The First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins today with eight of the remaining sixteen teams set to play.
Here are my predictions for each of the series.
1. Philadelphia Flyers vs 12. Montreal Canadiens
Before the pause of the NHL Season due to Covid-19, the Flyers were the hottest team in the NHL, and they appear to be picking up right where they left off; going 3-0-0 in the round robin games out scoring Boston, Washington, and Tampa Bay by a combined total of 11-3.
On the other side Montreal is coming off a shocking 3-1 series upset over Pittsburgh.
Montreal defeating Pittsburgh alone has to be a high note for Canadiens fans based on recent years, however I do not see Montreal being able to stop Philadelphia.
Everyone should be taking note of Philadelphia right now who very well may find themselves deep in this year’s playoffs.
Philadelphia in 5.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs 9. Columbus Blue Jackets
Well here it is.
This is Tampa Bay’s chance to get somewhat even with Columbus for sweeping them in the First Round last year after their recording setting 62 win Regular Season.
By no means has Head Coach John Cooper let the Lightning forget what happened last year.
Columbus certainly upset the Maple Leafs by defeating them 3-2 in the five game Qualifying Round.
At this point people have to see that although Columbus may not be the most talented team in the league, they are absolutely one of the best coached teams in the league, and because of their style of play, heavily skilled teams do have challenges defeating them night after night.
This series can two ways I believe.
Either Tampa Bay gets revenge and ends it quick, or it goes the distance with Columbus taking the series in seven games; personally, until I see otherwise I am leaning towards the latter.
Columbus in 7.
3. Washington Capitals vs 7. New York Islanders
In this Metropolitan Division battle we have the Capitals, and Islanders.
These two teams played four games against each other during the Regular Season, each winning two in regulation.
Thinking quickly one would assume that Washington would take this series rather easily, however with Barry Trotz behind the bench for the Islanders and a suddenly talented roster, New York very well may end Washington’s year in the first round.
The Islanders defeated Florida 3-1 in the Qualifying Round convincingly, while the Capitals went 1-1-1 in the Round Robin defeating Boston 2-1, but falling 3-2 to Tampa Bay, and 3-1 to Philadelphia.
As exciting and entertaining to see New York defeat Washington, I do not see it happening this year.
I expect to see the Capitals hit another gear in the First Round and over power the Islanders.
Washington in 6.
4. Boston Bruins vs 6. Carolina Hurricanes
Another rematch from last year’s playoffs, this one Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite dominating the NHL prior to the Covid-19 pause, Boston was arguably the most disappointing team to watch during the Round Robin, and Qualifying Round going 0-3-0 with a -5 goal differential, and just one point from their entire top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak.
On the flip side Carolina went into the Qualifying Round and simply steam rolled the New York Rangers sweeping them 3-0, who many people thought could make a surprising deep run in this year’s playoffs.
These two teams played each other twice in the Regular Season with Boston defeating Carolina 2-0 both times.
If Boston continues to perform at the same rate Carolina can, and will put an end to the Bruins’ season; however I have to believe Boston has more in them than what they have shown thus far.
Boston in 6.
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs 12. Chicago Blackhawks
Vegas proved in their return back to the ice that they can score goals, recording 17 total in the three Round Robin games, although they also allowed 11.
Chicago proved they are not a team to be taken lightly despite their recent years of struggle.
Led by Toews, and Kane the Blackhawks defeated heavily favored Edmonton 3-1 in the best of five game Qualifying Round.
The Golden Knights are favored to win, rightly so, however they need to tighten up on defense or Jonathan Toews, and a young core of Blackhawks will find the back of the net over and over again.
With that said Chicago made a point by upsetting Edmonton, but Vegas may just be too much of a force for the Blackhawks to put down.
Vegas in 7.
2. Colorado Avalanche vs 11. Arizona Coyotes
Well, well, well, after all the drama in the front office, and wonder if Arizona was actually in fact a playoff team, the Coyotes are in the playoffs.
At this point if you asked ten people who is the most dangerous team in the NHL, I would be willing to bet nine of them said Colorado.
Arizona took down Nashville 3-1 in the Qualifying Round, while the Avalanche went 2-1-0 in the Round Robin defeating St. Louis, and Dallas, before falling to Vegas 6-4.
The Coyotes right now are the wild card team who no one really knows what to expect from, and they have proven they will not go down without a fight so even to Colorado it will be no easy series.
Colorado in 6.
3. Dallas Stars vs 8. Calgary Flames
This is a very interesting series between the Dallas Stars, and Calgary Flames.
Believe it or not, the Flames won two of the three games between these two teams this year, and are looking pretty sharp out scoring Winnipeg 14-6 in the Qualifying Round as they won that in four games.
Dallas went just 1-2-0 in their three Round Robin games losing to Vegas 5-3, getting shutout by Colorado 4-0, before beating St. Louis 2-1 in a shootout.
From what I have seen from Calgary, Dallas is in for it if they can not turn things around quickly.
Calgary in 5.
4. St. Louis Blues vs 7. Vancouver Canucks
After taking down Minnesota in four games, the Canucks now face the defending Champions St. Louis Blues.
How much like the Stanley Cup winning Blues are they? As of right now it does not look like at all.
Going 0-2-1 in the Round Robin games St. Louis looks to bounce back from their losses to Colorado, Vegas, and Dallas.
Much like the Coyotes, this young skilled Vancouver team has everyone’s attention to where their ceiling is this year, and year’s moving forward.
Experience in my opinion is going to hurt Vancouver this series regardless of how well they play St. Louis.
St. Louis in 7.
Photo Source: tounesnanews.com
Would you like to advertise with Game Changer Sports Network? We have the perfect opportunity for any and all businesses please contact Jake at Info@GameChangerSportsNetwork.com to discuss potential advertising space with us!