Tuesday was a busy night with 28 teams in action and for many teams, it’s their last chance to fine-tune their lineup before the playoffs. Some teams will have some big decisions to make, and the biggest ones usually involve a goalie.
Though it’s true that any goalie can get hot and take his team on a deep playoff run, making a decision and committing to the right guy at the right time can be just as important. The Pens and Leafs both opted to go with their backups in against divisional opponents and ended up losing their games. The East’s playoff spots have already been determined, but seeding matters.
What hasn’t changed are the two teams at the very top. The Avs and Panthers have finished 1-2 in the Power Rankings in consecutive weeks, and remain the two biggest favorites to win the Cup based on BetMGM’s odds. They will likely stay that way for the rest of the season as the only two teams to have eclipsed 50 wins already this season.
(All fancy stats are 5v5 and courtesy naturalstattrick.com)
1. Colorado Avalanche (52-14-6, +77. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 11th. PR: 1)
The Avs keep rolling over teams and they’ll have a chance to extend their winning streak to seven games Wednesday against the Kings. They are doing this without either Kadri or Landeskog, and though their two most recent games needed extra time to determine a winner, they still have the best points percentage in the league.
2. Florida Panthers (52-15-6, +89. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 2nd. PR: 2)
Bobrovsky is one of nine goalies to have won at least 30 games this season, but his save percentage (.911) is by far the worst, and only him (2.70) and Demko (2.67) have a GAA over 2.50. For goalies, it’s a meaningless stat; as a team, it’s the only one that really matters, and the Panthers have won a ton of them in spite of their goaltending. The Panthers and Avs are the only teams to remain perfect in April.
3. Calgary Flames (45-19-9, +77. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 3rd. PR: 5)
The Flames keep steadily climbing up with another perfect 4-0-0 week, and have now emerged as a very popular pick to advance to the Finals behind the Avs. Noteworthy: Gaudreau is now five points away from tying the record for most even-strength points in a season (84) in the cap era.
4. Minnesota Wild (45-21-6, +45. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 7th. PR: 6)
Since March 1, they’re tied for fourth in points percentage (.705) with the Flames and trail only the Panthers, Caps and Avs. They have an elite scoring talent, a deep stable of defenders and two good goalies – wait, when did we return to 2003?!
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (47-20-6, +53. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 4th. PR: 3)
The Leafs clinched a playoff spot and finished with a winning record over the past week, but also had a minus-1 goal differential and scored only one power-play goal in 13 opportunities. They’re still a very good team thanks to Matthews, but also one that many still expect to be ousted in the first round.
6. Carolina Hurricanes (48-18-8, +70. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 5th. PR: 9)
Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Rangers was just the second time they’ve won consecutive games since March 12, hopefully ending what has been the worst stretch of their season.
7. New York Rangers (47-21-6, +36. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 26th. PR: 4)
Their loss to the Canes on Tuesday was their first real test in a while; the Pens were the only team the Rangers played against that were in playoff position since their last meeting against the Canes on March 20.
8. St. Louis Blues (43-20-10, +59. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 25th. PR: 10)
The Blues were one of four teams to go to 4-0-0 this past week, and the Blues are very close to becoming the first team to have nine (!) 20-goal scorers in the cap era. They are arguably the league’s deepest team and peaking at an opportune time.
9. Boston Bruins (45-23-5, +30. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 1st. PR: 7)
They earned just two points in three games this past week, and still cannot decide between Ullmark or Swayman. Not having Pastrnak takes a huge bite out of their offense.
10. Dallas Stars (42-27-4, -2. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 14th. PR: 15)
Starting Wedgewood against his former team ended up being a genius move, and now the Stars have full confidence in him to give Oettinger a rest when he needs it. Since the calendar flipped, the Stars rank 10th in points percentage with a 27-15-2 record, including 15-8-1 on the road.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (44-21-8, +34. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 9th. PR: 8)
Still not overly concerned because the Lightning have so much experience and deserve the benefit of the doubt, but it’s the furthest they’ve dropped this season. They’ve gone from leading the Atlantic with a potential date with the eighth seed to starting Round 1 on the road against the Leafs.
12. Nashville Predators (42-26-5, +27. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 16th. PR: 11)
They’ll likely make the playoffs, but how many games do they last in Round 1 against the Avs or Flames? Unfortunately, the low 10’s are about as high as the Preds will ever get on the Power Rankings.
13. Washington Capitals (41-22-10, +37. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 15th. PR: 19)
They went 8-12-2 in January and February, ranking 26th in P%, but since then are 13-4-1 and second in P%. They have a chance to catch the Pens in the Metro, but their poor start in 2022 might’ve already doomed them to a first-round matchup against the Panthers.
14. New York Islanders (34-29-9, even. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 21st. PR: 17)
The Isles don’t really have any playoff hopes but continue to climb up. They eked out a win against the rival Pens and since April 1 rank 11th in P%.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (42-22-11, +37. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 6th. PR: 12)
It’s been a horrendous run since neither Jarry nor DeSmith seem capable of stopping pucks. Malkin’s four-game suspension takes him out of the lineup through a key stretch, a result of undisciplined play stemming from the frustration of losing and a five-game goal drought.
16. Edmonton Oilers (42-26-6, +21. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 12th. PR: 14)
A shootout loss to the Avs showed they could run with the big guns, but they followed that up with a 5-1 loss to the Wild. Forrest Gump had it wrong; life wasn’t like a box of chocolates, it was like the Oilers’ defense and goaltending: you never knew what you were going to get.
17. Winnipeg Jets (35-28-11, -2. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 17th. PR: 18)
Hellebuyck’s save percentage by month: .899, .934, .910, .896, .921, .909, .911. There was no rhyme or reason early in the season, and only now have things start to normalize. However, consider the teams the Jets have beaten lately: Columbus, Arizona, Buffalo, Ottawa, Montréal.
18. Los Angeles Kings (39-26-10, +1. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 8th. PR: 16)
Playoffs or not, the Kings put up a better-than-expected season. The loss of Doughty for the season stings, but the reality is they’ve been struggling for a while, going 4-4-2 in their past 10.
19. Vancouver Canucks (36-28-10, +7. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 18th. PR: 20)
The Canucks are 4-0-1 in April and making a strong push, but multiple injuries have really hurt their depth and they continue to rely on Demko too much. They nearly blew a two-goal lead against the Knights on Tuesday and won in overtime, but only narrowed the gap by one point instead of two.
20. Vegas Golden Knights (40-29-5, +17. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 10th. PR: 13)
LTIR shenanigans aside, the Knights just haven’t been in sync all season but they’re tough to write off because they have so much talent. Lehner remains their biggest weakness, sporting a .888 Sv% and 3.23 GAA in four games in April.
21. Buffalo Sabres (27-37-11, -58. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 30th. PR: 21)
The Sabres swept the final three games of their season series against the Leafs, scoring five goals in every game. It’s the first time they’ve won the season series since 2015-16, and Power looked very comfortable skating close to 20 minutes in his NHL debut.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (34-33-6, -38. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 28th. PR: 28)
With nine games to go, the Jackets’ last game of the season will also be Merzlikins’ 60th appearance of the season. He will become just the third Jackets goalie to reach this milestone, joining Steve Mason and Bobrovsky, who did it for three straight seasons from 2017-19. All of them had winning records and Merzlikins’ currently stands at 24-19-6.
23. New Jersey Devils (26-41-6, -44. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 13th. PR: 29)
Two straight road wins snapped a five-game losing streak, thanks to captain Hischier’s seven points. It seems like every season the Devils have a young player pop out of nowhere to make an impact. Lately, it’s been 6-foot-6 giant defenseman Kevin Bahl and Swedish winger Fabian Zetterlund. The losses pile up but the optimism remains intact.
24. Ottawa Senators (27-40-6, -40. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 22nd. PR: 24)
The Sens were 1-3-0 over the past week, but the fact that they even won a game with a lineup featuring Del Zotto, Hamonic, Holden and Brannstrom as their top four is pretty amazing already.
25. San Jose Sharks (29-33-10, -43. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 23rd. PR: 23)
Perhaps too much was being made of Couture’s outburst after an empty-net goal against the Canucks, but it does highlight the notion that not everyone’s on the same page in San Jose. A new GM will take the helm after Doug Wilson’s 19-year tenure, and as they say, “the night is darkest just before the dawn.”
26. Arizona Coyotes (22-46-5, -90. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 32nd. PR: 22)
The Coyotes have the worst goal differential in the league and allowed a league-high 17 goals over the past week. Only two players scored more than one point: Schmaltz and Boyd.
27. Montréal Canadiens (20-42-11, -87. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 29th. PR: 27)
Among the bottom teams, the Habs likely end the season on the highest note because they’ve found a coach who can maximize a skeleton roster and Carey Price’s return seems imminent.
28. Seattle Kraken (23-44-6, -66. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 19th. PR: 26)
The Kraken blew a 3-1 lead in Matty Beniers’ debut; they have the third-highest number of losses when leading after the first period (5) and the highest number of losses when leading after the second (4). The Kraken’s 3.48 GA/GP is the 22nd-highest mark out of 516 combined seasons from every team in the cap era. H-I-S-T-O-R-I-C.
29. Detroit Red Wings (28-35-10, -71. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 24th. PR: 31)
Good news: 13 different Wings scored a point over the past week. Bad news: They’re still bad.
30. Chicago Blackhawks (24-38-11, -66. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 31st. PR: 25)
The Hawks were one of three teams that failed to win a single game this past week. After trading Fleury, their current wins leader in net is Lankinen, who has… four victories in 22 starts. Frederik Andersen has scored four points this season and three other goalies have more than four shutouts.
31. Philadelphia Flyers (23-39-11, -75. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 27th. PR: 30)
The good news: Bobby Brink scored a point in his NHL debut and the 2021-22 Flyers are likely not going to be their worst team in the cap era. We’re trying really hard to be positive here after a 9-2 loss to the Caps.
32. Anaheim Ducks (29-33-13, -35. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 20th. PR: 32)
The Ducks picked up the team option on Dallas Eakins’ contract for the following season. More line juggling and more losses coming right up! The Ducks are a league-worst 4-12-4 since March 1.