Patrice Bergeron

NHL 2019-20 Final standings, playoff schedule, draft lottery results

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The NHL seeks to hand out the 2020 Stanley Cup despite the COVID-19 pandemic, so with that, Tuesday ranks as a big day as we spotlight the NHL 2019-20 Final standings, among other topics.

Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league’s return-to-play plan, which includes a 24-team playoff format involving two “hub cities.” Plenty of dates still need to be determined, but there are key windows, such as “early June” for resuming skating in small groups, and “no earlier than the first half of July” for formal training camps.

NHL 2019-20 Final standings

Eastern Conference standings (top 12 make cut for NHL 24-team format)

East final NHL standings 2019-20
rankings based on points percentage, via NHL.com

EASTERN CONFERENCE (Scotiabank Arena)

Click here for updated TV info for the Qualifiers

Round-robin
Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers vs. Bruins, 3 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 3:
Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 5:
Lightning vs. Bruins, 4 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 6:
Capitals vs. Flyers, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8:
Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9:
Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

(5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens
Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 3: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Penguins vs. Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers
Saturday, Aug. 1: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 3: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, 8 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 6: Hurricanes vs. Rangers*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Rangers vs. Hurricanes*

(7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers
Saturday, Aug. 1: Panthers vs. Islanders, 4 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Islanders vs. Panthers, 12 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders vs. Panthers*
Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders*

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets
Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 4 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 6: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, TBD
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*, TBD

[MORE: NHL announces full schedule for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers]

Western Conference standings (top 12 make cut for NHL 24-team format)

West final NHL standings 2019-20
rankings based on points percentage, via NHL.com

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Rogers Place)

Click here for updated TV info for the Qualifiers

Round-robin
Sunday, Aug. 2: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 3: Stars vs. Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars, 6:30 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues, TBD

(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks
Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 3 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 3: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks, 10:30 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*, TBD

(6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes
Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Predators vs. Coyotes, 2:30 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*, TBD

(7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild
Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:45 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks vs. Wild, TBD
Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*, TBD

(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets
Saturday, Aug. 1: Jets vs. Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET
Monday, Aug. 3: Jets vs. Flames, 2:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames vs. Jets, 4:45 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*, TBD

* – if necessary

2020 NHL Draft Lottery Results

The Draft lottery was won by a team involved in the Return to Play plan. That means there will be a Phase 2 drawing featuring the eight losing teams from the Qualifying Round. Those teams will each have a 12.5% chance to the top pick in the drawing, which will be held between the Qualifying Round and the First Round.

1. Placeholder team
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. Ottawa Senators (via San Jose)
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Ottawa Senators
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Buffalo Sabres
========================
9. Placeholder team
10. Placeholder team
11. Placeholder team
12. Placeholder team
13. Placeholder team
14. Placeholder team
15. Placeholder team

If the COVID-19 pandemic forces the NHL to pull the plug on playing games the lottery would then include only the eight lowest teams by inverse of their regular season points percentage. That would mean Arizona, Chicago Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, New York Rangers, and Winnipeg would be in the running for the No. 1 pick.

NHL AWARD FINALISTS
Ted Lindsay Award: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin
Calder Trophy: Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Dominik Kubalik
Jack Adams Award: Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
• Masterton Trophy: Stephen Johns, Oskar Lindblom, Bobby Ryan

Lady Byng Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Ryan O’Reilly
Vezina Trophy: Connor Hellebuyck, Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron, Sean Couturier, Ryan O’Reilly
Norris Trophy: John Carlson, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi
Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin

Flyers stay hot, beat Bruins: Notes from NHL Return to Play round-robin game

Flyers beat Bruins in first NHL round-robin game
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Whether you weigh their last few wins all that much or not, the Philadelphia Flyers remain on a roll. The Flyers beat the Bruins 4-1 in the first NHL Return to Play round-robin game on Sunday.

Heading into the pandemic pause, the Flyers saw a nine-game winning streak end against the Bruins. Being that the Flyers won on Sunday and also their exhibition against the Penguins, this team’s been on quite an upward trend.

Again, there’s only so much you can take from these past two W’s, but it’s better to be on the winning side than not.

Round-robin game notes for Flyers, Bruins

The goalies: Hart gets some time in, mixed bag for Halak in relief of Rask

  • Yes, this was technically Carter Hart‘s “playoff debut.” No, this game didn’t give us the best idea of how the young goalie will respond to top-level pressure. Because this felt more like somewhere between an exhibition game and a regular season contest. With that caveat in mind, Hart performed very nicely against the Bruins, making 34 out of 35 saves.
  • Again, Hart didn’t face a keyed-in Bruins squad. Or, at least the Bruins have to hope this isn’t a keyed-in effort.

https://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs/status/1290046351405973511

  • Not the greatest outing for Jaroslav Halak. Halak gave up four goals against the Flyers, including one where he didn’t take the greatest angle against Scott Laughton. Halak probably wasn’t too pleased allowing this goal against Nate Thompson, either:
  • Overall, Halak gives the Bruins a strong backup, even if Sunday didn’t go so well. Even so, Tuukka Rask finished as a 2020 Vezina Trophy finalist, so the Bruins have to hope that they can go with (a healthy) Plan A once the First Round rolls around.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Did any Flyers, Bruins get hurt? And other lineup notes from round-robin game

  • Matt Grzelcyk took a puck to the face, but seemed OK.
  • Michael Raffl needed help off of the ice after an awkward fall late in the Flyers – Bruins round-robin game. It’s a shame for Raffl, who played well on Sunday. This might improve Joel Farabee and others chances of taking a spot away from Raffl.
  • While they didn’t make much of an impact, the Bruins must be pleased to see all of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak get some game action in.
  • Bruce Cassidy said Rask had been “feeling better” even if Halak got the nod, for whatever that’s worth.
  • Shayne Gostisbehere didn’t play for the Flyers. Will he eventually work his way back into the mix? This certainly doesn’t seem like the best sign for “Ghost.”

Eastern Conference round-robin schedule

Monday, Aug. 3: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning vs. Bruins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

Sunday’s other NHL games

Round-robin: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)

Game 1: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, (joined-in-progress) 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)

Game 1: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)

MONDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Jets vs. Flames, 2:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Round-robin: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Round-robin: Stars-Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Game 2: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

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.

Bubble hockey begins: NHL playoff teams adjust to quarantine

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When the Boston Bruins boarded their flight bound for Toronto, they thought of it as just another long road trip.

Sure, they were spaced out and masked up on the plane, but they were en route to compete for the Stanley Cup that they fell one win short of earning last season. Patrice Bergeron said he was ”excited and looking forward to what’s coming next.”

It unfolded a little differently for Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith when he checked into a downtown hotel Sunday minutes from his house for a stay he hopes will last more than two months.

”Reality definitely set in,” Smith said.

NHL players from the 24 playoff teams woke up to their new reality Monday in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta. Quarantined bubble life began with the league reporting zero positive coronavirus test results last week, and this existence away from the public is scheduled to last until the Stanley Cup is awarded in the fall.

”We asked our group right from the start just to keep open minds because everything’s going to change, everything’s fluctuating constantly, daily, minutely,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said.

”It’s different. You’ve got a walkway with fences. People can’t see in. You can’t see out. But if you embrace it and are willing just to go with things, it’s pretty cool.”

While Major League Baseball postponed at least two games and grappled with the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak, the NHL reported none of the 800-plus players tested in the final week of training camps came back positive for the virus. That information and the low amount of confirmed cases in the Canadian provinces where games will take place added a layer of confidence to the first day of practices.

Like the NBA and Major League Soccer in Florida, the NHL set up a quarantined environment for players, coaches and staff that allowed those in the bubble to contrast that method of finishing the season to the less stringent way MLB and the NFL are trying to get through theirs.

”We are in a bubble. Major League Baseball is not,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”Obviously once you get to the bubble, it appears to be a very safe environment.”

Feeling safe allowed teams to get down to business in preparing for exhibition games this week and the start of the playoffs this weekend. They started getting the lay of the land at hotels and practice rinks, and some got to see inside the empty arenas they’ll be playing in when hockey restarts after the pause that began March 12.

The initial reviews are positive.

”I was a little skeptical of the whole process before this all started: How was it going to work? How can they prepare this?” Montreal forward and player representative Paul Byron said. ”It didn’t seem like they had much time, much notice. … I’m actually pleasantly surprised coming to the hotel. It seems like they’ve got a pretty good setup for us.”

The setup includes free Tim Hortons coffee, a selection of restaurants and private transportation from the hotel to the rink. Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice went so far as to call it all ”pretty darn normal” while preparing for meaningful elimination in an abnormal spot on the calendar.

Midsummer hockey will feel plenty natural when the puck drops.

”The one place that it actually feels normal is when you lace your skates up,” longtime player turned Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. ”The one place that it feels like you forget all the outside kind of things that everybody’s dealing with, including the players, is when they’re playing.”

There are still questions about who will be playing. Columbus coach John Tortorella won’t name his starting goaltender for Game 1 against Toronto until the day before. Brind’Amour said Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton was still ”unfit” to practice, and his status is in doubt.

But Day One of hub city practices also brought some good news. Colorado’s rookie of the year finalist Cale Makar, Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos and Boston’s Rocket Richard Trophy winner David Pastrnak practiced and are on track to play.

It’s just the start, and it’ll take almost a week of daily testing to be sure the NHL can pull this off. But getting into the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles represented an important stride toward playing during a pandemic.

”Obviously happy that we can get this thing going,” Bergeron said. ”So far, so good.”

Neely questions Pastrnak, Kase, who may not practice with Bruins until Toronto

Cam Neely told media members that his “best guess” is that David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase won’t practice with the Bruins until the team reaches the Toronto hub city. Maybe most interestingly, Neely criticized some of the decisions Pastrnak and Kase made as the Bruins continue the NHL Return to Play process.

Limited opportunities to shake off rust

Now, it’s possible that Pastrnak and Kase might be able to get a Bruins practice in before the team plans on traveling to Toronto on (Sunday) July 26. It’s just that, like with many parts of this process, things are up in the air.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Neely said, via NBC Sports Boston. “My best guess would be [they will practice] in Toronto. There are hopes that it will be before we leave [Boston], but my best guess is Toronto.”

Pastrnak hasn’t gotten much time in with the Bruins, while Kase hasn’t practiced with them in training camp yet. To state the obvious: that’s far from ideal.

Brad Marchand recently said that “it doesn’t take long for chemistry to bounce back” for Marchand, Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron. And that’s probably true.

But what about Kase?

The speedy winger only managed to suit up for six Bruins games after being traded from the Ducks. During that time, Kase rarely got up to speed, as he failed to score a goal and only recorded a single assist. If anyone could have benefited from more time getting acclimated with still-new Bruins teammates, it was Kase.

Neely disappointed with Pastrnak and Kase; Quick look at Bruins schedule

You can chalk up some of these issues to “the nature of the beast.” We live in tumultuous times amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not always possible for best-laid plans to actually pan out.

That doesn’t mean Neely isn’t disappointed with Kase and Pastrnak, who may have had a smoother transition to Bruins team activities if they arrived in Boston earlier.

Kase and Pastrnak don’t rank as the Bruins only headaches during training camp. Key players like Charlie McAvoy also missed time, while Tuukka Rask did his best to shake off concerns about a fractured finger.

Yet in the cases of Kase and Pastrnak, the Bruins seem a little steamed that this is a headache that maybe could have been controlled. It will be interesting to see if any hard feelings hold over, or if this is something that the Bruins move on from.

With some drama brewing, it might be helpful to ponder the upcoming Return to Play schedule for the Bruins, leading into the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers:

Rest of this week: Bruins squeeze in practices, wrap up training camp as best they can.

July 26: Bruins plan on arriving in Toronto hub city. Players need multiple negative COVID-19 tests to join the team on charter planes, so we’ll see if the Bruins and other teams experience disruptions there.

July 30: Bruins face Blue Jackets in an exhibition game (7 p.m. ET)

Aug. 2: Round Robin game versus Flyers (NBC, 3 p.m. ET)

Aug. 5: Round Robin game against Lightning (NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET)

Aug. 9: Final Round Robin game versus Capitals (time, network to be determined).

[Full 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule; How to watch on NBCSN, NBC, and USA Network]

Kase and Pastrnak setbacks shouldn’t be too disruptive to Bruins overall

In the framework of this week, it’s rotten that Pastrnak and Kase might not practice with the Bruins.

Overall, though? Between that exhibition game and the three Round Robin contests, the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers open up space for Pastrnak, Kase, and others to shake off the rust. It may not be ideal, but it’s probably nothing to get too bent out of shape about.

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.

Draisaitl, MacKinnon, Panarin are 2019-20 Hart Trophy finalists

Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche), and Artemi Panarin (Rangers) were named the three finalists for the 2019-20 Hart Trophy. The award is given to the “player judged most valuable to his team” and voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of the regular season.

Nikita Kucherov was last season’s winner.

This year’s winner will be announced during the conference finals.

It’s worth noting that Draisaitl, MacKinnon, and Panarin weren’t just Hart Trophy finalists, but also the three finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, the player-voted alternative to the Hart.

[2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule]

Hart Trophy cases for finalists Draisaitl, MacKinnon, Panarin

The Hart Trophy case for Leon Draisaitl

It’s not just that Leon Draisaitl topped all NHL scorers with 110 points. Voters must have struggled with the fact that it wasn’t even close.

Draisaitl’s teammate Connor McDavid finished a distant second with 97 points. Yes, it’s remarkable that Draisaitl was the only NHL player to crack 100+ points in 2019-20, and he added some extra gravy by reaching 110. Remarkably, Draisaitl was going on a goal-scoring tear toward the end of the regular season, finishing with 43 goals.

While “fancy stats” become more prominent in hockey debate circles — including among voters — Draisaitl’s blistering scoring pace will be hard to ignore.

Nathan MacKinnon’s Hart Trophy argument

There are two basic arguments against Art Ross winner Draisaitl: a) defense and b) quality of teammates.

MacKinnon enjoys his fair share of help on a talented, young Avalanche team, but injuries to the likes of Mikko Rantanen placed significant pressure on the Avs’ speedy center. While McDavid certainly helped Draisaitl reach 110 points, MacKinnon’s 93 points stands far higher than every other Colorado player (Cale Makar finished second in team scoring with 50).

Fans of more “complete” players might side with MacKinnon. As a Lady Byng finalist, MacKinnon played big minutes but only had 12 PIM. (Then again, Draisaitl only had 18, and Panarin just 20.)

A greater selling point might be that MacKinnon’s improved his defensive game without really sacrificing offense. Considering his promising Hockey Viz chart, via Micah Blake McCurdy’s indispensable site:

Nathan MacKinnon Hockey Viz Hart Trophy finalists

Artemi Panarin’s tremendous first Rangers season helps him rank among Hart Trophy finalists

Remember when people downgraded Panarin, believing that he was merely Patrick Kane‘s passenger?

Panarin keeps proving that he can deliver big numbers in different situations. The late-arriving NHL star also seems to somehow get better every season. Despite being limited to 69 games played, Panarin established new career-highs in goals (32) and points (95). Like MacKinnon, Panarin produced far more than any of his teammates (Mika Zibanejad ranked second on the Rangers with 75).

“The Bread Man” possesses the sort of creativity you love to see on the power play. Even so, Panarin did his greatest damage at 5-on-5, leading the NHL with 71 even-strength points.

Overall, Draisaitl, MacKinnon, and Panarin present viable cases as Hart Trophy finalists. Who do you think should be named the NHL’s MVP for 2019-20?

2020 NHL AWARD FINALISTS

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.