Here’s a rundown of the original content here at PHR over the past week.
Our Stretch Run Storylines continues as we wrapped up our tour of the Central Division and shifted to the Eastern Conference to begin previewing the Atlantic Division.
Minnesota: The Wild certainly got a boost following the coaching change that saw Dean Evason take over from Bruce Boudreau and Evason’s future as the bench boss may very well come down to how they fare down the stretch (if there is one). However, I believe the biggest thing to watch for will be Devan Dubnyk. Saying he has struggled this season would be putting it nicely and for them to make a push the rest of the way this year and even into 2020-21, he will need to get back to a starting goaltender level.
Chicago: While the Blackhawks would make it to the playoffs if a 24-team proposal gets adopted, that’s about their only postseason hope. With that in mind, players playing for their next contracts becomes their focal point. I took a look at some of the players who are in that situation including Corey Crawford who will be hoping to land another contract with Chicago for next season.
Boston: The Bruins have been the top team in the league for most of the season and naturally, one of the questions will be whether or not they’ll be able to pick up where they left off and hold down first overall. As Holger noted though, one of the key things for them will be integrating late acquisitions Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase into their lineup. The pause in the season certainly makes that a bit more challenging, especially if the NHL winds up jumping quickly to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay: After a quiet start to the season, the Lightning have been one of the stronger teams in the East in recent months as expected. Holger assessed their situation, highlighting how the pause in the schedule should help ensure that one of their top players will be healthy if play resumes. That will certainly be critical as if the usual playoff format remains intact, they could be in for a very high octane series against Toronto in the first round.
One of the more intriguing trophy races down the stretch is the Hart Trophy for the player most valuable to his team. There are several players that legitimate cases could be made for if the season winds up being over but that could certainly change if regular season games resume. As things stand, who should get the nod? Make your vote count here.
The Vezina Trophy is going to be a tricky one as well. Statistically, the top goalies have played in fewer games due to injuries or a platoon situation which could open the door for someone like Connor Hellebuyck. However, Winnipeg is barely holding down a playoff spot which may dissuade voters. With that in mind, who would you pick? Make your choice here.
We debuted a new series called the PHR Panel which gathers the opinions of each of our writers on topics around the league. Our first one discussed which of the various playoff formats that have been suggested if the regular season is unable to last a full 82 games. The second discussed how the cancellations of playoffs and tournaments would impact the various types of draft prospects and which ones would be the most affected. This series will run each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.