2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview:
And now….my predictions for the Eastern Conference first round!
Boston spent most of the season rolling teams and cruising to another strong season. The round robin tournament has not been kind for an aging but electric Bruins. They have MVP candidate in Pastrnak, with a playoff-experienced team. Boston might have their last decent chance to win a Cup this year. In a rematch of last year’s conference finals, the Carolina Hurricanes will need one of the league’s best young stars in Sebastian Aho, and Mrazek in net, to steal some games.
Prediction: Boston should take the series in 6, but if they make it to a game 7, which is a possibility, Carolina could pull of an upset. Carolina in 7.
NY Islanders coach Barry Trotz has an opportunity to advance with a well-rounded team against his former team, the Washington Capitals. Mathew Barzel and newly acquired (and paid!) Jean-Gabriel Pageau have some power and scoring up the middle. The Islanders no-name defense will have their hands full with sure-fire HOFer, the Great Alexander Ovechkin. Washington’s 2018 championship team is mostly comprised of this team. Two keys to this series: Islanders staying out of the box and potential free agent goalie, Brayden Holtby. Holtby is set for a huge payday and a playoff run could break the bank.
Prediction: Washington Capitals take the series in 6.
Tampa Bay/ Columbus
Rematch of last years first round match-up. Quick Recap- Columbus lost the first period of the first game, then steam-rolled the rest of the series. Every period went to Columbus, without question. Tampa Bay has a chance at redemption with Vezina finalist, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and MVP Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning have talent to make the run for a Cup. Columbus has two young, talented goalies that they are comfortable with starting, at any time. Couple that with a few touted forwards (Dubois, Foudy) with D-man Seth Jones; they have a solid future for years.
Prediction: This series should be the more even than the paper says, however; this year I will take the Lightning. 4-2. Bonus: if you can watch the post-game coaches’ interviews, Columbus Coach John Tortorella will not disappoint.
Montreal blew a chance at the NHL #1 overall pick by beating Pittsburgh. Canadians could have turned over and wrapped up another disappointing season. Now, they get a Philadelphia Flyers team that took complete advantage of the round robin tournament. Goalie lovers will see the golden boy, Carey Price, against future phenom Carter Hart. And… that is all that should be entertaining for this series.
Prediction: Philly could sweep 4-0, but 2/3 of the games could go to overtime.
Thanks to Patrick Day for sharing his thoughts. Please follow him here on Facebook.
Headline Photo Credit: WTOP.com