The NHL regular season is officially on winter break a couple of days early due to COVID outbreaks with some teams. A lot of fans and teams have been paying attention to the standings at this point in time anyways.
Anyhow, before I get into the current playoff picture and matchups if the season ended today, the NHL has officially announced that they are not going to the Beijing Olympics in February and they will make up games in that span instead.
With the season not happening right now, what would the playoff matchups look like?
Eastern Conference: (WC1) Pittsburgh Penguins (17-8-5 record with 39 points) vs (M1) Carolina Hurricanes (21-7-1 record with 43 points): This would be a match-up of an experienced team vs a hockey team that is young and hungry. Pittsburgh seems a lot older and Carolina would be fresh and hungry. The pick: Carolina Hurricanes in 6.
(M3) New York Rangers (19-7-4 record with 42 points) vs (M2) Washington Capitals (18-6-7 record with 43 points): Alex Ovechkin would give it one last crack at it for Washington. However, his team would get goalie’d all series long against Igor Shesterkin and New York. The pick: New York Rangers in 7.
(WC2) Detroit Red Wings (15-13-3 record with 33 points) vs (A1) Tampa Bay Lightning (20-6-4 record with 44 points): Detroit has had a great year so far with rookies Mortiz Seider and Lucas Raymond. However, they would find out in a hurry playing Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay, and company in the postseason would be a different animal. The pick: Tampa Bay Lightning in 5.
(A3) Florida Panthers (18-7-4 record with 40 points) vs (A2) Toronto Maple Leafs (20-8-2 record with 42 points): This would be a tremendous series from start to finish. Florida would have the offensive firepower and Toronto would have the defensive structure and goaltending. The pick: Florida Panthers in 7.
Western Conference: (WC1) Colorado Avalanche (17-8-2 record with 36 points) vs (C1) Minnesota Wild (19-9-2 record with 40 points): There would be a lot of goals scored in this series and lord have mercy on the goalies. Nathan MacKinnon and Kirill Kaprizov would trade scoring punches. The pick: Colorado Avalanche in 6.
(C3) St. Louis Blues (17-9-5 record with 39 points) vs (C2) Nashville Predators (19-10-1 record with 39 points): This would be a tenacious low-scoring and gritty series. Jordan Binnington and Juuse Saros would be robbing shooters from point-blank all series long. The pick: Nashville Predators in 6.
(WC2) Edmonton Oilers (18-11-0 record with 36 points) vs (P1) Vegas Golden Knights (20-12-0 record with 40 points): This would be a high-scoring series. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would put up their points but would they be able to prevent Vegas from scoring though? The pick: Vegas Golden Knights in 7.
(P3) Calgary Flames (15-7-6 record with 36 points) vs (P2) Anaheim Ducks (17-9-6 record with 40 points): There may not be a lot of goals scored in this series either. Jakob Markstrom and John Gibson would have their respective shows. The pick: Anaheim Ducks in 6.
The regular season resumes on Monday, December 27th in the NHL. Teams report back to their facility on Sunday, December 26th for more COVID testing at 2 p.m. their local time also.
-Glenn Kaplan, 12oz Sports Contributor, Live Monday’s at 3 p.m. ET & Thursday at 11 a.m. ET on 12oz Sports
Photo Credit: Twitter @Canes