Over the last few prediction pieces, I’ve managed to narrow it down to the final four teams in this 24-team playoff format. After predicting the play-in, round-robin, quarter-final, and semi-final series, there are a couple of teams favorited to achieve a deep playoff run still in the mix. There are also a couple of surprise teams. In the Eastern Conference Finals, there is a match-up between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders. In the Western Conference Finals, the St. Louis Blues take on the Colorado Avalanche.
Usually, the best hockey is played in the Conference Final round. The teams in the Conference Final round are riding their momentum and are very familiar with one another. The Philadelphia Flyers have it tough every step of the way, but so do the New York Islanders, who hopes to prove to be the ultimate underdogs. Adversely, the St. Louis Blues seem to be the unstoppable force. Could the Colorado Avalanche be the immovable object?
Western Conference Finals
- (1) St. Louis Blues vs (2) Colorado Avalanche
These playoffs put a lot of pressure on the reigning and defending NHL Stanley Cup champions. To this point, I have the St. Louis Blues losing one game throughout the post-season. It sure looks like they’ll have no problem making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 2019-2020 season.
Gabriel Landeskog said, “I like our chances.” He continued, “I think, obviously, we’re still a pretty young team and we’re an exciting group, and I like what we can do.” There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Colorado Avalanche will give the St. Louis Blues a run for their money in the Western Conference Finals.
During the 2019-2020 regular season, these teams split their four games against each other. The St. Louis Blues won the first two games and the Colorado Avalanche won the final two. In each of the Avalanche’s wins, Jordan Binnington was removed from the game because of performance. Expect a high scoring series between these two franchises. Take the Colorado Avalanche in six games.
Eastern Conference Finals
- (1) Philadelphia Flyers vs (2) New York Islanders
To this point, I’ve predicted the New York Islanders to be the most dangerous team in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. As the seventh seed in the NHL Eastern Conference, the Islanders have been the underdogs in every round except the play-in. On their way to the Eastern Conference Finals, I’m predicting New York to defeat the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Based on my predictions, the Islanders have the strongest wave of momentum.
Their opponents are the battle-tested Philadelphia Flyers. The playoffs aren’t an easy road for the Flyers. To get to the Eastern Conference Finals, Philadelphia had to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. If the Flyers can find their way into the Stanley Cup Finals, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Alain Vigneault wins the Jack Adams award.
In the 2019-2020 regular season, the New York Islanders found a way to remain undefeated against the Philadelphia Flyers. Most of those games during the regular season were on the road for the Flyers. The one at the Wells Fargo Center saw a monumental collapse in the final ten minutes of the third period, which led to an Islanders’ shootout win. If Philadelphia wants to give themselves a fighting chance, the goaltending needs to show up and the defense needs to play complete games. The New York Islanders have the Philadelphia Flyers number, no matter the goaltender. Take the Islanders in five games.
Stanley Cup Finals
- (1) Colorado Avalanche vs (2) New York Islanders
The 2019-2020 journey comes down to these two teams. After a regular season pause and a 24-team playoff restart with re-seeding after each round, the Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders have up to seven games to decide a Stanley Cup champion in 2020. This means that there won’t be a back-to-back champion in my eyes. During this season, the Islanders and the Avalanche played each other twice. Those games were split.
Pavel Francouz played very well against the New York Islanders in both of those games. Semyon Varlamov, who spent most of his career with the Colorado Avalanche, was responsible for a shutout victory against the Avalanche. Both teams have a formidable tandem of goaltenders. Defensively, Colorado has a clear advantage. This is the year for the Colorado Avalanche in six games.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre