On Friday, May 22, the NHL and NHLPA reached an agreement to further discussions about a 24 team playoff once play resumes. Many details remain undetermined, but one thing remains concrete: the fans can’t wait for some hockey to return to their television sets.
Per Greg Wyshynski of ESPN, the seeds would look as such:
(1) Boston Bruins, (2) Tampa Bay Lightning, (3) Washington Capitals, (4) Philadelphia Flyers, (5) Pittsburgh Penguins, (6) Carolina Hurricanes, (7) New York Islanders, (8) Toronto Maple Leafs, (9) Columbus Blue Jackets, (10) Florida Panthers, (11) New York Rangers, (12) Montreal Canadiens
(1) St. Louis Blues, (2) Colorado Avalanche, (3) Vegas Golden Knights, (4) Dallas Stars, (5) Edmonton Oilers, (6) Nashville Predators, (7) Vancouver Canucks, (8) Calgary Flames, (9) Winnipeg Jets, (10) Minnesota Wild, (11) Arizona Coyotes, (12) Chicago Blackhawks
Again per Wyshynski, the top-four seeds would take part in a round robin style tournament while the remaining seeds battle it out to reach the round of 16. The purpose of the tournament would be to determine the one through four seeds. With that in mind, the Flyers have an opportunity to increase their seed from four, all the way to one.
Now that the semantics are out of the way, it’s time to get down to my picks. Every team, every round, I’m going to dive head first into the playoff scenario, starting with the round-robin and play-in series round. Hold onto your seat folks, this is about to get interesting!
Round Robin Tournament
(1) Boston Bruins, (2) Tampa Bay Lightning, (3) Philadelphia Flyers, (4) Washington Capitals.
Boston is very good this year. Regardless of the layoff, they have the team to beat in the NHL right now. Pair that with Philadelphia’s inability to beat the Lightning, and their success over Washington, the Flyers climb one seed in this scenario. Boston and Tampa hold steady at the top while Washington slides down to the four seed.
(1) Colorado Avalanche, (2) St. Louis Blues, (3) Dallas Stars, (4) Vegas Golden Knights.
Colorado has a solid mix of veteran presence and youth talent. They could easily find themselves in the top seed out west. St. Louis is also a very good team, making the battle for the top seed a tough one to decide. It’s not that Dallas and Vegas are inferior to Colorado and St. Louis, it’s that I just don’t think they’ll be able to keep up. Colorado nabs the top seed from St. Louis, while Dallas overtakes Vegas for the three seed.
- 5 v. 12 Matchup (PIT v. MTL)
- PIT in 4 games
The Pens/Habs series hinges on one thing and one thing only: Carey Price. If Price can re-write the history books and put on a clinic in the playoffs this year, we could see one hell of an upset. If Price reverts back to his old playoff-self, the Penguins take this in four games.
- 6 v. 11 Matchup (CAR v. NYR)
- NYR in 5 games
The Rangers pull the upset of the round here, taking game 5 in Carolina and advancing into the second round of the playoffs that they shouldn’t have made in the first place. Like Dave Chappelle says, “Modern problems require modern solutions,” right?
- 7 v. 10 Matchup (NYI v. FLA)
- NYI in 4 games
There’s something about the Islanders that makes me shudder. They’re a tough team, and I really don’t think that Florida is up to the task. After selling a bit at the deadline, Florida enters the series unequipped to handle a tough Isles team, dropping the series in four games.
- 8 v. 9 Matchup (TOR v. CBJ)
- TOR in 4 games
Toronto is a solid hockey team, while Columbus had no business achieving the success they did this year after losing so many quality players. Great run, Jackets, but it ends at the hands of the Maple Leafs.
- 5 v. 12 Matchup (EDM v. CHI)
- EDM in 5
It’s extremely tempting to pick the Blackhawks considering their pedigree in the playoffs, but it’s even more difficult to pick against the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Chicago won’t make it easy, but Edmonton will ultimately prevail.
- 6 v. 11 Matchup (NSH v. ARZ)
- NSH in 5
Nashville seems to have the superior team this season, even with it’s struggles. If Pekka Rinne shines, so do the Preds. While Arizona is no doormat, the Predators should take this series. Bold Prediction: This will be the most entertaining series of the play-in round.
- 7 v. 10 Matchup (VAN v. MIN)
- MIN in 4
This was one of the toughest to pick of the first round matchups. While Vancouver is building a solid team, it just seems too early for me to have them winning a playoff round. Call me uninformed, but I’m taking Minnesota with one game to spare.
- 8 v. 9 Matchup (CGY v. WPG)
- WPG in 3
The middle-seed matchup is typically the hardest one to pick, but I have a feeling Winnipeg comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders and really takes it to the Flames. A sweep is bold, but there’s gotta be at least one that happens in the opening round, right?
Stay tuned for more predictions from the PSN staff. We will be predicting the 2020 NHL playoffs round-by-round, determining our own Stanley Cup Champion in the coming days!
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports