The 2019-20 NHL season will resume play on August 1 with its 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs. All games will be played in one of two NHL hub cities – Toronto and Edmonton. Teams seeded No. 5 through No. 12 in each conference will each play a best-of-five series to determine which team advances.
The remaining top four teams in each conference will play to determine seeding. All remaining series will be best-of-seven and the league is expected to conclude its season sometime in early October.
What will happen with the remainder of the NHL season? Here are four predictions Coach Rick sees coming true.
Boston Will Play for Another Cup
The Bruins lost to St. Louis in seven games last year, but Boston will be back. The Bruins are a +650 favorite to win this year’s Stanley Cup. They have the recipe for success in the NHL.
They are strong in the middle with Patrice Bergeron (31 goals, 56 points) who played on Boston’s last Stanley Cup champion nine years ago. They have a star in David Pastrnak who led the league in goals with 48.
What the Bruins also have is the NHL’s best goalie in Tuuka Rask. The veteran netminder leads the NHL in goals against average (2.12) and is second in save percentage (.929). While they might not win it, the Bruins will win the Eastern Conference and at least play for another Stanley Cup.
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Colorado Will Be the Biggest Surprise
The Avalanche finished second in the Central Division with a 42-28-8 record. They did so despite a number of injuries that plagued the team. Their leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon (93 points) missed time with a lower body injury.
The Avs second- and third-leading scorers were out as well. Cale Makar (50 points) and Andre Burakovsky (45) both had injuries that kept them out of action in late February and early March.
The list goes on, but the coronavirus pandemic actually helped Colorado. All of their injured players had plenty of time to heal.
MacKinnon is one of the league’s best and the Avs defense is strong. Colorado is sixth in goals against per game (2.71) this season. At +800 to win this year’s Cup, Colorado might be headed back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since their 2001 victory.
Edmonton Wins its Qualifying Series
Yes, Coach Rick really went out on a limb here, but the Oilers’ scoring will simply be too much for the Blackhawks to handle. A -167 favorite to beat Chicago, the duo of Leon Draisatl (110 points) and Connor McDavid (97) will pour it on the Blackhawks.
Draisaitl and McDavid sit Nos. 1 and 2 among the NHL scoring leaders. Chicago (32-38-8) had the worst record of all the Western Conference teams that made the 24-team tournament.
The coronavirus that shut down the league in March will not come back and shut down the league again. Despite 35 players testing positive since June 8, the league will begin play on August 1 and continue through early October until its crowns its 2020 Stanley Cup champion.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.