mcloudyn.png
Tuesday September 22nd, 2020 4:34AM

Unique circumstances give NHL's its first 'Final Four'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — When the Tampa Bay Lightning checked into the JW Marriott across the street from Rogers Place, coach Jon Cooper ran into half of the Vegas Golden Knights and rode the elevator with some Dallas Stars players.

“That's stuff that just doesn't happen,” Cooper said.

It does this year. Welcome to the NHL's first “Final Four.”

Because of the unique circumstances of the Stanley Cup playoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Eastern and Western Conference finals are taking place in the same city, giving it a feel like college basketball's signature event, even though games are being played in an empty arena. The end goal of winning a title is the same, but the Lightning, Golden Knights, Stars and New York Islanders will always be able to say they made hockey's 2020 final four.

The Islanders and Lightning spent six weeks in the Toronto bubble. They didn't cut down the nets in Toronto after advancing but did take a few moments to cherish the accomplishment of moving on.

“When we started this, we said let’s play one series at a time and let’s see if we can get to Edmonton,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “You have to celebrate the moments because those moments don't come by very much. And I don't mean go crazy or anything. I think you recognize and understand you took another step.”

Unlike the NCAA Final Four or Frozen Four that's decided in three days, the NHL's version will play out over the next two weeks starting with Game 1 of the West final Sunday night between Dallas and Vegas. There's one game a day — so no need to worry about an overtime marathon disrupting the schedule — and plenty of opportunities for in-person cross-conference scouting unlike ever before.

“It’s nice to see it live when you can,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said.

Because of the limited space inside the Edmonton bubble, players and coaches can't help but see each other off the ice. Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who played in the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four while at Wisconsin, said everyone has gotten used to that after more than a month in quarantine together, but it's still not the norm from a typical playoffs.

"It’s way different," Cooper said. “Usually at any point in the playoffs, you have zero contact with the other team except when you're on the ice and otherwise you don't ever seem them. And the second time you see them is during the handshake line.”

All four teams left have gone through at least two handshake lines this summer to get to this point, and the Islanders three because they had to win the qualifying round to reach the round of 16. With Trotz the only coach left who has led a team to the Stanley Cup, New York is trying to quickly move past the organization reaching the East final for the first time since 1993 and realize it's only halfway there.

“Edmonton for all of us was obviously a huge goal of ours on our way to doing what we want to do,” captain Anders Lee said. “Just the next step in that.”

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Online Hockey, College Sports, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Unique circumstances give NHL's its first 'Final Four'
The NHL is staging its first “Final Four” in league history with Eastern and Western conference finals happening in the same city
5:30PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Nations League: Record-breaker Fati stars in Spain rebuild
The 17-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati became Spain’s youngest-ever goalscorer in the 4-0 Nations League win over Ukraine
5:04PM ( 32 minutes ago )
The Latest: Israel announces curfews in some cities, towns
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced overnight curfews on some 40 cities and towns hit hard by the coronavirus
5:00PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Putintseva throws racket, recovers, beats Martic
Yulia Putintseva threw her racket to the ground after dropping the second set, a moment of frustration that became her turning point
3:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Zverev moves into US Open quarterfinals
Alexander Zverev used a dominating serve to beat an injury-slowed opponent and reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open for the first time
2:56PM ( 2 hours ago )
Authentic's future could include rematch against Tiz the Law
Briefly off the radar to set himself straight, Authentic now might have to get used to having a target on his back
2:23PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
Nuggets lead wire-to-wire, top Clippers to tie series at 1
Jamal Murray scored 27 points, Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 18 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets never trailed on the way to beating the Los Angeles Clippers 110-101 in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series
12:22AM ( 17 hours ago )
Raptors beat Celtics 100-93 to even East semifinals at 2-2
Pascal Siakam had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Lowry added 22 points and 11 boards and the Toronto Raptors evened the Eastern Conference semifinals at two games apiece, beating the Boston Celtics 100-93
10:08PM ( 19 hours ago )
Voting in person Nov. 3? Expect drive-thrus, sports arenas
Voting will look a little different this November
11:02AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Basketball
Isles East finals-bound after 4-0 romp over Flyers in Game 7
Thomas Greiss stopped 16 shots and the New York Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1993, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 7 of the second-round series Saturday night
12:03AM ( 17 hours ago )
Big boy hockey: Heavy teams ready to battle for Stanley Cup
The Cinderellas have left the NHL playoff bubble and the teams left are built for the heavy, tough big boy games that will determine who lifts the Stanley Cup
7:02PM ( 22 hours ago )
Stars captain Benn finally past 2nd round into West final
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn has finally made it out of the second round of the NHL playoffs
12:19PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Hockey
Texas schools carry apprehension into kickoff amid pandemic
Houston Baptist is playing only three football games this fall after the FCS Southland Conference decided a few weeks ago not to play league games
9:06PM ( 20 hours ago )
Smart finds no QB clarity in No. 4 Georgia's 2nd scrimmage
The second preseason scrimmage for No. 4 Georgia has provided no clarity to the quarterback competition that continues without a top contender
6:18PM ( 23 hours ago )
Longtime football coach Lou Holtz to get Medal of Freedom
President Donald Trump says he intends to give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to longtime football coach Lou Holtz
7:43PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Reaction to the death of Hall of Fame coach John Thompson
The sports world is reacting to the death of former Georgetown coach John Thompson
3:57PM ( 6 days ago )
Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78
The college basketball coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown has died
12:53PM ( 6 days ago )
Lute Olson, Hall of Fame coach, Arizona icon, dies at 85
Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse and led the program to its lone national title in 1997, has died
1:22PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
Nations League: Record-breaker Fati stars in Spain rebuild
The 17-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati became Spain’s youngest-ever goalscorer in the 4-0 Nations League win over Ukraine
5:04PM ( 32 minutes ago )
The Latest: Israel announces curfews in some cities, towns
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced overnight curfews on some 40 cities and towns hit hard by the coronavirus
5:00PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Djokovic out of US Open after hitting line judge with ball
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic has been defaulted from his fourth-round match at the U.S. Open after he accidentally hit a line judge with a tennis ball
4:59PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Bucks' Antetokounmpo out of Game 4 with ankle injury
Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was knocked out of Game 4 of his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat with a sprained right ankle
4:49PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Freeman hits another grand slam, Braves beat Nationals 10-3
Freddie Freeman hit his second career grand slam and second of the series, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 10-3 win over Patrick Corbin and the Washington Nationals
4:45PM ( 50 minutes ago )