The NHL is back after a five-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here is everything you need to know:
The 2019-20 Stanley Cup Play-Offs will be a completely new format this year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The 24 best teams (based on point percentage) have made the playoffs, with the best four teams from each conference each given a ‘bye’ into the first round. This means the teams that finished in positions 5 through 12 in the standings will play each other to determine who makes the final 16 where the best of 7 series will start.
The four teams that have a guaranteed spot will play a round robin to determine who has the best seed in each side of the Playoff.
Where are they playing?
Easter Conference games will be played at the Scotiabank Place in Toronto, and the Western Conference matchups will be played at the Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Who are the favourites to win?
The Boston Bruins: After losing last year’s Stanley Cup final the Bruins have added depth and look the complete package. With players like Bergeron, Marchand, Pastranak, Krug and Rask, Boston are definitely one of the favourites to win this year’s Play Offs.
The Washington Capitals: The 2018 Stanley Cup champions have a number of very talented and experienced players. Their captain Alexander Ovechkin is one of the best goal scorers in the world, along with the playmaking ability of Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson who has consistently shown he is one of the best D men in the world, the Capitals are definitely a team to watch.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights: The team is in its third season and have made the playoffs every year. They made the final in their inaugural season and have Marc-Andre Fleury in goal who has won the cup three times previously with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He will be hoping to hoist the cup for the fourth time with the Golden Knights.
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon is arguably one of the best centres in the world. Known for his power and speed, he will be hoping that he can take his team to the next level and finally lift the Stanley Cup. The Avalance have an abundance of young stars who will be looking to help the team lift their first Stanley Cup since 2001.
What players should I look out for?
Artemi Panarin - New York Rangers #10
(GP: 69 G:32 A: 63 P: 95)
Panarin joined the Rangers during free agency, from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He continues where he left off with the Jackets and has been nominated for the Hart Trophy which is given to the MVP. Panarin is known for his unplayable hands and eccentric celebrations, has been a hit in New York. He has found chemistry with Mika Zibanejad and if that continues in the post season, New York could shock a few teams and make it all the way to the final.
Leon Draisaitl - Edmonton Oilers #29
(GP: 71 G: 43 A: 67 P: 110)
Draisaitl who lead the league in points at the finish, had an unreal season showcasing his talent alongside his teammate Connor McDavid. The German forward from Cologne has also received a nomination for the Hart Trophy. The big forward who played for Germany against GB in last year’s World Championships will be hoping to take Edmonton back to their glory years.
Roman Josi - Nashville Predators #59
(GP: 69 G: 16 A: 49 P: 65)
Josi, who has been nominated for the Norris Trophy (awarded to the best defenceman), lead the Predators in points and assists for the 19/20 season. He’s played in Nashville for nine years and been captain for three years. He is widely regarded as one of the league’s best defencemen and will be hoping he can help his team all the way to the Stanley Cup Final which they last played for in 2017 when they lost to Pittsburgh in six games.
Where can I watch the games in the UK?