It’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Back in January, my pick to win the Stanley Cup was the Colorado Avalanche.
With the Rocky Mountain boys capturing the Presidents’ Trophy for best record in the regular season, I see no reason to change that prognostication now.
Colorado general manager Joe Sakic, a Hall of Fame player himself (and winner of the 1996 and 2001 Stanley Cups), has surrounded superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon with a talented cast and look like the team to beat.
There should be some interesting matchups along the way for this unique playoff format. The pandemic situation forced the NHL to stick with regional play during the season and, to some degree, stays with that in the postseason.
The one big difference is the teams will be reseeded after the first round.
Here’s how we see the tournament playing out:
Pittsburgh over the Islanders, Boston over Washington.
Carolina over Nashville, Tampa Bay over Florida.
Toronto over Montreal, Edmonton over Winnipeg.
Colorado over St. Louis, Vegas over Minnesota.
Pittsburgh over Boston, Carolina over Tampa Bay, Colorado over Vegas, Toronto over Edmonton.
Colorado over Pittsburgh, Carolina over Toronto.
**Stanley Cup champion:**
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, a Hall of Fame player himself, has surrounded superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon with some bona fide talent. Going to be hard to beat.
Carolina gets the most out of its ability courtesy of coach Rod Brind’Amour, the ex-Flyer great. All he has to do I show video of his playing days (not that he ever would) to inspire the troops.
Best of the rest: I think Boston will upset Washington simply because that line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak plays like a mix of broken glass, poison ivy and thumbtacks.
Defending champion Tampa Bay is dangerous because of goaltending (Alexei Vasilevskiy), defense (Victor Hedman) and offense (Steven Stamkos).
And let’s not forget the Penguins. With Sidney Crosby looking at the top of his game, anything is possible.