The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally underway. The Western Conference games will be decided in Edmonton, AB, Canada and there will be plenty of fireworks coming out of the West.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions St. Louis Blues struggled in the round robin set of games, but it will be tough to count them out. Will the Blues be able to repeat as Champions, or will their struggles continue into the Stanley Cup playoffs?
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (1) VS CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (8)
ANALYSIS: The Golden Knights come into this matchup as a heavy favorite. The Blackhawks pulled off quite the upset against Edmonton in the qualifying round, but the Golden Knights were on their way to take the Pacific Division crown before the break.
The Blackhawks look a little different today after their decade of dominance with the Stanley Cup. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith still remain, but this roster is far different than the roster that won the Stanley Cup. This roster is filled with plenty of youth, as they are one of the youngest rosters in the NHL today.
The Golden Knights are a couple of years removed after making it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. This group has plenty of experienced players. Mark Stone is one of the NHL’s top scorers, but also brings plenty of toughness to the Golden Knights lineup. Marc-Andre Fleury is still going strong in between the pipes even at age 35.
The Golden Knights have a deeper blueline, but the Blackhawks should provide a good challenge in this matchup. This series should showcase excellent goaltending between two veteran netminders with winning pedigrees.
PREDICTION: Golden Knights in six games.
COLORADO AVALANCHE (2) VS ARIZONA COYOTES (7)
ANALYSIS: The Colorado Avalanche are going to be in the playoff picture for a long time. The Avalanche are strong in all areas of the ice. Nathan MacKinnon is one of the league’s top young forwards with point production. They also have a young stud blueliner named Cale Makar, who is in running for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.
The Arizona Coyotes made a splash mid-season as they acquired forward Taylor Hall in a blockbuster deal with the New Jersey Devils. Hall finished with 4 points in the qualifying series against Nashville.
The Arizona Coyotes are up-and coming and should give the Avalanche a good test in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Avalanche have more scoring depth up front in this series, which is why they will likely move on to the next round.
PREDICTION: Avalanche in five games.
DALLAS STARS (3) VS CALGARY FLAMES (6)
This series will likely surprise some people. The Flames and Stars should provide plenty of checking and physical play on the ice.
For the Flames, Matthew Tkachuk is always a must see, whether he is scoring goals, or agitating his opponents. Johnny Gaudreau is another Flames forward who is also fun to watch because of his tremendous speed and skill on the ice.
The Stars come in to the series with a strong defense core. Miro Heiskanen is one of the best young defenders in the NHL today. John Klingberg is another young defender who brings plenty of skill and a strong powerplay presence for the Stars.
This series will be won in the trenches. It will be a scrappy series that should be full of scrums and physicality.
The Stars should have the edge in this series, but this series will be tightly contested.
PREDICTION: Stars in seven games.
ST. LOUIS BLUES (4) VS VANCOUVER CANUCKS (5)
The Blues are the defending Stanley Cup Champions, but struggled a bit in the round robin games. The Blues are still loaded with talent, and will not be an easy out for a young up and coming Canucks team.
For the Blues, Ryan O’Reilly is a strong two-way center with a winning resume. The Blues are strong on their blueline, with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko as their top two defensemen.
For the Canucks, Elias Pettersson is a young superstar. Pettersson is a magician with the puck, and has plenty of speed to boot. Quinn Hughes is a young stud on the blueline, and is the likely favorite to win the Calder Trophy.
History is on the Canucks side in this series. However, the Blues should be able to overpower the Canucks on their blueline.
PREDICTION: Blues in six games.
By: George Foussekis