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SportUpstart teams like Columbus, Islanders, Avalanche shaking up NHL power structure

03:10  21 april  2019
03:10  21 april  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Upstart teams like Columbus, Islanders, Avalanche shaking up NHL power structure© Sergei Belski, USA TODAY Sports The Colorado Avalanche's Colin Wilson celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the series-clinching win over the Calgary Flames.

The Dallas Stars missed the playoffs eight of the previous 10 seasons and now they have their eye on advancing to the second round.

They defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Saturday to take a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the second round for the first time in their 19-year history. The Colorado Avalanche won an opening round series for the first time since 2008. Earlier this week, the New York Islanders downed the Pittsburgh Penguins to record their first playoff sweep in 46 years.

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Call-ups shake up islanders . by Staff Writer / New York Islanders . Injuries to several key players forced the Islanders to raid their farm team in Bridgeport in order to ice a full squad Saturday against the Avalanche .

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According to BetOnLine, the Tampa Bay Lightning (2/1), Calgary Flames (8/1), Boston Bruins (9/1), Nashville Predators (12/1) and Washington Capitals (12/1) had the best odds of winning the Stanley Cup.

The Lightning and Flames have already been eliminated, and the Bruins will face elimination when they play in Toronto on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC). And the defending champion Capitals have their hands full taking on the wild-card Carolina Hurricanes, who are making their first playoff appearance since 2009. Their best-of-seven series is tied 2-2 and the Capitals will have to play without key forward T.J. Oshie, who is sidelined with an upper body injury.

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See where the Colorado Avalanche stack up in ESPN's latest NHL Power Rankings. NHL Teams Anaheim Ducks Arizona Coyotes Boston Bruins Buffalo Sabres Calgary Flames Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Colorado Avalanche Columbus Blue Jackets Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings

If the ‘Canes beat the Capitals and Stars defeat the Predators, then all four wild-card qualifiers will be in the second round.

Lower seeds win, on averages of 37.5% of the time in the first round, but this year’s results seem to suggest the NHL is experience a changing of the guard.

Here’s why:

Not much difference between the top and bottom: The Blue Jackets are the No. 8 qualifier in the Eastern Conference, but they were a 98-point team. With more luck, they could have won the Metropolitan Division. The wild-card Dallas Stars ranked No. 2 in the NHL in goals-against. In today’s parity NHL, even wild cards are formidable.

Goaltending is still the great equalizer: Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is going into the second round with a .932 save percentage. New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner is at .956 with a 1.56 goals-against average. Philipp Grubauer was a major factor for the Avalanche in the first round with a 1.89 GAA and .939 save percentage. Dallas goalie Ben Bishop is a Vezina Trophy finalist.

The Wraparound: Lightning not ‘sugar coating’ Game 3 focus

The Wraparound: Lightning not ‘sugar coating’ Game 3 focus Your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included. An 0-2 deficit. A road game in Columbus. No Nikita Kucherov, and a “banged up” Victor Hedman. That’s not an ideal situation for the Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning heading into Game 3 Sunday night (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream). “We’ve got to win the next game,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after Game 2. “That’s it, there’s no sugar coating it.” Jon Cooper dubbed his team’s current predicament as a “five-alarm fire.

Cannata -- who was up with the Avs as an emergency third goalie -- was reassigned to AHL Colorado on Tuesday, TSN reports. With stat lines like the one he posted Monday, he's touching base in virtually all of the major fantasy categories, save for goals.

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►Favorites had flaws: Tampa Bay’s stars couldn’t find their way against Columbus. Johnny Gaudreau didn’t get going for Calgary. Nashville had scoring challenges all season. The Predators seem stale.

►Lower teams have elite players: Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is often as dangerous as Connor McDavid. Mikko Rantanen is also a star. The Stars’ top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov is one of the league’s best. They combined for three goals and seven points Saturday. Columbus defenseman Seth Jones is one of the league’s best two-way defensemen. Carolina boasts several quality young players. The league’s elite talent has been spread around the league more than it has been in the past.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Kevin Allen on Twitter @ByKevinAllen.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Upstart teams like Columbus, Islanders, Avalanche shaking up NHL power structure

Carolina Hurricanes savage Islanders on Twitter.
The Carolina Hurricanes have been beating the New York Islanders badly on the ice and are now doing so off it as well. The Islanders posted a GIF on Twitter Wednesday that showed Brock Nelson patting the head of Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney after a Josh Bailey goal tied the score at 2 in the second period of Game 3 between the teams. Tag. You're it. pic.twitter.com/XRbUz0oxv0 — x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 2, 2019 Carolina then ripped off three goals in the third period to win the game 5-2 and take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference second-round series.

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