NHL

NHL Teams That Will Benefit From the Coronavirus Break, and Those that Will Not

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has left us without sports, I wondered how teams would respond to a possible huge delay in play. There will certainly be ramifications for players being locked out of the arena and gym for an extended period of time, but could some teams actually benefit?

Teams that could benefit;

Toronto Maple Leafs

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Toronto has had an odd year. They’re loaded with talent and just haven’t been able to put it all together. For God’s sake, they lost to a 42 year old practice goalie WHO WORKS FOR THEM. Not a great night for a team in desperate need of points. They went 8-6-1 in February against a favorable schedule and sit in 3rd place in the Atlantic with 81 points. This could be a great opportunity for the team to hit the reset button for when play resumes. There’s simply too much talent, especially with the year Austin Matthews is having (47-33-80) and an offense that should be relentless. If play resumes soon it will be interesting to see if this group can pull it together or else they’ll be looking at another early exit. – @T_Ry25_

Detroit Red Wings

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OOF. Just when I (Nate B.) had them predicted to be middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division, they started off their tanks and they’re still running them. The team did make little improvements by trading for St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Alex Biaga, but one more key improvement needs to be made soon. Even though Red Wings and now-first-year GM Steve Yzerman went with Jeff Blashill for head coach, they possibly need to address that position as well. However, I have them as a winner, because the tanking could lead them to the first overall pick (pending lottery, of course). Alexis LaFreniere is the projected first-overall pick currently; it’s just if the cards are right for Detroit, their rebuild may be worth it after all. – @natedog_906

Pittsburgh Penguins

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It’s been an interesting year for the Penguins who have been bit as hard by the injury bug as anyone. Jake Gentzel has been out with an injury since December with a hope to return in April/May. It will also give guys like Dumoulin and Marino a chance to get some rest and get over their nagging injuries, so that could be a huge boost once play resumes. Before the stoppage, Pittsburgh was 3-7 in their last 10…yikes. This break could give guys the time to rest up for a push going into the playoffs, whenever that may be.We all know how dangerous this Pittsburgh team can be and they’ll need everyone on board with how good the Metro has been this season. – @T_Ry25_

Florida Panthers

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This was a toss up for me. Florida has had another weird year. I feel like it’s been 5 years running with this team as preseason picks for a team that will finally make the jump and they just never do. Welcome to the COVID-break-pick-for-a-team-that-will-reset-and-make-the-jump (woo, that was a mouthful), the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are 3 points out of third in the Atlantic with a game in hand on the Maple Leafs. Florida has had a massive boost with surprise 20 goal scorer Noel Accari deciding to put up an All Star season out of the blue. The biggest piece here that will make or break the Panthers hopes of a shot at the playoffs is the man between the pipes, Sergei Bobrovski. He simply has not been good enough this season. Offering a 23-19-6 record with 3.23 GAA and a .900SV% this season, the Panthers were hoping for much, much more from the man they gave a 7 year, $70 million deal to. If he can screw his head on straight and return to the guy we saw in Columbus last season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team force their way to a playoff spot. – @T_Ry25_

Teams that could get hurt;

Boston Bruins

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The Boston Bruins were the best team in the NHL since the puck dropped in October. They’ve clearly been on a mission since letting the Stanley Cup slip through their fingers last June. David Pastrnak has been an MVP candidate all year with 48-47-95 in 70 games and was on pace for 111 points by the season’s end. Who knows if he’ll be able to stay on as hot a pace when he comes back. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci aren’t getting any younger and likely don’t have too many more cracks at a championship. What’s Charlie McAvoy up to? Is he doing at home HIIT workouts or is he stuffing his face with Swiss Rolls in front of his XBOX like the rest of us? Charlie Coyle (Weymouth native) has been an absolute pleasure to watch the past few months. He’s been zipping around creating scoring chances every 6 minutes it seems and I’d hate to see him lose that buzz. Even if the season resumes sometime in July or August, it’s hard to say if the Bruins can recapture the momentum they built all season and the nastiness they’ve carried since the Cup Final last June. – @T_Ry25_

Vegas Golden Knights

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Just like the roller coaster ride at the New York-New Hotel and Casino, the Golden Knights’ season was an up-and-down, bumpy ride, and when everything was going smooth, it hit a sudden halt. The team started off the 2019-20 regular season slow, sitting in the middle of the Pacific Division standings in December-January. However, changes were quickly made. Gerard Gallant was relieved of his coaching duties and was replaced by (former San Jose Sharks coach) Peter DeBoer, then Vegas traded for defensemen Chandler Stephenson, Alec Martinez and goaltender Robin Lehner at the trade deadline. Lehner came via trade from Chicago where Vegas sent the Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban, defenseman Slava Demin and a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. That’s a pretty big haul for a guy they were counting on come playoffs. Vegas is currently in first place in the division. If somehow, the season does resume in the summer, the Golden Knights could make a major momentum push like they did in 2018, but if not the moves they made this year may be all for naught. – @natedog_906

St. Louis Blues

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The 2019 Stanley Cup champs were having another stellar season, and were on pace to go back to the playoffs and dominate without much competition, maybe other than Colorado. At the time of the season stopping, the Blues were second place in the league with a 42-19-10 and had 94 points, only trailing the Boston Bruins who had a league leading 100 points. Now, if you want to talk about a team that loved playing together and were all a bunch of straight up gangsters, look no further than the 2020 St. Louis Blues. Ryan O’Reilly: 12-49-61. David Perron: 25-35-60. Braden Schenn: 25-33-58. Jaden Schwartz: 22-35-57. Oh yeah, and imagine how much better they would have been if they had Vladimir Tarasenko for more than 10 games this season. With these guys and more coming back from their Stanley Cup winning roster, it’s hard to say that the Blues didn’t have a good chance of going to back to back championships.  – @iamthunder32


Colorado Avalanche

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If any team in the West would have taken down St. Louis, it was going to be Colorado. The Avalanche were just two points behind the Blues, with a 42-20-8 record. Just like St. Louis, this was another team that was great at team play. They didn’t just count on Nathan MacKinnon, although he had 93 points when the season stopped, all the time. They know how to move the puck around and create opportunities for everyone. That being proven by the fact that 9 of their players had 30 or more points up to this point in the season. One of those players is Mikko Rantanen, who had only played 42 games this season, but had 41 points in those games. To make a long story short, Colorado has some dogs in their locker room, and would have given St. Louis a run for their money.  – @iamthunder32

Anaheim Ducks

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Just kidding, this team stinks. Not much could possibly go worse for this franchise and I’m not sure they’re very close to things getting better either. Mr. Hockey himself could descend from the Heavens at the ripe age of 23 on his entry level contract and this team wouldn’t move up in the standings. Instead I’m going to use this space to plug our new PSE Hockey page! You can follow us over @PSEHockey for all our hockey blogs AND a follow back. I mean c’mon now where are you gonna find a deal like that nowadays?

Follow me on Twitter @T_Ry25_

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