Big upsets, Game 7s, and the Wild sweeping? Yep it’s the playoffs folks!
Today, we’re simulating/predicting the Conference Semifinals of the proposed 24 team playoffs after a hectic first round.
Once again, I’ve set the games to take place at a neutral arena and will alternate the home and away teams as would be done in a normal playoff year.
Only eight remain, and only four will survive.
#8 Toronto vs #2 Philadelphia
When these two teams meet, it will be a classic renewal of a playoff rivalry that we haven’t seen since 2004, when Jeremy Roenick scored his iconic overtime series clinching goal.
Starting as the “home” team, the Flyers dismantled the Leafs 5-2, with Sean Couturier scoring twice in the third period, claiming the first star of the game. Conversely, the Leafs would win a very close game 2-1 to even the series, with the winner coming on a power play goal.
However, after the two teams split the opening two games, the Flyers stole two games as the “away” team, putting the Leafs in a tough spot. They would hold off elimination for one game, but couldn’t do so in Game 6 as the Flyers would be 4-3 winners, advancing to the Conference Finals on a three point night from Kevin Hayes.
Result: Philadelphia wins 4-2
#5 Pittsburgh vs #3 Boston
Perhaps since they are the Penguins and always seem to get lucky (or that they have incredible top end talent, not that I like admitting that), I expected this series to come down to the wire, with a Game 7 almost surely in the future. However, that was not to be the case.
The Boston Bruins swept the Penguins and outscored them 17-3 in the process. They shut out the Penguins twice! David Pastrnak scored five goals in four games, and if the Bruins are to win the Stanley Cup, he is certainly in contention for the Conn Smythe trophy.
Boston’s top line simply outplayed Pittsburgh’s, and Boston’s depth (while not the best) showed as their other lines were able to be effective.
Result: Boston wins 4-0
#7 Minnesota vs #1 Colorado
This series was the definition of hot and cold.
Colorado won the first three games of the series as they were able to outgun Minnesota in three high-scoring contests. The Avs were once again led by the mercurial Nathan MacKinnon, who registered assists on ten of the team’s 17 goals.
Facing elimination, the Wild then won the next three games, as their strategy adjusted to become heavily defensive, with a focus on throwing heavy hits on Colorado’s best players. This did see the Wild take more penalties, but they managed to survive.
With the series tied at three, you would think that Colorado would be reeling and may struggle in Game 7, however, they won handily, 6-0, as Mikko Rantanen scored a hat trick.
Result: Colorado wins 4-3
#6 Nashville vs #5 Chicago
Chicago won the first two games, but wouldn’t win any more as Nashville stormed back to take the series.
Pretty much every game in this series was close (somehow) but in the end, Chicago’s defense couldn’t quite do enough to keep them alive.
The Predator’s Ryan Johanssen and Viktor Arvidsson were the stars of the series, and together co-led the team in points.
Result: Nashville wins 4-2
So, we now have our Conference Finals matchups! In the East, the Bruins will take on the Flyers, while in the West, Nashville will travel to Colorado in what could prove to be a very interesting series.
What is interesting here is that many of us predicted that with how hot the Flyers were getting, that they could make it all the way to a Conference Final, and they have indeed (at least in the eyes of FHM6). I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed with how they’ve done so far, and if they were indeed to make it to the Conference Final if play is to resume, that could be considered a massive success considering all of the obstacles they’ve had to tackle in 2019-20.