It’s looking more like a deal will be worked out to proceed with the NHL playoffs, and that the Edmonton Oilers might play the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round.
This in from the NHLPA: “The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”
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- The NHLHP’s move to engage with the NHL does not mean there’s a oone deal but it’s an important step towards what I’ve long said is a near certainty: that there will be NHL playoff this summer.
- Sportsne’ts Elliotte Friedman first reported this plan on Thursday, and in the scenario he put forward the Edmonton Oilers would face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in a first round series, likely a best of five games.
- Almost at once, NHL writers weighed in on which teams they thought would win which series, with at least one hockey writer and stats analyst, Sean Tierney of ChartingHockey, predicting the Hawks would beat the Oilers. “I ran these matchups through a playoff simulator to save the NHL some time,” Tierney said, then showed his prediction for each game of the Hawks vs Oilers. Tierney worked out the matchup as a seven game series, with his simulation predicting the following probably goals each game: Game 1: Edmonton 2.5, Chicago, 2.6; Game 2, Edmonton, 4.37, Chicago, 2.9; Game 3, Edmonton 2.84, Chicago, 2.88; Game Four, Edmonton, 1.90, Chicago, 2.89; Game 5: Edmonton, 2.69, Chicago, 2.55; Game 6, Edmonton, 3.41, Chicago, 1.56; Game 7, Edmonton, 2.12, Chicago, 3.23.
- If the series was only a five-gamer, Tierney would have Chicago winning in four games, it seems.
- At TSN, hockey writer Travis Yost didn’t pick a winner from Edmonton vs. Chicago, but suggested we’d all be winners with such a match up: “I hope this matchup comes to fruition, because the offence will be electric and the defence will be non-existent. The three head-to-head matchups this regular season saw 19 goals scored, and both Edmonton (23rd) and Chicago (29th) finished near the bottom of the league in expected goals against. Between the likes of Patrick Kane, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid, we are going to see some absolute offensive wizardry.”
- At Sportsnet, Edmonton hockey columnist Mark Spector predicted the Oilers taking it in four games: “In a situation where everybody is fresh and healthy, I’ll take youth over experience. Edmonton’s best players are in their mid-20s, while Chicago’s are in their young 30’s. Centre Jonathan Toews would likely get the McDavid matchup. That leaves Draisaitl for 18-year-old Kirby Dach, or the defensively unsteady Dylan Strome. The Blackhawks don’t have enough centremen to keep Edmonton in check offensively, and their defence is weak. That leads to powerplays, which leads to goals against. Neither team is great defensively, so the team that has the puck the majority of the time will win. That will be Edmonton, in four games.”
- Chicago and Edmonton played three times this year, with Chicago winning two, Edmonton one, and a total goals split of 10 to 9 for Chicago. Edmonton had 33 Grade A scoring chances in the three games to 37 for the Blackhawks. But I’m not going to venture an opinion right now on which team would win a series. I’ll wait until the the games are set and we see the full rosters before doing that full analysis.