Sports

Four NHL storylines value following as Stanley Cup playoffs loom

April 3, 2019 • By

The 2018-19 NHL common season is all the way down to its last 33 video games and 4 days.

Loads has been determined. The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the Presidents’ Trophy a few weeks in the past. The Ottawa Senators have final place general locked up.

We additionally know that 12 of the 16 playoff positions have been crammed. The Pittsburgh Penguins made life troublesome for themselves with a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Purple Wings on Tuesday. Crosby and Co. sit third within the Metropolitan Division and wish a minimal two factors of their last two video games to be post-season sure.

The 2 wild-card spots stay up for grabs within the East and the ultimate wild-card place within the West is down to 2 groups – the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes.

The Avalanche has a four-point lead on the Coyotes with two video games remaining for every membership.

We additionally know the Boston Bruins will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs within the first-round redux from final spring. The Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks will conflict within the first spherical, a spherical sooner than a 12 months in the past.

The opposite six opening-round sequence can be determined within the days forward. So with that thoughts, we provide 4 storylines value following over the ultimate 4 days of the common season:

Celebration of 4?

Can the Montreal Canadiens make it 4 Canadian-based groups within the Stanley Cup playoffs? With their win at house in opposition to the Lightning on Tuesday, the Habs path the Penguins by three factors, the Carolina Hurricanes by some extent, and are tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets at 94 factors. The Blue Jackets, nonetheless, have the tiebreaker with 44 regulation-time victories in comparison with Montreal’s 41.

Listed below are the video games remaining for these 4 groups:

  • Pittsburgh — vs. Detroit (Thursday), vs. N.Y. Rangers (Saturday).
  • Carolina — vs. New Jersey (Thursday), @ Philadelphia (Saturday).
  • Columbus — @ N.Y. Rangers (Friday), @ Ottawa (Saturday).
  • Montreal — @ Washington (Thursday), vs. Toronto (Saturday).

Sure, the Habs have probably the most troublesome schedule out of the 4. However bear in mind two issues presently of 12 months: contenders usually relaxation key gamers and the golf equipment which are out of competition play free and free — and that may be harmful.

For instance, bottom-feeders just like the Purple Wings gained their sixth in a row on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Kings knocked off the Arizona Coyotes and the Vancouver Canucks shocked the Sharks.

WATCH | Habs ship huge win over Lightning:

Montreal defeats Tampa Bay 4-2, transfer into tie for 2nd wild card spot with Columbus at 94 factors every. 1:56

Wild (card) West

With the Coyotes defeat at house to the Kings, Colorado is near clinching the ultimate wild-card spot within the West. Colorado requires some extent or any type of loss by the Coyotes to clinch.

Every thing appears to be going Colorado’s method lately. The Avalanche has gone 7-0-2 down the stretch, whereas the Coyotes have stumbled at a 2-4-Three clip of their final 9 outings.

The Avalanche additionally has the very best likelihood to land the primary general choice on the 2019 draft as a result of the Senators dealt their first-round decide within the Matt Duchene commerce 17 months in the past. Colorado will discover out on Tuesday on the draft lottery as as to whether it would make the primary general choice.

Colorado additionally seemingly will welcome Hobey Baker Trophy finalist Cale Makar after the proficient right-shot defenceman from Calgary concludes his season with UMass-Amherst on the NCAA Frozen 4 subsequent weekend.

Prospects for Flames, Jets

Whereas the Maple Leafs know their first-round opponent, the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets nonetheless have numerous attainable groups they may meet within the post-season subsequent week.

The Flames are locked within the high spot within the West, having already clinched first place. So they are going to wait to see what occurs with Colorado and Arizona.

In the meantime, the Jets have slumped. They may end as excessive as first within the Central Division or as little as third within the division. The listing of attainable opponents is a nightmare to the crew’s professional scouting division. They may meet the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues or Dallas Stars.

Mark Giordano and the Calgary Flames nonetheless don’t know who their first-round opponent can be. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Related Press)

Binnington or Pettersson?

Elias Pettersson has loved a beautiful rookie season with the Canucks and appeared a lock for the Calder Trophy. However after a head-turning 23-goal, 45-point efficiency in his 40 video games earlier than the all-star break, the 20-year-old Swede’s manufacturing has slowed to 4 targets and 20 factors in his 39 post-all Star recreation outings.

Pettersson opened the door for Blues’ Jordan Binnington within the Calder Trophy race. The 25-year-old goalie from Richmond Hill, Ont., helped push the Blues from final general on Jan. 2 to a playoff spot with a 22-5-1 report, together with 5 shutouts, 1.85 goals-against common and .928 save proportion.

Pettersson was the league’s rookie of the month in October and December, whereas Binnington gained the honour for February and March. However will the latter lose votes as a result of he wasn’t promoted till mid-December by the Blues?

WATCH | Jordan Binnington flip apart Canadiens:

Jordan Binnington stopped 29 photographs as St. Louis beat Montreal 4-1. The Blues goalie has gained two in a row to begin his NHL profession. 1:35

There have been 4 Calder Trophy-winning goalies prior to now 25 years. All had extra wins than Binnington:

  • 33 — Steve Mason, 2008-09 (Blue Jackets)
  • 32 — Evgeni Nabokov, 2000-01 (Sharks)
  • 29 — Andrew Raycroft, 2003-04 (Bruins)
  • 27 — Martin Brodeur, 1993-94 (Devils)

The Blues have three video games remaining. Two or three wins from Binnington might go a protracted strategy to his Calder Trophy probabilities.