The NHL qualifiers begin on Saturday with five big matches on tap. Edmonton and Toronto are the NHL’s official hubs and the day will see five great ice hockey games played.
Today, we take a look at three of the five games on the Zcode System blog. Be sure to sign up to the website and visit the VIP page for picks on the other two games being played.
Remember the NHL qualifiers are best of five series with the winners of each series advancing to the playoffs proper.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers
When this series was announced, the Edmonton Oilers were surely favourites to go through. However, the break may have helped the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago thrashed the St. Louis Blues in a midweek exhibition game 4-0. Although the Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames in their exhibit match, 4-1, the Blackhawks should be feared.
There are plenty of pieces still in place in Chicago from their Stanley Cup wins. Although they have been in a rebuild, they will fancy their chances against Edmonton. The Oilers will have pressure on their shoulders and need to get off to a fast start.
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid should be the difference in Game 1 with the Oilers edging the Blackhawks.
Winner: Edmonton Oilers
Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames
After watching the Calgary Flames lose to the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in the midweek exhibition game, it is difficult to believe they will overcome the Winnipeg Jets. One NHL expert (The Hockey Guy), believes the Jets will be the next Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. They certainly have some excellent pieces in place currently but may be a center short of winning it all this time around.
The home team has won the last four games between the Flames and Jets. Problem is, there is no official home team on Saturday due to the game taking place at a neutral venue.
The Flames and Jets played just once in the NHL regular season prior to the COVID-19 break. The Jets won that game 2-1 in an OT/SO. Including preseason games, the Jets have won three of their last four games against Calgary.
Although the Zcode System VIP pick predicts Calgary to win on Saturday, I am going against that pick and selecting the Winnipeg Jets to win Game 1 of their NHL qualifiers.
New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
New York Rangers finished the NHL regular season as the Eastern Conference’s seven seed while the Carolina Hurricanes were one better at No. 6. These teams should be quite evenly matches on Saturday.
The Rangers lost their exhibition game against the New York Islanders 2-1. Carlona also lost with a 3-2 scoreline against the Washington Capitals being registered. New York has won five straight games against the Hurricanes dating back to February 2019. The last two games saw the Rangers put five goals past the Hurricanes.
Although the Rangers won all four games against the Hurricanes in the regular season, don’t put much stock into those games. The hiatus should take away any momentum and it should be treated as a new season. Therefore, the Hurricanes should get a victory in a very close game on Saturday.
Winner: Carolina Hurricanes
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