NHL Playoff Vibe Check: Hurricanes, Islanders with strong starts

Welcome to the NHL Playoff Vibe Check, where we ask the question: is the vibe good?

There are eight series to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with all underway except the North Division thus far as they wrap up regular-season shenanigans in Canada.

We can begin to ask about the vibes though, because there’s never a bad time for a vibe check.

Boston Bruins

The vibe: Relief

Energy check: Taylor Swift’s “The 1”

Taylor Hall wanted to play for a contending team, and after two playoff games he’s in the thick of things. He sent the Bruins to overtime on Monday night where they eventually won Game 2 to head home in a series tie.

Washington Capitals

The vibe: Kind of sus

Energy check: I think I’ve seen this film before

Washington easily could have a 2-0 lead right now. They didn’t capitalize on a few frustrated Bruins penalties in Game 2, and didn’t hold on at the end. They’ve now dealt with two overtimes and go on the road for the next two.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The vibe: Hmmm

Energy check: That one annoyed penguin meme

It’s early in the series, the Penguins are still the favorites. Evgeni Malkin presumably will be back. Tristan Jarry didn’t look his best in Game 1. A frustrating start all around but not time to freak out yet.

New York Islanders

The vibe: Cautiously optimistic

Energy check: Kyle Palmieri‘s beard

The Bruins aren’t the only team reaping the benefits of a strong trade deadline. Palmieri scored twice, including the overtime winner, to give the Islanders an early advantage on the road. Remember, there was a point when it looked like the Islanders would win the East. They’re dangerous.

Carolina Hurricanes

The vibe: Storming

Energy check: Honey, you’ve got a big storm coming

Game 1 against the Predators went about as expected. Carolina had it throughout, even when Nashville tied it late in the second period. How about the energy in Raleigh, too? This feels like it would be Hurricanes in 3 if that was allowed.

Nashville Predators

The vibe: Bad

Energy check: That’s so 2017

Nashville’s era has been heading to an end, and it doesn’t feel like they’ll have much success these playoffs. Juuse Saros did what he could in Game 1 with the Hurricanes, but they are clearly outmatched.

Florida Panthers

The vibe: Solid

Energy check: Not your millennial’s Panthers

A loss in Game 1 isn’t the end of the world. The Lightning are scary as heck, and the Panthers were competitive in the thrilling first edition of the Battle of Florida. They have something there, but going back home down 0-2 would be tough to come back from.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

The vibe: Electric

Energy check: Why, what happened?

Turns out Nikita Kucherov can sit out an entire season and then show up in the most intense game of the entire season and score twice. Who knew? The Lightning, as it turns out, are still as dangerous as anyone, even against a strong Florida squad.

Vegas Golden Knights

The vibe: It’s fine, guys

Energy check: Vegas Lights by Panic! at the Disco

While yes, there’s a lot of hype for the Wild, this is the worst possible matchup the Golden Knights could have gotten, they are down 1-0…. they were still a game away from being a Presidents’ Trophy team, they are still a Stanley Cup favorite. No reason for the Golden Knights to panic just yet.

Minnesota Wild

The vibe: Wild

Energy check: Kirill the Thrill

The dark horse of the NHL playoffs are off to a solid start. There’s a reason a lot of people picked them as an upset against the Golden Knights; they match up well. With a 1-0 lead and a guaranteed at least split before going to dominant home ice, they’re in a good spot.

Colorado Avalanche

The vibe: Excellent

Energy check: Ballin’ (arena)

There is a reason the Avalanche are considered the best team in the NHL: they probably are. The Avs put 50 shots on net in Game 1 with the Blues and took a 4-1 win, notched a Gordie Howe Hat Trick from their captain, and the defense looked great. Honestly, their vibes are undefeated.

St. Louis Blues

The vibe: Well, blue

Energy check: Not 2019 anymore

For the first half of Game 1, it looked like playoff Jordan Binnington was back. Turns out, that’s not good enough against the 2020-21 Avalanche.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

The vibe: Tense

Energy check: What could go wrong?

Toronto has extremely high expectations this time around, fully expected to tear through the North and into the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. Their first test is a Montreal team they should beat, so clearly everyone in Canada will be well-reasoned and calm about all of it.

Montreal Canadiens

The vibe: No pressure

Energy check: Hockey Twitter trolls

No one expects Montreal to win the series with Toronto, but what if they do? Not only the most chaotic postseason possibility but objectively the one that will blow up Hockey Twitter the most.

Edmonton Oilers

The vibe: Expectations high

Energy check: TBD?

Edmonton should beat Winnipeg. Everyone seems to be looking ahead to their near inevitable series with the Leafs. But wouldn’t it be so Oilers if they just got knocked out in the first round.

Winnipeg Jets

The vibe: Soarin’, Flyin’

Energy check: Goats?

Forget what might happen in the next couple of weeks, Mark Schiefele’s goats will unite the NHL.

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

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