Defending Big D First Round Predictions: Western Conference

Our “experts” break down predictions for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll probably be wrong.

It’s two days until the start of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs! As you may recall, earlier this year the Defending Big D staff made our predictions for the 2018-19 season. Naturally, most of them were dead wrong, so we figured we’d offer ourselves a chance at redemption this postseason.

Below is a list of first round predictions for the Western Conference from a sampling of our staff. We’ve also included a tally of the votes for each team so you can see who we collectively favor in each series. Tomorrow, we’ll tackle the Eastern Conference.

Nashville Predators (Central 1) vs Dallas Stars (Wild Card 1)

Taylor: The postseason is a whole new ballgame, and while I want to be optimistic because Dallas played Nashville close in the regular season, I’m not sure they have the experience in the room to get past a seasoned Predators squad. The Stars goaltending and defense helps make this a closer one than many probably expect. Predators in 6

Robert: Learn to make proper barbecue sauce, nerds. Stars in 4

Kathleen: The Predators have experience, but do the Stars have their number? It will be a hard fight, but I expect it to end here. Predators in 7

Logan: Despite losing Mats Zuccarello just after the trade deadline, Dallas managed to go on a hot streak to secure their first playoff spot in three years. A lot of Dallas’ success is due in large part to their goaltending tandem. Meanwhile, Nashville have the offensive depth to go deep into the playoffs once again. Predators in 6

Derek: When it comes to the NHL playoffs, experience goes a long way. And unluckily for the Stars, the Predators have gained a lot of playoff experience over the past few years. That’s going to be the biggest difference-maker in what will otherwise be a close series decided only by a few total goals. Predators in 6

Wes: The homer in me says Dallas added a second line at the start of the playoffs by way of Zuccarello getting healthy. This will also be the first time Tyler Seguin has played a meaningful role in a Dallas post-season. Nashville, meanwhile, does not appear to have the offensive firepower (19th) to puncture Dallas’ strong defense. I’m getting a strong whiff of the old “First Goal Wins” series vs. Vancouver in 2006-2007. Special teams and down-roster players will make the difference, but I’m just not a believer in this coaching staff quite yet. Predators in 6

Tyler: On one hand, the Predators aren’t as strong of a contender as everyone thinks they are. But they have the defense and goaltending to suffocate a low-scoring Dallas team. Predators in 6

Rob M: Nashville has an edge on forward talent depth but, I have questions about their defense and goaltending. The Stars have enough scoring and elite defending and goaltending, which steals series in the right checking NHL playoffs. Stars in 6

Jessica: While I have confidence in the Stars that they’ll put up a good fight, the Predators are a very, very worthy opponent. Even taking into consideration how Dallas played in the season series again Nashville, the Predators’ more experienced roster comes out on top here. Predators in 6

Mark: Ben Bishop needs to be able to steal a few games. Dallas has no margin for error against a tested Nashville squad. Predators in 7

Cody: Everyone knows angry Jamie Benn can’t be stopped. P.K. Subban is going to try and get under Benn’s skin, and it won’t work in his favor. Angry Benn goes off, leading all skaters in points in the series. Stars in 6

Final Tally: Predators 8, Stars 3

Winnipeg Jets (Central 2) vs St. Louis Blues (Central 3)

Taylor: Jordan Binnington is going to turn in a Matt Murray kind of performance in these playoffs and be a big reason why the Blues beat the Jets on home ice. Blues in 5

Robert: Winnipeg descends into acrimony, but at least they do so louder than any other team in the league. Blues in 4

Kathleen: Their trend lines seem to be going in opposite directions. If goaltending wins series, then Jordan Binnington may be the Indispensable Man. Blues in 7

Logan: Winnipeg have been experiencing trouble getting their engines to fire on all cylinders in March. St. Louis, meanwhile, rocketed up the standings when all hope had seemed lost in February. It’ll be a tight race between the two. Jets in 7

Derek: Rumors of Winnipeg’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, they fell apart down the stretch, but this is a deep, talented team that’s built to go far in the postseason. Home ice will be a huge advantage for the Jets as well. The Blues certainly won’t go down without a fight, though. Jets in 7

Wes: Patrik Laine has a single goal since the start of March, the defense is banged up, and St. Louis very nearly went worst to first during the season’s second half. Momentum says Blues, but I dunno. I think it’ll be a close series, but I think the Jets get through in the post-season’s first bonkers series. Jets in 7

Tyler: The Jets have not been very good lately, whereas the Blues have looked unstoppable. Unless Laine goes supernova, this will be a disappointing season for Winnipeg. Blues in 6

Rob M: Winnipeg is getting healthy at the right time of the year, seeing some big bodies on defense rejoining their group. I can see the size of the jets suffocating the Blues during a long and physical series. Jets in 7

Jessica: Now this match-up is a lot more of an even playing field. While Winnipeg was dominant from the beginning of the season and St. Louis took some time to find their feet, by the end it seems that both teams found their groove. I definitely expect this series to go to game 7 and it’ll take more than a few OTs to win it. Jets in 7

Mark: The Blues have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the second half. Winnipeg has internal distension and a leadership crisis. Blues in 4

Cody: St. Louis is finally playing as good as they are on paper. At the same time, Winnipeg has recently taken a turn for the worst. Add in a down year for sharp-shooter Laine and give me the Blues. Blues in 6

Final Tally: Blues 6, Jets 5

Calgary Flames (Pacific 1) vs Colorado Avalanche (Wild Card 2)

Taylor: I’m not sure I trust Calgary’s goaltending as far as I could throw them, but that team can score. Colorado isn’t a defensive juggernaut either. Marking this series down for most cumulative goals scored between the two teams. Flames in 5

Robert: Colorado loses every game 4-2. Canada hails Calgary as their new great hope. Flames in 4

Kathleen: Goaltending or great scoring? The Flames and the Avalanche have both, sometimes. Calgary has been more consistent in turning it on when it counts, and I don’t expect that to change. Flames in 6

Logan: Calgary surprised everyone by cruising through the West this season, but Colorado battled back from a disappointing December and January to clinch their second playoff appearance in consecutive years. Expect high tensions and lots of goals. Avalanche in 6

Derek: The Flames are still young and inexperienced, and that will hurt their overall Cup hopes, but their whole team is running like a well-oiled machine right now and that’s going to be a problem for Colorado. However, the Avalanche will get to Calgary’s goalies enough times to make it interesting. Flames in 6

Wes: I worry that Calgary’s goaltending cannot hold up across a best-of-seven series. I worry that Colorado’s one-line offense will sputter in that same best-of-seven series. However, Calgary finished first in the conference and Colorado barely snuck in. It’ll be closer than the seeds indicate, but there’s no Cinderfella here. Flames in 6

Tyler: I know better than to trust Calgary’s goaltending, but I think their offense and top-tier possession game can take them far this postseason. The Avalanche meanwhile are just happy to be here. Flames in 5

Rob M: Calgary has major issues in the crease and their defense is somewhat suspect in their bottom 3. However, they have the offense to match the firepower of Colorado. Flames in 5

Jessica: Even though Colorado lost their way near the end, winning 8 of their last 11 to solidify their spot showed glimmers of their dominance from earlier on. That being said, hot streaks mean nothing going into playoffs — it’s a whole other type of competition. Calgary has been somewhat consistent all year, but their potential downfall is going to be their goaltending. If that stays consistent and their scoring stays hot, Calgary comes out on top. Flames in 7

Mark: Both teams can score, but Philipp Grubauer is rounding into form. David Rittich and Mike Smith have been sub-standard. Avalanche in 6

Cody: Calgary has the offensive punch to bury any team. Colorado got into the playoffs off of an extremely hot 8-0-2 but are also missing Mikko Rantanen (who is questionable for game one). Nice run by the Avalanche, but that hot streak ends now. Flames in 5

Final Tally: Flames 9, Avalanche 2

San Jose Sharks (Pacific 2) vs Vegas Golden Knights (Pacific 3)

Taylor: I just haven’t gotten on board with San Jose as a top team in the West this year, but it’s hard to explain why. Vegas hasn’t looked all that different from the team that cut through the first three rounds with ease last season, and Marc-Andre Fleury is still very good at goalie-ing. Golden Knights in 6

Robert: Vegas, because San Jose is great at wasting the last prime years of great players. Golden Knights in 4

Kathleen: The Golden Knights had emotion (and that expansion draft) on their side last year. The Sharks may have the intangibles working in their favor now. Cool matchup on paper, because it could go either way. Sharks in 7

Logan: Vegas overcame SCF fatigue at the beginning of the season to make back-to-back playoff appearances. San Jose, after bulking up their roster last year, look ready to run deep - if Mark Stone can be stopped. Golden Knights in 6

Derek: This might be San Jose’s last, best chance to win the Cup... except for having to go through Vegas. Home ice will be an enormous advantage for the Golden Knights yet again as they rekindle much of last year’s playoff magic. Vegas will win some close games early and throw the Sharks off balance. Golden Knights in 6

Wes: Martin Jones will cost an excellent team a chance to make a run. Golden Knights in 5

Tyler: Vegas became everyone’s “team-to-beat” in the West after trading for Mark Stone at the deadline. But did you know that after going 10-1 post-deadline, they’ve been 1-5-2 in their last eight? Martin Jones consistently plays better in the playoffs, and even an average Jones makes San Jose the better team. Sharks in 7

Rob M: San Jose played pretty good hockey for the majority of the season and they score a lot of goals, but they give up a lot as well. Vegas on the other hand is a top half team in scoring and top 10 in goals allowed. The Knights are much more balanced and will take the series. Golden Knights in 6

Jessica: After Vegas’ dream run last year, it was hard to see them potentially making the playoffs this year, but they were blessed with a weak Pacific Division. That being said, they aren’t the powerhouse they were last season. San Jose’s core is getting older and older and with this potentially being their last legitimate shot at the Cup for some time, I fully expect them to come out swinging. Sharks in 6

Mark: Can Vegas string together another miracle run? Sharks tooled up for this run, and this is their year to go deep. Great series, but Sharks in 7

Cody: Poor Sharks. Went out and bought a pricey Erik Karlsson for a hopeful playoff push only to run into a Mark Stone-led Vegas team in the first round.I have Vegas as the best team in the West. Maybe a hot take, but I have Vegas here and it not being close. Golden Knights in 5

Final Tally: Golden Knights 7, Sharks 4

What is your prediction of the Dallas Stars - Nashville Predators series? Who do you like in the Western Conference in round 1?

Who wins round 1: Dallas or Nashville?

Dallas Stars436
Nashville Predators100
Great playoff round FTW58