Here are the 10 biggest questions from the league to be answered in the final month of the season.
1. Who will finish first in the Metropolitan Division?
The Carolina Hurricanes (43-14-8) and New Jersey Devils (44-16-6) sit at the top of the Metropolitan Division after New Jersey’s 3-0 win over Carolina on Sunday in the final regular-season game between the teams . Carolina has 17 games remaining, including eight against teams currently in the playoffs. New Jersey has 16 games left, nine of them against playoff-seeded teams.
The division winner will have home field advantage in at least the first two rounds of the playoffs and likely get the first Eastern Conference wild card of the postseason. The runner-up will likely face the third-placed New York Rangers in the first round, who are 10 points behind the Hurricanes and the Devils.
The Hurricanes led the Devils by eight points on Feb. 1, but New Jersey, perhaps the most surprising team in the NHL this season, has fought back to make it a two-horse race over the past four weeks.
2. Can Jonathan Schnell Will you help the Vegas Golden Knights conquer the top seeds in the West?
After 16 seasons and two Stanley Cup championships with the Los Angeles Kings (2012 and 2014), Quick will look to help the Golden Knights fend off the Kings, among others, in a close race for first place in the Western Conference. Vegas (41-20-6) leads the Dallas Stars (37-17-13) with one point, Los Angeles (38-20-9) with three points and the Minnesota Wild (38-21-8) with four points .
Quick is suddenly the Golden Knights’ No. 1 goalie after being acquired on March 2 in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who acquired him from the Kings the previous day. Vegas will bet on the 37-year-old and Jiri PateraThe 24-year-old rookie is temporarily out due to lower body injuries Logan ThompsonLauren Brossoit and Adin Hill.
In three games since joining Vegas, Quick has been 3-0-0 with a 1.97 goal average, .939 save percentage and one shutout. Patera made 30 saves in his NHL debut, a 5-3 win at the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
Video: [email protected]: Quick Blanks Hurricanes with 33 saves
3. Will the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals extend their playoff series?
The Penguins (34-22-10) are in a much stronger position, holding the first wild card in the east, two points ahead of the New York Islanders (34-26-8) and five ahead of the Florida Panthers (33-27-7 ), but still have work to do in the final 16 games of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs for the 17th straight season.
Washington (32-28-7) faces a steeper climb to qualify for the ninth straight season after giving up five players on expiring contracts ahead of the March 3 NHL trade deadline. The Capitals are five points behind the Islanders with 15 games remaining and must skip the Panthers as well.
4. Will the Boston Bruins break the NHL’s winning and scoring records?
The Bruins (50-10-5) are chasing history, with NHL records of 62 wins shared by the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning and 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 132 points shared by the Montreal Canadiens in 1976 -77 were kept out of range. In 65 games, Boston is on track for 63 wins and 132 points.
The wins and scoring records could provide motivation in the postseason after the Bruins, who have already secured a playoff berth, will inevitably gain home field advantage in the postseason. But older veterans such as Patrice Bergeron37, David Krejci36 and Brad Marchand34, be rested on the track to stay fresh?
Video: [email protected]: Bergeron taps compensation in the PPG
5. How many goals and points will be Connor McDavid ends with?
The Edmonton Oilers center leads the NHL and has NHL career bests with 55 goals and 127 points in 67 games, which puts him there with 67 goals and 155 points.
McDavid would become the first player to score 65 goals in a season since then Alex Ovechkin He scored 65 goals for the Capitals in 2007-08 and has a chance to become the first 70-goal scorer in the NHL since the Buffalo Sabers’ Alexander Mogilny and the Winnipeg Jets’ Teemu Selanne each had 76 goals in 1992-93.
Edmonton’s captain would also be the first player to reach 150 points, as Mario Lemieux had 161 (69 goals, 92 assists) for the Penguins in 1995-96. That was also the last time a player had 160 points.
Wayne Gretzky (nine times) and Lemieux (four times) are the only players in NHL history to have more than 155 points in a season. Steve Yzerman had 155 with Detroit in 1988-89.
Video: [email protected]: McDavid goes five holes in 2nd place
6. Will Eric Karlson get 100 points?
Karlsson leads NHL defensemen with 84 points (20 goals, 64 assists) in 67 games for the San Jose Sharks this season, putting him on track to finish with 102. The 32-year-old would be the first at that position with 100 points in the NHL since Brian Leetch finished with 102 for Rangers in 1991-92.
Bobby Orr (five times) and Paul Coffey (five times) and Al MacInnis (once) are the only NHL defensemen to have surpassed 102 points in a season.
7. Will the Panthers make the playoffs in time?
The Panthers are three points behind the Islanders for the second wild card in the East, 15 games left. After winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season by leading the NHL by 122 points, Florida hasn’t been as consistent this season, never winning more than three in a row, but has been 3-0-1 in the last four games.
The good news is goalkeeping Sergei Bobrovsky found his rhythm. Bobrovsky was 11-4-1 with a 2.38 GAA and a .924 save percentage in 17 games before scoring five goals on 22 shots in a 5-4 loss on Saturday, his first time playing on consecutive days in overtime against the Winnipeg Jets this season.
8. Can the Nashville Predators or the Calgary Flames bring down the West playoff party?
The eight playoff teams in the Western Conference appear set, with seeding yet to be determined unless the Predators or Flames put together a late push. Nashville (33-24-7) and Calgary (30-24-13) are six points behind the Winnipeg Jets (38-26-3) for the second wild card.
Despite futures trading Nino Niederreiter (jet) Michael Granlund (penguins), Tanner Jeannot (Blitz) and defender Matthew Ekholm (Oilers) Before the deadline, the Predators are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. The Flames have won three of four after a 0-3-2 slip.
Nashville has 18 games left at an NHL high, but 13 are against playoff-seeded teams. Calgary plays six of its 15 remaining games against teams in playoff ranks.
Video: [email protected]: Huberdeau cleverly deflects the puck to the goal
9. When will Gabriel Landeskog play?
The Avalanche forward has not played this season after undergoing knee surgery for the second time in eight months in October. Landeskog, the Colorado captain, resumed skating in mid-February, but there’s no timeline for his return.
The 30-year-old was a key part of the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup-winning team last season, recording 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 20 playoff games and could improve their replay offer if he can return and find his timing quickly .
10. How much does the flash have left?
The Lightning (39-22-6) are a solid third in the Atlantic Division, 11 points ahead of the fourth-place Panthers. However, a 2-5-2 slip raises concerns about whether they will run out of gas after three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, including the 2020 and 2021 championships.
Tampa Bay has scored 2.67 goals per game and conceded 4.11 goals per game in those nine games after scoring 3.57 goals per game and conceding 2.88 goals per game in the previous 58 games.
The Lightning play nine of their 15 remaining games against teams in the playoffs, including three over the next six days against the Devils. Perhaps that will force them to find their playoff-winning formula ahead of their likely first-round matchup with the second-ranked Toronto Maple Leafs.