*Because of lockdown madness, the 2020-21 NHL season will have the four divisions playing against each other in their regions. This is a breakdown of my prediction for the Stanley Cup Playoff participants for the 2020-21 season. The top 4 teams from each division will play each other in the first two rounds. Then what would be the Conference Finals, the four remaining teams will be ranked 1-4 on their regular season point totals. The one-seed will play the fourth-seed and the second-seed will play the third-seed.
1. Vancouver Canucks
It should come as no surprise that Vancouver played as well as they did in the Playoff bubble last season.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
There is far too much talent on this team to fail once again. But the frustration will grow when the cap crunch comes.
3. Calgary Flames
A few shrewd moves in the offseason have Calgary hoping they solved their glaring issues. Mainly in net.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Expect huge scoring numbers from the offense. The rest of the group needs to be above average or better to clinch a playoff spot.
5. Winnipeg Jets
They could be a sneaky good team with Connor Hellebuyck in net.
6. Montreal Canadiens
A lot has to go right for them once again. Unfortunately they play in a very talented Canadian division.
7. Ottawa Senators
The future is quickly coming for them and this season will be an interesting one to watch.
1. Philadelphia Flyers vs. 6. New York Islanders
Players to Watch: G Carter Hart and G Semyon Varlamov
Who Wins: Islanders in 6 games
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 4. Boston Bruins
Players to Watch: F Nikita Kucherov and G Jaroslav Halak
Who Wins: Lightning in 6 games
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 5. Vancouver Canucks
Players to Watch: F Mark Stone and D Quinn Hughes
Who Wins: Canucks in 6 games
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Dallas Stars
Players to Watch: F Nazem Kadri and D Miro Heiskanen
Who Wins: Avalanche in 5 games
1. Philadelphia Flyers vs. 8. Montreal Canadiens
Players to Watch: G Carter Hart and G Carey Price
Who Wins: Flyers in 5 games
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 7. Columbus Blue Jackets
Players to Watch: F Nikita Kucherov and D Seth Jones
Who Wins: Lightning in 6 games
3. Washington Capitals vs. 6. New York Islanders
Players to Watch: G Braden Holtby and D Ryan Pulock
Who Wins: Islanders in 7 games
4. Boston Bruins vs. 5. Carolina Hurricanes
Players to Watch: F David Pastrnak and F Sebastian Aho
Who Wins: Hurricanes in 7 games
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 8. Chicago Blackhawks
Players to Watch: G Robin Lehner and G Corey Crawford
Who Wins: Golden Knights in 6 games
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 7. Phoenix Coyotes
Players to Watch: D Cale Makar and F Taylor Hall
Who Wins: Avalanche in 6 games
3. Dallas Stars vs. 6. Calgary Flames
Players to Watch: G Ben Bishop and F Sean Monahan
Who Wins: Flames in 6 games
4. St. Louis Blues vs. 5. Vancouver Canucks
Players to Watch: D Alex Pietrangelo and D Quinn Hughes
Who Wins: Blues in 7 games
1. Vegas Golden Knights
A full season with the group they put together during last season should put them at the top.
2. Calgary Flames
They took a big step forward last year, but there are still questions in net.
3. San Jose Sharks
Their captain left via free agency, but they have one of the deepest defensive units in the league.
4. Arizona Coyotes
This is the year they need to put it all together and make a playoff push.
5. Anaheim Ducks
There should be improvements in many areas, but they’re another year away from contention.
6. Los Angeles Kings
The reset button has been hit, but they aren’t going all out for a rebuild just yet.
7. Vancouver Canucks
If their defense and goalie can match what their offense can dish out, they can make a leap in the division.
8. Edmonton Oilers
Not a lot is expected from them and that is a good thing for this franchise. Time to fly under the radar.