As many may have heard by now, the NHL has announced a return to play schedule and they are forgoing the rest of the regular season and moving directly into the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have made a few tweaks to the usual format, the two biggest changes are: Having the top 8 teams have a “bye” while playing round robin games for conditioning essentially, and expanding the playoffs to 24 teams instead of the usually 16.

Let’s refresh the teams in the playoffs and the first round matchups:

Eastern Conference

No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens

No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers

No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers

No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference

No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks

No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes

No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild

No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets

We also have the 8 division winners listed below as well:

Boston Bruins
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Colorado Avalanche
Washington Capitals
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Vegas Golden Knights

Here are my predictions for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs:

Biggest surprise: Chicago Blackhawks, they may just surprise everyone. I don’t believe they’ll even contend for Lord Stanleys Cup, but I think they could win a series, after all it is a 12 versus a 5! There are talks that Chicago could be a hub city and I think that would work in favor for the Blackhawks.

Biggest Disappointment: Boston Bruins, I think they make it back to the Finals but loose, again. Given the talent and the leadership on this team, it would be disappointing for the fans and players alike.

Closest Series: St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators. I think this series goes 7 games. Knowing how closely Nashville has played the Blues this season and past seasons, I think this goes the distance with the Blues coming out victorious.

Stanley Cup Champion: No surprise here, I believe the St. Louis Blues will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Given their intestinal fortitude and the way they were able to rally last season (worst to first!) they have the tools and players to repeat. I think it’s a hard fought series, but the Blues defend their title and reign again.

Do you have any suggestions for how the NHL playoffs will shake out? Leave a comment and be sure to follow or tweet us @NerdJockBlog33 and @therealslimjim

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