NHL Playoffs 2020: Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Friday's Stanley Cup Games

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

Philadelphia Flyers' Carter Hart plays during an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The final two Canadian teams left in contention for the Stanley Cup enter Friday facing different scenarios.

The Vancouver Canucks need one victory over the St. Louis Blues to become the fourth Western Conference team to secure a second-round berth, while the Montreal Canadiens are in a must-win situation against the Philadelphia Flyers to keep their season alive in the Eastern Conference—at least for two more days.

The Canadiens have twice put up five goals on Philadelphia in the series, but they have also been blanked on two occasions by Flyers goalie Carter Hart.

However, the 22-year-old will need to put Wednesday's poor performance behind him in Game 6.


NHL Friday Schedule

Game 6: Philadelphia (-125) vs. Montreal (+110) (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Game 6: St. Louis (-130) vs. Vancouver (+115) (9:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Odds via Caesars Palace.



Carter Hart Bounces Back to Clinch Series For Flyers

Philadelphia's young goalie has not been affected by losing games since the calendar flipped over to 2020.

Since January 13, he has not suffered back-to-back defeats, and he followed up his Game 2 loss with a Game 3 shutout against the Canadiens.

In February, Hart allowed a single goal to the Columbus Blue Jackets after letting in four tallies against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Even though he conceded on four occasions in Game 5, the 2016 second-round pick still turned away 28 shots, which was his third-highest total inside the Toronto hub.

Montreal's up-and-down form inside Scotiabank Arena could also play a role in Hart's success. The Canadiens have scored three goals in the contests following outputs of three goals or more against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

In Game 4 of the qualifying-round series, they were fortunate to get a strong performance out of Carey Price, who shut out Pittsburgh in a 2-0 victory.

Even if the 33-year-old is at his best, Hart could outplay the veteran netminder, as he did in the shutouts in Games 3 and 4.

As long as Hart continues to display his ability to bounce back, the Flyers could make Montreal the latest Canadian side to pack its bags.


Vancouver's Offense Remains Hot

Vancouver used a three-goal flurry during a seven-minute span in the second period of Game 5 to move to within one game of clinching a second-round spot.

J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen combined on two of the tallies, while Tyler Motte unexpectedly scored a pair.

Miller and Pettersson have been in great form against St. Louis, as each player leads the Canucks with seven points. Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser have chipped in four points each, while Tanner Pearson and Quinn Hughes both earned three points in four games.

Hughes could be the X-factor in Game 6 if he is on the ice at the same time as Miller, Pettersson or Virtanen. The 20-year-old rookie is tied with Miller for the most shots from a Canucks player through five games, and he has spent almost eight more minutes on ice than any of his teammates.

If that collection of players remains hot, Vancouver could add to the 13 goals it has scored in its three victories. It should also get a boost in net from Jacob Markstrom, who has a .927 save percentage against the Blues, who have outshot the Canucks 193-141.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.