Predictions for the Eastern Conference in the First-Round of the NHL Playoffs

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages
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NHL Playoff Predictions.

Florida vs Tampa

The Leafs caught a break here because Florida is a great team and even though I think the Leafs would have beaten them, I think it's easier to play Boston.

The Panthers though don't get much of a reward for finishing in first place.

Tampa lost in the first-round last year and likely won't do that again. Their team can't really defend, but they've got the best goalie alive and, like the Leafs, have a great offense.

I just don't see Tampa losing in the first round two years in a row, so even though I believe that the Panthers might be the NHL's best overall team, I think they will lose.

The NHL has a lot of parity and there really isn't much separation between the top teams, as seen and expemplified the best by this series.

While Florida has a great roster, Tampa has two Cups and I believe are still hungry for more. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of each of these teams, the fact is Sergei Bobrovsky isn't going to play at the level he did last year, and Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies in NHL Playoff history.

I wouldn't bet against Vasilevskiy unless it was the Toronto Maple Leafs he was playing against.

My prediction is Tampa in six.