The Wraparound: Hockey is back as NHL Return to Play begins

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 NHL Return to Play. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

The Hurricanes will definitely be without a defenseman. The Rangers could potentially not have their top-scoring blue liner Saturday afternoon.

Rod Brind’Amour said that Dougie Hamilton will not play in Game 1 (12 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream). He’s missed practices this week but did skate after the team did on Friday. He’s “getting better for sure,” said the Carolina head coach. The defenseman broke his leg in January and did not return before the league pause in March.

Tony DeAngelo, meanwhile, could get into Game 1 for the Rangers. Head coach David Quinn said he will be a game-time decision. That could open to the door for Libor Hajek to take his spot.

One mystery for both teams is who will start in goal for both teams. Brind’Amour will be choosing between Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, while Quinn has the Igor Shesterkin vs. Henrik Lundqvist decision.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

NHL GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 3 p.m. ET (NBC; live stream): Edmonton won exactly half of its home games this season (17-11-6, .588 pts%) and went 20-14-3 (.581) on the road. Their home record was tied for 17th in the league in terms of points percentage but they did boast the best power play at home this season (31.7%) – although not surprising considering the Oilers had the best overall power play in the NHL this season (29.5%). Chicago, after finishing last in the Central Division and six points back of the second wild card spot when play was halted in March, is one of the beneficiaries of the 24-team format – now competing for another Cup.

Game 1: Panthers vs. Islanders, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN; live stream): After winning two Vezina Trophies with Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky signed a seven-year, $70 million contract with the Panthers last summer. However, he struggled in his first year in Florida, going 23-19-6 with a .900 save percentage. This matchup pits two teams with opposite styles against each other. The Panthers were one of the highest-scoring teams in the league but were leaky in defense, while the Islanders were a top-10 defense but struggled to find the back of the net.

Game 1: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET (NBC; live stream): Pittsburgh has been one of the many teams to benefit a bit on the injury front thanks to the long break. The biggest addition to their lineup will be a healthy Jake Guentzel, who suffered a scary shoulder injury after scoring a goal on Dec. 30 vs. Ottawa. He was given a 4-6 month timeline after surgery. The Canadiens will undoubtedly be relying on goalie Carey Price to give them a fighting shot against one of the most talented teams in the Eastern Conference. Price, the last goalie to win the Hart Trophy in 2015, started an NHL-high 58 games in the regular season and posted a .909 save percentage.

Game 1: Jets vs. Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; live stream): The only all-Canadian matchup in the Qualifying Round will be the first-ever postseason meeting between Winnipeg and Calgary and just the second game between these clubs this season as the final two games of the season series were cancelled due to play being halted in March. Out of all the 24 teams returning to play, Winnipeg has the longest active winning streak having ended the regular season with four straight wins. They are the only playoff team that has not lost since February – with their last defeat coming in the building they’ll play this entire postseason in, having lost at Edmonton on Feb. 29.

SUNDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Round-robin: Flyers vs. Bruins, 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
Round-robin: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 1: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Game 1: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier previews
Eastern Conference top seed round-robin preview
Penguins vs. Canadiens
Rangers vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Panthers
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

Western Conference top seed round-robin preview
Jets vs. Flames
Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Predators vs. Coyotes
Wild vs. Canucks

Predictions for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers
Why your team won’t (and will) win the Stanley Cup this season
NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup-less veterans to root for
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.