2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Qualifying round predictions

Drop the puck ... in August?
The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup last June.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup last June.

Categories: Parting Schotts, Sports

I have been around hockey for most of my life. I have seen some wonderful moments, like my Philadelphia Flyers winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, and covering Union’s 2014 national championship team.

I have also seen some strange moments, too, like Leon Stickle missing an offsides call in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final between my Flyers and the New York Islanders that led to an Islanders’ goal in the first period. And I also earned the nickname “Mr. Overtime” for covering numerous multiple overtime college hockey games, including a pair of 5-OT contests involving Union.

But now I’ve seen it all: We’re going to have hockey in August!

With the NHL resuming play after pausing in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re going to see the puck drop on the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting Saturday.

It will be a most unusual postseason. Instead of the usual 16-team tournament, we’re going to have 24 teams. Considering that the regular season was interrupted, I don’t mind having the expanded playoffs . . . just don’t have 24 teams next year.

The playoffs begin with a best-of-5 qualifying round. Teams seeded five through 12 will face off in the qualifying round.

Meanwhile, the top four seeds in each conference (Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East, and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West) will be in a round-robin tournament to determine the seeding for the conference quarterfinals.

Another nice thing about this year’s playoffs is that they will be reseeded after each round. That is much better than playing in the division during the playoffs.

I won’t predict the round-robin games, but I will pick the qualifying-round games. Picking the games will be a little tougher this year. There won’t be any home-ice advantage because the playoffs are being played in two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton. It definitely will be interesting to watch how the games unfold with no fans in the arenas.

Last year, I went 10-5 and correctly picked the Blues to win the Stanley Cup.

Let’s drop the puck on my picks!

EASTERN CONFERENCE
No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens —
Pittsburgh in 4.
No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers — Rangers in 5.
No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers — Islanders in 4.
No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets — Blue Jackets in 5.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks — Oilers in 3.
No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes — Coyotes in 5.
No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild — Canucks in 4.
No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets — Jets in 4.

On Twitter, follow Associate Sports Editor Ken Schott @slapschotts and Daily Gazette Sports @dgazettesports. Email Schott at [email protected]. Listen to “The Parting Schotts Podcast” at https://dailygazette.com/sports/partingschotts, Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify and SoundCloud.

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