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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.