• Marcus Bender

Eastern Conference Round One Predictions

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

This has already been the craziest, wackiest year on record. That goes double for the Hockey World.

Upset after upset, surprise after surprise. Teams enter in the bubble, and they come out shredded into pieces. This is the year of chaos.

I took the numbers route, and went 2-6 picking the winners in the Qualifying Round. I’m not going to let that happen again.

This time, I’m going with some wacky picks for a wacky year.

Philadelphia vs. Montreal

The Flyers are quietly becoming the Dark Horse Favourite of many to win the Cup. They have the best record in the NHL since January 1, and they looked great in the preliminaries. Their coaching staff boasts some top-notch experience in Alain Vigneault, Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien.

They are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. Provorov looks like a young Chris Pronger, and Carter Hart is looking like Carey Price’s Second Coming. Philadelphia is definitely a team on the rise.

They are clearly the favourites in the Series. So, it shouldn’t even be close.

That’s exactly why the Habs are going to win. 2020 is the Year of Chaos. Price will continue his stellar play, Nick Suzuki will continue his progression, and Paul Byron will score at least two important goals this Series.

It seems completely obvious Philadelphia is going to win this Series. But this is Crazy World. We are in Opposite Land. How many times do we have to see the impossible before we start to believe it?

I have no reason for picking the Habs other than so far everything that has happened has been completely the opposite. Montreal isn’t supposed to win. Therefore, they will win. 2020.

Habs in 6.

Tampa Bay vs. Columbus

A rematch of last year! Redemption for the Lightning! Finally they get a chance to show the world they are for real!

Except, they won’t. They will fall flat on their face and get pounded again by the heavy-hitting Columbus Blue Jackets.

PLD will frustrate the Lightning D, who will get hemmed in their zone. Hedman will play injured, and will see minimal playing time. There will be many allusions to how if he plays, he’s playing hurt. "Hedman just doesn't seem like himself out there.", that kind of thing.

Kucherov will disappear. Stamkos will remain injured. There will be some secondary contributions, but they will be over-shadowed by Jacket Rookies Foudy and Texier. There will be fisticuffs in this Series, especially as Tampa gets frustrated from not scoring.

Jones and Werenski will continue to reshape the game and tilt the ice. Oliver Bjorkstrand will get off the snide and score some timely goals.

Continue the Chaos. Columbus in 7.

Washington vs. Islanders

I’ve heard the ice in Toronto is getting soft and really chopped up. This completely makes sense due to multiple games a day in the middle of Summer. This generally favours defensive teams.

This has been one of the conversations circulating around the bubble. How a team like Montreal could beat Pittsburgh, and why the high-octane offence of the Leafs and Edmonton got stuck in First Gear. It could very well be the ice conditions are playing a significant role in these playoffs.

That might suggest the Islanders are going to beat Washington, and I can totally see that happening.

But let’s not forget how strong the Caps are on Defence. Plus, they have experience.

It feels like the Capitals haven’t really “opened up the machine” yet. It feels like 2018 again where they seem rather pedestrian, until suddenly they get red-hot.

This will probably be a low-scoring series, but ultimately Washington will triumph.

Capitals in 6.

Boston vs. Carolina

Nightmare scenario for Boston. They did not want to meet the Hurricanes.

The President’s Trophy Winners suddenly drop to 4th Seed, and now have to face a Sleeping Giant in Round One. Tough luck for the Bs.

The Perfection Line looks these days more like the Mediocre Line. Only Bergeron had an Assist in the Qualifying Round; Marchand and Pasta had nothing. No Sauce for the Pasta. This does not bode well.

Funnily, it also feels like the secondary scoring on Boston has dried up too. It seems strange, but this team looks tired.

Carolina is a team which looks hungry. Be prepared for a steady dose of Slavin after the Perfection Trio. Watch as Aho and Teravainen morph their way around the Boston Offensive Zone. Carolina will control the flow, and frustrate the Bruins into penalty trouble.

Newly acquired Sami Vatanen will trigger a steady Power Play. Reimer and Gardiner will redeem themselves and leave questions for long-suffering Leafs Fans.

Carolina is a team on a mission this year. Get on board the Hurricane now folks.

Carolina in 5.


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