New York Rangers 2020 NHL Season Analysis

This was expected to be a bit of a rebuilding season for the New York Rangers, and they wouldn’t make the playoffs as things stand – but they are right there. Let’s take a closer look at their season along with NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds.

New York Rangers 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Season Recap

The Blueshirts had 79 points when the season was suspended, but that was just two shy of tying for the final Wild-Cards spots in the East. The Rangers already had surpassed last season’s point total and had 37 wins in 2019-20, after 32 last year.

New York was struggling when the season was suspended, losing five of seven. Its final game was a 3-2 overtime loss in Colorado on March 11. The Rangers at least gained a point on Carolina and Columbus in the chase for the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.

Mika Zibanejad scored his 41st goal, Pavel Buchnevich also scored while Adam Fox had two assists. Alexandar Georgiev had 25 saves, for New York. With Georgiev on the bench for an extra skater Buchnevich’s 16th goal of the season tied it with 13 seconds left. Buchnevich was on a seven-game point streak. He 16 goals and 46 points in 68 games in 2019-20.

Zibanejad scored his 40th goal the previous game and became the fastest player in the history of the Rangers to reach the 40-goal plateau, doing so in 56. He also became the first player in Rangers’ history to score a goal in 12 out of 13 games. In that span, Zibanejad has netted 17 goals. His 28 goals since Christmas lead the NHL; Alex Ovechkin is next with 25.

“It’s so much fun to watch a player grow, and he continues to grow, day in and day out,” Coach David Quinn said. Zibanejad has returned to Sweden during the shutdown.

Winger Filip Chytil made great progress in 2019-20. Chytil has a personal best 14 goals to go along with 23 points in 60 games. He stepped up when Zibanejad was injured earlier this season. Adam Fox is just the fifth blueliner in Rangers history to post 40 points in his rookie season (Leetch, Ruotsalainen, Greschner, McEwen). Fox has the fourth-most points and third-most assists out of any NHL rookie.

This offseason, the Rangers gave Artemi Panarin a monster seven-year, $81.5 million contract but the Breadman has largely been worth it with 32 goals and 95 points. He’s tied with David Pastrnak for third place in the league in points.

One of the Rangers’ biggest questions this summer will be whether to sign Tony DeAngelo to a bridge contract or lock him up long term. DeAngelo has emerged as a force offensively with 15 goals and 53 points in 68 contests in 2019-20, but he’s had consistency issues on the defensive side of things. He’s still just 24.

On the flip side, winger Brendan Lemieux was having a disappointing season and actually will be suspended for an amount of games TBA for a hit on Colorado’s Joonas Donskoi. The sentence will be set when the NHL establishes its guidelines for resuming the season. Lemieux is considered a repeat offender after having been suspended two games with Winnipeg for elbowing Vincent Trocheck in the head in a game in Helsinki on Nov. 2, 2018.  Lemieux has just six goals and 12 assists with a 42.2 percent Corsi rating. He has been on the ice 19 goals for and 30 against at full strength.

Highly touted rookie Kaapo Kakko had an uneven season. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft was on for 40 goals-against at five-on-five, second most to Buchnevich’s 44 among New York forwards. However, Buchnevich played 170 more minutes than Kakko. In addition, Buchnevich was on for 54 Rangers goals, a plus-10 while Kakko was on for 16 goals for and was a minus-24. The Rangers have had 15 Finnish-born players throughout their history, but Kakko was the lone Finn on the squad this season.

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New York Islanders 2020 NHL Season Analysis

The New York Islanders are hoping that the NHL regular season resumes in some form because as things stand, the Isles would just barely miss out on the Stanley Cup playoffs. Let’s take a closer look at their season along with NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds.

New York Islanders 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Season Recap

The Islanders had 80 points when the season was suspended – that was just point one behind the two Wild-Card teams, Carolina and Columbus. New York was playing horrible when the break came, though, losing seven in a row and 11 of 13.

The team’s final game before the break was a 5-4 shootout loss in Vancouver on March 10. J.T. Miller scored the only goal in the shootout. Brock Nelson had a pair of goals for the Islanders, whose seven-game winless streak was a season-high. Andrew Ladd and Jordan Eberle also scored for New York. Ladd’s goal was his first since Oct. 30, 2018. He has only played 21 games in that time due to injuries.  Derick Brassard had two assists. Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots.

“It seems like we’re close,” said Nelson after that loss. Nelson has posted a career-best 26 goals and 54 points this season. “We’ve just got to find that play that gets us over the hump and turns it around. Right now, it’s tough. It seems like everything is kind of stacked up against us. You find a way to get a lead and they battle back.”

The Islanders were only 19-20-8 since their 15-0-2 streak near the start of the season. The Islanders were on fire from mid-October until Thanksgiving but have been a mediocre team since then. The Islanders started the season 7-0-0 against the Metro becoming the 11th team in NHL history to open the season with at least seven consecutive wins against divisional opponents.

The injury to Casey Cizikas has really taken a toll on the team as the Isles are 2-7-4 since he had his leg lacerated by the skate of Ivan Provorov. Cizikas had has 10 goals and 14 points in 48 contests this season. He’s healthy now. He leads the Islanders with a plus-26 rating this season and is tied for second with three game-winning goals.

In addition, should the season return in any form, blueliner Johnny Boychuk is set to return. He was cut by a skate blade on March 3 and needed 90 stitches around his eye as well as plastic surgery.

The Islanders are 6-0-0 when being held to 20-shots or fewer this season, marking the first time in franchise history that has happened

If there is no resolution to this season, the Islanders’ time in Brooklyn is over. After splitting their home schedule the past two seasons, the Isles will be making their Long Island return a full year early, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The Islanders should be on Long Island,” Cuomo said, announcing all 2020-21 games would be played at the Nassau Coliseum until the new Belmont Park project is ready.

Construction of Belmont Park stopped recently due to the coronavirus as Cuomo has put a pause on all “non-essential construction” and put a focus on the building of four new hospitals. It’s not clear when construction of Belmont Park can resume. Richard Browne, who is the Managing Partner of Sterling Project Development, said that Belmont Park can still be finished in time for the 2021-22 campaign “if construction restarts within a reasonable period.”

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Boston Bruins 2020 NHL Season Analysis

If the NHL isn’t able to stage playoffs this year due to the coronavirus, arguably no team would be affected more by the Boston Bruins as they had the most points in the NHL by a fair margin and would have had home-ice advantage throughout the postseason. Let’s take a closer look at their season along with NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds.

Boston Bruins 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Season Recap

Boston led the NHL with 100 points when the schedule was suspended and was up eight on second-place Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins had an impressive 2-0 win at Philadelphia in their final game on March 10 – the Flyers entered on an NHL-high nine-game winning streak.

Matt Grzelcyk and Patrice Bergeron scored and the Bruins (44-14-12) became the first team with 100 points this season. It was Bergeron’s 31st goal of the year, and he was one goal away from tying his previous personal best, which he has reached in 2015-16 and 2018-19. Bergeron has 56 points through 61 appearances. Bergeron finished in the top five for two on-ice player categories in the NHLPA Player Poll. Bergeron finished second in voting for the Most Complete Player at 25.44%. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was first with 45.56% of the vote.

Tuukka Rask picked up his 50th career shutout on his 33rd birthday in that win over Philly and became the sixth active goalie with at least 50 shutouts. He has five this season. Boston had lost the first two meetings this year with Philly.

Rask, 34 isn’t sure what he wants to do once his current contract expires: I have one year left in the contract, so we’ll see if I even play. We’ll see. Always a possibility.” Rask said he wouldn’t play overseas if he doesn’t return to the NHL. Rask was on track for a Vezina Trophy-level season this year when things were put on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak and was leading the NHL with a 2.12 goals against average while ranking second in the league with a .929 save percentage.

Rask refuted earlier reports that he was mulling retirement after the 2020-21 season, telling reporters, “I’m sure we’re going to have good conversations with (Don Sweeney) after this season and go from there. But I’m only 34, so it’s not too old, might play another year or two and go from there. I don’t want to promise anything either way because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Boston’s David Pastrnak had a phenomenal and historic season. His 48 goals were the most by a Bruin since Cam Neely’s 50 goals in 1993-94. Pastrnak tallied four hat tricks in 2019-20, giving him eight for his career; he’s the youngest player in NHL history to have that many of them. In the Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 14, Pastrnak accounted for all four goals.

Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin were tied for first in the league with 48 goals. The last time a Boston Bruin led the NHL goals was back in 1974-75 when Phil Esposito scored 61 times in 79 games. Twenty of Pastrnak’s 48 goals were scored on the power play, which makes him the youngest in franchise history to score 20 on the man-advantage.

Defenseman Charlie McAvoy went into the pause of the NHL season with five goals and 15 points in his previous 17 games. McAvoy had 32 points in 63 games during his rookie year in 2017-18. He tied that personal best this campaign, while posting a career-high 27 assists in 67 matches.

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Flyers vs Penguins if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

Over the course of an 82-game season in the NHL, every team is going to have periods of up and downs, as it is impossible to maintain a high level of play over such a long stretch of time. Injuries ted to play a role in determining just how long a negative streak of form will run, although some teams are able to ride through injuries and still find a way to win. What we have learned over the years is that it is often the teams that get on a hot streak late in the season who make the most noise in the playoffs. On the flipside, teams that back into the postseason very often have a tough time flipping the switch back on after the speed and intensity of the games takes a noticeable uptick. The Philadelphia Flyers were one team that were hitting their stride at the perfect time when the shutdown came into effect, while the Pittsburgh Penguins were heading in the wrong direction at that time. It is going to be interesting to see how the layoff affects these two moving forward, especially if they meet in the postseason, which they would do now if the playoffs started with the current standings, let’s see how the NHL odds will be for the Flyers vs Penguins.

Flyers vs Penguins if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

The Flyers and Penguins Season to Date

The Philadelphia Flyers may have lost their final game before the lockdown, but they were on an absolute tear prior to that defeat. Philly had put together 9-straight wins and saw their record go to 41-21-7 before the suspension of the season. That record has them in second place in the Metropolitan Division, just 1 point back of the Washington Capitals with 13 games to play. Having home ice advantage is huge for this team given that they are a stellar 25-6-4 in their own building. They are just a game above .500 on the road.

The fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins are even in a playoff spot is quite amazing given the injuries that they have had to deal with, including losing Sidney Crosby for a chunk of the season early on. Despite that, they have still managed to put together a 40-23-6 record, which has them sitting third in the Metropolitan Division, 4 points out of first and 3 points back of the Flyers in second. The Penguins have been far superior at home than on the road, going 23-8-4 versus 17-15-2.

The Flyers and Penguins Head to Head

These two last met in the postseason back in 2018, with the Penguins winning that series 4-2. This year, Pittsburgh is 2-1 versus the Flyers, with all three games played in the regular season series going the way of the home team. That should give you some idea as to the importance of home ice advantage in this series.

Flyers and Penguins Series Prediction

The 3 games that these two have played head to head this season have provided us with a total of 18 goals, so we should expect some offensive fireworks if they do meet up in the postseason. I see this one going 7, with the Flyers edging it at home in the final game of the series.

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Capitals Vs Hurricanes if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

The NHL playoffs are arguably the toughest to predict, simply because the level of parity in the league is higher than most. While there are always two or three teams who pull away from the pack in the regular season, those teams often have a tough time carrying that over into the playoffs. It is not always the most skillful team that survives the postseason, but rather the teams with the grit and determination to play through the exhaustion and injuries that most players are experiencing once the playoffs begin. It is why we see so many dark horse teams emerge in the playoffs, with the St. Louis Blues sitting at the top of that pack last year. Another team that made an unexpectedly deep run in the postseason last year was the Carolina Hurricanes, who made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final before falling to the Boston Bruins. They are in position to make another postseason appearance this season, but if the playoffs were to start today, they would have a tough opening round series against the Washington Capitals to kick things off. Let’s see how the NHL odds could be for the Capitals vs Hurricanes.

Capitals Vs Hurricanes if Playoffs Started Today

The Capitals and Hurricanes Season to Date

After 69 games played this season, the Washington Capitals find themselves in a very familiar position, which is at the top of the top of the Metropolitan Division standings. The Capitals have a 41-20-8 record on the season, good for 90 points. It is a bit of a precarious lead, though, as they were in a bit of a swoon heading into the suspension of play, a dip in play that saw their lead at the top reduced to just a single point by the Philadelphia Flyers. The Capitals would have home ice advantage in this series, but they have been better on the road, going 18-10-5 at home versus 23-10-3 away.

Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes snuck into the postseason via the Wild Card, but they certainly made the most of their time in the playoffs. Given that run, a lot was expected of them this season, but they are basically following the same path as they did last year, which some might see as an omen if they are able to make their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Hurricanes are 38-25-5 on the season, but they were on a good run before the suspension of play, winning 3 in a row. They have 19 wins at home and on the road, so they are pretty much tough to beat wherever they play.

The Capitals vs Hurricanes Head to Head

These two hooked up in the playoffs last season, with the Hurricanes winning an OT thriller in Game 7 to dispose of the Capitals. That series was tight, and it has been more of the same between these two in the regular season this year. The Hurricanes won the opening 2 meetings, with the Capitals tying up the season series in the next 2 games.

Capitals and Hurricanes Series Prediction

While there would appear to be a bit of a talent gap between these two teams, they always seem so to be evenly matched when they go head to head. With that in mind, I think we might be in for another 7-game series if they do meet in the postseason, although I think the Capitals get revenge this time around in the Capitals Vs Hurricanes series.

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Golden Knights and Jets if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

Every single season in the NHL, a few teams come out of nowhere to deliver a memorable season for their fans. What they do in those cases is set a bar that they need to try and reach, or surpass, every single season thereafter. That is a task that is much easier said than done, especially when that team make a deep run in the playoffs after starting the year as a bit of a longshot. It’s easy to forget that the St. Louis Blues were sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference last season before making a coaching switch that seemed to spur on the entire team. The rest, as they say, is history. As great as that accomplishment was, it does still pale in comparison to seeing the Vegas Golden Knights make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where they ultimately lost, in their inaugural season. This is year 3 for the Golden Knights, who are looking to make their third straight appearance in the postseason. If it were to start with today’s standings, Vegas would face the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round. Let’s take a look at how that series might play out along with their NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds for the Golden Knights vs Jets.

Golden Knights vs Jets if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

The Golden Knights and Jets Season to Date

The Golden Knights have been involved in a bit of a battle in the Pacific Division, with no less than 5 different teams taking a turn at the top over the past few months. While the other 4 teams played some inconsistent hockey, the Golden Knights went on a run that took them to the top with a 39-24-8 record. They went into the lockdown having won 8 of their last 10 games, so not the best time for the season to be paused. The Golden Knights would have home ice advantage in this series, which is good news for a team that is 22-11-4 in their own building.

The battle for playoff spots in the Western Conference is about as tight as it gets at the moment, with the Winnipeg Jets currently clinging to one of the two Wild Card spots. Overall on the season, the Jets are sitting at 37-28-6, which is good for 80 points, and which also has them just 2 points back of the Dallas Stars for third in the Central Division. The Jets were on a great run before things closed down, winning 4 in a row prior to that point. They also have a winning record on the road, so playing an extra game in Vegas is not a huge deal.

XIThe Golden Knights and Jets Head to Head

What we are seeing a lot in these potential playoff matchups is that the lower seeded teams are actually having the better of things in the regular season meetings. That is certainly the case here, with the Jets winning both games, home and away, against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Golden Knights and Jets Series Prediction

This is a series that I think could well end up going the distance, which is not what happened the last time they met in the postseason. The Golden Knights won that one in 5 on their way to the Final, but I think it would take them 7 games to get through here.

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Oilers Vs Flames if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

There are several different rivalries in the NHL that are incredibly fun to watch, but there are others where bad blood is built in, no matter how long the rivalry goes on. In those cases, the rivalry very often intensifies when both teams are competitive, as players then want to prove that they are the better of the two teams. The Battle of Alberta, which pits the Edmonton Oilers against the Calgary Flames, is arguably the most brutal of the bunch. While things cooled off a little in the years when both teams were routinely missing the playoffs, the heat appears to be back in this one, as the current crop of players on both sides appear to have some genuine disdain for one another. For the last few weeks heading into the shutdown, it was beginning to look more and more likely that the Oilers and Flames would be squaring off in the opening round of the playoffs. None of us really has any idea of how the NHL will handle things when the action finally does resume, but if they jump right into the playoffs, we will have these two squaring off. Let’s look at how an Oilers vs Flames series might play out their NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds as well.

Oilers Vs Flames if Stanley Cup Playoffs Started Today

The Oilers Vs Flames Season to Date

The Edmonton Oilers have had, like the majority of the teams in the Pacific Division, a bit of an up and down season. They spent some time atop the division just prior to the suspension of play, but a 5-3-2 run in their last 10 games saw them give up that lead to the Vegas Golden Knights. As it stands right now, the Oilers are sitting second in the division with a 37-25-9 record on the season. This is a team, though, that has more wins on the road than on home ice, winning 20 away from home while sporting a 17-11-6 record in their own building.

The Calgary Flames are another team that has been inconsistent all season long. When this team is hot, they are an offensive juggernaut that is tough to stop, but they have seen their hot spells this year quickly followed by a stretch of games where they cannot buy a win. Not having home ice advantage mightn’t be a bad thing for Calgary, as many if their struggles have come on home ice. They have 16 wins in their own building, but they are a very solid 20-14-3 on the road.

The Oilers and Flames Head to Head

It has been the Flames who have dominated the proceedings in the Battle of Alberta this season, winning 3 in a row before finally losing the final meeting with the Oilers before heading into the lockdown.

Oilers and Flames Series Prediction

There has been a ton of bad blood in this series this season, so expect to see that intensify of these two do finally meet in the playoffs. This is a series that looks almost destined to go the full 7 games, with a lot of offense also likely. This one could swing either way, but I would lean in the direction of the Flames to win it in 7.

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Calgary Flames 2020 NHL Season Analysis

The Calgary Flames had the most points in the Western Conference last season but flamed out in the playoffs. This year, the Flames weren’t even a lock to make it. Let’s take a closer look at their season along with NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds.

Calgary Flames 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Season Recap

Calgary sat third in the Pacific Division with 79 points when the season was suspended, which would have been good for a playoff spot but not by much. For example, Vancouver was the top team on the outside of the Top 8 and had 78 points.

The Flames lost their final game before the break, 5-3 at home vs. Vegas on March 8. Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who had won three straight. Dillon Dube and Matthew Tkachuk also scored for Calgary. David Rittich had 27 saves to fall to 0-6-1 in his last seven home starts.  The All-Star Rittich slipped to 0-2-1 across his past three outings, and 2-4-1 over the past seven.

After being involved in a collision in his own zone early in the first period, Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin left the ice with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. He was likely to miss some time. Hanifin has five goals and 22 points in 70 contests this season. The break came at a lousy time for defenseman Travis Hamonic as he was set to return from a long injury absence.  He has three goals and 12 points in 50 contests this season and last played on Feb. 8.

The pause to the season may have cost left wing Andrew Mangiapane a 20-goal season. Mangiapane has 17 goals and 32 points in 68 games this season, which is a huge jump from 13 points in 44 contests in 2018-19. The 23-year-old was taken 166th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

“Whether you’re drafted or not, you always still need to put in the work afterwards. That’s the beginning of the whole process,” Mangiapane said. “So if you’re a late draft or not drafted at all, never give up. Just keep working hard, and keep fighting to get to where you want to be.”

Top defenseman Mark Giordano thinks that if the playoffs do happen, they’ll be one of the best ever.

“If we can ever get back to playing, I think this is going to be one of the best playoffs ever because every team is going to have all their guys healthy and ready to go,” Giordano said. “You’re truly going to be playing the best version of every team, I think.” It certainly would be a one-of-a-kind playoffs if it does happen. There are potential concerns because while players will be rested and healthy for the playoffs if they do happen this year, they’ll also be very rusty.

Matthew Tkachuk had joined Paul Reinhart, Al MacInnis, joe Nieuwendyk, Robert Reichel, Jarome Iginla, Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau as 1 of 8 Calgary Flames (1980-81 – present) with two seasons of 60+ points before age 23.  Tkachuk has 15th career games with three-plus points and six this season. Tkachuk trails only Auston Matthews (22) and Patrik Laine (17) for the most such outings among players selected from his 2016 draft class.

Mikael Backlund had been playing some of his best hockey for the Flames since the start of November. Backlund has 21 points in his last 15 games. That is the sixth-most points in the NHL since February 6. Backlund is now tied with Eric Vail for the fifth most game-winning-goals in Flames franchise history. Backlund trails Joe Mullen (33), Sean Monahan (40), Theo Fleury (53), and Jarome Iginla (83).

Calgary’s 19 one-goal victories this season are tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the most in the NHL.

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Edmonton Oilers 2020 NHL Season Analysis

No team would have wanted to face the Edmonton Oilers in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs because they have the most dynamic offensive duo in the league in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Will there be a postseason this year? That remains to be seen. Let’s take a closer look at their season along with NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds.

Edmonton Oilers 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Season Recap

Edmonton was second in the Pacific Division but in a mini-slump when the season was suspended, losing three of four. It closed the year with a 4-2 home loss to Winnipeg on March 11. Tyler Ennis and Connor McDavid scored for the Oilers. “That’s karma,” McDavid said. “We have had a couple of games where we have gotten points where we probably didn’t deserve points. I thought our game was pretty good (vs Winnipeg) and we don’t get any points. That is the way it goes.”

The goal brought McDavid’s season total up to 34, and combined with his 63 assists he now has 97 points in 64 games played. He currently has the second-most points and the second-most assists in the entire league, behind only his teammate Leon Draisaitl. McDavid has posted 1.52 points per game thus far.

McDavid is the best forward in the game according to 68.3% of his peers who participated in the NHLPA Players Poll recently released. The Players’ Association’s annual poll consisted of 588 NHL players casting their vote on a variety of on and off-ice topics, with the Oilers captain dominating the field in the top forward category. McDavid finished ahead of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (15%), Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (6.7%) and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (2.9%) to round out the top four.

Since McDavid entered the NHL for the 2015-16 campaign, he has recorded 469 points in 351 games to lead all scorers, edging out Chicago’s Patrick Kane (465 points in 397 games) and Kucherov (464 points in 381 games).

Draisaitl posted 43 goals and 67 assists for a league-leading 110 points before the NHL suspended its season. Draisaitl was the only player in the NHL to hit the century mark before the break, and he also leads the league with 67 helpers while turning in 1.55 points per game. He also registered 10 game-winning goals while totaling 16 markers and 44 points on the man advantage. Draisaitl already has career bests in assists, points and power-play points.

Mike Smith gave up two goals within seven minutes in the second period, and then later gave up the game-winning goal just under 30 seconds into the third. This loss brought his season record down to 19-12-6. Smith has a season save percentage of .902 and a season GAA of 2.95 in 39 outings. Smith agreed to a bonus-heavy deal with the Oilers last summer worth $2 million in base salary and another $1.75 million in performance money. He has earned $125,000 each for playing 20, 25, 30 and 35 games, but stands to lose over $1 million if the NHL doesn’t jumpstart the regular season.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also was having a career year. Nugent-Hopkins was the fifth-most productive forward in the NHL with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 30 games since Dec. 31. A 17-8-5 record for the Oilers during that span solidified the club in the Pacific Division playoff picture.

Nugent-Hopkins was behind just Draisaitl, Nikita Kucherov, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin in points since Dec. 31. He found another gear offensively after he was put on a line with Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. He had 22 goals and 61 points in 65 games prior to the pause.

“He does everything for us,” McDavid said. “Penalty kill, power play, five-on-five – he plays lots of minutes. He’s definitely a huge part of our team. He pitches in offensively and his game overall is so solid.”

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Vegas Golden Knights 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Of course, the Vegas Golden Knights made the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season of existence in 2017-18, losing to the Washington Capitals. Could the Knights go all the way this season – if the NHL actually does stage a postseason? Let’s take a closer look at their season along with NHL Odds and Stanley Cup Odds.

Vegas Golden Knights 2020 NHL Season Analysis

Season Recap

When the NHL suspended its season, Vegas led the Pacific Division with 86 points, three ahead of Calgary and eight back of St. Louis for home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

The Knights were playing great hockey, having won 11 of their final 13. They were 3-2 overtime winners in Edmonton in their last game on March 9. Shea Theodore scored 2:13 into overtime to win it. Theodore picked the top corner off a feed from Jonathan Marchessault, who scored the tying goal with eight minutes left in the third period. Since the Golden Knights debuted, they’ve never had a true, elite No. 1 defenseman. Theodore — who leads the team in ice time and has 46 points — is coming close to that status this year.

The Knights’ season turned around when they fired coach Gerard Gallant and replaced him with Peter DeBoer. DeBoer himself was fired earlier this year by the San Jose Sharks. Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon, while thanking Gallant for the “real special moments” by the franchise, said he believed the team has underperformed this season. When Gallant was canned, the Knights were 24-19-6 in 49 games. Their .551 points percentage ranked them ninth in the conference.

“It’s just the feeling that you have that a change might be needed,” he said in a news conference. “I wish I could be more specific than that, but that’s really how we felt. We thought about this a lot. It certainly wasn’t something that we did in haste.”

DeBoer has led both the Panthers and Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with both, but lost both times.

There’s a chance that blueliner Deryk Engelland’s playing career may be over if the remainder of the NHL season is canceled.  Vegas has six defenseman under contract for the 2020-21 season. That doesn’t include Nicolas Hague, Jimmy Schuldt, Dylan Coghlan, Kaedan Korczak and Jake Bischoff who will be competing for spots at training camp.

Engelland can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. He has lived in Las Vegas for more than 15 years and may not want to go to another city after spending three seasons with the Golden Knights. Engelland played in just five of 22 games since DeBoer took over behind the bench.

When the season was stopped, Vegas had just lost winger Max Pacioretty for a week or two due to a lower-body injury. Vegas already had a slew of injured forwards before Pacioretty sustained the injury. Pacioretty has scored 32 goals and 66 points through 71 games this season. He led the team in points, goals, power play goals (8), power play points (19) and shots (307). Pacioretty was averaging 17:55 minutes of total ice time per night with 90 hits, 35 blocked shots and 32 takeaways.

Fellow winger Mark Stone hadn’t played since Feb. 26 due to a lower-body injury but was expected back at some point in the regular season.

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