The Stanley Cup Playoffs are officially here after an exciting play-in round that led to the ouster of two five seeds, which means two teams that were in 12th place in their conference are now fighting for a chance to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. We wish the New Jersey Devils were here for our predictions, but alas it wasn’t in the cards.
It was a wild start as we predicted it was. Now that we have some kind of handle on the playoffs, the Pucks and Pitchforks writers will be making picks for the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is the first round. 2020 is strange, but here we go.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Nick Villano: The Montreal Canadiens rode Carey Price to a play-in round win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the Philadelphia Flyers won’t disappear offensively in the same fashion. Price will steal a game, but unfortunately for us, Philly takes it easily. Philadelphia in 5.
Rob DeLuca: There is a reason that the Habs are here and the Pittsburgh Penguins are not. Carey Price stood on his head and will continue to do so to propel this upset. Montreal in 7.
Charlie Borges Jr.: Shea Weber would be the Conn Smythe Winner if the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup instead of just a play-in round. An argument could be made for Carey Price as well. But the Flyers seemed to have steamrolled over everyone in the round robin and look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Philadelphia in 6.
Dave Browne: Just like everyone predicted, Montreal beat Pittsburgh. Could Montreal sweep the state of Pennsylvania and beat Philadelphia as well? With Carey Price locked in, it’s possible. However Carter Hart will be amazing on the other end, and the Flyers pull through. Philadelphia in 6.
Steve Palumbo: The Habs victory in the qualifying round was a great story, but like all good stories it must eventually end. The Flyers are the better Pennsylvania team and should win this series easily. Philadelphia in 6.
Andy Studna: The Flyers looked fantastic throughout round robin play, going 3-0 in dominant fashion. While the Canadiens played well against the Penguins in their qualifier, Pittsburgh simply never had their legs and the Habs took advantage of that. Philadelphia in 6.
David Lebovitz: The Flyers looked exceptional in that round robin game against the Lightning. They also have an advantage that Pittsburgh didn’t – a blueline without Jack Johnson. Philadelphia in 5.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Villano: This is just ironic that the Tampa Bay Lightning get a chance at redemption in the first round. This feels like when the New England Patriots went up against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl the second time, but since it’s a seven-game series there will be a different result. Tampa Bay in 7.
DeLuca: The Blue Jackets are here in yet another shocking upset and are looking forward to this rematch. But it is the Lightning who will get their revenge following last year’s sweep. Tampa Bay in 6.
Borges: The Lightning will exercise their demons from last year and get revenge against the Blue Jackets. This will be the closest series in the East and it is going to be a great one to watch. Even though John Tortorella will keep his team focused, they don’t have Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, or Matt Duchene. Tampa Bay in 7.
Browne: Was it really a surprise that Columbus defeated Toronto? To many it was, however it shouldn’t be. John Tortorella has the team of overachievers believing in themselves when no one will. Tampa Bay is dealing with some injuries (Steven Stamkos & Victor Hedman) but have the depth and goaltending to hold on. Tampa Bay in 7.
Palumbo: John Tortorella is press conference gold and he’s even better behind the bench almost willing his never-say-day Jackets to victory. That will be the sword Columbus dies on because Jon Cooper and Tampa Bay won’t allow a repeat of last seasons collapse. Tampa Bay in 7.
Studna: I want this series spoon-fed to me; it will be a good one. Outside of a few isolated meltdowns, the Blue Jackets’ defensive system was dominant against the Leafs. I think it will once again give the Lightning fits, but they will be on high alert after what happened in last year’s first round. This will be one of the hardest fought, nastiest series in the first round. Tampa Bay in 7.
Lebovitz: The Bolts want revenge, no question, so expect this series to get weird. I think they might just be thinking more about revenge instead of winning hockey games – plus, Lumbus winning again would be hilarious. Columbus in 6.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Villano: Barry Trotz is looking for revenge before a very important offseason for the Islanders. This feels like an upset with Sergei Varlamov finding a stride we didn’t know he still had. Ovechkin still goes off, but it’s not enough. New York in 6.
DeLuca: The Capitals simply have the Islanders number during the playoffs. This will continue this season but as always it will be close. Washington in 6.
Borges: Even though I pick this series to end in six games, the series will be a lot closer than that. Barry Trotz knows who he is coaching up against. The Capitals know who they are playing against. Ovechkin vs Barzal will be an incredible thing to watch. The Capitals have the experience and the resume to go on. The Islanders are about another year or two away from being able to reach the later rounds. Washington in 6.
Browne: Washington will not be rolling out the red carpet for Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. The former Capitals coach knows the Capitals’ staff and personnel so well you would think it would give the Islanders an advantage. However, the Capitals know how Trotz’s teams like to play. This series will be the perfect chess match, but ultimately Washington’s offensive depth is too much for the Islanders. Holtby also has a big series. Washington in 7.
Palumbo: This is going to be a great series and should go the distance and quite frankly it’s a toss up. I just like what I’ve seen from the Isles more and any team with Uncle Lou at the helm is a force to be reckoned with. New York in 7.
Studna: This series is a bit “bleh” for me. We know how good the Capitals are and we know what the Islanders are going to do to try to win this series. Unfortunately for New York, the Capitals are not the same unstructured, inconsistent team the Panthers are. The Caps will be able to break down the Isles’ structure en route to victory. Washington in 6
Lebovitz: This is my pick for best series – besides the obvious Trotz narrative, these are two exciting teams. It’s all going to depend on how healthy the Caps are, and I only give them the edge because of experience. Washington in 7.
Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes
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Villano: Boston is a powerhouse, but they looked extremely beatable in the round robin. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes look like a force to be reckoned with. That defense is insane, and we have a knock-down, drag-em-out series that comes down to a Game 7 overtime, in which our boy Sami Vatanen scores the game winner. Carolina in 7.
DeLuca: The Bruins that we saw during the round robin was an absolute fluke. We all know they will be what we saw during the regular season, which was absolutely lethal. Boston in 6.
Borges: The other team that was in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, much like their opponent, completely disappointed in the round robin. They looked lost and unprepared. Lines weren’t clicking like they were in the regular season. While the Hurricanes looked like a well-oiled machine and swept the Rangers. The Hurricanes will continue their roll and beat the Bruins. Hopefully, giving us another crying Marchand meme. Carolina in 5.
Browne: Boston definitely wasn’t at it’s best in the round robin series while Carolina dominated their qualifying round against the Rangers. ‘Canes goaltender Petr Mrazek is either really good or really bad. In this series, Boston’s Tuukka Rask outperforms him. While Carolina won’t be an easy out, Boston finds a way to pull through. Boston in 6.
Palumbo: I’ve been really impressed with the Canes. They made the sweep of the NYR look easy. The B’s are actually good and not a fake playoff team like NY, but they too did not impress in the qualifying round. Carolina in 6.
Studna: This series is one big “Uh-oh” for the Bruins. Even the near-flawless Avalanche or Golden Knights want any part of the Hurricanes right now. The Canes were quite simply the most dominant team in the qualifying round. On the flip side, the originally number-one seeded Bruins were largely disappointing in round robin play. It’s so difficult to pick against the Canes right now, especially against a struggling Boston squad. Carolina in 6.
Lebovitz: The Canes are a scary good, scary fun team, and Boston is ready to take them seriously. The problem is that I just don’t see any weaknesses in Boston’s game, while the Canes still feel close-but-not-quite there. Boston in 7.