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NHL playoff lessons: No lead is safe, the Sam Bennett effect - ESPN

Sixteen games have been played in the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. Some trends from Round 1 have continued. Others have not.

With multiple teams on the cusp of elimination, it's time for another set of playoff takeaways, courtesy of NHL reporters Ryan S. Clark and Kristen Shilton.

Thatcher Demko. Connor Hellebuyck. Jake Oettinger. Jeremy Swayman. These appear to be the four leading names for who could play goal for the United States at the upcoming 4 Nations Face-Off in 2025, along with the Winter Olympics in 2026.

Having their pick of these goaltenders reinforces the belief that the U.S. is one of the front-runners to win both tournaments. Of course, one of them is expected to miss out, with teams usually taking three goalies. That's a question that will likely get answered over time. But right now, Oettinger is using the 2024 playoffs to make a case to not only make the team but potentially get the nod in net.

Oettinger's 24-save performance in the Dallas Stars' 5-1 win in Game 4 against the Colorado Avalanche means he is now 7-4 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage this postseason. He has provided the sort of stability that has allowed the Stars to come within a game of reaching the Western Conference finals. And he did it while playing a proverbial SEC schedule, with the Stars facing the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in the first round followed by the Avs, who won the Cup in 2022.

It's possible that Demko, who has battled injuries the last few months, could return for the Vancouver Canucks if they can reach the conference finals. Hellebuyck, who is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, endured his most challenging postseason, with a GAA that was north

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