadelphia’s defensive game crumbled over the entire season leading to a disaster of a season, combined with other issues that plagued them. On the other hand, Pittsburgh dominated offensively led by another grand campaign from Sidney Crosby. While I initially doubted their ability to keep the puck out of the net, it was better than expected, and their offensive play kept them elevated. The following three teams played almost exactly as initially expected. Washington was led by a bursting offense, Boston played a well-rounded game all year as usual, and New York cruised into the fourth spot backed by stellar defense and Semyon Varlamov. In a division that could’ve had many surprises, not a whole lot of unexpected results happened, but it was a true clash of the titans.


Honda West Division


My picks

  1. Colorado Avalanche

  2. Vegas Golden Knights

  3. St. Louis Blues

  4. Minnesota Wild


Reality

  1. Colorado Avalanche

  2. Vegas Golden Knights

  3. Minnesota Wild

  4. St. Louis Blues


All the teams initially picked to make the playoffs did exactly that, and it wasn’t a division that ended up hidden with surprises. Colorado and Vegas dominated their division as expected, with Minnesota and St. Louis filling out the three and four spots. However, Kirill Kaprizov led the way for the Wild’s dominant season while the Blues limped for the majority of the season. Essentially, the Wild did what I thought the Blues would do and vice versa. At least these teams had fun beating up on California for four months!


Discover Central Division


My picks

  1. Carolina Hurricanes

  2. Tampa Bay Lightning

  3. Dallas Stars

  4. Nashville Predators


Reality

  1. Carolina Hurricanes

  2. Florida Panthers

  3. Tampa Bay Lightning

  4. Nashville Predators


Arguably the most fun top three teams to lead a division. The all-out battle between Carolina, Florida, and Tampa Bay was a treat to watch during the season and seeing these rivalries in the playoffs is only going to be even better. However, the Panthers took me (and many others) by surprise by even being in this position, riding a high-octane offense loaded with depth. The Lightning also performed very well without Kucherov but ultimately the Hurricanes had the edge over them as predicted. Dallas fell off due to inconsistencies plaguing their season, and Nashville squeaked in the way I thought they would (which was not by a whole lot). Overall, my apologies to all Panthers fans but hey, I got the Canes’ pick right at least.


Scotia North Division


My picks

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs

  2. Calgary Flames

  3. Montreal Canadiens

  4. Edmonton Oilers


Reality

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs

  2. Edmonton Oilers

  3. Winnipeg Jets

  4. Montreal Canadiens


Why did I choose Calgary to finish second? I have no idea. This was probably the least accurate division predicted, but Toronto finishing first was something that most people saw coming in the pre-season. The team is flat-out stacked (although not perfect) and dominated all opponents in the North. Edmonton made the playoffs as predicted, but in a much stronger fashion than I initially expected. Connor McDavid found a way to somehow further elevate his game and lead the Oilers to a second seed finish (not too far behind the Maple Leafs, either). Montreal played well enough despite a sloppy second half of the season, and Winnipeg exceeded my expectations and grabbed the three seed despite a harrowing end to the season. If only Calgary didn’t fall into such a landslide of a season, these predictions could’ve aged a little better, but once again I went three for four.