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NHL Playoff Primer 2021: Central Division

Last 4 NHL Playoff Teams... Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina and Nashville! Then, our first taste of playoff hockey... Boston vs Washington game one tonight! Let's GO!!!

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning are a juggernaut team when healthy. Unfortunately, they have been struggling with the injury bug all season long. Captain Steven Stamkos has missed half the year with a lower-body injury. Russian sniper Nikita Kucherov just recently began skating again after his hip surgery. Not to mention, Victor Hedman has been beasting it out all season, playing injured. (He's such a beauty!) Although Stammer and Kuch are set to return for game 1 of the playoffs, I still believe it is hard to gage where this team will be at. I find that a lot of people tend to forget how rusty you are after a long lay-off. I'm not saying that Stamkos and Kucherov won't make an impact. I just know they aren't going to come back and start dominating right off the bat. Brayden Point is going to be heavily relied upon for offensive production, especially in the "Battle of Florida" round one series.

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers have been good this year! I mean... REALLY GOOD! Prior to creating The Next Great Hockey Blog, I forced myself to watch Florida vs Dallas because I wanted to have game-based knowledge on all 31 NHL teams. Expecting a boring game (because its the FLORIDA PANTHERS), I turned on the game and ended up being genuinely impressed with the way they played. Florida became a team I actually enjoyed watching! In my opinion, the Panthers are at least a Conference Finals-calibre team. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are both premier two-way forwards in the NHL. Carter Verhaeghe (right winger) and MacKenzie Weegar (left defenceman) have enjoyed breakout seasons as Panthers! Sam Bennett has been a revelation since the trade, and overall, the chemistry on this team is plain tantalizing. If you've talked hockey with me at all over the past month, you know "Florida in 6" has been my major hot-take. Believe in Florida!!!!

Nashville Predators

"Smashville" will get SMASHED by the Hurricanes in round one this year, no doubt in my mind. BRING OUT THE BROOMS!!! The Predators really only have "Fil" Forsberg on offence, Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi on D. They were supposed to be a seller at the Trade Deadline and likely missed out on some great future assets just for a first-round playoff exit. Poor David Poile!

Carolina Hurricanes

The "Bunch of Jerks" are going to be a tough team to play this post-season because of how multi-faceted they are. Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov are one of the best top lines in hockey. Martin Necas has been brilliant as a sophmore, Vincent Trocheck is tearing it up in the 2C and Jordan Staal is playing some solid 200-foot hockey. On the blueline, the Canes have a MONSTER offensive defenceman in Dougie Hamilton, 2020 NHL Accuracy Shooting champion Jaccob Slavin and the solid Brett Pesce. Lastly, Carolina has three great NHL goalies at their disposal: Alex Nedeljkovic, Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. I wouldn't want my favourite team playing these guys in a 7-game series!


Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed the Playoff Primer series and that you got something from it. First series ever on The Next Great Hockey Blog! Show some love in the comment section below!!!

Also... if you're interested in our NHL Bracket Challenge use use the following link to join our league and make your picks:

You will need to create an NHL account in order to make your picks... hoping that is okay for everyone :)

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