Vatanen should finally debut, while Pesce, who underwent shoulder surgery in early March, is a long shot to return, though the Canes haven't ruled it out. They've helped create the most effective power play (29.5% conversion rate) in the NHL since 1979. The only thing lacking here is deep playoff experience from their top stars, but look no further than last season's Blues to see how a team can overcome that. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck is expected to win the Vezina Trophy in a walk this season, thriving behind a defense that lost four of six players from last season. What a fascinating moment for the Predators. With Tuukka Rask leaving the bubble, all eyes will be on veteran netminder Jaroslav Halak, who shared the 2020 Jennings Trophy with Rask as the league leaders in fewest goals allowed. Maybe Carey Price can steal a series -- just maybe. Record at the pause: 37-24-8 (.594). Bobrovsky finished with a .900 save percentage -- his worst since 2011-12, his second season in the league -- and recorded just one shutout. 1. Dallas is getting its offense from the likes of Joe Pavelski, Denis Gurianov and sophomore defenseman Miro Heiskanen. They were 1-1-1 against the Wild this season. I know about how often their offense has wilted when they have been on the verge of doing something special. 6 Nashville Predators (-140) vs. No. Were they hurt by the return-to-play seeding (scale of 1 to 10)? 5. Gradually, the defense in front of him this season has improved, both statistically and in personnel thanks to the acquisition of Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline. But it's the kind of team that could catch fire with a little momentum out of the qualification round, provided its biggest offensive names outkick their regular-season performances, one of the goaltenders dominates the crease and Norris contender Roman Josi (65 points) and the tremendously underrated Ryan Ellis (38 points in 49 games) command the blue line. *Shares your disapproving look tsk tsk*). Winger Alex Tuch had been out of the lineup with a lower-body injury since Feb. 19 but was working his way back at the time of the pause. pressure from Ethan Bear #74 of the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on March 05, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. No. The goalie was hot at the pause, going 7-1 over his last eight, with a .941 save percentage. 8 Calgary Flames (-120) vs. No. With these two back -- and the slim possibility of Brett Pesce (shoulder surgery) returning, too -- Brind'Amour has a surplus of defensive combinations to deploy. The Stars had a 93.4% chance of qualifying for the playoffs per Money Puck and were four points clear of Nashville for third in the Central Division. With this kind of layoff, those playoff legs are going to be well rested for a chance at a second sip from the Cup. But they were squarely on the bubble. Teams have already been partaking in Phase 1—shutting down operations and isolating—since mid-March, but may be able to transition into Phase 2 by hosting small training sessions as early as next week. Needless to say, Stars coach Rick Bowness needs to make sure his guys stay out of the box, or else this will be a short series. The Avalanche will win the West because of their tremendous talent, including Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. 10 Florida Panthers (+100), No. Who they're playing next: The Panthers play the New York Islanders, who won the season series 3-0. • Roundtable: NHL playoff surprises; vulnerable top seeds, The Blues are deep, they have a star player hungry to make those big bucks in. NJ, IN & PA only. The Bruins were the first team in the league to hit 100 points and had eight more than any of the other "top seeds" they'll have to face in round-robin play. 6 Carolina Hurricanes (-140) vs. No. Miller and Tyler Toffoli -- give this room the leadership it needs in rough patches? Were they hurt by the return-to-play seeding (scale of 1 to 10)? With the qualifying round just days away, Steve Dangle and Justin Bourne share their predictions for the entirety of the 2020 NHL Playoffs. They were outside of playoff position at the pause but firmly in striking distance. His .914 save percentage was better than Rinne's .895, as was his 2.70 goals-against average compared to Rinne's 3.17. 11 seed that was only two points behind Carolina in the standings and is only a slight underdog (+120) to pull off the upset in their best-of-five showdown. Were they hurt by the return-to-play seeding (scale of 1 to 10)? And recent history tells us this type of team is bound to break through. 1 overall, Roundtable: NHL playoff surprises; vulnerable top seeds. If false, it will use ANY common games. Biggest question: Can Nicholas Robertson crack the lineup? His initial prognosis was an absence of four to six months. Players coming back from injury: Along with the returning defensemen, Mark Letestu should be back after missing 64 games with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. The top 4 from each conference will play a round-robin style tournament to determine their seed ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the remaining 16 teams will play eight best-of-5 series to earn a spot in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Colorado is at a whopping 30.6 percent efficiency with the man advantage. Ekman-Larsson said "my knee is feeling 100 percent and I've been able to get stronger and faster" after posting his lowest points-per-game average (0.45) since 2017. Record at the pause: 30-8-72 (.514). This is their year. 9 matchup. Bo Horvat qualifies as a playoff veteran among the young core members of this team, with six games under his belt back in 2014-15, which was the most recent time Vancouver made the dance. But the Isles could run into trouble if Sergei Bobrovsky gets hot, as he did in last season's playoffs for Columbus. Kovalchuk was a bust in Los Angeles but seemed to mesh well in his short stint with Montreal. Rangers | Flyers | Penguins 1 overall He is the Leafs' best prospect -- and was named ESPN's Prospect of the Year by Chris Peters -- and his arrival will send Toronto fans into a tizzy. Oskar Lindblom, who is undergoing treatment for Ewing sarcoma and missed much of the season, has begun skating with the team but will not play. 1 job and posted a 1.51 GAA with a .945 save percentage in the Flames’ four-game victory over depleted Winnipeg in which Calgary’s Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau elevated above their less than scintillating seasons. 4. They were trending up and clicking at exactly the right time. Or will a dark-horse squad take hockey's top prize? How far we think they'll go: Top Cup favorite. Terms of Use The Oilers were in second place in the Pacific Division at the pause, five points clear of the Vancouver Canucks, who had two games in hand. They had the 24th-best record in the NHL when it halted play.

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