Sports: Barry Trotz vs. the Capitals highlights NHL first-round storylines

NHL predictions: Here's how the qualifying round and Stanley Cup playoffs will unfold

  NHL predictions: Here's how the qualifying round and Stanley Cup playoffs will unfold After a break of nearly five months, the NHL will resume play Saturday with qualifying round games. Here's how we see the rest of the year unfolding.After all, who could have foreseen last season that the record-tying Tampa Bay Lightning would be swept in the first round or that the St.

The qualifying round is behind us, and while it provided some surprises with its best-of-five series, the playoffs will take on more of a sense of normalcy Tuesday with the beginning of the first round.

NHL bubble, explained: A guide to the hub city rules, teams & schedule for Edmonton, Toronto

  NHL bubble, explained: A guide to the hub city rules, teams & schedule for Edmonton, Toronto The NHL 2019-20 season resumes with 24 teams competing for berths and seeding in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Teams will be isolated in two hub cities in Canada.Hockey is making its official return to the ice more than four months after the 2019-20 season was suspended March 12 because of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The league and its players agreed to resume play in four phases, with Phase 4, the current phase, being the last step.

Barry Trotz et al. around each other: Islanders coach Barry Trotz will face the Capitals team he led to a Stanley Cup. © John E. Sokolowski, USA TODAY Sports Islanders coach Barry Trotz will face the Capitals team he led to a Stanley Cup.

Series will go back to best-of-seven, and teams have had a chance to shake off some of the rust from the 4½ -month coronavirus layoff.

Here are some of the top storylines (and check out the series predictions here):

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Washington Capitals face former coach Barry Trotz

Trotz led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup title in 2018, then left that summer in a contract dispute and signed with the New York Islanders.

He predicts "a hell of a series" against his former team.

“That group has a lot of pedigree, they’ve got a lot of firepower and they’ve won championships," he told reporters. "The biggest challenge is to play them even and play them hard, and they’ll do the same because I know a lot about that group.”

NHL draft lottery: Ranking the eight teams 1-8 in terms of who is least deserving of No. 1 pick

  NHL draft lottery: Ranking the eight teams 1-8 in terms of who is least deserving of No. 1 pick Alexis Lafrenière is expected to go first overall in the upcoming NHL draft. Here is a ranking of the teams in play for No. 1 who are least deserving.The first phase of the June 26 draft lottery revealed that one of the eliminated teams from the qualifiers would nab the No. 1 position, a reality that had a 2.5% chance of happening. The seven other teams were those not included in the NHL’s expanded season restart, one that included 12 teams from each conference, instead of the typical eight in the playoffs. The top four teams from each conference battled for seeding, while the rest played to advance into the first round.

Trotz says he knows the tendencies of many Capitals players, but Washington coach Todd Reirden says he knows Trotz's tendencies, too, after being his assistant.

“It will be a great matchup for the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders," he said. "It’s not Barry Trotz vs. Todd Reirden. It will be a team effort.”

St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins didn't win a game in qualifying round

St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins didn't win a game in qualifying round

Both Craig Berube, coach of the defending champion Blues, and Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy thought their teams played better as the round-robin wore on.

But Berube didn't like how his team took too many penalties. The Blues also scored first in every game, only to lose.

“We’re almost trying to win with a one-goal lead," Berube said. "We’re not trying to go out and get the next goal. We’re not playing aggressive enough.”

The Bruins' top line, meanwhile, combined for one assist, and their power play went 0-for-9. But Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask noted the round-robin games really didn't matter.

“It doesn’t matter what seed you are in because you have to beat every team if you want to advance," he said. "We feel good. It’s over now and we start real hockey.”

1 compelling storyline for each round of 16 playoff series

  1 compelling storyline for each round of 16 playoff series The real Round 1 of the playoffs is officially here. Everyone loves a good narrative, so we'll take a look at one key storyline for each series. Note: The NHL re-seeded teams after the qualifying round. Eastern Conference Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8) Carter Hart's favorite goalie growing up was Carey Price. Now the 21-year-old will go toe to toe with his childhood hero. Price was the top goalie of the last decade, and today's players still believe he's the best in the league at his position.

Tampa Bay Lightning face the Columbus Blue Jackets again after last year's stunning upset

This is a much different Blue Jackets team than the one that swept the 62-win Lightning in the first round.

Free agents Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene went elsewhere, but the Blue Jackets made the playoffs despite a host of injuries. That's because of John Tortorella, a coach of the year candidate who made the right moves to knock off the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Lightning look different, too, adding physical players Pat Maroon and Barclay Goodrow to address a weakness.

Tampa Bay faces trouble because captain Steven Stamkos has yet to play this postseason, and defenseman Victor Hedman was hurt when he stumbled in Saturday's game.

“When your perennial Norris Trophy finalist every year is out, that creates a hole," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Still, Tortorella realizes the tough task ahead, calling the Lightning "a very good hockey club with a lot of weapons."

"We’re going to have to get better in a lot of things, not just defense," he said. "We have to make more plays. We have to get our forecheck better.”

Have the Chicago Blackhawks discovered their old playoff magic?

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler leaves game after face is cut by skate

  Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler leaves game after face is cut by skate Vancouver's Alex Edler checked St. Louis' Jordan Pyrou, whose skate came up and appeared to catch the Canucks defenseman in the ear.The Canucks were leading the St. Louis Blues 4-3 with less than two minutes left in the second period of Game 5 after rallying from a 3-1 deficit. Edler checked Jordan Kyrou, and the Blues forward fell to the ice, his skate coming up and appearing to catch Edler in the ear.

The Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith leading the way.

The No. 12 seed Blackhawks upset the Edmonton Oilers, with those three, plus two-time Cup winner Corey Crawford leading the way. Rookies Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach also chipped in. Chicago allowed Edmonton's top three players to combine for 23 points but kept the rest of the team in check.

But the deeper Vegas Golden Knights, the Blackhawks' next opponent, averaged five goals a game against the West's top teams. And that's without Max Pacioretty, who could be back for this round.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart is facing goalie he idolizes

Goalie Carey Price (.947 save percentage) played brilliantly in the No. 12 seed Montreal Canadiens' upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“He was my favorite goalie growing up," Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart said. "I just had the chance to meet him the other week and talk with him for the first time, so that was something pretty cool.”

The Flyers went 3-0 in the round robin with Hart (.966 save percentage) winning his two starts.

"He’s obviously a really good goalie, and they’ve got some good players on their team, so we’ll just prepare and be ready," he said.

Bubble is strange, but it is working

Handshake lines have (mostly) become elbow-bump lines. No fans are in the stands, but fan noise is piped into TV broadcasts. News conferences are conducted over Zoom.

But the Edmonton and Toronto bubbles are having the proper effect. The league announced Monday that for the second week in a row, there were no positive COVID-19 tests among the 7,245 administered.

NBC Sports' Mike Milbury not part of Friday broadcast after 'insensitive' on-air remark

  NBC Sports' Mike Milbury not part of Friday broadcast after 'insensitive' on-air remark Mike Milbury isn't on Friday's NBCSN broadcast after he said there are, "Not even any women (in Toronto bubble) to disrupt … your concentration.""Mike is not working tonight," an NBC Sports spokesman said via email. "We will announce our commentary teams for this weekend’s games tomorrow morning.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Barry Trotz vs. the Capitals highlights NHL first-round storylines

Mike Milbury stepping away from NBC Sports role for rest of NHL playoffs after misogynistic comment

  Mike Milbury stepping away from NBC Sports role for rest of NHL playoffs after misogynistic comment Mike Milbury is stepping away from his analyst role at NBC Sports for the rest of the NHL playoffs following a misogynistic comment he made on air."In light of the attention caused by my recent remark, I have decided to step away from my role at NBC Sports for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs," the 68-year-old Milbury said in a statement released Saturday.


Gallery: NHL is back: Best of the Stanley Cup playoffs qualifying round (USA TODAY SPORTS)

Washington Capitals fire coach Todd Reirden after two first-round playoff exits .
Todd Reirden, who was promoted to Washington Capitals head coach after Barry Trotz left, won two division titles but lost twice in the first round.Reirden was the top assistant to Barry Trotz when the Capitals won their lone Stanley Cup title in 2018. Trotz left the team in a contract dispute and later joined the New York Islanders. The Capitals promoted Reirden to the head coaching job.

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