NHL Sleepers to Watch in the 2021 Playoffs

The NHL regular season is coming to an end and all 16 playoff tickets have now been punched. As some teams have heated up, some stumbled to the playoffs. Over the past decade, there have been countless sleeper teams bust brackets. These teams have shown that, although they may not have a high seed, they are still poised to be contenders. With the NHL playoffs, you never know what will happen so here are a few teams that could quite possibly bust some brackets in the coming weeks:

Boston Bruins

After a mediocre start this season, the Bruins have turned their play around over the past month. With deadline additions Taylor Hall and Mike Reilly, Boston picked up instant help to their roster.

The Bruins have won 12 of their last 16 games and aren’t slowing down. Taylor Hall has been a huge contribution as he now has eight goals in his last 16 games. The 2nd line of Hall, Krejci, and Craig Smith has now given the Bruins two high scoring lines that are more-than capable of scoring goals. With their defense healthy and Tuukka Rask in net, all signs point for a deep playoff run.

A first-round matchup versus an injured Washington Capitals should be a matchup that the Bruins breeze through. Boston’s door isn’t closed yet and they are ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup come Saturday.

Nashville Predators

The Predators are no stranger to being an underdog. Their 2016 run showed how well the team’s defense is and how, with consistent offensive production, they are a dangerous team. With high expectations this season, the Predators had a slow start. While many pointed at tearing the team down, the team was able to turn their season around mostly thanks to goaltender Juuse Saros.

Saros, like the rest of the team, had a rough start but he has been completely lights-out since Feburary. Since February, he has only lost eight times in his last 25 starts. Not only that, Saros has consistently had a save percentage over .900 for every game but a few over those 25 games. Saros not only made himself a prime contender for the Vezina this season but has also projected his team into the playoffs for yet another season.

Another big factor in Nashville’s favor this season is their fans. Many teams are allowing fans in a low capacity, but Nashville has opened up as of late. It was announced recently that the Predators are opening their stadium up to 70% capacity. The Predators have a very strong and dedicated fanbase and having many in attendance will certainly boost their team’s momentum in the playoffs.

Minnesota Wild

It’s crazy how one player can change a franchise. Russian rookie superstar Kirill Kaprizov made his anticipated arrival to the NHL and he certainly hasn’t disappointed. The Wild are known quite well as a team that doesn’t do much come playoff time. However, this season, everything is different. Kaprizov not only has made the Wild one of the most entertaining teams in the league, but now he’s put them as a prime upset contender this season.

Kirill Kaprizov’s 27 goals and 51 points have certainly provided a needed boost to the roster. Overall, the team has been sharp of late as well. Cam Talbot has shown this season he can tend the net well — the Wild’s top four is also one of the best in the NHL too. One aspect of the team that has been great of late is their special teams. The powerplay has heated up of late and the penalty kill all season has been one of the best units.

The Wild have struggled to contain the Avalanche’s offense this season, but in playoff hockey nothing is too far fetched. For the Wild to upset the Avalanche they will need to allow fewer shots. In many of the games versus the Avalanche they’ve allowed 40-50 shots on goal. If they can limit scoring chances and block more shots there’s a good chance the Wild are able to pull off an upset versus the Avalanche and even make it past the Knights in round 2.