The NHL season is suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and while the league hopes it will eventually be able to resume and conclude the 2019-20 campaign, that's far from a foregone conclusion. We're breaking down some of the major storylines that hang in the balance.
Before hockey was halted, the Colorado Avalanche were enjoying their best season in many years. The Edmonton Oilers, led by Hart Trophy favorite Leon Draisaitl and a certain superstar running mate, looked primed to start delivering on the promise of the Connor McDavid era. Anything can happen in the playoffs, which served as a rallying cry for the nine teams occupying a wild-card spot or within a few points of one.
Plenty of squads stand to begrudge what could have been if the regular season must be truncated or the playoffs can't be held at all. But no team's what-if scenario would sting quite like that of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Philly is a low-key tortured franchise, overshadowed in its division by the teams that employ Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby and narrowly eclipsed in historical plight by, to pick one glaring example, the Toronto Maple Leafs. At 43 seasons and counting, the Flyers own the NHL's fourth-longest championship drought, and this sure wasn't supposed to be the year that the Stanley Cup returned to the City of Brotherly Love.
Non-rebuilding teams that miss the playoffs by 16 points - and are mercurial to the point of rattling off eight-game winning and losing streaks in the same season - don't tend to inspire high expectations when they ice much of the same roster the following season. After stumbling to that fate in 2018-19, Philadelphia's turnaround was among the better storylines of this paused campaign. Conservatively, they were set to enter the playoffs as a sensible dark-horse pick.