We’re going to be without sports for a while, and it still hasn’t hit how crazy that seems.
This coronavirus scare is real and it’s hitting us all in our most enjoyable ways of life. That includes sports, which also means we’re not getting the final 10-plus games of this NHL season any time soon, if ever.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Sunday that mass gatherings of at least 50 people will be banned for the next two months. At the least, we won’t see a hockey game until mid-May, which would normally be the starting point for the conference finals.
Let’s just be optimistic and think hockey is coming back soon. This will actually help some teams, and might hurt some in the process. Let’s break it down.
Colorado Avalanche: The biggest threat to the St. Louis Blues in the Central, the Avalanche have been ravaged by injuries to Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri and, as of last week, Nathan Mackinnon.
When healthy, the Avs could be the second-best team in the Western Conference and can hang with either St. Louis or the Vegas Golden Knights. Goaltending could still be a question mark in a playoff series, but there’s no doubt they could use the rest.
Vegas Golden Knights: Another team that could benefit from some down time, the Golden Knights were about to enter Thursday’s game at Minnesota without Max Pacioretty. At the time of the league pausing, Pacioretty was week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
Vegas is down its top two players this season, Mark Stone and Pacioretty, and are obviously the cogs that make the Vegas machine go. Add in what William Karlsson has brought to that trio, and it’s a line no one should want to face in the playoffs.
Washington Capitals: The Caps need a reset because they’re not playing like they should. Washington once had a solid grip on the Metro but a 7-9-2 stretch in its last 18 has put the Caps only one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers for first place.
It seemed like all the attention of Alex Ovechkin chasing 700 goals took away from the fact Washington was playing subpar..
Arizona Coyotes: Once upon a time, the Coyotes were good, traded for Taylor Hall, and were supposed to be a threat in the West. Now, they’re four points out of a wild card spot with 12 games to go.
Arizona just hasn’t been able to put it together since the Hall trade. It’s a gamble that had to be made, but it’s coming back to haunt a franchise that looks to be coming up short again. A last-ditch effort at the playoffs may not be in the cards.
Toronto Maple Leafs: What would actually help the Leafs? Competent management? Ownership? Balancing the books properly? How Toronto is still in a playoff spot amidst all of what has happened this year is incredible.
This is a team that has underperformed at the highest level. In ways, this might help Toronto, but the team has been such a disappointment that expecting anything positive is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The difference is Toronto has gone full belly-flop into the haystack.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers just traded one of their consistent stalwarts, Vincent Trocheck, and are reeling toward another swing-and-a-miss of the playoffs. Florida could’ve absolutely benefited from more playing time with their new guys.
Alas, the first year of Joel Quenneville appears to be a disaster and it might be time to blow the whole thing up.