The Stanley Cup playoffs have been paused, as the NHL announced the postponement of Thursday's and Friday's games as part of a strike to protest against police brutality and discrimination against Black people.
The postseason is scheduled to resume Saturday, although it remains unclear what the weekend schedule will look like or which teams will be the first to return to the ice. There are four second-round playoff series taking place, with two in each Canadian bubble city (Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta).
Both No. 1 seeds are tied through two games of their respective series. In the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers are level with the No. 6-seeded New York Islanders. Out West, the Vegas Golden Knights are even with the No. 5-seeded Vancouver Canucks.
Meanwhile, the No. 2-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning have a 2-1 lead over the No. 4-seeded Boston Bruins, while the No. 3-seeded Dallas Stars own a 2-1 advantage over the No. 2-seeded Colorado Avalanche.
All second-round games can be streamed at NBC Sports Live.
With no games again Friday, here are some predictions for what will happen once the second round resumes.
Only 1 No. 1 Seed Advances to Conference Finals
Both No. 1 seeds may be in the postseason race, but it's no guarantee that both will reach the conference finals. And of the two, it's more likely to be the Flyers that get upset in the second round.
The Golden Knights have been the most dominant team in the NHL this postseason. They lost their Game 2 matchup to the Canucks on Tuesday, but they won eight of their first nine games in Edmonton, including a five-game series win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. Vegas' offense is too strong to be contained for long, and it will soon take back control of its series against Vancouver.
However, Philadelphia is facing a strong underdog in New York, which cruised to a five-game upset win over the Washington Capitals in the first round. What's more, the Islanders proved they can hang with the Flyers when they blanked them 4-0 in Game 1.
Although Philadelphia responded with a 4-3 win in Game 2, it took overtime for it to win after it blew a three-goal lead.
New York has been getting strong all-around play on both offense and defense, led by goaltender Semyon Varlamov, and head coach Barry Trotz led Washington to the Stanley Cup in 2018. With the players at his disposal in form, Trotz has the knowledge and experience to guide the Isles to a first conference final since the 1992-93 campaign.
Lightning Ride Momentum to Series Win
Last year, Tampa Bay became the first No. 1 seed to get swept by a No. 8 seed in the opening round, losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games. Things are going much better for the Lightning this time around, as they got their revenge with a five-game series win over the Blue Jackets and now hold a 2-1 lead over the Bruins in the second round.
On Wednesday, Tampa Bay had its most impressive showing yet, rolling to a 7-1 win over Boston in Game 3. When these teams met in the playoffs two years ago, it was also a second-round series in which the Lightning fell behind 1-0. They went on to win four straight to advance, and the same could be shaping up this time.
However, Tampa Bay also isn't getting overconfident.
"Let's be honest: This is an aberration," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the blowout win, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "They're the Presidents' Trophy winner. ... You turn the page. Just like you turn the page on an overtime thriller."
That mindset and Tampa Bay's momentum will lead to it returning to the Eastern Conference Final this year. And while it's possible the Bruins will earn another win, don't expect the Lightning to lose control from here.
Avalanche Rally to Win in 7-Game Series
One thing seems to be for sure about the Avalanche-Stars series: There's going to continue to be a lot of offense on both sides. Through three games, the teams have combined for 25 total goals, with the winning team scoring at least five in each contest.
Colorado got off to a slow start, losing the first two games by a combined score of 10-5, but it bounced back with a 6-4 victory in Game 3. That was a vital and potentially season-saving win for the Avalanche, and it could be the momentum boost they need heading into the rest of the series.
"It's a character win," center Nazem Kadri said, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "It would've been easy for us to get down on ourselves. We're pretty comfortable playing in every situation. Obviously, blowing the lead, it wasn't our best. But this is a game that could definitely give us some moment and hopefully change the series."
With a deep, talented lineup boasting playmakers on both ends of the ice, Colorado is poised to not only force this series to go the full seven games but to also advance to the Western Conference Final. The Avs have been one of the best teams in the NHL all season, and they are going to prove to be a true Stanley Cup contender by overcoming adversity in this series.