2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview:
Qualifiers have been settled and the round robin completed. My opinions on this tournament so far:
- Expanding the format gives more teams a shot (obviously) and definitely has shown the some teams we thought may be a contender had some major holes.
- I do like the #1 pick being ransomed to a team eliminated from qualifier contention. This gives some teams a little more incentive not to tank in the regular season. It could turn around one of those pretenders real quick. It also may give teams some hope being a #12 seed.
- The round robin play decentralized the importance of the regular season, a little. It also pits the top teams against each other before the playoffs and doesn’t give much incentive. They risk their players to injury while not incentivizing those risks comparatively.
- Hence, the round robin may need some tweaking.
Now- to the next round!
Western Conference -- Las Vegas vs. Chicago; Colorado vs. Arizona; Dallas vs. Calgary; St. Louis vs. Vancouver
Eastern Conference -- Philadelphia vs. Montreal; Tampa vs. Columbus; Washington vs. NY Islanders; and Boston vs. Carolina.
Chicago scrapped against Edmonton. They need to do the same thing versus Vegas. The veterans on Chicago mixes well and Crawford needs to steal a game. Vegas likes Lehner in goal, who could play with a chip on his shoulder, against a team that employed him and made a bold statement trading him, while staying with Crawford. Stasney and Stone could might be combo to watch with Reaves providing some grit.
Prediction: Vegas wins 4-2.
This is the matchup Colorado did not want. Playing a young, fast team with a solid goalie. Kuemper could steal a game. Keller and Hall can match up scoring with top line of Colorado (Landeskog, MacKinnon). Colorado defense is young but really good, and their 2nd line is solid. Arizona could also win while keeping up with Colorado, they could win a game yet giving up 5 goals.
Prediction: Colorado wins in 5, maybe 6.
Seven game series. Dallas looks shaky and lost, and so does Calgary. Calgary won with Cam Talbot, who I think is one of the best back ups in the league, while Dallas may have the best 1-2 combo in net. Both teams have some recent playoff experience. I’m not seeing either team pitching a shutout, nor a barn burner 5-4 game.
Prediction: Dallas in 7.
Home team Blues had a solid regular season and just fell flat in the round robin tournament. Vancouver beat a lost Minnesota team. Vancouver has a potential future MVP in Boeser, with ROY Pettersson and finalist Hughes. Blues have a solid, playoff experienced team with a shot at repeating as champs.
Prediction: Vancouver must win game 1 to have a shot, but Blues should win in 5.
I’ll give my Eastern Conference predictions tomorrow!
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Headline Photo Credit: Associated Press