Push for the Playoffs: Hurricanes, Islanders can’t sleep through afternoon tilt

Hurricanes Islanders big afternoon game Push for the Playoffs
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Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2019-20 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

Athletes (hockey players included) are creatures of habit. Sometimes that makes them almost seem robotic, as you might think after watching Nicklas Lidstrom go through the motions during his playing days.

With those habits in mind, it cannot be easy to throw all of that for a loop and play an afternoon game.

Yet, quite a few teams must shake off the cobwebs/”eye boogers” on Saturday, as the stakes are pretty high. The Predators must do so against the Stars, for example, but the biggest afternoon game involves significant pressure for both teams, as the Hurricanes and Islanders must fight for precious points.

The “slow starting” narrative might sting Carolina, in particular. As Michael Smith of the team website notes, the Hurricanes have allowed opponents to score the first goal in six straight games, and 12 of their last 15.

Even as the Islanders are idling a bit lately, that’s really not something Carolina can afford against such a stingy team.

“We have to be able to play those kinds of games. It was a 0-0 game in the last minute-and-a-half of the period. We made a little gaffe, and it’s in your net,” Rod Brind’Amour said after Carolina’s loss to the Flyers. “You have to bear down all the time. You can’t take little breaths on the ice. We still need to learn that.”

For all we know, Saturday’s afternoon game might come down to the Islanders or Hurricanes enjoying the quicker start. A battle of who ate a better breakfast, perhaps?

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Bruins vs. Islanders
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs
Flyers vs. Penguins

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Blues vs. Jets
Golden Knights vs. Canucks
Avalanche vs. Stars
Oilers vs. Flames

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS 

Hurricanes at Islanders, 1 p.m. ET
Capitals at Penguins, 1 p.m. ET
Predators at Stars, 2 p.m. ET
Wild at Kings, 4 p.m. ET
Lightning at Bruins, 7 p.m. ET
Canadiens at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET
Devils at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Sabres at Flyers, 7 p.m. ET
Blue Jackets at Oilers, 10 p.m. ET

EASTERN CONFERENCE

via NHL.com

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)

Bruins – 100 percent
Lightning – 100
Capitals – 99.8
Flyers – 99.8
Penguins – 98.5
Maple Leafs – 79.4
Islanders – 66.1
Hurricanes 54.7
Blue Jackets – 38.2
Rangers – 33.2
Panthers – 28.3
Canadiens – 1.8
Sabres – 0.2
Senators – 0
Devils – 0
Red Wings – OUT

WESTERN CONFERENCE

via NHL.com

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)

Blues – 100 percent
Avalanche – 100
Stars – 98.9
Golden Knights – 94
Oilers – 93.2
Flames – 75.2
Canucks – 72.7
Wild – 60.3
Jets – 38.4
Predators – 34.6
Coyotes – 27.2
Blackhawks 5.5
Ducks – 0
Sharks – 0
Kings – 0

THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE

Red Wings – 18.5 percent
Kings – 13.5 percent
Senators – 11. 5 percent
Senators – 9.5 percent*
Ducks – 8.5 percent
Devils – 7.5 percent
Sabres – 6.5 percent
Canadiens – 6 percent
Blackhawks – 5 percent
Devils – 3.5 percent**
Jets – 3 percent
Predators – 2.5 percent
Panthers – 2 percent
Rangers – 1.5 percent
Hurricanes – 1 percent

(* SJ’s 2020 first-round pick owned by OTT)
(** ARZ’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick owned by NJ. If top three, moves to 2021)

ART ROSS RACE

Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 110 points
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 95 points
David Pastrnak, Bruins – 93 points
Artemi Panarin, Rangers – 93 points
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 90 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

David Pastrnak, Bruins – 47 goals
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 47 goals
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 46 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 43 goals
Mika Zibanejad, Rangers – 38 goals

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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