While the intensity of round robin play has not been the same as that of knockout games, there is something obvious to play at the moment: a preferred opponent in the first round.
Here are some of the stakes for this weekend’s round robin games:
Each of the round robin teams have played two of their three games, so we have a clearer idea of what this weekend’s games mean. Here’s what we know:
• The top regular season teams from both conferences, St. Louis and Boston, will not make the first round as a first or second seed. St. Louis faces Dallas on Sunday, which will determine who finishes third and fourth in the West; Boston faces Washington on Sunday to determine who finishes third and fourth in the East.
• There are two 2-0-0 teams in each conference: Colorado and Vegas to the west, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia to the east. They will face each other and these two matches will take place on Saturday. The winners will finish first with an advantage on the home ice for at least the conference final, while the losers will finish second.
• The teams will be reseeded in the next round, so that the best team will face the lowest ranked team after the qualifying round. A few No.12 seeds were upset, so the first-place teams in each conference will face a team in the first round that had no hopes of getting a taste of playoff hockey in March.
• Since the Bruins and Blues have yet to win, the top seed of the qualifying round will face one of last year’s finalists in the next round if either loses. their Sunday game.
• As the number 12 seed in the East, Montreal will face whoever wins Saturday’s game between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. West No.12 Chicago will play the winner between Colorado and Vegas. The round robin has been relatively tame to the best of five, but it’s something worth playing. The loser between Tampa and Philadelphia will play either against Toronto or against Columbus; the loser between Colorado and Vegas will play against Arizona.
• And there is also a beneficial streak to play in Sunday’s round robin matches for the third and fourth seeds. The loser between Washington and Boston will face the Carolina, scorched by a serial sweep, while the winner of this game will face the New York Islanders. In the West, the loser between St. Louis and Dallas will play Vancouver, while the winner of this game will meet Calgary.
TOP ROUND ROBIN PLAYERS
Mark Stone: Only three players from round robin teams have four points in two games. Stone is one, and he’s joined by Flyers Scott Laughton and Kevin Hayes. But according to the numbers, no line has been more dominant than the Stone-William Karlsson-Chandler Stephenson line, a new look for the Golden Knights. Stone himself has a 71.43% CF so far, fifth among all forwards,
Brayden Point: The Tampa frontline center scored the game’s opening goal against Boston and assisted the game’s first against Washington. The entire top line of the Lightning was really rolling, with an expected percentage of over 64%.
Ryan O’Reilly: Although his team have yet to win a match, O’Reilly is picking up where he left off as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner last year. He got three assists in both games, but more than that, the Blues controlled the chances of scoring with him on the ice. O’Reilly xGF 56.45% leads all Blues forwards and St. Louis took 75% of the high risk chances with O’Reilly. The defense specialist also averaged the shortest third minutes of any forwards in the league.
Pavel Francouz / Philipp Grubauer: The two Colorado goalies have each started so far and both have been great. Grubauer, the alleged starter of Game 1 in the next round, stopped 31 of 32 shots against St. Louis, while Francouz shut out the Dallas Stars. The Avalanche have great star power elsewhere, but that just keeps their goaltending duo underappreciated.
Will Vegas start Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury?
When the Golden Knights acquired Lehner on the trade deadline, coach Pete DeBoer faced them both, trading in the remaining few games. He did the same in the first two round robin games – Lehner over Dallas for a 5-3 win and Fleury over St. Louis for a 6-4 win. The trade probably won’t continue in the next round, so who will be the choice? Fleury has a history with the franchise and played extraordinarily well for three rounds when Vegas reached the Cup final two years ago. But Lehner was Vezina’s finalist last year and was the better of the two this season, despite spending a lot of it behind Chicago’s elusive defense.
Can Dallas score enough?
The Stars are one of the best defensive teams in the league, if not the best, but despite some of their player names, offense has been hard to come by. In two games, they scored three goals – and all came in under five minutes against Vegas. Colorado excluded them. They average just 27 shots per game while unusually allowing 36.5v – and no team has had a lower share of five-to-five scoring chances than Dallas’ 41.11%. The stakes are about to change, yes, but that brings us to the next question …
Will round robin teams be able to increase intensity on demand?
Round robin games felt a lot closer to the regular season action of mid-February than the intensity of the playoffs, and now each of them will face a team coming out of a better place. of the three high stakes. Boston, St. Louis, Washington – the teams you maybe picked to come a long way in a normal year all started slow and winless. Can they flip that switch? All teams in the round robin will be faced with this question.
“The play-in series are very intense. They are very, very physical. They’re in each other’s faces and it’s every change, ”Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “And that’s what we’re going to see when we get into the playoffs. We are trying to prepare our players for this to happen. We need to prepare now. We can’t just flip a switch when the first game of the playoffs comes around and say ‘OK now we’re intense’. “
“We can’t just flip a switch when the first game of the playoffs comes around and say, ‘OK, now we’re intense, now we’re good to go.’ It’s not enough. ”
Coach Bowness on increasing the intensity in Sunday’s final qualifying game against St. Louis: pic.twitter.com/aLgPAE5EG0
– Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 7, 2020