NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season begins with Wednesday triple header featuring Flyers-Penguins, Blackhawks-Lightning, and Blues-Avalanche.
NBCSN LIVESTREAM: Penguins vs. Flyers – coverage begins at 5:15 p.m. ET
NBCSN LIVESTREAM: Blackhawks vs. Lightning – coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET
NBCSN LIVESTREAM: Blues vs. Avalanche – coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET
The 2020-21 NHL season will be a unique one. We’ve had realignment, including one division with all Canadian teams. The playoff format has been tweaked so that each division champion will be represented in the Stanley Cup Semifinals and teams will be re-seeded in the third round. Plus, it’s a 56-game schedule where teams will play only against opponents in their own divisions.
But it’s still hockey and we can now spend the next six months debating how this season will play out. We’ve previewed all 31 teams, gave our picks for the four divisions, so now it’s time to crown a champion.
Here’s who the PHT staff believe will make it to the Stanley Cup Semifinals and who will ultimately end up as champion.
[PHT PREDICTIONS: EAST/NORTH/WEST/CENTRAL]
Be sure to give us your picks in the comments!
STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS & FINAL
Sean Leahy: Yes, the Lightning won’t need Kucherov during the regular season, but how long will it take to get back to 100%? Plus, it’s so hard to repeat and we could see another weird playoffs even though we’re not in another bubble situation. For the Cup, it’s just the Avs’ time. They’ve learned what it takes and have all the pieces in place to win. Jared Bednar has been a winner his entire career, and this will be another trophy on his mantle.
James O’Brien: While it’s fair to wonder if the Golden Knights went too far in shuffling out key members of their team (first to land Max Pacioretty, most recently to grab Alex Pietrangelo), that team is stacked. In these weird times, it only makes sense for a still-new team to win it all. The Golden Knights have the depth, and now the high-end talent, to hang with any team. Marc-Andre Fleury might even be the Drew Bledsoe to Robin Lehner‘s Tom Brady and win a key game or two.
[MORE PREDICTIONS: NHL Awards, first coach fired, free agent busts]
Adam Gretz: These are the two best teams in the NHL on paper, the Lightning still have another couple of runs in them with this core, and the Avalanche are set up for an extended run of dominance and ready to take the next step this season.
Marisa Ingemi: do think this is the year the Avs finally make that push, and I think Tampa Bay is going to have a pretty simple path to the Cup.
Jake Abrahams: The Avs are fed up with their early exits. Last season, injuries doomed them and they had to start their 3rd string goalie in the Game 7 they ultimately lost to Dallas. If they stay healthy, this is my squad.
Michael Finewax: Most of the top seeds should prevail in their divisions but the Rangers will upset the best in the East and face the Lightning. Their Cinderella story will end in the Semi-Finals in five games while Colorado and Toronto will have a doozy of a series with the Avalanche prevailing at home in Game 7. The Cup Final will have the best two teams in the NHL with Nathan MacKinnon leading the Avs to the Cup, despite the return to action of Nikita Kucherov.
Opening night coverage begins with a special edition of NHL Live at 5:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN, leading into coverage of Penguins-Flyers. Kathryn Tappen anchors studio coverage throughout the evening with analysts Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp as well as NHL insider Bob McKenzie.