After weeks of tough competition, the Northern Arena NHL 20 Cup finals are here. The tournament has been electric and Northern Arena has already announced another duos tournament in May. With underdog stories, upsets and dominant performances all season long, the NHL 20 Cup finals are sure to be exciting. Let’s take a look at the semifinal matches heading into the NHL 20 Cup finals.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Storm’s coming – Regs v.s. Top Shelf Cookie
The Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets kicked off their NHL 20 Cup runs against each other, so it’s poetry these two titans will have to duke it out for a spot in the semi finals. Justin “Regs” Reguly’s Hurricanes have been undefeated so far. Meanwhile, Matthew “Top Shelf Cookie” Gutkoski’s Blue Jackets have roared back into this tournament after a slow start.
Reguly kept up his winning ways in the first round of NHL 20 Cup playoffs. He took down Nicola “Foolx90” Bruna and the Florida Panthers in a 2-0 sweep to move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Reguly has been playing knockout hockey in the Cup, going 14-0 in regular season play. He finished the regular season with the best record and highest goal differential in the tourney.
Gutkoski opened the season with a loss to Reguly and finished the first weekend of play at a 2-4 record. After losing his opening match on the second week of play, Gutkoski hit his stride. He went on to win eight straight matches to secure fourth in the Eastern Conference. He started the playoffs with a 2-0 win over Nicholas “JTF2x” Morissette and the Montreal Canadiens. His 10-5 record betrays his skill as one of the top NHL 20 players in the world. He’s not someone that viewers should underestimate in this match up by any means.
Prediction: Regs 2-1 over Top Shelf Cookie
This is almost guaranteed to be one of the closest series of the tournament. Reguly has looked bulletproof in the Cup so far with a perfect record. However, Gutkoski’s pedigree is well known in the NHL 20 pro scene. Don’t expect either of these two to end their tournament run without a fight. I’m almost certain this one will go the distance in the Best-of-Three format. I’m predicting Gutkoski to take the first map in a nail biter. However, when it’s winning time, expect Reguly to do just that with the reverse sweep.
Tale as old as time – JR Pens v.s. JohnWayne
There’s no playoff rivalry in the NHL that’s been hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals in recent memory. This NHL 20 Cup series is sure to be just as good as the real life battles. John “JohnWanye” Wayne represents the Capitals who finished second place in the East. David “JR Pens” Roebuck nipped at his heels in the regular season with a third place finish. These two are the competitors in the NHL 20 pro scene. Expect snipes a plenty when these two face off in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Wayne is an official Caps Gaming player and he’s quickly proven he can perform just as well as the actual Washington Capitals. He’s dropped only three matches this entire tournament so far, and squeaked ahead of Roebuck for second by only two points. Wayne took down Carson “CoreyPerry1” Bellaire and the Buffalo Sabres to secure his semifinals slot. Two upsets from Morissette and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Samuel “Canadien” Landry threw some doubts Wayne’s way. Don’t be fooled however, Wayne has a winner’s mentality and won’t be phased by two late season losses.
Roebuck has been putting up massive numbers with the Penguins so far in the Cup. He quickly shook off a 12-1 blowout loss to Josh “HK” Fuss early in the season to end with a 11-4 record. Roebuck got his revenge in the playoffs however, tossing Fuss out in a 2-0 series sweep. Roebuck has been one of the tournaments top performers in goal scoring. He has the highest goals scored by a landslide with over 100 goals across 15 games played in the Cup. If his hands can stay that hot in this series against the Caps, Wayne will have to find the back of the net often to not get buried by Sidney Crosby and the Pens.
Prediction: JohnWayne 2-1 over JR Pens
Another case of two teams starting the season facing off against each other only to meet in the playoffs. Their opening match ended 6-5 in favor of the Capitals, so expect this series to be a slugfest. I’m looking forward to high scoring games. If Carolina v.s. Columbus is going to be the closest match up, this is the closest second possible. I don’t see this series going under three games no matter what, but I feel like Wayne will be able to squeak past Roebuck to snag that sweet Eastern finals slot.
Western Conference Semifinals
Bombs away – Nuke v.s. Bouch
The Canucks and Predators series is one you definitely don’t want to miss if you’re an NHL 20 fan. Karl “Nuke” Caslib is the best in the West right now and shows no sign of slowing down. Meanwhile, the always gritty Ryan “Bouch” Bouchard and the Nashville Predators are looking to spoil Caslib’s dream run in the NHL 20 Cup finals. While Caslib is the clear favorite in this match up, don’t expect Bouchard to go down without a fight.
Caslib spent most of the tournament undefeated and easily claimed first in the West with a 13-1 record. His Vancouver Canucks have looked red hot all season, but had a bit of a scare against Samuel “Arsxno” Arsenault and the Colorado Avalanche. Caslib needed three games to get rid of the pesky Avs and book his semifinals slot. Otherwise he has looked stellar all tournament, second to only Reguly’s Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference. Caslib is a star with the skill, experience and hardware to back it up.
Bouchard and the Predators have looked tough all tournament. A so-so record early on was quickly patched up as Bouchard went on a roll in the second half of the season. His 9-5 record secured him fourth seed in the Cup playoffs. Bouchard pulled off a fantastic sweep over Charles “Nipin Biscuit” Ferris. While he’s an underdog in this series, don’t dare count him out. He and the Predators are hungry to pull off an upset victory over Caslib.
Prediction: Nuke 2-0 over Bouch
Their first battle ended in a 3-2 win for Caslib, and I expect him to continue winning over Bouchard in this series. Caslib has pulled off wins against tougher opponents, while Bouchard had some wins against some soft teams late in the season. I wouldn’t say the series is a lock for Caslib, however. I smell a potential upset brewing from Bouchard, and think he’s got what it takes to make it to the Western finals. He’ll have to dodge a MgxNuclear apocalypse to do it, though.
Starry Knight: YungGren v.s. Jer Dubz
The Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights series is shaping up to be one of the most electric battles of the semifinals. Two of Canada’s biggest NHL esports stars are set to square off for the final Western finals slot: Matthew “YungGren” Grenier and the Dallas Stars versus Jérémie Dubé with the Vegas Golden Knights. Grab your popcorn, folks – it’s gonna be one hell of a tilly.
Grenier is one of Canada’s premier “yung” talents in the NHL pro scene. His Dallas Stars team finished on the heels of Caslib’s Canucks with a 12-2 record. He dropped his first match of the season against Dubé, and then hit the ground running, winning his next 12 games before losing to Caslib in his season finale. He booked his ticket to the Western semifinals with a 2-0 series win over Eric “Fisher” Fisher and the St. Louis Blues. Grenier has quickly proven himself as one of Canada’s top talents at events like the Gaming World Championships. Don’t be surprised if he ends up making his way to the finals.
Dubé made his way to a solid third place in the West with the Vegas Golden Knights. With a 10-4-1 record he pushed past the Predators, Sharks and Oilers for the higher seed in the Cup playoffs. Dubé looked strong but not unshakable, with some narrow wins over weaker teams in the Cup. He nearly faltered in his final matches of the season, barely beating Arsenault’s Avs in a 8-7 barn burner. However, Dubé pulled it together in the playoffs and held off a surging Brendan “Baky” Bak and a deadly Oilers squad to face Grenier in the semifinals. While he didn’t have as clean a record as Caslib and Grenier, don’t expect him to be a pushover for the “yung” blood.
Prediction: YungGren 2-1 over Jer Dubz
I’m calling Grenier as the eventual winner of this tournament. Call it intuition – or a complete guess – but he’s got what it takes to push past the likes of Caslib and Reguly. He won’t have an easy task getting by Dubé, however. Dubé took their first match after a huge third period collapse by Grenier. Since then Gren has bounced back and remained sharp while Dubé has looked lukewarm. This one will go the distance, but I feel the scales tipped ever so slightly in Grenier’s favor.
NHL 20 Cup Finals: April 29 and 30
You can catch all the NHL 20 Cup Finals action this Wednesday and Thursday at the Northern Arena Twitch stream, on GINX Esports TV or at the official Xbox Canada Mixer stream. Who do you think is going to be crowned the NHL 20 Cup champion? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter. Stay tuned for more NHL 20 Cup finals coverage from SQUAD.