Note: Guest contributor and NHL analyst Patrick Day is back for another round of analysis. Read his prior reports with analysis of the Western Conference here and his analysis of the Eastern Conference here.
The first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the books. Let's take a look at the next round.
Boston finished the regular season on top of the league, in points and wins. Their team boasted a pack of veterans, including MVP candidate David Pastrnak, Veniza finalist Tuukka Rask, and team captain Zdeno Chara. They were humming through the league, gearing up for another run at the Stanley Cup.
Tampa Bay was second in the Atlantic Division, behind Boston, also humming along their season. They had their stars too, reigning MVP Nikita Kucherov, reigning Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy. Tampa Bay was coming off a disappointing 2019 playoff season, being swept by Columbus in the 1st round.
Both teams have serious questions in this 2020 playoff season and both teams do see their championship window closing in a year. Both teams have the coaching staffs and front offices seeing this as their best chance to win a Cup.
My Prediction – This series should be a competitive 7-game series. Both teams match up well against each other. Both teams have talent and veterans that can lead their respective teams. My only concern is in net for Boston, back up Jaroslav Halak. He is a top 5 backup in the league, taking the reins for Tuukka Rask. Tampa Bay should win 4-3.
Philadelphia had a tough start to their season, mixing wins with minor injuries. They did not really find that stride till after the new year. Flyer goalie phenom Carter Hart was coming into his 2nd full season, but first as the starting goalie. Coupled with a veteran team, but lacking a scoring threat, they focused on a defense-first system.
The NY Islanders were holding their own in the Metro Division, competing for a possible wild card spot. With the pause in play and the restart, NYI found themselves in an opening round match up with Florida. Adding Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline really boosted their scoring potential in their lineup.
My Prediction – This series features a mix of young and veteran stars, no-name defenses, and a rising star in Carter Hart. Scoring in this series could be a premium, so look at the O/U for each game. I could see this series go 6 games and I could see both teams winning 4-2. Also, this series does not start till Monday, August 22, giving both teams time to rest. Philadelphia’s goalie Carter Hart will be the difference in this series, and I like his team in 6.
Las Vegas was having an up and down regular season, leading the Pacific division to being a wild card team in a week. A coaching change followed by a solid trade deadline acquisition of Mark Stone, Robin Lehner, and Alec Martinez, added solid depth to an already deep team. They gained steam in the round robin series and had an easy time facing the Blackhawks in the first round.
Vancouver was not really supposed to be in the position this year. Their team, facing a final transition year with some expiring contracts and several young players starting to develop. However, some trades that were questioned last few years have provided some grit and service in this playoff year. Look for Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and Quinn Hughes to have big impacts.
My Prediction – Las Vegas should close this series in five games but I think Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom could steal a game or two. Vegas just has so much depth throughout their roster. Scoring could be up and down, so look for Money Line bets. Go for Vegas in six, 4-2.
Colorado has the scoring, the defense and timely goaltending to make a run this year, and years to come. Colorado demolished a young Arizona team in the first round. Their top two forward lines have playmakers and scorers galore, maybe the best in the league. In addition, Colorado’s defensive core is young but full of talent, logging veteran minutes in these playoffs.
The Dallas Stars really did not have a great round robin series and had serious questions through their organization. Dallas finished off a mysterious Calgary team in six games, while scoring 7 unanswered goals in the clinching game, after falling behind 3-0! Back up Anton Khudobin has taking the goaltending duties from Ben Bishop, which is a bit of a head-scratcher for fans.
My Prediction – Colorado has too much talent, youth, and depth for Dallas to overcome. I did not understand Dallas’s identity coming into this season, having several veterans in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Joe Pavelski. I was very weary of Dallas in their first-round match up, just being too inconsistent, and I see the same thing in this series. Colorado should take the series 4-1. Also, scoring should be plenty for Colorado, so pay attention to the O/U.
Headline Photo Credit: DailyHive.com