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The NBC Sports Edge staff have gathered to give their Stanley Cup Semifinals picks. There have been plenty of upsets as a second seed (Vegas), a third seed (Tampa Bay) and two four seeds (New York Islanders and Montreal) have advanced this far.


Ryan: Islanders in 7 – There’s been something really impressive about the Islanders scoring depth in the 2021 playoffs. They have nine different players averaging at least 0.25 goals-per-game in the playoffs and because of that, the Islanders actually have scored slightly more goals-per-game than the Lightning despite Tampa Bay’s stars playing up to their full potential thus far. Certainly this Lightning team is still more than capable of beating the Islanders and this series can go either way, but it just feels like the Islanders have things figured out right now in a truly special way.

Corey: Tampa Bay in six – The Lightning appear to be picking up steam after getting back to full health for the start of the postseason. There were some kinks to work out in the opening round, but they still looked dominant and dangerous in most games versus Florida. In Round 2, they found another gear and smothered a very talented Carolina team. Granted, the Hurricanes were banged up, but Tampa Bay’s performance was still impressive against a top contender. The New York Islanders are back in the Semifinals for a second straight year and deserve plenty of credit for their success. The Isles exploited Pittsburgh’s goaltending and Boston’s depleted defense corps, but the Lightning don’t have either of those weaknesses. Tampa Bay is a step up in competition and the defending champions look even stronger than they did last year.

Jeff: Tampa Bay in 6 games – The Islanders have proven that you don’t necessarily need a star to win but it will be interested to see if Barry Trotz can get the best of Jon Cooper in this one. The Lightning are just a different breed, with about an extra $15 million on the cap playing a big part in that. It’s been impressive how Tampa has relatively cruised through two series wins against some of the best teams in the league. I think they’ll be too much for the Islanders.

Joey: Tampa Bay in 6 games – I like the Islanders story, I’m enjoying the atmosphere in their home rink, but I feel like the defending Stanley Cup Champions are flying under the radar. This is a team that looker solid during the regular season and they got healthier at the start of the playoffs. I’m not sure the Islanders can keep up with the Bolts offensively, especially with Anders Lee sidelined. In the end, I think this series is going to be close, but the Lightning are too deep at every position.

Michael: Tampa Bay in 7 games – This series will be so close and could even go into overtime in Game 7. The Lightning are defending Stanley Cup champions and beat the Islanders in six games in the Edmonton bubble last season, but the Islanders are primed for the upset with four lines that can contribute. While the Lightning have all the stars in Kucherov, Stamkos, Point, Hedman and Vasilevskiy, the Islanders have been playing playoff hockey all season and coach Barry Trotz will get them close, if not over the top.

Consensus: Tampa Bay 4 New York Islanders 1

Editor’s Note: All the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders playoff action can be streamed here.


Ryan: Vegas in 6 – I don’t want to dismiss Montreal. Any team that makes it to the semifinals deserves respect, especially one that’s won its last seven games. But on paper at least, Vegas looks like the clearly better team. Does that mean Montreal can’t win? Of course not. You could argue that the Maple Leafs had the better team on paper too and Montreal managed to eliminate them, even coming back from a 3-1 deficit. The Canadiens have shown they can shut down a great offensive team and of course Carey Price can steal games. Vegas is much more than a great offensive team though and speaking of goaltenders, Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the few out there that’s up to the task of matching up against a hot Price. The Golden Knights have been my favorite to win the Cup and after watching them battle back against Colorado to win that series, Vegas is looking like an even better bet in my mind.

Corey: Vegas in five – This is a strange series to predict because the Canadiens have been much more successful than expected. Montreal has relished their role as an underdog and Vegas will be a big favorite in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. On paper it doesn’t look like the Canadiens match up very well at all against Vegas. The Golden Knights have more depth at every position as well as the talent and the size to wreak havoc in all zones. Still, Playoff Price provides the Canadiens with a chance, especially if the team can continue to get timely scoring and make the opposition chase the game. However, for that to happen Montreal will have find a way to beat Marc-Andre Fleury at the other end, while breaking through a team that checks very well defensively. I may be underestimating the Habs again, but I don’t see another upset happening here and I wouldn’t be surprised if the series was short.

Jeff: Vegas in 6 Games – Like most of the hockey world, I’ve continued to pick against the Canadiens and I’ve continuously been proven wrong. Well, here comes Vegas who will be their toughest test yet. The Habs dispatched of the Jets in relatively easy fashion, but they won’t have the same luxury against this Golden Knights squad that is much better at 5-on-5 compared to the Jets. I love the storyline of Max Pacioretty facing the club that drafted him and I’m curious to see what type of reception he receives in Montreal. Outside a Carey Price masterclass, I think Vegas has this one.

Joey: Vegas in 7 Games – The Canadiens are a great story. I’ve picked against them in every round and they’ve proved me wrong every time. Both teams have similar depth, but the Golden Knights have more high-end talent with players like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore and others. In the end, the Habs will need to clearly win the goaltending battle. Carey Price can steal this thing for Montreal, but Marc-Andre Fleury won’t be a pushover either. These teams play a similar style and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them play “low event” games throughout the series.

Michael: Vegas in five games – The Golden Knights will be too much for the Canadiens who have been great in the North Division playoffs, but their competition was not as strong as other divisions. The Golden Knights have four lines who contribute as well as a strong defense and while Carey Price is capable of stealing a game or possibly even two, Vegas is much the better team than Montreal.

Consensus: Vegas 5 Montreal 0

Editor’s Note: All the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens playoff action can be streamed here.