Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2020-21 NHL Season Predictions

 After the Stanley Cup was awarded in a hermetically sealed bubble in Edmonton in September, all eyes turned immediately to what the 2020-21 season for the NHL would look like. For a not insignificant period of time, it looked like there may be no season at all, and if some owners had their way, there wouldn't be one. But the league will trudge through their billion dollar losses (and the still raging global pandemic that caused them) to play a 56 game season with teams only playing inside their own division. It's unlike any NHL season before, and for a league that's always a bit unpredictable, this season may be a new level of unpredictable. That means, these predictions may be uniquely bad. 


1. Philadelphia

2. Boston

3. Washington

4. NY Islanders

5. Pittsburgh

6. NY Rangers

7. Buffalo

8. New Jersey

This division is very reminiscent of recent Big Ten basketball seasons: many good teams that will beat each other up, but no great team to separate themselves from the pack. For that reason, the team with the fewest obvious problems and the best goaltender will win the division, and that's Philly. Most notably, I have the Penguins missing out on the playoffs this year, largely because someone has to, but also because they feel the shakiest of the good batch of teams in their division, and doubting the Islanders has not been profitable for me recently.


1. Toronto

2. Calgary

3. Montreal

4. Vancouver

5. Edmonton

6. Winnipeg

7. Ottawa

Toronto will finally win a playoff series this year because their division is so lopsided in favor of them. Every other team has a marked flaw that makes it difficult for them to compete on the Leafs' level. Calgary underachieved relative to their talent last year, and made a much necessary upgrade in net which should see them just ahead of Montreal, who now may have the talent to back up their wonderful style of play and underlying numbers. Vancouver gets in over Edmonton because of better goaltending and more depth outweighing McDavid and Draisaitl's brilliance.


1. Tampa Bay

2. Carolina

3. Dallas

4. Columbus

5. Florida

6. Nashville

7. Chicago

8. Detroit

Even without Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning will coast to a division title this season. Their biggest challenge will be Carolina, who are beloved by the analytics community and rightly so, since their style of play now has the great talent to back it up, but their weak links in net and in some depth areas keep them from winning the division. Dallas will be inconsistent to start the season thanks to their COVID and injury issues, but they're too talented to miss the postseason. Columbus gets in to the final playoff spot over Florida and Nashville thanks to the Islanders principle, but any one of those three could have a reasonable argument to get in. 


1. Colorado

2. Vegas

3. St. Louis

4. Minnesota

5. Anaheim

6. San Jose

7. Arizona

8. Los Angeles

The gap between the three best teams in the division is wider than any gap in any division this year. All three are legitimate Cup contenders, the rest will scrap for fourth and none would have any chance in any other division to get into the playoffs. Minnesota is the least flawed out of all of them, therefore they sneak in ahead of Anaheim, who with their young talent and underappreciated goalie could be the surprise team of the season. San Jose could also have one last gallant ride at success after their annus horribilis last year.



1. PHI over NYI in 7

2. BOS over WSH in 6

1. PHI over 2. BOS in 7


1. TOR over 4. VAN in 5

3. MTL over 2. CGY in 7

1. TOR over 3. MTL in 6


1. TB over 4. CBJ in 6

2. CAR over 3. DAL in 7

1. TB over 2. CAR in 6


1. COL over 4. MIN in 5

2. VGK over 3. STL in 6

1. COL over 2. VGK in 7

Final 4:

Colorado over Philadelphia in 6 (1 vs. 4)

Tampa Bay over Toronto in 6 (2 vs. 3)

Colorado over Tampa Bay in 6


Hart: Nathan MacKinnon (COL)

Art Ross: Connor McDavid (EDM)

Calder: Tim Stueztle (OTT)

Norris: Cale Makar (COL)

Rocket Richard: Auston Matthews (TOR)

Selke: Mark Stone (VGK)

Vezina: Carter Hart (PHI)

Jack Adams: Jared Bednar (COL)

Apologies in advance for the jinxes I have caused. Happy hockey season!

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