The Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is here and it’s time for some predictions. We’re now down to the final eight teams as the quest for the Cup is almost halfway home. Let us know your NHL playoff predictions in the comments.
We’ll have a new champion this season after the Canucks dispatched the Blues in the First Round. Which of these eight teams will lift the Stanley Cup next month?
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Flyers in 7. If Carter Hart is going to continue his magical journey, the Islanders are going to make him work for it. New York scored the seventh-fewest even strength goals in the regular season but have found their scoring touch in the playoffs. Hart’s been good. Semyon Varlamov‘s been even better. What gives? New York’s offense dries up at the wrong time here.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Flyers in 6. The Flyers were not perfect in the First Round, and maybe a better team beats them (and they will certainly play one now), but I still like the position they are in here. Carter Hart is the goalie they needed, and I am confident that their top goal scorers are going to break through. They have to. When they do, that is going to be a lot for the Islanders to match up with and I am not sure they can. I know the Islanders just shut down the Capitals, but I like the way the Flyers have been playing a lot more than the Capitals were going into that matchup.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Flyers in 7. Woof, this one is tough, especially since the Islanders looked downright demonstrative in dismantling an almost disinterested Capitals team. But the Flyers’ versatility gives them the ever-so-slight edge, including a power play that (while struggling) seems more likely to inch Philly just-so-slightly over the finish line in this one.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Islanders in 7. I agree with James that this will be the toughest series of the second round. I love the Flyers defensemen but I think the Islanders amazing work ethic will prevail overall. Look for Semyon Varlamov to have another great series and Mathew Barzal to give New York enough offensive punch to win the low-scoring series.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Flyers in 6. We haven’t seen this matchup in the postseason since 1987, and I can’t wait. There’s intrigue abound with these two teams. The Islanders are an improved squad over last year’s version – particularly on offense – but these Flyers have earned the top seed and entered the Second Round with virtually no goal scoring from its top players. That’s bound to change. Provided Carter Hart keeps it up, I think Philly can outpace the Isles.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Lightning in 6. The Bruins are alive with Jaroslav Halak after sleeping through the Round-robin. Tampa, however, fought off a feisty Columbus team with timely scoring and superb play from Andrei Vasilevskiy. The possible return of Steven Stamkos as another weapon would pose another threat to Bruins.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Lightning in 7. Still think this is going to ultimately end up being the year Tampa does it, so I am sticking with them. This roster is just so loaded with talent — even if Steven Stamkos remains sidelined — and they still have every possible ingredient a winning team needs. With all due respect to Jaroslav Halak, the Lightning have the better goalie and I really like the way their Blake Coleman–Barclay Goodrow line played against Columbus. That line just gives them another dimension and level they did not have a year ago.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Lightning in 6. As mentioned before, I’m sticking as much to my preseason picks as possible, so the Lightning as champions and Brayden Point as Conn Smythe still live, while the Blues as the finalist? Erp. This hinges on the Lightning playing loose and confident after slaying that Tortorella dragon, even if the Bruins present a whole other beast. Get ready for the East’s best-on-best matchup, and maybe the NHL’s best matchup to boot.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Lightning in 5. The Bruins looked good the last three games to beat Carolina but the Lightning are a different story. Boston lost a big piece when Tuukka Rask opted out last week, and while Jaroslav Halak played well in Round 1, he is no Rask. The Lightning have a ton of firepower and still have to get Steven Stamkos back in the lineup. Brayden Point was a star last series while the Bolts boast the best goalie in the NHL in Andrei Vasilevskiy and quite possibly the best blueliner in Victor Hedman.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Lightning in 7. The Lightning were my Cup pick to start with, and I’m not changing now even though they’re going up against the defending East champion Bruins. Tampa exorcized its demons in defeating the Blue Jackets, and found different ways to win those four games. The absence of Tuukka Rask will make a bigger difference than that of Steven Stamkos. Ever so slight edge to the Lightning.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Golden Knights in 6. Vegas is dominating even strength like no other team so far this postseason. Some time off before the Second Round will help, even as they go up against a Canucks team that will be playing pressure-free hockey. Robin Lehner vs. Jacob Markstrom will be a fun watch.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Golden Knights in 6. Think this has the potential to be a really fun series. Vegas is the better, deeper team on paper, but Vancouver has some of the most exciting young talent in the league and is playing with a ton of confidence right now. Did not expect the Canucks to be at this point right now. The Golden Knights, though, are a force and if they can get quality goaltending from Robin Lehner and/or Marc-Andre Fleury they are going to be a tough out for any opponent.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Golden Knights in 6. Wow, the Canucks looked great, but the Golden Knights are a buzzsaw. Once again, I feel like versatility matters. Vegas boasts a ferocious forecheck that can cause most teams problems. Beyond that, they have not just a skilled top line, but the pieces of what was once a very good top line to back them up. I’d be absolutely stunned if this isn’t the most purely entertaining series of the Second Round.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Golden Knights in 6. This could be an upset if it ever gets to a Game 7. The Canucks were my upset pick at the start of the post-season as I thought they could be one of the top-four seeds in the West. That they did when they knocked off the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in Round 1, but the Golden Knights seem to be just a little bit stronger than the Canucks. The Golden Knights could be suspect in net as Marc-Andre Fleury has been replaced by Robin Lehner, but the core of the Canucks is young and may not be able to pierce the Vegas defense. Vancouver may be a year away so I ‘m going with Vegas.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Golden Knights in 6. The Canucks will bring major mojo into this series having knocked off the defending champs, scoring 22 goals in the process. The biggest difference I see between the Blues and this Vegas squad is between the pipes: I just can’t see the rockstar Robin Lehner-Marc-Andre Fleury tandem being as porous as Jordan Binnington (for three starts) and Jake Allen (for one start) were for St. Louis. Despite Vancouver’s momentum, I give Vegas the edge on paper.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Avalanche in 5. Nathan MacKinnon will continue being out of this world, and the Stars will have to contend with one of the deepest teams up front in the NHL. Rantanen, Landeskog, Kadri, Donskoi, Burakovsky, Compher. Dallas may not have enough answers for what Colorado will send their way.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Avalanche in 6. The Stars offense came through in a way I did not anticipate in the First Round against the Calgary Flames, and they are probably going to find an even higher level against the Colorado Avalanche. They have the superstars at the top of the lineup and with Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and all of their other additions from the past year now in the mix they have the secondary scoring to complement them. The forwards are as dominant as any other team in the NHL, the defense has an emerging superstar in Cale Makar and some solid pieces around him, and the goaltending is better than it gets credit for. This team is loaded. Not sure anyone in the West will beat them this season. The Stars will need a herculean effort from Miro Heiskanen and their goalies to stop this Avalanche team.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Avalanche in 6. The Avalanche have done a great job of making their team more than just “Nathan MacKinnon’s line doing amazing things,” and Nathan MacKinnon’s line is still doing amazing things. This will be a fascinating test for the rising Avs, though, because the Stars have the makeup of a team that could give them major headaches. Then again, the Stars will need to adjust to an Avalanche team that can bend and break a defense in the way that the fumbling Flames rarely could. I’ll go with the team that’s impressed me more often, even though Dallas showed me something in the First Round.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Avalanche in 4. My Stanley Cup pick, the Avs looked strong against Arizona, led by Nathan MacKinnon as well as Nazem Kadri who gives Colorado scoring and feistiness, two important ingredients in playoff hockey. The Stars have looked just okay, as they beat Calgary, but will have too tough a time with Colorado, unless Ben Bishop returns in net and stands on his head.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Avalanche in 6. The Avs steamrolled the Coyotes. They look like the complete package. But the Stars, even without Ben Bishop, are still a threat. Heck, they’ve gotten to this point without a single goal from Tyler Seguin. In the end though, I think the team with Nathan MacKinnon prevails in this series. He’s just that good.