2015 Stanley Cup playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks - Round 1 Preview

Cam Lewis
April 13 2015 04:35PM

The Central Division is stacked. All seven of the teams in the division finished the season with at least 90 points and three teams, St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville, finished in the top seven in the league’s standings. As a result, the matchup between the second and third placed teams in the division looks a lot more like a Western Conference Final than a first round series. 

Despite being two of the better team in the NHL, both the Predators and Hawks limped into the playoffs on a pretty ugly losing streak. The Predators haven’t earned a win in six games, dating back to March 28, while the Hawks lost their final four games of the season in regulation. Basically, this series will come down to which team can figure it out and get back to playing how they did for the majority of the regular season. 

Who wins between the Central Division foes? Let’s take a look. 

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Lack of Power Play Opportunities played a big part in this season's low Art Ross race

Cam Lewis
April 13 2015 08:00AM

Jamie Benn finished the season on Saturday night with a four point effort to pull himself ahead of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby in the 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy race. Benn finished the year with 35 goals and 52 assists, good for 87 points. Obviously I don’t want to take anything away from Benn’s phenomenal season, but leading the league with 87 points seem pretty strange. In fact, it’s the lowest league leading total the NHL has seen in a season that wasn’t derailed by a lockout since Stan Mikita won the Art Ross with 40 goals and 47 assists in 1967-68. Benn’s strangely low scoring title marks a trend in the NHL that we haven’t seen since before the 2004-05 lockout. 

There’s tons of factors that could go into why this season saw a really low scoring title race, but it seems the major factor in decreased scoring throughout the league has been the result of fewer penalties being called year after year. We’re a far cry from Joe Thornton’s 2005-06 MVP and Art Ross campaign largely because we’ve seen the average power play opportunity figure nearly chopped in half over that time. 

Let’s take a look.

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Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Nashville have suffered from 'Rental Flops' this year

Cam Lewis
April 11 2015 03:04PM

It's always a gamble when you move future assets for rental players at the Trade Deadline. The hope is that the player you bring in for a few months can be the one to push your team over the top and either help you make the playoffs, or go all the way to the Stanley Cup. If that doesn't happen, you're stuck watching another team enjoy your prospects and draft picks as the player you rented looks for a big contract through free agency. This year, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh have seen some pretty disappointing results for players they paid high prices for. 

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Draft Reform: Boo Lottery, Yay Auction!

Cam Lewis
April 09 2015 11:28AM

What follows is an article from Nation Network senior collective bargaining agreement correspondent and corporate lawyer @BeantownCanuck. You may remember him from his stellar work on rule 13.23, or his piece on the penalties for cap floor violations

Today Beantown discusses a way in which the NHL can move away from the classic draft format into an auction style system that maintains the fairness and continuity of the current system, but also works out some of its kinks. 

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TWO GAMES LEFT: An in-depth look at how the playoff races can play out over the next few days

Cam Lewis
April 09 2015 08:00AM

Two points separates five teams in the Eastern Conference with two games to go. The picture is similar in the West, as three teams separated by just three points of one another teams duke it out for the final two playoff spots. Simply put, these last two games are huge. Any of Calgary, Winnipeg, Detroit, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, or Boston could relinquish their spot to Ottawa or Los Angeles. 

What are the possible playoff scenarios? What’s most likely to happen? Let’s take a look.

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