Welcome to 2020, and no, your eyes are not deceiving you. The Philadelphia Flyers are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Montreal Canadiens were able to reach the playoffs by way of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers where they stunned the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers will have plenty of eyes on them as they try to live up to being the top seed in the east after sweeping their round-robin games in dominant fashion against the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.
What has made the Flyers such a threat in 2020 is their expansive depth, goaltending and their in-game execution. Philadelphia does not have a mega star on their roster but they have a gritty group of veterans who know how to get the job done. They have a three-headed monster in Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek who do everything right and are able to make the plays necessary to net the team as the seventh-best offense in the NHL. Carter Hart has been outstanding all year long in the net and only allowed one goal in each of the round-robin matchups.
On paper, the team does not have any glaring holes as they are inside the top 10 in both goals scored and goals allowed. Plus, they are in the top half in both power-play percentage and penalty-kill percentage.
All Philadelphia needs to do is play the game they know how to play and not get caught up in being the top seed. If the pressure mounts on them, they will see themselves end up like last year’s Tampa Bay Lightning squad.
For the Canadiens, they have nothing to lose. As a 12 seed coming into this postseason and taking out a powerhouse in Pittsburgh, they have already overachieved their expectations. For every game in this series, they should coming out loose and applying as much offensive pressure as possible. They need to take it one goal at a time and let future Hall of Fame goaltender Carey Price do the rest of the work.
While they do not have the depth of Philadelphia, they have weapons in Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher who can score at the drop of a dime. Defenseman Shea Weber needs to use his massive frame to put the hits on and make the blocks when needed. They also need to win the mental warfare and get chippy with a Philadelphia franchise known for a postseason history of getting into infamous brouhahas.
When all is said and done, the Flyers are too good and Hart is going to shut down most of the quality looks from Montreal and will take the series with ease.
Prediction: Flyers in 5