by Anthony Yench
On March 12th, the NHL decided to put the 2019-2020 season on pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many thought the league would just scrap the entire season, pretend that it never happened, and just move on to next season. The league, however, came up with an extended version of the playoffs that would give more teams a chance. On August 1st, the Stanley Cup playoffs took place in two host cities. The Western conference played all of their games in Edmonton, and the Eastern conference played all of their games in Toronto.
Out of the 24 teams that made the playoffs, we’re down to the final two. The Dallas Stars are representing the Western Conference, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are representing the Eastern Conference. Here’s how both teams got to the finals:
Tampa Bay Lighting
When the season got put on hold, the Lighting were in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 43-21-6. In the new round robin format for this year’s playoffs, they went 2-1, beating both the Capitals and the Bruins, giving them the 2nd seed behind the Flyers. In the first round, they were matched up against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who they beat 4-1, dropping only game 2. In the second round, they took down Boston 4-1. In the Eastern Conference final, to many people’s surprise, Tampa played the New York Islanders after they upset the Flyers in game 7. But, they took the series 4-2, and moved on to the Stanley Cup final for the first since losing to the Blackhawks in 2015.
Many people expected a team like the St. Louis Blues or the Vegas Golden Knights to be in this position, but the Dallas Stars shocked a lot of people around the hockey world. In the round robin portion of the playoffs, the Stars went 1-2, dropping games to Colorado and Vegas, giving them the 3rd seed. Going into the first round, they were matched up against the Calgary Flames, who they beat 4-2. The second round was the Stars’ hardest series by far, with the Colorado Avalanche forcing a thrilling game 7 overtime where a hat trick by Joel Kiviranta helped the Stars advance to the Western Conference final against the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas was heavily favored going into the series, but after Dallas dropped game 2, they came back and won 3 straight, taking the series 4-1. This will be Dallas’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2000.
My prediction: Tampa Bay 4-2