St. Louis Blues
2019-20 season: 42-19-10, .662 points percentage
Season series: COL 2-2-0; DAL 4-0-1; VGK 1-0-2
Vladimir Tarasenko, who had surgery Oct. 29 to repair a dislocated left shoulder, was about a week away from returning to the lineup when the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Now with four more months to get stronger, Tarasenko should be back to form. His biggest impact could come at 5-on-5; his 112 5-on-5 goals from 2014-15 through 2018-19 were second in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (118). The Blues were 12th in the NHL and third among the four teams in the West round-robin with 149 goals at 5-on-5 this season.
Video: St. Louis Blues Highlight Reel
Jordan Binnington helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup last season and carried his strong play into this season. He went 30-13-7 with a 2.56 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and three shutouts in 50 games. His 30 wins were third in the NHL, and his 34 starts with a save percentage of at least .900 were tied for second in the NHL with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Connor Hellebuyck of Winnipeg Jets, 38).
Numbers to know
The Blues were 18th in the NHL on the penalty kill this season at 79.3 percent, but it didn’t affect their record because they were one of the more disciplined teams in the League. They averaged 7:13 of penalty minutes per game, sixth lowest in the NHL, and were shorthanded 2.86 times per game, 12th fewest. The potential to be better is there; the 2020 postseason roster includes nine of the 11 skaters who averaged at least 1:16 of shorthanded ice time per game last season when St. Louis finished ninth on the penalty kill at 81.5 percent.
They said it
“We’re preparing for something big. Biggest challenge in the NHL is the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. … Everybody understands how important it is and everybody understands we need to be ready to go right away. Just do what we can to prepare and play our best in the playoffs.” — forward Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz — Brayden Schenn — Vladimir Tarasenko
Zach Sanford — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron
Sammy Blais — Robert Thomas — Tyler Bozak
Mackenzie MacEachern — Oskar Sundqvist — Alexander Steen
Carl Gunnarsson — Alex Pietrangelo
Marco Scandella — Colton Parayko
Justin Faulk — Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Ivan Barbashev, Troy Brouwer, Jacob de la Rose, Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou, Austin Poganski, Niko Mikkola, Derrick Pouliot, Jake Walman, Ville Husso
Unfit to play: Vince Dunn
2019-20 season: 42-20-8, .657 points percentage
Season series: DAL 0-2-2; STL 2-2-0; VGK 2-0-0
Center Nathan MacKinnon is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player and the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play. He was fifth in the NHL with 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 69 games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, scoring 14 more goals and 43 more points than any teammate. In 12 playoff games last season, he scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists), second on the Avalanche to forward Mikko Rantanen‘s 14.
Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz each is a potential starter, and the Avalanche won’t decide on their No. 1 goalie for the Stanley Cup Playoffs until after the round-robin, according to coach Jared Bednar. Grubauer, who was the backup for the Washington Capitals when they won the Stanley Cup in 2018, went 7-5 with a 2.30 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and one shutout in 12 playoff games for Colorado last season. He battled injuries this season and went 18-12-4 with a 2.63 GAA, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts in 36 games. That opened the door for Francouz, who went 21-7-4 with a 2.41 GAA, a .923 save percentage and one shutout in 34 games but never has played in the postseason.
Numbers to know
Defenseman Cale Makar has scored 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) in the first 67 games of his NHL career, regular season and playoffs. He made his NHL debut in the 2019 postseason and scored six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 games, then scored 50 (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games this season and is a finalist for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. He scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight games against the Avalanche’s round-robin opponents: two assists in four games against the Dallas Stars, four points (two goals, two assists) in three games against the St. Louis Blues, and one goal in one game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Video: Colorado Avalanche Highlight Reel
They said it
“I think this unfortunate break kind of benefited us the most, just in that everyone got the time to rejuvenate and we got all of our injured guys back. So that’s definitely a plus that came out of this. But I think for us, obviously our goal is to make it all the way. We know we can.” — defenseman Cale Makar
Andre Burakovsky — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog — Nazem Kadri — Valeri Nichushkin
Vladislav Namestnikov — J.T. Compher — Joonas Donskoi
Matt Nieto — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Matt Calvert
Ryan Graves — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Erik Johnson
Ian Cole — Nikita Zadorov
Scratched: Shane Bowers, Sheldon Dries, Tyson Jost, Logan O’Connor, T.J. Tynan, Mark Barberio, Bowen Byram,Kevin Connauton, Anton Lindholm, Conor Timmins, Michael Hutchinson
Unfit to play: Colin Wilson
Vegas Golden Knights
2019-20 season: 39-24-8, .606 points percentage
Season series: COL 0-2-0; DAL 1-1-0; STL 2-1-0
Forward Mark Stone led the Golden Knights in scoring in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in seven games. He was leading them in scoring this season with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 65 games through Feb. 26, but a lower-body injury caused him to miss the final six games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He’s healthy now and expected to return to his spot on the Golden Knights’ top line.
Coach Peter DeBoer said he has two starting goalies and will play each one. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the face of the Golden Knights since being chosen at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and helped Vegas to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He was 27-16-5 with a 2.77 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and five shutouts in 49 games this season. Robin Lehner was acquired in a trade Feb. 24 from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who earlier in the day had acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks. He was 19-10-5 with a 2.89 GAA, a .920 save percentage and one shutout in 36 games, including 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage in three games with Vegas.
Numbers to know
The Golden Knights led the NHL in 5-on-5 shot attempts percentage at 54.8 percent. Vegas had four of the top 10 players in the NHL in SAT percentage (minimum 30 games), led by forward Max Pacioretty, who was fourth at 58.9 percent, and Shea Theodore, who was fifth and led NHL defensemen at 58.5 percent. Stone was seventh at 57.7 percent, and defenseman Nick Holden was 10th at 56.8 percent.
Video: Golden Knights Highlight Reel
They said it
“Playoffs are a different animal, right? We go out on the road. We’re in the hotel. We hang out together. I guess the only difference is you don’t get to stay at home, you don’t get to see your family. So that’s going to be tough on guys. But they’re not going to be in the city, so I don’t think it’s going to be difficult. What’s more fun than hanging out with your buddies every day playing hockey?” — forward Mark Stone
Max Pacioretty — William Karlsson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — Paul Stastny — Reilly Smith
Chandler Stephenson – Nicolas Roy — Alex Tuch
William Carrier – Nick Cousins — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Scratched: Patrick Brown, Reid Duke, Keegan Kolesar, Peyton Krebs, Tomas Nosek, Gage Quinney, Dylan Coghlan, Deryk Engelland, Nicolas Hague, Jon Merrill, Oscar Dansk
Unfit to play: None
2019-20 season: 37-24-8, .594 points percentage
Season series: COL 4-0-0; STL 1-3-1; VGK 1-0-1
Forward Jamie Benn had a disappointing regular season with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) in 69 games, his fewest in a season since he scored 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 41 games in the shortened 2012-13 season. But he is a proven postseason performer with 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 32 Stanley Cup Playoff games. His average of 0.94 points per game in the playoffs is the best for the Stars since the team moved to Dallas in 1993-94 (minimum 10 games).
Video: Dallas Stars Highlight Reel
Ben Bishop went 21-16-4 with a 2.50 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage and two shutouts in 44 games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He is the Stars’ No. 1 goalie. Bishop has 49 starts in the NHL playoffs, 11th among active goalies, going 28-19 with a 2.12 GAA, a .929 save percentage and five shutouts. That gives him the experience edge on Anton Khudobin, who has played in two playoff games (no starts) in 11 NHL seasons. But Khudobin went 16-8-4 in 30 games this season, tied for second in the NHL with a 2.22 GAA, and had a League-best .930 save percentage (minimum 25 games). He’s almost a No. 1B behind Bishop.
Numbers to know
Dallas allowed 2.52 goals per game, second in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins (2.39), but was 26th in the League in scoring at 2.58 goals per game. The Stars scored 108 goals at 5-on-5, second fewest in the NHL ahead of only the Detroit Red Wings (92).
They said it
“We know what our issues are in terms of puck possession and creating offense. We’re the No. 2 team in the League defensively, so that’s our identity. Can we do more with our identity? Absolutely. So we’re working on it and we feel we can improve that area.” — coach Rick Bowness
Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Denis Gurianov
Mattias Janmark — Joe Pavelski — Alexander Radulov
Roope Hintz — Jason Dickinson — Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano — Radek Faksa — Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak — Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera — Stephen Johns
Scratched: Gavin Bayreuther, Landon Bow, Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Justin Dowling, Taylor Fedun, Joel Hanley, Thomas Harley, Joel Kiviranta, Jake Oettinger, Jason Robertson
Unfit to play: None
NHL.com staff writers Adam Kimelman, Nicholas J. Cotsonika and Tom Gulitti contributed to this report