Welcome to Simulating The Season. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the NHL has put the 2019-20 campaign on hold without a clear timeline for a return to action. As such, with the help of EA Sports’ NHL 20, we’re attempting to figure out what the rest of the season would have looked like had it not been postponed. Keep in mind, this is not a perfect science and the simulation does not take into account real world circumstances, including current injuries.
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There's an old axiom about dominant sports figures that says that if you can't stop them, you have to at least attempt to contain them.
Well, in Wednesday's game against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, the Ottawa Senators didn't do either. Instead, the Oilers captain ran roughshod over the Senators with one of those efforts that reminds us all why he's considered the most gifted offensive player in the world.
Though it wasn't start-to-finish domination, McDavid showed up with time enough left to dig the Oilers out of a three-goal hole, and his five-point outing – three goals and two assists – powered Edmonton to a 7-4 victory over the Senators. With the win – and Vegas' overtime loss – the Oilers moved to within three points of top spot in the Pacific Division and find themselves in striking distance of the Golden Knights.
Winning the division could go a long way in helping spark a deep playoff run for the Oilers, too, and set them up for a favorable matchup against a wild-card club. Perhaps a rekindling of the old Oilers-Jets rivalry is on tap? Winnipeg's position in the top wild-card spot right now makes that a possibility.
There was no other major movement in the standings Wednesday, but the Pittsburgh Penguins did take care of business as it pertains to sticking in the race for top spot in the Metropolitan Division. With the Flyers and Capitals look prepared to trade top spot down the stretch, the Penguins kept pace with a win of their own to pull within three points of second spot in the group.
Here’s a look at Wednesday's simulated action:
Pittsburgh Penguins – 4
New York Rangers – 1
After rising up the standings with a number of big wins over the past few weeks, the Rangers run into a brick wall and get dropped by the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin team up to dominate New York, combined to score all four of Pittsburgh's goals. New York struggled to sustain pressure at the other end and only could beat Matt Murray once.
1. Sidney Crosby, PIT (3-1–4)
2. Evgeni Malkin, PIT (1-2–3)
3. Matt Murray, PIT (26 saves)
Anaheim Ducks – 5
Boston Bruins – 2
Watch out for all-star sniper Nicolas Deslauriers, apparently. Mere days before the NHL pressed pause on its season, Deslauriers stunned everyone with a natural hat trick against the Ottawa Senators, and the Ducks newfound sharpshooter was back at it again with a goal and two points in a weird one in Anaheim. The Ducks came from behind, scoring four unanswered in the third frame to knock off the Bruins. Jaroslav Halak allowed all four third period goals after coming in in relief of Tuukka Rask, who was pulled seven minutes in.
1. Adam Henrique, ANA (2-1–3)
2. Nicolas Deslauriers, ANA (1-1–2)
3. John Gibson, ANA (29 saves)
Arizona Coyotes – 5 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights – 4
Offensive consistency hasn't been a cornerstone of the Coyotes' accomplishments throughout this season, but Arizona was guided to an overtime victory over Vegas on the strength of goals in every period. A pair early for Nick Schmaltz set the Coyotes up for success, but three late-frame goals sent Arizona to the dressing room trailing by one. Phil Kessel's goals drew the game level not once, but twice, and that set the stage for Carl Soderberg's winner.
1. Nick Schmaltz, ARI (2-2–4)
2. Phil Kessel, ARI (2-2–4)
3. Tomas Nosek, VGK (2-1–3)
Edmonton Oilers – 7
Ottawa Senators – 4
Not to be outdone by Sidney Crosby, the world's other greatest player, Connor McDavid, scored three and added two assists in a game that was much closer than the score suggests. Ottawa leapt out to a three-goal lead in the first before goaltender Craig Anderson faltered and allowed four goals against in the second period. Leon Draisaitl had two goals to stretch the Oilers’ lead late.
1. Connor McDavid, EDM (3-2–5)
2. James Neal, EDM (1-2–3)
3. Leon Draisaitl, EDM (2-0–0)
Tampa Bay Lightning – 4
Vancouver Canucks – 1
Though he was beaten once in the outing, Andrei Vasilevskiy was hardly challenged as the Lightning scored early and kept the pressure on the Canucks throughout this one. In fact, Vancouver's Jacob Markstrom is the only thing that kept the score somewhat respectable. He turned aside 33 shots in a losing effort as Tampa Bay inched closer to the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins.
1. Yanni Gourde, TBL (1-0–1)
2. Antoine Roussel, VAN (1-0–1)
3. Tyler Johnson, TBL (0-2–2)
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