The NHL season begins its second month on Saturday, and one of many largest tales has been a medical one.
With the league opting to play at house arenas as a substitute of in a bubble setting, COVID-19 has disrupted the season, forcing the postponement of 35 video games. As of Friday morning, there are greater than 50 gamers on the COVID-19 protocol checklist (amongst causes, preliminary optimistic check, displaying signs or potential publicity to somebody with a optimistic check).
The Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers have had prolonged day off. The Devils have had as many as 19 gamers at one time on the COVID-19 protocol checklist and the league revised its protocols then did it a second time.
Here are a number of the winners and losers of the primary month of the season:
Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning
If any crew might be forgiven for having a Stanley Cup hangover, it was the Lightning after the information that main scorer Nikita Kucherov would miss the common season after hip surgical procedure. But they sit atop the Central Division with a 9-2-1 file. In reality, they’re off to a greater begin than final 12 months, after they started 6-4-2. The enchancment has come on the defensive aspect, as they’ve allowed 17 fewer objectives. The offense has stored tempo however faces one other problem with Steven Stamkos (14 factors) and Anthony Cirelli (10) injured this week. “We’ve had success with guys going in and out before,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper mentioned. “It’s tough initially, but we’ve got a good hockey team.”
Loser: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins’ playoff streak was already tough to uphold with their core getting older and the Boston Bruins coming into the division. Then they needed to take care of the abrupt resignation of aggressive dealer Jim Rutherford as GM for private causes. The Penguins went big with his replacement, including GM Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke on Tuesday. They’ll be tasked with going for it, however the crew is tight towards the cap and lacks a first-round decide to commerce. Hextall has a popularity for constructing via the draft, so is this the offseason we see the Penguins reboot?
Winner: Boston Bruins
They might have had a troublesome begin after the departures of defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara and the offseason surgical procedures of Brad Marchand (sports activities hernia) and David Pastrnak (hip). But they’re 9-1-2 with defenseman Charlie McAvoy offering offense and topping 24 minutes an evening. Marchand, who mentioned he was taking part in at 80% final season, is flying on the market, and Pastrnak had 5 objectives in his first three video games after his Jan. 30 return.
Loser: Vancouver Canucks
They misplaced Tyler Toffoli, Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev to free company, and now should face them 9 or 10 occasions this season. Montreal’s Toffoli has feasted on the Canucks with eight objectives and three assists in 5 video games towards the crew he performed for briefly final season. Calgary’s Markstrom is 3-0 towards the Canucks, together with a shutout. Vancouver is struggling after a powerful postseason.
Winner: Schedule makers
Could additionally have a look at this as a “loser” as an adjusted schedule means COVID-19 points. The stress degree needs to be immense. Usually the job is a one-off, get the schedule accomplished in the summertime, then tweak throughout the season for the occasional blizzard. But this season, the rescheduling has been fixed (the Stars missed their first 4 video games) and complex. To make up for 4 video games every by the Sabres and the Devils, the league had to reschedule 27 games within the East Division. With groups idle, the league is transferring up later-season video games to plug within the gaps. That flexibility will assist as a result of there’s stress to get the season accomplished within the allotted time-frame with broadcast associate NBC displaying the Olympics throughout the summer time.
Loser: Testing points
The league mentioned this season could be a studying curve, and testing has been one as a result of it takes longer to get again outcomes from the more-accurate PCR testing. The Golden Knights needed to pull a player midgame when his check got here again optimistic. The Devils had 4 gamers in a sport towards Buffalo go on the protocol checklist the subsequent day, after which the Sabres had points. Same with the Wild and Avalanche. Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is convinced his crew’s outbreak was the results of a sport towards the Carolina Hurricanes. “Carolina had guys that ultimately played with COVID,” he mentioned. “That’s simply the fact of the testing (outcomes) being delayed.” But the NHL is adjusting. It delayed the start of Thursday’s Edmonton-Montreal game to make sure all Oilers tests were completed after one of their players went on protocol. And U.S.-based teams will start using rapid tests on game day in addition to the lab-based PCR tests.
Winner: Jack Roslovic
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets traded unhappy players, with Pierre-Luc Dubois heading north and Patrik Laine and Roslovic going to Ohio. Roslovic, who signed a two-year deal, is averaging more than a point a game with his hometown team and had a highlight-reel goal on Feb. 8. “He’s labored so exhausting to get up to now and now he is lastly getting the possibility he is been in search of … and taking benefit,” Laine mentioned.
Loser: Discipline issues
Coaches and basic managers have a troublesome sufficient time negotiating the coronavirus panorama. They do not want participant self-discipline points on high of that. The New York Rangers waived defenseman Tony DeAngelo after an altercation with a teammate. Dallas Stars goalie Anton Khudobin was benched one game for being late to observe. And the Washington Capitals were fined $100,000 when Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov violated protocols by gathering in a hotel room while not wearing masks. All four went on the protocol list, and Kuznetsov said he ended up with COVID-19 symptoms. “It’s undoubtedly not enjoyable, and it is not simple days,” he said.
Winner: North Division stars
Edmonton Oilers forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, both former Hart Trophy winners, have combined for 54 points in 16 games. Both put together a recent 10-game point streak and Draisaitl had a six-assist game. Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews put together an eight-game goal streak and linemate Mitch Marner has been held without a point only three times. Eight of the league’s top 10 goal scorers are from the division.
Loser: Fantasy-team managers
Postponed video games aren’t solely affecting the groups with the contact tracing points. Their opponents are idle, too. And with groups taking part in two- or three-game units, a crew’s pause might wipe out days price of fantasy manufacturing for leagues with weekly locks.