Almost 55% of all players who competed among the elite eight teams in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were Canadian Hockey League alumni counting a total of 136 graduates with many making their mark as 2019-20 play continued from August into September.
Here’s a look at some of the team-by-team highlights.
The Dallas Stars punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals riding the hot play of goaltender Anton Khudobin (Saskatoon Blades) who posted four victories including a 40-save performance in Game 7 against Colorado. Captain Jamie Benn (Kelowna Rockets) along with Alexander Radulov (Quebec Remparts) who scored twice in the series deciding game continue to be among the team’s top playoff scorers.
The New York Islanders eliminated Philadelphia in seven games to advance to the Eastern Conference Final with help from Josh Bailey (Windsor Spitfires) who was tied for second in league assists through two rounds with 15 which puts him among the franchise’s top eight of all-time. A pair of 2015 first round NHL Draft picks are also contributing including Mathew Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds) who ranks third in team points and Anthony Beauvillier (Shawinigan Cataractes) who leads the team in goals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning made quick work of Boston in five games led in part by Nikita Kucherov (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) whose four-point performance in Game 3 tied a franchise record. Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors) continued to swing a hot stick riding a six-game point-streak and recording a team-high 18 points through two rounds, while Ondrej Palat (Drummondville Voltigeurs) scored five goals over five games.
The Vegas Golden Knights also needed seven games to squeak past Vancouver and did it with a winning goal from Shea Theodore (Seattle Thunderbirds) who leads all NHL defencemen with six goals, and goaltender Robin Lehner (Soo Greyhounds) who recorded his third shutout of the series which is something that hasn’t been accomplished since 2010. Mark Stone (Brandon Wheat Kings) is second in team scoring behind Theodore.
Following the Bruins exit against the Lightning, much of the attention turned to defenceman Zdeno Chara (Prince George Cougars) as the 43-year-old contemplates his future with the organization. On the ice the team was led by forwards David Krejci (Gatineau Olympiques) and Brad Marchand (Halifax Mooseheads) who both had 12 points.
The Avalanche may have suffered a disappointing exit but the performance by Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads) remains one for the record books with a 14-game point-streak to start a playoff year which ranks second best all-time with 25 points in that stretch to equal Wayne Gretzky’s 1993 totals. Nazem Kadri (London Knights) led the league with six power play goals through two rounds, while Michael Hutchinson (London Knights) recorded his first two playoff wins when facing elimination.
Goaltender Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) continues to be a bright spot for the Flyers having backstopped the club to a series equalizer with a strong Game 6 performance of 45 saves. The club also received OT heroics along the way from defencemen Ivan Provorov (Brandon Wheat Kings), Philippe Myers (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies), and forward Scott Laughton (Oshawa Generals).
The Canucks came ever so close to reaching the conference finals with captain Bo Horvat (London Knights) leading the charge with a league-high 10 goals which ranks third best in single post-season team history. J.T. Miller (Plymouth Whalers) tied for the team lead with 18 points.
A total of 74 CHL alumni will now be competing in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.