Although it felt like the season would never come back, the NHL has crowned a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion. After around six weeks of isolated playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning reign victorious. To make matters even more impressive the Lightning beat out 23 teams to get to this position, unlike the 15 clubs a standard playoff team has to defeat!
The NHL opted to do a “Bubble-format” similar to the NBA. They had two host cities: Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto, Ontario. All twelve of the Eastern Conference teams played their first few rounds in Toronto, while the Western Conference resided in Edmonton.
Aforementioned, this year, 24 teams “qualified” for the NHL playoffs as opposed to the usual 16. However, this did come with a catch. The top four teams in each conference got an automatic pass into the second round. In contrast, the remaining eight in each conference had to play a preliminary round with the risk of elimination. The winners from each conference would then go on to play the four teams who had the “off-week.”
The 16 official playoff teams to compete were the: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
After weeks of play, teams got eliminated one-by-one. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, clubs simply do not play just one game against their opponent; they play a seven-game series each round. The first to get to four wins clinch the round and moves on. The team who loses sends their bags packing.
The Stanley Cup final was a match between the Tampa Bay Lightning from the East, and the Dallas Stars from the West. Both teams came together to play the final series in the Edmonton bubble. Typically, Florida and Texas are not known as “hockey” states, but this year, regardless of which team won, the Stanley Cup was going to the Sun Belt. Ultimately, Tampa Bay beat Dallas in six games, making it their first victory since 2004.
The Tampa Bay Lightning hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2004. Image credits nhl.com.
The MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs “the Conn Smythe” was awarded to Swedish defensemen, Victor Hedman. Victor Hedman has been playing with the Lightning for 11 seasons and has been awarded many personal victories in addition to this.
It is unknown when the NHL will resume for the 2020-21 season. On the flip side, The NHL draft is set to take place on October 6th and 7th in Montreal, Quebec. Many skilled prospects could be raising the Cup next season. The New York Rangers will have the first selection in the draft, followed by the Los Angeles Kings.
Even though the NHL season may take several months to resume, there is still plenty more hockey left to play. Who do you think will be the 2021 Stanley Cup Champion?
My Prediction as of 10/1/20 : Colorado Avalanche
Julia Marotti’21, Co-Executive Editor-in-Chief