*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. Tampa Bay Lightning
The defending champions didn’t have to dismantle what they’ve built and another Cup run seems likely.
2. Dallas Stars
Not having Tyler Seguin for a large portion of the year could come back to hurt them. Thankfully their defense is their bread and butter.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
If they can get a consistent goalie during the playoffs, they’ll be tough to beat.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
Just when you think they won’t be contenders they always find a way.
5. Florida Panthers
If goalie Sergei Bobrovsky can regain his Vezina trophy winning form, they should be a playoff team.
6. Nashville Predators
It looks like the days of ‘Smashville’ are just about over.
7. Chicago Blackhawks
There is no denying that they are rebuilding now and for the foreseeable future.
8. Detroit Red Wings
The growing pains will continue with some veterans being stopgaps for the prospects this season.
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. Washington Capitals
With a few tweaks on defense this is still the best team in a stacked division.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
Even without Phil Kessel, the Pens have plenty of scoring potential.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
Their playoff run last year wasn’t a fluke and they should be contenders again.
4. New Jersey Devils
A healthy Taylor Hall with their off-season additions has them primed for playoff contention.
5. New York Rangers
Their rebuild got a big boost with the signing of Artemi Panarin.
6. Philadelphia Flyers
They finally have a franchise netminder, but who will be the focal point on offense?
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
A lot of changes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t compete and surprise some.
8. New York Islanders
The only reason they’re at this spot is because so many other teams made improvements.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 4. New Jersey Devils
2. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 3. Boston Bruins
1. Washington Capitals vs. 4. Florida Panthers
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 3. Carolina Hurricanes
1. Nashville Predators vs. 4. Dallas Stars
2. St. Louis Blues vs. 3. Colorado Avalanche
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. Winnipeg Jets
2. Calgary Flames vs. 3. San Jose Sharks