Reviewing the 2019-20 NHL regular season

By Sports Desk May 29, 2020

And just like that, the 2019-20 NHL regular season is in the books.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday that the league will conclude the season by diving right into a 24-team playoff in two yet-to-be-decided hub cities to crown a Stanley Cup champion.

In the unique playoff format, the top 12 teams from each conference - ranked by points percentage from when the season went on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 - will make the playoffs.

The top four teams in each conference will compete in a round-robin tournament to determine final seedings. The teams seeded five through 12 will participate in a play-in tournament featuring a best-of-five series to determine who advances to face the top four seeds. The playoffs will continue with a second round, conference finals and a Stanley Cup final.

All of this will take place when medical experts determine it is safe for games to resume.

“Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this is because our fans have told us in overwhelming numbers that they want to complete the season if at all possible,” Bettman said Tuesday. ”And our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion."

So once the regular season was brought to an end, it was time to hand out some hardware and recognise some achievements from the 2019-20 regular season.

The Boston Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy with 100 points and 44 wins - their seventh straight season with 40 or more victories. The only other time Boston notched at least seven consecutive 40-win seasons was when they reeled off 12 straight from 1968-69 to 1979-80.

Boston thrived behind Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, who earned the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing a league-low 167 goals. Rask had a league-best 2.12 GAA, the second time he's led the NHL in GAA after posting a 1.97 in 2009-10. That 10-year span between leading the league in GAA is the longest by a goalie since Hall of Famer Patrick Roy led the NHL in 2001-02 after not leading since 1991-92.

Boston's David Pastrnak and the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin tied for the league lead with 48 goals to share the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the top-goal scorer. For Ovechkin, it extended his record for most seasons leading the league in goals scored to nine, now two more than Chicago Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull.

While Ovechkin managed to add to one record, the shortened season robbed him a chance of matching another.

With 48 goals, Ovechkin finished just two scores shy of matching Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons in NHL history. It's a good bet if the season wasn't interrupted by coronavirus and a full 82-game season transpired, Ovechkin would have managed a pair of goals in Washington's final 13 games and got his name next to Gretzky and Bossy in the record book.

It's a similar story for Pastrnak. The Bruins had a dozen games left when the season was paused and ultimately cancelled, costing him a chance to become the first Bruin 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely tallied exactly 50 in 1993-94. At 24, Pastrnak became the youngest skater to lead the league in goals since the Tampa Bay Lighting's Steven Stamkos scored 60 as a 21-year-old in 2011-12.

Ovechkin may have been one of the league's top goal scorers, but he didn't lead the Capitals in points, with John Carlson recording eight more than his team-mate's 67.

Carlson's 75 points were the most by a defenseman this past season, which works out to an average of 1.09 points per game. His points-per-game average is the highest by a defenseman in a single season since the Detroit Red Wings' Paul Coffey averaged 1.29 points in 1994-95.

An Edmonton Oiler once again won the Art Ross Trophy as Leon Draisaitl finished the season with a league-leading 110 points after Conner McDavid took it home in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

The Edmonton franchise has won the Art Ross Trophy 10 times, now one more than Chicago and the Montreal Canadiens to stand alone for second most, trailing only the Pittsburgh Penguins' 15.

Draisaitl, the first German-born skater to lead the league in scoring, led the NHL with 33 multi-point games and had a league-best 67 assists. He becomes just the third Oiler to lead the NHL in assists, joining McDavid and Gretzky, who accomplished the feat with Edmonton nine times.

McDavid finished with 13 fewer points than Draisaitl, but his 97 points were still good enough for second most in the NHL. Draisaitl and McDavid are the first set of team-mates to be the league's top two leading scorers since the strike-shortened 2012-13 season, when Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis had 60 points and Stamkos had 57. Prior to that, the last team-mates to go 1-2 in points was in 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux had 161 and Penguin team-mate Jaromir Jagr had 149.

The last time Edmonton had the league's top two scorers was in 1986-87, when Gretzky had 183 points and Jari Kurri was second with 108. (To answer your next question, that difference of 75 points behind the league's number one and number two scorer is the second-largest gap in NHL history behind only the 79-point difference in 1983-84, when Gretzky had 205 points and Coffey had 126.)

Now that these regular season trophies have been sorted out, the attention turns to the ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup.

The 2019 Stanley Cup final began just over a year ago, with Game 1 taking place on May 27, 2019, but this year's champion is unlikely to raise the cup until the fall considering the NHL said training camps cannot open any earlier than July 10 as part of the league's return-to-play plan.

July 10 will be 121 days since the last NHL games were played on March 11. It has been a long wait without professional sports in the United States, but the NHL feels it has conceived a plan that is not only safe, but also creates an intriguing playoff format to crown a champion.

“We believe we have constructed an overall plan that includes all teams that, as a practical matter, might have had a chance of qualifying for the playoffs when the season was paused,” Bettman said. “And this plan will produce a worthy Stanley Cup champion who will have run the postseason gauntlet that is unique to the NHL."

Related items

  • NHL, NHLPA approve plan for season restart and extend CBA four years  NHL, NHLPA approve plan for season restart and extend CBA four years 

    The NHL's Board of Governors and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) approved a plan to resume the season with games in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, on August 1, in separate votes announced on Friday.

    Training camps are scheduled to begin on Monday across North America for the expanded 24-team playoff format involving the top 12 teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences.

    Monday is also the deadline for players to opt out of participating in the season with no penalty.

    Both sides also reached an agreement on a four-year extension to the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will run through 2025-26 and ensure 14 years of labor peace since a lockout shortened the 2012-13 season.

    The current CBA was due to expire in September 2022. The new agreement would overwrite the CBA for the 2020 and 2021-22 seasons while adding another four seasons.

    The CBA includes language that would allow players to return to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026 – pending an agreement with the IIHF and IOC.

    "This agreement is a meaningful step forward for the players and owners, and for our game, in a difficult and uncertain time," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. "We are pleased to be able to bring NHL hockey back to the fans."

    There will be no fans at the games in Toronto and Edmonton and the plan is to play five or six games a day to start – up to three at each site.

    There will be personnel limits, quarantining restrictions and daily tests for players, coaches, management and team, arena, hotel and restaurant staff at the hub cities. Players families will not be able to join them until the conference finals, which will take place Edmonton.

    Those who test positive or develop symptoms will be placed in isolation for a minimum of 10 days and must twice test negative before being allowed to rejoin the team.

    If all goes according to schedule, the Stanley Cup Final would begin in late September in Edmonton, with the 2020-21 season targeted to start on December 1.

    The NHL hopes to complete a season that was shut down on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic with 189 games and the playoffs remaining.

  • UFC 251: Kamaru Usman v Jorge Masvidal - the title fight everyone wanted UFC 251: Kamaru Usman v Jorge Masvidal - the title fight everyone wanted

    Jorge Masvidal being confirmed as welterweight champion Kamaru Usman's opponent at UFC 251 saw the anticipation surrounding the first event at 'Fight Island' step up a notch this week.

    After initial talks with Masvidal broke down amid a public pay dispute with UFC, Gilbert Burns was handed the opportunity to take on Usman in the Octagon following his impressive victory over former champion Tyron Woodley in May.

    However, the Brazilian was forced to withdraw from the fight on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi after testing positive for coronavirus.

    Step forward Masvidal, who agreed to take on Usman with just six days' notice and give fans the fight they really wanted to see.


    Usman has steamrollered his way through UFC's welterweight division but Masvidal is a notable name not on the resume of the 'Nigerian Nightmare'.

    After trading barbs on social media and almost coming to blows at Super Bowl LIV's Radio Row earlier this year, the pair are keen to settle the score in the cage.

    Usman's only professional MMA defeat came way back in 2013 and he has yet to be beaten in UFC, with the biggest names in the 170lbs division unable to stop him.

    After ending Tyron Woodley's impressive reign, Usman silenced the big-mouthed Colby Covington. It means there are few true tests in the division.

    Masvidal has never been one to shy from a challenge and after a stellar 2019, 'Gamebred' is more than worthy of his shot at the welterweight title.


    There's a reason they call him the 'Nigerian Nightmare'. Usman's record is phenomenal. Huge wins over Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos led to a title fight with the great Woodley, which he won via decision a little over a year ago.

    His first defence ended in a fifth-round stoppage of Covington in a gruelling encounter last December.

    While Masvidal has been around the game for a long time, it was three hugely impressive and significant victories in 2019 that saw the veteran soar to prominence.

    It started with a second-round knockout of Darren Till, was followed up by a shock five-second triumph over Ben Askren and culminated when he defeated Nate Diaz in a brutal bout to win the UFC's BMF belt.


    Usman: 16-1-0

    Masvidal: 35-13-0




    Age: 33

    Height: 6'0" (182cm)

    Weight: 170lbs (77kg)

    Reach: 76"

    Leg Reach: 41"



    Age: 35

    Height: 5'11" (180cm)

    Weight: 170lbs (77kg)

    Reach: 74"

    Leg Reach: 39.5"


    Usman told ESPN: "All I'm going to say is, I'm going to bless him with these hands in any way possible. Whether he's on his back, I'll bless him with these fists. Whether he's standing up, I'll bless him with these fists. It's up to him how he's able to handle that. Whether he lets me bless him in the first round where there's no more suffering, or he can take it like Covington and I'll bless him for 24 minutes until I get him out of there."

    Masvidal told ESPN: "I'm not in Ben Askren shape because he's a hell of a wrestler, or even to fight a guy like Darren Till. But am I in shape for this bum I'm about to decapitate and baptise? Hell yeah. Cold-blooded as can be. His body's [gasping] for air as I got my hand raised over him. I'm going to baptise him for the world to see. It's going to be violent. It's going to start violent. It's going to end violent."



    - Usman has landed with 843 of his 1,594 attempted significant strikes. A success rate of 53 per cent.

    - Of the 83 takedowns Usman has attempted, he has completed 42 (51 per cent success rate).

    - In defense, Usman has avoided 60 per cent of significant strikes against him and remarkably 100 per cent of takedown attempts.

    - From his significant strikes, 51 per cent have come from a standing position.


    - Masvidal has a significant strike accuracy of 49 per cent. 967 of his 1,957 attempted strikes have landed.

    - The Miami native has completed 15 of 31 takedown attempts.

    - In terms of defensive abilities, Masvidal has protected himself against 67 per cent of significant strikes and 78 per cent of takedown attempts.

    - As for striking targets, 526 (62 per cent) have landed on the head, with 204 (24 per cent) and 122 (14 per cent) to the body and legs.

  • Cristiano the toast of Turin - Ronaldo's brilliant Juventus numbers two years on Cristiano the toast of Turin - Ronaldo's brilliant Juventus numbers two years on

    Juventus pulled off a transfer coup when they signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid on July 10, 2018.

    The Portugal great left Madrid as the club's all-time record goalscorer and seeking a new challenge in the autumn years of his career.

    Ronaldo remains a master goalscorer and has quickly amassed an impressive record, with Juve in the box seat to claim another Scudetto in 2019-20.

    Here, with some help from Opta, we look at the form that means the 35-year-old remains one of the very best players on the planet.

    58 – Ronaldo's overall goals tally for Juve has come in 82 appearances.

    0.71 – This amounts to a goals per game ratio below the 1.03 he averaged at Madrid, where he netted a scarcely credible 450 in 438 appearances

    47 – His Serie A goals haul means he is already the top-scoring Portuguese player in the history of the competition. Since the start of 2018-19, it places Ronaldo fourth in Europe's top leagues, behind Lionel Messi (58), Robert Lewandowski (56) and Kylian Mbappe (51).

    26 – This season, Ronaldo's is the first Juventus player to score 26 goals in a single Serie A campaign since Omar Sivori scored 28 in 1959-60.

    25 – For the 10th time in his career, Ronaldo has passed 25 goals in a league season. No other player in Europe's top five leagues has bettered this, with Messi having also accomplished the feat on 10 occasions.

    30 – For the 11th time in his career, the former Manchester United favourite has registered 30 goals in all competitions this term.

    336 – No player in Europe's top divisions has had more shots than Ronaldo over the past two seasons. Only Messi (153) has more than his 133 on target.

    5.5 – Ronaldo's shots-per-game average for the Old Lady, down on 6.3 at Madrid.

    15 - His assist figure at Juve, from 122 chances created. That's an average of 1.5 per game.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.