Well, Preds fans...Nashville is eliminated. Without mourning the season again here, it’s pretty clear that the weirdo 2020 playoffs will go on without the Predators for the first time in many years. However, we’ve been without hockey for so long that you’ll probably want to continue to watch the playoffs. Here’s some reasons to cheer for each team in the 2020 playoffs.
Montreal Canadiens: The scrappy Habs took down the Penguins in the qualifying round. While eliminating the ever-present Pens, Montreal used a combination of veteran skill, scrappy youth, and out-of-this world goaltending. Plus...Shea Weber. They’re my team to watch.
Tampa Bay Lightning: It would be amusing to see Tampa Bay lose spectacularly in the first round, but I don’t think that happens this year.
Columbus Blue Jackets: This team feels very much like the scrappy underdog who won’t go down without a fight. Their goalie tandem is pretty unproven, but it’s clear the Jackets have the last laugh over Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, and Artemi Panarin.
Carolina Hurricanes: It certainly seems that Carolina has EVERYTHING going for them except goaltending. They made it two rounds last season...can they top that in 2020? Will David Ayers make a special appearance as a backup goalie?
Boston Bruins: Can Zdeno Chára get another Cup? Tuukka Rask is fun to watch in net, and Brad Marchand probably has been banned from licking other players.
Philadelphia Flyers: You’d be hard-pressed to find reasons not to cheer for Oskar Lindblom. However, the Flyers also seem to be one of the most complete teams in the playoffs. They’ve got incredible coaches. Can they go all the way?
New York Islanders: Team Barry Trotz.
Washington Capitals: 2020, the Second Summer/Fall of Ovi?
Dallas Stars: Once you get over their very bad goal song, Dallas has some pretty good tools for a solid playoff run. Ben Bishop is a force in net, but there’s certainly a concern that the Stars might not have enough goal-scorers to win games.
St. Louis Blues: No.
Vegas Golden Knights: Once again, the Knights are one of the most exciting teams in the playoffs. Led by new coach Peter DeBoer, the Knights have plenty of star power and their “fun meter” is high. They even have a goalie controversy...Robin Lehner or Marc-André Fleury?
[Ed.: Mr. DeBoer, if you’re reading this, don’t be the Oilers. Please start Lehner.]
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs are my Western Conference pick. They are the complete package. You can also (maybe) find reasons to cheer for Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque, Samuel Girard, and Vladislav Kamenev.
Arizona Coyotes: I don’t like many of their skaters, but Darcy Kuemper is sneaky-good and can steal a few games or even a series. Phil Kessel brings veteran playoff experience, and Taylor Hall is skating for a big contract.
Chicago Blackhawks: Also no.
Calgary Flames: I really can’t think of many reasons to cheer for the Flames. They represent one of Canada’s Cup hopes, though.
Vancouver Canucks: Can we get a Vancouver-Colorado Western Conference Final so we can FINALLY figure out if Quinn Hughes or Cale Makar deserves the Calder Trophy?