2020 NHL Postseason Predictions

While the MLB and NBA have returned in the United States, the NHL has set up two bubbles in Canada to play out an expanded postseason. Tomorrow, the action will begin, so I’ll be releasing my predictions for it all today. Check out my playoff bracket below as well as a round by round breakdown:

Round Robins

The top 4 seeds in each conference will be playing a round robin to decide seeding. I have the Blues and Stars outperforming the Golden Knights and Avalanche to grab the top 2 seeds in the West. The Stars have a lot of experience and a very deep roster, while the Blues still have much of the core that led them to the Stanley Cup victory last year.

In the East, I have the Bruins holding on to the top seed, while the Capitals and Lightning also do fairly well, grabbing the 2 and 3 seeds, respectively. I think the Flyers will struggle mightily against these three teams, as they lack the depth and starpower that the other teams have.

Qualifying Round

The 5-12 seeds in each conference will have to win a best of 5 series to advance to the Conference Quarterfinals. I think most of the higher seeds will win these games, but I do have one upset occurring. The Panthers have a very talented trio in Alexsander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Keith Yandle, as well as a star goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky. I think they can take down the Islanders in 5 games.

Conference Quarterfinals

I have most of the round robin teams winning in this round, but even though they don’t have everything they had during their Stanley Cup runs in the late 2010s, I think the Predators still have a very talented team that will be very competitive throughout the postseason. I have them taking down Vegas in a close series. I think the Penguins and Hurricanes will also force Game 7 and put up a good fight in their series’. In the end, I have all four Eastern Conference round robin teams advancing though.

Conference Semifinals

I still think there are five teams that have the best chance to win the Cup: the Bruins, the Blues, the Stars, the Lightning, and the Capitals. I have the Bruins easily taking down Philly in their series. The Lighting vs. Capitals series, on the other hand, should be very close. So long as Steven Stamkos stays healthy, I think Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov can lead Tampa to the Eastern Conference Finals in a close series.

I have Dallas taking down the Avalanche fairly easily. Nathan MacKinnon is one of the best players in the league, but I’ll take the experience and depth of the Dallas roster over the talent of MacKinnon. I think the Predators could give the Blues a hard time, especially if they aren’t fully healthy. I have the Predators winning the series, but could see it going either way.

Conference Finals

Even if the Preds takes down the Blues, I can’t see them making the Stanley Cup Final. The Stars were inconsistent this season, but I truly feel they have enough experience and depth to make a run. They will be well rested after the series against Colorado, which will work in their favor. Plus, they have two good goalies in Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin.

The Bruins-Lightning series should be another close one. But the Bruins have one of the best first lines in the league, and they have some pretty good depth to go along with it. I think they’ll end up coming out on top in the Eastern Conference.

Stanley Cup Final

Even though the Stars have a lot of experience and depth, this Bruins team nearly won last year and I don’t think they’ll getting robbed again if they can make it this far. They had the best regular season record in the league, and if they can play at that level in these playoffs, they will win it all. The Bruins have more young talent than the Stars, and I think they’ll outplay ex-Bruin Tyler Seguin and the veteran talent the Stars have to win the cup.

With the Celtics and Bruins coming back this weekend and the Red Sox continuing their season (for now), there will be plenty for Boston sports fans to watch this weekend.

2020 NFL Draft Report Cards: NFC West

Training camp is starting up this week, and before it gets into full swing, I’ll be finishing up this draft report card series. Today, I’ll be writing about the NFC West in this final post of the series. Check out the links below for the rest:

NFL Draft Report Cards 2020

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

Now let’s dive right in:

Continue reading →

Arizona Cardinals: A

The Cardinals may have brought in one of the league’s best draft classes. They addressed the o-line with a great value pick in T Josh Jones. They spent multiple picks addressing the needy defensive line as well. I think every single one of Arizona’s picks served a unique purpose and made for good value. My only concern is their failure to address the TE position, which won’t be a huge problem if the Cardinals run 4 WR sets again this year.

Los Angeles Rams: B+

The Rams did alright here, filling a handful of their positional needs and making up for their loss of a first rounder in the Jalen Ramsey trade. I liked the Terrell Lewis selection especially, as he can fill in right away on defense and was very good value in the third. But they reached on a handful of their picks (including their choice of Akers over J.K. Dobbins), and they could’ve added more to the o-line and the secondary, both of which were very big needs for LA.

San Francisco 49ers: B+

The 49ers had two first rounders after the DeForest Buckner trade, but they didn’t pick again until Round 5. They used their two first rounders wisely, filling their two biggest needs. But with the lack of draft picks, they failed to make up for some of their off-season losses on defense. The Niners defense is unlikely to be the dominant force it was last year, even though it is still good. However, for a team that only had 5 picks, the Niners did well in this draft.

Seattle Seahawks: C+

The Seahawks have a tendency to ignore value and reach on players throughout the draft, even in Round 1. But this year, they also ignored several of their defensive positional needs. They could’ve added a lot more to the d-line, and they should’ve addressed the secondary in some way, shape, or form. Ever since the Legion of Boom broke down, the secondary has been a weak point for Seattle. They need to add more talent around CB Shaquill Griffin. Even their recent trade for S Jamal Adams may not be enough to fill the holes they have. Considering that Adams wasn’t even a part of this draft class at all, I’m not a fan. However, they made a couple good picks on Day 3 when they took RB DeeJay Dallas and DE Alton Robinson.

That’s all for my draft grade series. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage and coverage of other sports as they come back.

Pitching struggles as Sox lose series, Sox play Mets next

After an encouraging 13-2 win on Opening Day, the Red Sox dropped 2 straight against the Orioles, losing the series.

Their losses were primarily a result of pitching struggles. After Nathan Eovaldi’s strong start on Friday, Martin Perez gave up 5 runs in 5 innings on Saturday as the Sox fell 7-2. Boston’s only runs that day came from a solo shot by Mitch Moreland and a few base hits that followed. Alex Verdugo did go 3 for 4 in his debut, and J.D. Martinez and JBJ also hit well. But it just wasn’t enough as Perez struggled and Orioles veteran starter Alex Cobb looked like his old self, shutting down most of the Sox lineup in the first 5 innings.

The Sox lineup showed more signs of life on Sunday. But the team couldn’t score enough to recover from the struggles of starter Ryan Weber, who gave up 6 runs in 4 innings.

In the 1st inning, Rio Ruiz hit his 2nd homer of the year off of Weber, a 2 run shot that went all the way to the Orioles bullpen. Christian Vazquez responded in the bottom of the 2nd by crushing one over the monster. In the 3rd, it was a Jose Iglesias double that drove in a run for Baltimore. Iglesias went 4 for 5 on the day after giving Red Sox pitchers a hard time throughout the series. In the 4th, Weber gave up a handful of hits and walks. A run was driven in on a sac fly by Austin Hays, and that was followed by a 2 run homer into right by Anthony Santander.

The Sox started to climb their way back into the game in the 5th and 6th. Kevin Pillar hit another solo shot over the monster in the 5th. In the 6th, JBJ started things off with a base hit and advanced to third on a Rafael Devers double. Bogaerts drove in both of them with a single, his only hit of the day. He nearly hit an opposite field homer earlier in the game, but it was just short.

The Red Sox ended up losing Sunday’s game 7-4. They are now 1-2 after the series with Baltimore. Losing a three game series to one of the league’s worst teams at Fenway is not an encouraging sign for the Red Sox. This series will mean more than usual, as this series counts for almost 6 losses in my MLB PACE Standings. But the team will have a chance to rebound in a home and home series against the Mets.

With Eduardo Rodriguez hurt, the Sox plan to use Josh Osich as an opener today at Fenway, while the Mets will start Michael Wacha. Tomorrow at Fenway, both teams will have a starting pitching dilemma as the Mets are without Marcus Stroman and the Sox lack starting pitching depth.

Wednesday and Thursday’s games will take place at Citi Field. Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob deGrom take the mound on Wednesday, followed by Martin Perez and Steven Matz on Thursday. How many games can Boston win against the Mets? Will they be unable to rebound if they struggle in this series? Will the season even continue, as two of today’s games (Yankees-Phillies and Orioles-Marlins) are canceled due to a Marlins COVID outbreak? This next week could be very telling for the fate of the MLB season and the fate of the Red Sox if the season continues.

Martinez, new bats lead Sox on Opening Day

The Sox started off their season strong on Friday when they took down the Orioles 13 to 2, in a game where they hit 8 doubles and four of their batters had at least 3 hits.

Nathan Eovaldi looked sharp, pitching 6 full innings. He didn’t allow a run until the 6th when Anthony Santander doubled into the left field corner and Renato Nunez did the same to score Santander. The only other Orioles run was scored in the 7th, when Rio Ruiz hit a solo shot.

While Eovaldi’s pitching was better than we’ve seen in a while, it was the Red Sox lineup that led the way in this easy victory.

The game was scoreless through two innings and included an excellent leaping catch by new Sox OF Kevin Pillar. But the Red Sox knocked out Orioles starter Tommy Milone after scoring 4 runs in the 3rd. It started with an opposite field double by left handed hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. Righty and newcomer Jose Peraza hit another similar looking double into left to score JBJ. J.D. Martinez hit another double that scored Peraza.

Milone walked 3B Rafael Devers, and a wild pitch allowed both Devers and Martinez to advance into scoring position. It was yet another similar double into left, this time by Kevin Pillar, that scored both of them and made it 4-0.

Reliever Cody Carroll came in for Milone to start the 4th, and he walked consecutive batters before a Jose Peraza hit loaded the bases. Carroll’s troubles finding the plate continued when he walked Andrew Benintendi to make it 5-0 Red Sox. Ex-Red Sox reliever Travis Lakins came in to face Martinez with the bases still loaded. Martinez hit an opposite field shot deep into right field, and it nearly left the park for a grand slam. He ended up with a ground rule double to knock in two more runs.

But that wasn’t the end of it for this huge 4th inning. Xander Bogaerts got on base and knocked in an additional run. Kevin Pillar also got his second hit of the day to score another. Christian Vazquez made it 10-0 with his own RBI single. After 6 runs, Lakins finally made it out of the inning by striking out consecutive Red Sox.

The Sox added to their lead in the 6th inning, an inning started by a second ground rule double, this time by Vazquez. JBJ hit another double into the left field corner to score Vazquez, and Peraza got his second double and third hit of the day, scoring JBJ on another shot into the left field corner.

The Red Sox finished the day without a home run, but they made up for it with 8 extra base hits (all doubles), 2 of which were ground rule doubles. Newcomers Pillar and Peraza each had three hit days in addition to DH J.D. Martinez and OF Jackie Bradley Jr. Ironically, the Sox did this with Mitch Moreland, nicknamed Mitchy 2-Bags, sitting on the bench.

It was really exciting to see all these big hits on Opening Day, even though it is against Baltimore and expectations for the rest of the season are low. If the Sox can beat Baltimore 13-2, maybe their big bats will be able to make some noise against top contenders like the Yankees and Braves.

The Sox continue their series against Baltimore with a day game today. Martin Perez will be on the mound for Boston, and Moreland is back in the lineup but Bogaerts will have the day off. In addition, Alex Verdugo, who came here in the Mookie Betts trade, will make his Red Sox debut today. The Sox will hope to have another strong day at the plate with Alex Cobb on the mound for Baltimore. Will Verdugo’s debut be anything like Pillar and Peraza’s?

Predicting the Shortened 2020 MLB Season: AL and NL West

Baseball is back tomorrow, and before the season begins, my cousin Michael Philopkosky and I have put out one more MLB prediction podcast, covering the AL and NL West. We covered the AL and NL East in the first one, and the AL and NL Central in the one released on Sunday. All of them were released as a part of his podcast, the Master Plan. You can listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify at the links below:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/al-and-nl-west-predictions-for-the-2020-mlb-season/id1495662343?i=1000485744926

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0Ub7QPMIQvZXgQc3t80LsQ

This episode is sponsored by Anchor, the software Michael has used to record his podcasts.

I have added both of our standings predictions below alongside my brief breakdown of each of these 10 squads. Keep reading to check that out, as well as a special surprise at the end.

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Predicting the Shortened 2020 MLB Season: AL and NL Central

We’re just a few days away from the return of baseball, and today, the second episode of my 2020 MLB prediction podcast series with my cousin, Michael Philipkosky, was released as a part of his podcast, the Master Plan. After covering the AL and NL East in the first one, we covered the AL and NL Central in the second one.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify using the links below:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/al-nl-central-predictions-for-2020-mlb-season-andrew/id1495662343?i=1000485436003

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/21plmNvVQXzPR2H1SmDDbu

In addition, I have added both of our standings predictions below alongside my brief breakdown of each of these 10 squads. Keep reading to check that out.

Continue reading

Predicting the Shortened 2020 MLB Season: AL and NL East

We are a little over a week away from the start of the MLB season, which will make baseball the first of America’s 4 major sports leagues to return after pausing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the first of a three episode 2020 MLB prediction podcast series with my cousin, Michael Philipkosky, was released as a part of his podcast, the Master Plan. This episode covered the AL and NL East, as teams will only be playing divisional match-ups and match-ups against teams in the corresponding NL division.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify using the links below:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mlb-al-nl-east-predictions-for-60-game-mlb-season-andrew/id1495662343?i=1000485080123

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2uxmuwVDzNCjPbhgq6I10H

In addition, I have added both of our standings predictions below alongside my brief breakdown of each of these 10 squads. Keep reading to check that out.

Continue reading

2020 NFL Draft Report Cards: NFC North

Training camp is right around the bend, and before it begins, I’ll be finishing up my NFL off-season coverage and this draft report card series, continuing today with the NFC North. Check out the links below for previous articles in the series:

NFL Draft Report Cards 2020

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

Now let’s dive right in:

Continue reading

The Return of Sports: Predictions for the rest of the NBA season

The calendar has turned to July, and now all four of America’s biggest sports have plans to return to action. The NBA and MLB are both set to start this month, and the NHL is likely to do the same. The NFL will start training camp towards the end of the month as well. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making predictions about the sports that are returning, starting with the NBA and MLB (since they have set return dates).

The NBA is set to begin at Walt Disney World on July 30 with 8 additional regular season games for each team, known as seeding games. From there, the top 7 teams in each conference will slot into the NBA’s playoff bracket. If the 9 seed is within four games of the 8 seed, they’ll get the chance to compete with the 8 seed for a playoff spot. If they beat the 8 seed in both of two play-in games, they’re in.

Below are my predictions for the final NBA playoff seeding and my NBA playoff bracket. Realistically, there are 4-5 teams that I think have a legitimate chance at a title. Keep reading to find out which teams those are, and which team I have taking it all.

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