*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.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 6. New York Islanders
Players to Watch: F Nikita Kucherov and F Mathew Barzal
Who Wins: Lightning in 7 games
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 3. Dallas Stars
Players to Watch: F Mark Stone and D Miro Heiskanen
Who Wins: Golden Knights in 6 games