NHL insiders on playoff X factors, upset picks, bold predictions, top storylines


The NHL restarts its season with a first-of-its-kind, 24-team postseason tournament Saturday. The field has expanded to 12 teams per conference, and the schedule includes games starting as early as noon ET most days, running through the 10:30 p.m. ET window.

Yes, it’s hockey all day, and we’re just as excited about this March Madness-style event as you are.

But before the proverbial fur starts flying, let’s examine some of the key questions: Which qualification round matchups are surefire upsets? Which will be the most exciting to watch? Who are our early picks for Conn Smythe as playoff MVP? And what are the X factors that will play an outsized role?

We answer all of those questions and many more here.

More: Check out the full NHL postseason schedule here.

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