"The Stack" 7-31-20

The NHL Qualifying Round begins this weekend. 16 teams looking to get to the quarterfinals of the NHL Playoffs. Get ready! It's going to be a wild ride!

The Stack is back on this Friday and guess what...so is hockey! The NHL returns this weekend with the Qualifying Rounds starting Saturday and Sunday. Eight series in all plus the top four teams in each conference play round robin games against one another to determine the top four seeds in each conference. So let’s get right to a preview of the Qualifying round to get to the true NHL Playoffs in “the stack” for today, Friday, July 31st:

NHL Qualifying Round begins

All Qualifying round series are best of five. Which means that all NHL fans will have at least three games to watch their favorite teams play for the right to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. The losing teams in the Qualifying round may actually be the biggest winners in all of this and that is because one of the losing teams will get the number overall pick in the NHL Draft and draft Alexis Lafreniere. This kid is the real deal! He may be as good as Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid. That is some high praise! So the losers of the Qualifying round have a one-in-eight chance (12.5%) of getting Alexis. Talk about a win-win. If your favorite team wins, they move one step close to the Stanley Cup. If they lose, they have a chance to get Alexis. Again, sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Eastern Conference (All games played in Toronto)

#12 Montreal Canadiens VS #5 Pittsburgh Penguins

The Canadiens have no business being here. They were well under .500. If Sidney Crosby can stay healthy, the Penguins should have no issues in this series.

Prediction: Penguins in 3

#11 New York Rangers VS #6 Carolina Hurricanes

You could make the argument that the Rangers overachieved a bit this year and the Hurricanes underachieved. The Rangers have some good young talent, but I think the Hurricanes are just a

little better.

Prediction: Hurricanes in 5

#10 Florida Panthers VS #7 New York Islanders

The Panthers have talent, but it hasn’t fully gelled this season. The Islanders started out hot and faded a bit down the stretch, but I think they have enough to win this series.

Prediction: Islanders in 5

#9 Columbus Blue Jackets VS #8 Toronto Maple Leafs

Head coach John Tortorella has done a masterful job getting the Blue Jackets to a position where they are even in the Qualifying Round. The Maple Leafs were so bad at the beginning of the season that head coach Mike Babcock was fired. They’ve gotten better as of late. They have far more talent. They should have no problems winning.

Prediction: Maple Leafs in 4

Who is going to be the one seed in the eastern conference?

A. Boston Bruins

B. Tampa Bay Lightning

C. Washington Capitals

D. Philadelphia Flyers

The Lighting are probably the most talented team, but they’re not catching the Bruins. The Bruins may not win the east, but they will be the top seed.

Answer: A, Boston Bruins

Western Conference (All games played in Edmonton)

#12 Chicago Blackhawks VS #5 Edmonton Oilers

A lot of pressure on the Oilers playing in their home town. The Blackhawks have stars in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but that’s it. The Oilers are a better team. And they have Connor McDavid. Advantage Edmonton.

Prediction: Oilers in 5

#11 Arizona Coyotes VS #6 Nashville Predators

The Coyotes have Taylor Hall and some other talent, but the Predators are probably a little better. Kind of a toss up, but I’ll give the edge to Smashville.

Prediction: Predators in 5

#10 Minnesota Wild VS #7 Vancouver Canucks

The Wild were playing really good hockey before the season stopped. Can the momentum carry over to this series against the Canucks? I think so. You didn’t really think I would pick against the Wild did you?

Prediction: Wild in 5

#9 Winnipeg Jets VS #8 Calgary Flames

The Canada Battle! Both fans have rowdy fan bases. Too bad they won’t be able to attend. Both teams weren’t all that great this year. Kind of a tossup series as well.

Prediction: Jets in 4

Who is going to be the one seed in the western conference?

A. St. Louis Blues

B. Colorado Avalanche

C. Vegas Golden Knights

D. Dallas Stars

Come on Gloria! It’s going to be the Blues.

Answer: A, St. Louis Blues

If you are a hockey fan, you’ll have hockey games nearly all day long pretty much every day here for the next several weeks at least. It is going to be a great deal of fun!

Coming up next week: Reaction to top stories in sports including NHL Qualifying Round thoughts