Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Monday as 16 teams begin their quest to win the Stanley Cup.

As we have seen in recent years when an expansion Vegas team or a surprising Montreal team went on stunning Stanley Cup Final runs anything is possible at this time of year. A hot goalie (or a cold goalie) can change anything, while a team could get healthy and have everything click at the exact right time to make some unexpected noise.

Every team’s fanbase probably has some sort of reason for optimism and pessimism right now.

So we are going to take a look at why every playoff team in the NHL will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup this season.

Boston Bruins

Why they will win: The Bruins are one of, if not the best, defensive teams in the league and have some game-changing top-tier forwards in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Taylor Hall that can change games.

Why they will not win: Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have been very good this season, but are they good enough to take the team on a deep playoff run? Are they deep enough at forward to contend with the other top teams in the NHL?

Calgary Flames

Why they will win: Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are the best top-line duo in the league this season, while they added some much needed scoring depth in Tyler Toffoli and Calle Jarnkrok. They also have an outstanding defensive structure, a great goalie, and are playing in a very winnable divisional bracket where they should be favorites in each of the first two rounds.

Why they will not win: While Toffoli and Jarnkrok have been strong additions, they are still not quite as deep at forward as, say, a team like Colorado or some of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Carolina Hurricanes

Why they will win: Simply put, they have one of the most complete rosters in the NHL from top-to-bottom with few weaknesses as long as everybody is healthy. They are young, fast, skilled, and won the Jennings Trophy by allowing the fewest goals in the NHL this season.

Why they will not win: The health of their goalies late in the season, especially Frederik Andersen, is a definite concern. If Andersen is not healthy or has his play impacted in anyway that could be a game-changer.

Colorado Avalanche

Why they will win: They have superstars at forward, the best defense in the NHL, and a strong goalie in Darcy Kuemper that is not going to lose them many games. On paper it is probably the best team in the league.

Why they will not win: The Central Division bracket is definitely the tougher of the two in the Western Conference, and assuming they take care of business against Nashville are going to get a really tough second round matchup in either Minnesota or St. Louis. Their penalty kill (15th in the NHL) is also a potential weakness that could be exploited.

Dallas Stars

Why they will win: Strong top-end defenders and a dominant top line led by Jason Robertson that could carry them if it gets rolling. It would not be the first time they came into the playoffs with low expectations, got hot at the right time, and went on a run.

Why they will not win: Just not enough scoring depth beyond their top-four forwards. You need balanced scoring to win in the playoffs and the Stars really do not have that. That has played a big role in some of their inconsistency this season.

Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers

Why they will win: They have the two best offensive players in the world in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and have looked like a completely different team since Jay Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett behind the bench.

Why they will not win: Still do not trust their depth, defense, or goaltending. Mike Smith has been great down the stretch, but what if that is just a mirage and a hot streak instead of a meaningful long-term change?

Florida Panthers

Why they will win: Have you seen that offense? It is ridiculous. The best offense in 30 years and just absolutely loaded from top to bottom. Every line can score goals and the team as a whole can embarrass any opponent on any given night.

Why they will not win: The playoff style of play is designed to suck the fun out of teams like this, so what happens if the offense does not score at the same pace it did in the regular season? The elephant in the room is also the goalie situation. Sergei Bobrovsky has a .900 save percentage since February 1 and his playoff resume is brutal. Among the 32 goalies with at least 25 playoff appearances since the start of the 2010 playoffs, Bobrovsky’s .899 save percentage ranks 32nd out of that group. He was brutal in the playoffs a year ago. High scoring teams with suspect goaltending sometimes have a bad time in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings

Why they will win: They have some really good center depth with Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, and a lot of their underlying and defensive numbers are very, very strong. Right on par with some of the best teams in the league. This is a sneaky good team.

Why they will not win: Injuries on defense are a concern (no Drew Doughty) and the goaltending is not exactly great. Also just do not stack up with a lot of the contenders in terms of talent on paper.

Minnesota Wild

Why they will win: They have two dominant scoring lines and a very solid defense. After adding Marc-Andre Fleury they also have an outstanding goaltending duo with him and Cam Talbot that gives them options and security. They have been one of the best teams in the league from the start.

Why they will not win: They would have to beat St. Louis and (most likely) Colorado just to reach the Western Conference Final. That is an absolute gauntlet. And while Fleury and Talbot have been great together so far, they can also be a little volatile in a short series.

Nashville Predators

Why they will win: Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and Matt Duchene have had outstanding seasons, and if they can stay in it long enough to get Juuse Saros back they would have an upper-level goalie that can carry them.

Why they will not win: If Saros is not able to play against Colorado — or play at full health — that makes an already long-shot team even more of an underdog. If can not go winning a game might be a struggle.

New York Rangers

Why they will win: Igor Shesterkin should be the league MVP and has helped carry them all year, while they have elite players at forward (Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider) and defense (Adam Fox). They also made some fantastic trade deadline additions (Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano) that really changed their season. Elite goaltending and impact players can take a team a long way.

Why they will not win: As good as the top part of the lineup is, their bottom six still leaves a lot to be desired. They really need Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière to make an impact.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Why they will win: As long as they have Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin they have a shot. They are a top-five team in goals against this season and have a deeper forward lineup than they get credit for having.

Why they will not win: Goaltending is a big question, especially at the start with Tristan Jarry sidelined. How much do you trust Casey DeSmith to get them through a series (or even the first part of a series) against Igor Shesterkin? They have also not looked great for the past month, pretty much backing into the playoffs.

St. Louis Blues

Why they will win: They have transformed from a shutdown defensive team into one of the league’s best offensive juggernauts. Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou have broken out, Vladimir Tarasenko stayed and returned to being an elite player, Pavel Buchnevich turned out to be a steal, and they can score goals with anybody in the NHL as a team.

Why they will not win: Defense is a little bit of a question mark, as is goalie. Ville Husso has been significantly better than Jordan Binnington, but he has very little NHL track record. They also have to run that Central Division bracket that is not going to be easy.

Tampa Bay Lighting

Why they will win: They are the back-to-back champions and until somebody actually beats them you should never write them off. Incredible talent at forward, a future Hall of Famer (Victor Hedman) on defense, and the best goalie in the world as the last line of defense behind all of that.

Why they will not win: There is a reason only two teams have won three consecutive Stanley Cups in the post Original-Six era, and none over the past 40 years. It is difficult, almost impossible even, to have everything go right at the exact same time three years in a row. Tampa Bay (and especially Andrei Vasilevskiy) has played a lot of hockey the past three years and eventually that takes its toll. Also reason to question if their depth is as strong as it was a year ago.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why they will win: You can make all of the playoff jokes you want (I do!), but this is a legitimately good team. An excellent team. An outstanding team. The offense is one of the best in the league, the defense is better than it gets credit for being, and they have done a really good job building some depth around their big money stars. They are capable of winning. Yes, we actually have to see them win a round, but the ability is there.

Why they will not win: Goaltending is a major question mark and potential problem. Jack Campbell has been all over the place this season and they really do not have a Plan B here if things go south for him. That can ruin a postseason really quickly.

Washington Capitals

Why they will win: When healthy this team still has a lot of talent that has won before. They have not been consistently healthy this season (Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Anthony Mantha all missed half of the season) and they still comfortably made the playoffs with over 100 points. They are perfectly capable of beating Sergei Bobrovsky in the First Round and making some real noise.

Why they will not win: The goaltending situation might be one of the worst among any teams in the playoffs, while neither Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek has done anything to inspire confidence.

Blues – Wild playoff series preview: 3 things to know

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Monday, May 2. Today, we preview the series between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.

MINNESOTA WILD v. ST. LOUIS BLUES schedule

Game 1: May 2, 9:30 p.m. ET – Blues at Wild (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 2: May 4, 9:30 p.m. ET – Blues at Wild (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 3: May 6, 9:30 p.m. ET – Wild at Blues (TNT, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4: May 8, 4:30 p.m. ET – Wild at Blues (TBS, SN360, TVA Sports)
*Game 5: May 10, TBD – Blues at Wild (TBD)
*Game 6: May 12, TBD – Wild at Blues (TBD)
*Game 7 May 14, TBD – Blues at Wild (TBD)

1. The Blues have had the Wild’s number, especially under Craig Berube

Most of the time, it’s probably best just to throw out two teams’ head-to-head stats come playoff time. Above all else, a few games only tell you so much about either team over an 82-game season. Sure, you can get an idea about matchups and other factors, but it’s dangerous to read too much into such battles.

However, the Blues’ edge over the Wild is a multi-year trend. This is one of those cases where it’s at least worth mentioning just how often the Blues prevail over the Wild.

At the Athletic, Jeremy Rutherford and Michael Russo collected some pretty eye-opening head-to-head stats between the Wild and Blues (sub required).

The Blues are 12-1-1 in the past 14 meetings between the teams, spanning three seasons, and 13-1-2 all-time against the Wild under coach Craig Berube. The Wild are 2-7-5 in those 14 games against the Blues, 0-4-3 in their past seven games in St. Louis and 5-11-7 in their past 23 there. In the past 14 games against the Blues, the Wild have been outscored 61-36 and outscored on special teams 13-3. Their power play is 7.2 percent compared with St. Louis’ 32.1 percent. The Wild’s save percentage is hovering around .850, while the Blues’ is .920.

The Wild have said all the right things about things being different in the playoffs, and it’s fair to expect things to be less extreme in favor of the Blues. Those are some pretty stunning numbers, nonetheless.

2. Two of the hottest teams in the NHL down the stretch

If you look at their place in the standings, you’d already conclude that the Wild and Blues enjoyed strong seasons. The Wild finished with 113 points, good for the second-most in the Western Conference, while the Blues’ 109 were fourth-most in the West.

Dive into recent results, and they look even more impressive.

Since March 16, the Wild compiled a blistering 19-2-3 record, which translates to an absurd .854 points percentage. That’s by far the most in the NHL during that span, with the Maple Leafs, Oilers, and Panthers curiously all tied for second at .773. The Blues are close to that group, though, as they went 15-5-3 for a .717 points percentage. The Flames are the only other team close to that range (.696).

Throw out two low-stakes Blues losses that closed the season, and the Blues were the second-hottest team (behind the Wild) from March 16 – April 24.

By any reasonable measure, the Blues and Wild enter the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs playing their best hockey of their respective seasons. Hopefully that translates to a thrilling, heavyweight battle.

3. The least-established goalie may have the biggest chance to swing this series

You won’t find many series with three fairly well-known goalies.

Marc-Andre Fleury – Few active goalies are quite as famous as “The Flower.”

Jordan Binnington – One of the driving forces of the Blues winning that elusive, first-ever Stanley Cup.

Cam Talbot – Not the most thrilling goalie, but he’s played almost 400 regular-season games and sports a sneaky-strong .923 save percentage spread across 32 career playoff contests.

If you go by name recognition, Ville Husso likely ranks last in this series. Yet, if you judge things by how a goalie has been performing, Husso’s the netminder most likely to be a positive difference-maker.

By this season’s stats alone, both Fleury and Binnington have been struggling. Talbot, meanwhile, has been stable but unspectacular.

[3 Things to Know: Oilers – Kings preview]

Husso, though? It’s fair to wonder where he’d be in the Vezina Trophy race if he took hold of the Blues’ starting goalie job sooner. This is elite stuff.

At times this season, both teams outshot expectations, pointing to at least some luck driving their successes. Big-picture, the Wild present a much sturdier structure than the Blues, and their firepower looks more or less even.

If season trends carried over to the playoffs, you’d either think the Wild’s 5-on-5 advantages would swing the series, or Husso would alter the balance in favor of the Blues.

Of course, strange things can happen in a span of 4-7 games. We’ve also seen plenty of cases where MAF gets hot and plays as well as any goalie in the world.

Whatever happens, this could be an exciting series. That’s good news for hockey fans, but maybe bad news for the goalies involved.

Prediction: Wild in 7.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blues vs. Wild: 3 Things to Know about First Round series

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Monday, May 2. Today, we preview the series between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.

MINNESOTA WILD v. ST. LOUIS BLUES schedule

Game 1: May 2, 9:30 p.m. ET – Blues at Wild (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 2: May 4, 9:30 p.m. ET – Blues at Wild (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 3: May 6, 9:30 p.m. ET – Wild at Blues (TNT, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4: May 8, 4:30 p.m. ET – Wild at Blues (TBS, SN360, TVA Sports)
*Game 5: May 10, TBD – Blues at Wild (TBD)
*Game 6: May 12, TBD – Wild at Blues (TBD)
*Game 7 May 14, TBD – Blues at Wild (TBD)

1. The Blues have had the Wild’s number, especially under Craig Berube

Most of the time, it’s probably best just to throw out two teams’ head-to-head stats come playoff time. Above all else, a few games only tell you so much about either team over an 82-game season. Sure, you can get an idea about matchups and other factors, but it’s dangerous to read too much into such battles.

However, the Blues’ edge over the Wild is a multi-year trend. This is one of those cases where it’s at least worth mentioning just how often the Blues prevail over the Wild.

At the Athletic, Jeremy Rutherford and Michael Russo collected some pretty eye-opening head-to-head stats between the Wild and Blues (sub required).

The Blues are 12-1-1 in the past 14 meetings between the teams, spanning three seasons, and 13-1-2 all-time against the Wild under coach Craig Berube. The Wild are 2-7-5 in those 14 games against the Blues, 0-4-3 in their past seven games in St. Louis and 5-11-7 in their past 23 there. In the past 14 games against the Blues, the Wild have been outscored 61-36 and outscored on special teams 13-3. Their power play is 7.2 percent compared with St. Louis’ 32.1 percent. The Wild’s save percentage is hovering around .850, while the Blues’ is .920.

The Wild have said all the right things about things being different in the playoffs, and it’s fair to expect things to be less extreme in favor of the Blues. Those are some pretty stunning numbers, nonetheless.

2. Two of the hottest teams in the NHL down the stretch

If you look at their place in the standings, you’d already conclude that the Wild and Blues enjoyed strong seasons. The Wild finished with 113 points, good for the second-most in the Western Conference, while the Blues’ 109 were fourth-most in the West.

Dive into recent results, and they look even more impressive.

Since March 16, the Wild compiled a blistering 19-2-3 record, which translates to an absurd .854 points percentage. That’s by far the most in the NHL during that span, with the Maple Leafs, Oilers, and Panthers curiously all tied for second at .773. The Blues are close to that group, though, as they went 15-5-3 for a .717 points percentage. The Flames are the only other team close to that range (.696).

Throw out two low-stakes Blues losses that closed the season, and the Blues were the second-hottest team (behind the Wild) from March 16 – April 24.

By any reasonable measure, the Blues and Wild enter the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs playing their best hockey of their respective seasons. Hopefully that translates to a thrilling, heavyweight battle.

3. The least-established goalie may have the biggest chance to swing this series

You won’t find many series with three fairly well-known goalies.

Marc-Andre Fleury – Few active goalies are quite as famous as “The Flower.”

Jordan Binnington – One of the driving forces of the Blues winning that elusive, first-ever Stanley Cup.

Cam Talbot – Not the most thrilling goalie, but he’s played almost 400 regular-season games and sports a sneaky-strong .923 save percentage spread across 32 career playoff contests.

If you go by name recognition, Ville Husso likely ranks last in this series. Yet, if you judge things by how a goalie has been performing, Husso’s the netminder most likely to be a positive difference-maker.

By this season’s stats alone, both Fleury and Binnington have been struggling. Talbot, meanwhile, has been stable but unspectacular.

[3 Things to Know: Oilers – Kings preview]

Husso, though? It’s fair to wonder where he’d be in the Vezina Trophy race if he took hold of the Blues’ starting goalie job sooner. This is elite stuff.

At times this season, both teams outshot expectations, pointing to at least some luck driving their successes. Big-picture, the Wild present a much sturdier structure than the Blues, and their firepower looks more or less even.

If season trends carried over to the playoffs, you’d either think the Wild’s 5-on-5 advantages would swing the series, or Husso would alter the balance in favor of the Blues.

Of course, strange things can happen in a span of 4-7 games. We’ve also seen plenty of cases where MAF gets hot and plays as well as any goalie in the world.

Whatever happens, this could be an exciting series. That’s good news for hockey fans, but maybe bad news for the goalies involved.

Prediction: Wild in 7.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Push for the Playoffs: One question for every playoff team

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

With each passing day, there’s less and less to be settled for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even teams who don’t yet know their playoff opponent have a good idea who it will be. Of course, all 16 NHL playoff teams have already been determined.

As the 2021-22 season all-but-ends on Friday (there’s an explosively irrelevant makeup game Sunday between the Jets and Kraken), let’s ponder a question of all 16 NHL playoff teams.

Let’s mix the order of things up by starting with the West.

NHL playoff questions: one for each of the 8 teams in the Western Conference

Avalanche: Should there be any concern about a (relatively) sluggish finish?

From April 18-24, the Avalanche endured a four-game losing streak, with each loss in regulation. The Oilers were the only playoff team in that bunch.

It prompted some to wonder if something’s wrong with the Avalanche. The best guess is that they were meandering through the end of a schedule where the West was already won. Still, you always want to enter the playoffs on a positive note, instead of stumbling — by admittedly high standards.

Blues: How long is the leash for Ville Husso?

As much as NHL teams want to win, political pressures can pull on a team when it comes to picking starting goalies.

In what could be a close series against the Wild, the Blues may feel pressure to turn to Jordan Binnington if Ville Husso suffers a bad start. After all, Binnington has that Stanley Cup win on his resume, he’s getting paid $6M per year through 2026-27, and Ville Husso’s NHL resume is small. (Husso hasn’t played a playoff game, and only has 56 NHL contests to his name.)

It sounds like Husso will start for the Blues in Game 1 vs. the Wild, but fair or not, the “tie” goes to the holdover.

It really needs to be noted just how strong of a season Husso’s put together for the Blues.

Husso is 25-6-6 with a .921 save percentage and 16.7 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). Binnington, meanwhile, is 18-14-4 with a .901 save percentage and a -6.6 GSAA.

That disparity should earn Husso some benefit of the doubt, but we’ll see what actually happens.

Wild: Would they waver from Marc-Andre Fleury?

While the Blues risk being too impatient with Ville Husso, the Wild have an interesting goalie situation to watch, too. They may end up presenting a flip: if they need to change goalies, will they identify the problem fast enough?

Naturally, they acquired Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline in hopes that he’d be a difference-maker. While Fleury and Cam Talbot give the Wild a steady duo, Dean Evason still must choose who to start and who to sit.

So far with the Wild, Fleury’s put up very similar stats to those of Cam Talbot. Minnesota might be open-minded, especially if the Blues and Wild end up scoring a ton of goals.

Flames: Will Johnny Gaudreau‘s sensational season translate to the playoffs?

Ah, NHL playoff time. When people wildly overreact to a couple weeks or a month of games that are simply more random than the more controlled play of, say, the NBA.

To some, Johnny Gaudreau is someone who can’t deliver in the playoffs. After all, he only managed an assist in five postseason games in 2018-19, and also went without a goal in four games in 2016-17. If it seems like Gaudreau goes cold after a season that thrust him back into the Hart Trophy conversation, then people will get weird, fast.

While the Flames provide more support for Gaudreau than ever, there’s still a huge gulf in production between Gaudreau’s line with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk vs. everyone else. A strong playoff run is the final piece of the puzzle for Gaudreau (who could really up his earning power, either with the Flames, or in free agency.)

Oilers: Is Edmonton a truly elite team under Jay Woodcroft?

Under Dave Tippett, the Oilers were a modest 23-18-3. Since Jay Woodcroft took over, the Oilers are 24-9-3. It doesn’t look like it’s beginner’s luck, alone, either.

That said, the Kings figure to challenge the Oilers’ structure, and maybe frustrate Connor McDavid by getting away with penalties. The narrative around Edmonton can change in a heartbeat — like a toilet seat going up and down.

Kings: Does Jonathan Quick have another strong playoff run in him?

The most likely path for the Kings to beat the Oilers is fairly simple. Contain that Oilers star power at 5-on-5, avoid taking too many penalties, and then win the goaltending battle.

Luckily, Jonathan Quick’s enjoyed a (fairly shocking) season of redemption. For the first time since 2017-18, Quick’s produced a positive GSAA, with a 3.3 mark heading into Thursday. They’ll need the veteran goalie to be sharp, and maybe hope for the opposite from Mike Smith at the other end.

Predators: Connor Ingram or David Rittich?

The Predators defied expectations by making the NHL playoff mix. With Juuse Saros most likely out, they’ll face even bigger odds in trying to win a series. It’s up to John Hynes to make the right call between journeyman backup David Rittich or largely untested Connor Ingram (or someone else, even?).

Stars: Can they replicate that 2020 Stanley Cup Final run?

From different goalies to an overwhelming emphasis on the Roope HintzJason RobertsonJoe Pavelski line, this Stars team isn’t the same as the one who made a surprise run. The formula is similar, though: stifle opponents, and hope to score enough to grind out wins.

It hasn’t always been pretty this season for the Stars, but it’s the sort of formula that can power a run every now and then.

NHL Scores
Joel Auerbach/NHLI via Getty Images

NHL playoff questions: one for each of the 8 teams in the Eastern Conference

Panthers: Can their style work in the playoffs?

Look, I don’t like asking that question. It would be a shame if the Panthers fall short, and then deviate from a high-octane style that produced easily their best-ever playoff results. But dusty folks will be eager to doubt them if the Panthers stumble.

Maple Leafs: Will they crack under the pressure?

Most likely drawing the Lightning is just so cruel and just so Maple Leafs. For all we know, the Lightning could be primed for a “three-peat.” For many, it doesn’t matter: the Maple Leafs are failures if they fall in the first round again. It’s an unenviable situation, but also makes for great theater.

Lightning: Could they run out of gas?

Repeating is already tough enough in the modern NHL. But stringing three straight Stanley Cup runs together? Audacious. The Lightning haven’t exactly let up on their workhorses, sending Victor Hedman out for more than 25 minutes per game, and squeezing another heavy workload out of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Don’t be shocked if they hit a wall.

Hurricanes: Will goaltending undo them again?

After boldly revamping their goaltending in the offseason, the Carolina Hurricanes were vindicated. Frederik Andersen deserves to be a Vezina finalist, and teams might kick themselves for not giving Antti Raanta a longer look. Yet, both goalies suffered late-season injuries. Even if they’re both good to go, are we certain they’ll be at full-strength for the Hurricanes?

Rangers: Will they get a healthy Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp?

Speaking of late-season injuries, the Rangers lost Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp in a game where the Hurricanes clinched the Atlantic Division. Remove those two — or deploy them with physical limitations — and the Rangers may lose some of the gains they’ve made since the trade deadline.

Penguins: Did Pittsburgh miss its best window to truly compete?

At times this season, the Penguins looked like they could be dangerous. That hasn’t been the case as often down the stretch, particularly with Tristan Jarry suffering an injury. Don’t count this team out … but they could be on the verge of five straight seasons without a series win.

Bruins: Can they get enough goaltending to win with a low margin for error?

Even before trading for Hampus Lindholm, the Bruins provided arguably the best defensive structure of any team in the NHL. Combine that defense with an offense that’s found more balance at times, and the Bruins are about as fearsome as a wild-card team can get.

Chances are, though, the Bruins are going to hope for low-scoring games, and that means their goalies (Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman) need to deliver.

Capitals: Will Alex Ovechkin be available, and healthy?

The Russian Machine didn’t necessarily break, but it took some damage. It’s unclear if Alex Ovechkin will be available early in a playoff series, and if he’ll be close to full-strength even if he’s in the lineup. Ovechkin scored 50 goals and 90 points in 77 games this season, so yeah, this is pretty big for a Capitals team hoping to pull off some upsets.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Panthers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

METROPOLITAN DIVISION
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Rangers vs. Penguins

CENTRAL DIVISION
Avalanche vs. Stars
Wild vs. Blues

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Blue Jackets vs. Penguins, 7 p.m. ET
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET
Capitals vs. Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Lightning vs. Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET
Avalanche vs. Wild, 8 p.m. ET
Ducks vs. Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

Panthers – clinched No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference
Maple Leafs – clinched
Lightning – clinched
Bruins – clinched
Red Wings – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated
Senators – eliminated
Canadiens – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

Hurricanes – clinched Metropolitan Division title
Rangers – clinched
Penguins – clinched
Capitals – clinched
Islanders – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

Avalanche – clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference
Wild – clinched
Blues – clinched
Predators – clinched
Stars – clinched
Jets – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

Flames – clinched Pacific Division
Oilers – clinched
Kings – clinched
Golden Knights – eliminated
Canucks – eliminated
Ducks – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Kraken – eliminated

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via Tankathon)

18.5% – Canadiens
13.5% – Coyotes
11.5% – Kraken
9.5% – Flyers
8.5% – Devils
7.5% – Blackhawks (*conditional)
6.5% – Senators
6.0% – Red Wings
5.0% – Sabres
3.5% – Ducks
3.0% – Sharks
2.5% – Blue Jackets
2.0% – Islanders
1.5% – Jets
0.5% – Canucks
0.5% – Golden Knights (*conditional)

“Beginning this season there will be a limit on the total number of selections (10) a team participating in the lottery can move up in the event it wins one of the lottery draws, a change announced by the NHL on March 23, 2021. Only the top 11 seeds will be eligible to receive the No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft.”

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery drawing will be held May 10

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 123 points
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers – 115
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames – 115
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 110
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 106
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild – 106

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 60 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 55
Chris Kreider, Rangers – 52
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 50
Kyle Connor, Jets – 46
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild – 46
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 44

Golden Knights have nobody to blame but themselves

If you wanted to be generous you could point to a handful of reasons as to why the 2021-22 Vegas Golden Knights ended up being a colossal disappointment and spectacular failure on the ice.

The biggest reason, of course, might be injuries.

Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, and Robin Lehner all missed time this season (some of them significant time), while Jack Eichel did not make his season debut until January after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

With some better health luck their season almost certainly would have been different. Maybe this preseason Stanley Cup contender wouldn’t have fallen flat on its face and missed the playoffs entirely for the first time in its five-year existence.

But pointing to that — and only that — would be giving them an excuse. It would be giving them an easy way out. And quite frankly, they do not deserve an easy way out or your generosity because a lot of their problems this season were their own creation, while they failed to take care of their own business down the stretch when the schedule (and their health) should have been in their favor.

Let’s start with the injuries

The most significant of those belonged to Stone, Pacioretty, and Martinez. And that definitely took a toll, especially as it related to Pacioretty and Stone who both missed half of the season.

But the Golden Knights are not the only preseason playoff contender that lost key players for significant chunks of the season.

For example:

All three of those teams comfortably qualified for the playoffs in significantly tougher divisions than the one Vegas played in. Beyond that, once Vegas did get healthier down the stretch with the returns of Stone, Pacioretty, and Martinez, not to mention a healthy Jack Eichel, they only went 3-3-4 in their past 10 games with losses to Vancouver (twice!), San Jose, New Jersey, and Chicago, not to mention a crucial head-to-head to loss to Dallas. The New Jersey loss is especially unforgivable given that it came at home, against a Devils team that entered the night having lost 13 of 16, has not won a game since, and was playing without its best player (Jack Hughes) and starting a third-string goalie (Andrew Hammond). How do you drop that game with your season on the line?

[Related: 2022 Stanley Cup playoff field set]

Even worse, the key players that they were missing for most of the season were mostly invisible during these key games.

• Eichel had five points over the past 10 games and was largely invisible in most games.

• Stone had zero goals and one assist.

• Pacioretty had three goals.

Jonathan Marchessault had one goal.

Their top offensive players during the stretch run were Chandler Stephenson and Evgenii Dadonov, a player that would not have even been on the roster had his no-trade clause been messed up at the  NHL trade deadline. And that does not even get into the fact that in their three consecutive shootout losses their skaters went a shocking and historically bad 0-for-17, wasting a valiant effort from goalie Logan Thompson who did everything he could to save their season.

Before that 10-game stretch began Vegas looked like a team that was starting to put it all together and could potentially be a nightmare matchup if it got in, and there was very good reason to believe in them once they got those players back. And then they got them back in the lineup and the bottom totally fell out.

Problems beyond injuries

Injuries are a fact of life in the NHL and every team has to deal with them and there is not much you can do to control them. Some teams are able to overcome it. Vegas did not. But Vegas also did itself no favors with the things it could control, including roster construction and its entire organizational philosophy.

From the very beginning of its existence Vegas has operated like a pre-salary cap spender where every big name player that becomes available is a realistic target for them, no matter the cost and no matter what they have to do to get it. They act like the salary cap does not exist and are always in the running for every star that becomes available, with Eichel being the most recent.

Individually, there is nothing wrong with any of the signings or trades they made. Stone and Pacioretty have been great. Alex Pietranagelo is a top-pairing defender. Eichel should (emphasis on should) be a cornerstone player going forward. But it has all helped cause havoc on their salary cap situation, especially when combined with other moves on the fringes, and cut into their depth, both in terms of what they have given up in trades and limiting what they can do with the rest of their roster.

For example: Taking on Dadonov’s contract from Ottawa, only to trade for Eichel a couple of months later, knowing full well the salary cap gymnastics it would require.

Or signing Robin Lehner to a long-term deal with a $5 million cap hit when they already had Marc-Andre Fleury, eventually creating a situation where they were going to have to essentially give one of them away due to cap constraints. They of course sent away Fleury just a couple of months after he won the 2020-21 Vezina Trophy. In hindsight, it was a catastrophic decision.

It was another example of just how cutthroat and ruthless this organization has been in its quest to add the next superstar and chase after the Cup.

Vegas fired Gerard Gallant early in year three (with a winning record!) after being behind the bench for consecutive playoff appearances and a Cup Final appearance in year one. They replaced him with Peter DeBoer, who has now created drama with two different goalies in the past three years (Fleury, for benching him in the playoffs for Lehner; and then Lehner for his handling of his injury situation and seemingly calling him out for not being available down the stretch this year).

All of it together almost makes it seem like there is no plan beyond “see big name player; acquire big name player; worry about the rest later.” 

It ultimately looks like a directionless organization that succeeds by accident rather than some smart grand plan. It all finally caught up to them this season and it cost them what should have been a guaranteed trip to the playoffs.

Now we get to see what happens this offseason as they try to clean up the gigantic mess they made for themselves.

NHL Push for the Playoffs: Wild might have league’s best goalie tandem

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

It is time to start paying attention to the Minnesota Wild as a major contender in the Western Conference. And if you already were, congratulations you are ahead of the game.

The Wild have been one of the best teams in the league in recent weeks and are in a fight with the St. Louis Blues for home ice advantage in the First Round. No matter where that series starts it is going to be an awesome matchup between two of the NHL’s more exciting teams.

Minnesota took a huge step forward a year ago with the arrival of Kirill Kaprizov, immediately transforming the team into a high-powered, must-see team. He and Mats Zuccarello have become one of the best top line duos in the league and still are this season. Add in the development of Matt Boldy and Kevin Fiala and the Wild have two dominant scoring lines to go with a rock solid defense.

They also have an outstanding goalie duo thanks to the trade deadline acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury and Cam Talbot give the Wild two legitimate starting goalie options and could be the final puzzle piece this team needs this season to potentially make a meaningful playoff run.

Fleury has looked rejuvenated since joining the Wild and getting away from the mess that was the Chicago Blackhawks and both goalies seem to be thriving on the internal competition for playing time. It remains to be seen which goalie will emerge as the primary start in the playoffs (smart money is on Fleury given his track record and experience) but having two capable goalies is a very big advantage. It not only gives you a Plan B and a safety net in case of an injury, but it also creates the flexibility to keep goalies fresh and give you multiple options.

Since the NHL trade deadline Talbot is 6-0-3 in his nine starts with a .927 save percentage and two shutouts. Fleury is 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage. For the season both goalies are over .910 in all situations and playing their best hockey of the season right now. You can win with that level of goaltending. Especially when the rest of the team is so solid from top to bottom.

The Wild’s long-term outlook is a little cloudy given the upcoming salary cap situation (Fiala needs a new contract after this season and that will be tight) so this was a perfect year for the Wild to go all in on trying to win. The Fleury addition helps them do that and makes them a very intriguing team going into the playoffs.

Minnesota hosts a Vancouver Canucks team on Thursday night that is clinging to its slim playoff hopes.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Panthers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

METROPOLITAN DIVISION
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Rangers vs. Penguins

CENTRAL DIVISION
Avalanche vs. Stars
Wild vs. Blues

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Bruins vs. Penguins, 7 p.m. ET
Jets vs. Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Rangers vs. Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET
Canucks vs. Wild, 8 p.m. ET
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning, 8 p.m. ET
Stars vs. Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Blackhawks vs. Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Panthers – clinched
Maple Leafs – clinched
Lightning – clinched
Bruins – clinched
Red Wings – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated
Senators – eliminated
Canadiens – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – clinched
Rangers – clinched
Penguins – clinched
Capitals – clinched
Islanders – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference
Blues – clinched
Wild – clinched
Predators – 96.9%
Stars – 78.7%
Jets – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Flames – clinched
Oilers – 99.99%
Kings – 90.2%
Golden Knights – 28%
Canucks – 6.2%
Ducks – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Kraken – eliminated

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via Tankathon)

18.5% – Coyotes
13.5% – Canadiens
11.5% – Flyers
9.5% – Kraken
8.5% – Devils
7.5% – Blackhawks (*conditional)
6.5% – Senators
6.0% – Sabres
5.0% – Red Wings
3.5% – Sharks
3.0% – Ducks
2.5% – Blue Jackets
2.0% – Jets
1.5% – Islanders
0.5% – Canucks
0.5% – Golden Knights (*conditional)

“Beginning this season there will be a limit on the total number of selections (10) a team participating in the lottery can move up in the event it wins one of the lottery draws, a change announced by the NHL on March 23, 2021. Only the top 11 seeds will be eligible to receive the No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft.”

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery drawing will be held May 10

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 113
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers – 111 points
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames – 108
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 106
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 102
Matthew Tkachuk, Flames – 99

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 58 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 54
Chris Kreider, Rangers – 50
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 50
Kyle Connor, Jets – 43
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild – 43
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 43

NHL Rink Wrap: Blues win streak ends; Another year for Fleury?

Top player in the NHL on Tuesday

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers ran their NHL best winning streak to 11 consecutive games with a come-from-behind win against the New York Islanders, winning 3-2 in overtime. Barkov scored all three Panthers goals in the game for his first hat trick of the season. Jonathan Huberdeau assisted on all three goals to take over the NHL’s scoring lead for the time being, but Barkov gets top star honors for the night thanks to this three goals including the overtime winner. The Panthers are now tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the best record in the NHL with 116 points.

Highlights from around the NHL on Tuesday

Matt Boldy and Kevin Fiala have given the Minnesota Wild a second dominant scoring line, and they have been outstanding together this season. They continued that on Tuesday by teaming up for a pair of goals in the Wild’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens who have still yet to score a goal for starting goalie Carey Price in his return to the lineup. This goal from Boldy is a thing of beauty.

The Toronto Maple Leafs win without Auston Matthews, beating a hapless Philadelphia Flyers team by a 5-2 margin. This Jason Spezza goal here is the highlight of the night for the Maple Leafs.

Matt Duchene scores to become the first Nashville Predators player to ever score 40 goals in a single season. Filip Forsberg scored his 39th goal in this game and is close to joining that group. The Predators were 3-2 winners over the Calgary Flames in a shootout. It is also the first 40-goal season of Duchene’s career.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Tuesday

Another shutout for Rangers

The New York Rangers recorded another shutout on Tuesday night thanks to Igor Shesterkin‘s 31-save effort in a 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets. It extended the Rangers’ shutout streak to three consecutive games, following wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings. No, these are not powerhouse opponents but the Rangers are doing exactly what a Stanley Cup contender should do against these teams. Dominate them and win easily. They are.

Blues win streak comes to an end at nine games

On the same night that the Florida Panthers’ winning streak continued, the St. Louis Blues’ win streak came to an end at nine consecutive games in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. While the winning streak is over the Blues’ point streak does still continue thanks to the point and now sits at 12 consecutive games (10-0-2 during that stretch). The Wild and Blues are rolling toward a First Round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the only thing to be determined who will have home ice advantage in that 2-3 Central Division series.

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to play another season

Marc-Andre Fleury has been a sensational addition for the Wild and he said this week that he is looking forward to playing another season in the NHL next year. While he has not yet completely matched what he did a year ago in Vegas in winning the Vezina Trophy he has looked like himself since getting away from the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and will no doubt have plenty of suitors on the open market.

Wednesday’s big story

After losing at home on Monday night to a bad New Jersey Devils team it is now  must-win time for the Vegas Golden Knights. They are not getting an easy game, either, as they host a white hot Washington Capitals team that is coming off of a big win on Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Right now the Los Angeles Kings (the team Vegas is chasing) is on pace for 95 points this season and plays nothing but non playoff teams the rest of the way. If we assume it would take 96 points for Vegas to make the playoffs it would need nine points in its remaining five games. That is, at minimum a 4-0-1 record. The margin for error is gone.

Tuesday’s NHL Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Philadelphia Flyers 2
Minnesota Wild 2, Montreal Canadiens 0
Detroit Red Wings 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3
New York Rangers 3, Winnipeg Jets 0
Florida Panthers 3, New York Islanders 2 (OT)
Nashville Predators 3, Calgary Flames 2 (SO)
Boston Bruins 3, St. Louis Blues 2 (OT)
Ottawa Senators 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (SO)
Los Angeles Kings 2, Anaheim Ducks 1
San Jose Sharks 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

Playoff goalie confidence rankings: Lightning, Maple Leafs at opposite ends

There is no more impactful position in the postseason — or at any point of the NHL season — than goalie.

It will make or break your team, it can swing a series, and if you get great play at the position you are going to have a chance to win it all. If you get bad play at the position, your postseason trip will probably be disappointing no matter how good the rest of your team is.

With the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs just around the corner we wanted to take a look at each potential playoff team (teams that still have a strong chance to make it; so Winnipeg and Vancouver? Not included) and how they should feel about their goaltending situation as the playoffs approach.

So confident they should be arrogant about it

Tampa Bay Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s overall numbers this season are not quite on the same level as they have been in the past, but he is still the best goalie in the world and a proven superstar. Especially come playoff time. He has played every minute of their past two championship runs with a .932 save percentages in those 48 games. The Lightning always have a chance with him, and at any moment he can become a dominant game changer that just takes over a series. They are in a class all their own here at this position because of Vasilevskiy.

Extremely high confidence and no real concern

New York Rangers. Igor Shesterkin does not have quite the lengthy resume that Vasilevskiy has, and his play has dipped a bit over the past two weeks, so that puts the Rangers at the very top of this tier instead of the absolute top tier. This is the most hockey Shesterkin has played in a season and there might be some concern that he could run out of steam in the middle of a playoff run. But he has been the Rangers’ most important player this season and is not only a Vezina Trophy front runner, he is also a legitimate MVP contender.

Carolina Hurricanes. Frederik Andersen has been everything the Hurricanes could have hoped for him to be this season and more. What makes their situation especially strong is they have a very, very good backup in Antti Raanta. Neither player is a superstar, but they are both excellent.

Nashville Predators. Saros has been one of the NHL’s best performing goalies for three years now and is an excellent last line of defense behind a surprisingly good Western Conference playoff team. He almost single handedly dragged the Predators to a playoff spot a year ago and has been just as good this season (with a little better support around him).

Calgary Flames. The Flames paid a huge price to get Jacob Markstrom in free agency a year ago and he is rewarding them for their investment. Markstrom has a .924 save percentage this season and a league-best nine shutouts. Calgary plays a great defensive game under coach Darryl Sutter, has balanced out its forward lineup, and has a top-tier goalie this year.

Very confident

Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have arguably the NHL’s best defense (almost all of them impact players) and a loaded lineup that can dominate any opponent on any given night. They do not necessarily need a goalie that can steal them a lot of games. They need a goalie that will not lose them games. That is Darcy Kuemper, and just as an added bonus for them he is also capable of stealing a game when needed. Pavel Francouz is a strong backup as well.

Minnesota Wild. Cam Talbot is a perfectly acceptable NHL starting goalie, but Marc-Andre Fleury is the wild card here. He struggled in Chicago, but what goalie would not struggle behind that mess? He is still capable of being an impact player and is off to a very strong start with the Wild. Between the two of them they should be plenty good enough at this position to make some noise in the playoffs. The playoff meltdowns of years past are in his rear view mirror as he has a .922 save percentage in his past 62 playoff games dating back to the 2016-17 playoffs.

[NHL Power Rankings: Bruins, Wild peaking at right time]

Their goalie has something to prove

Pittsburgh Penguins. Tristan Jarry had a nightmare postseason a year ago, a performance that played a significant role in the Penguins’ first round exit at the hands of the New York Islanders. He has bounced back in a big way this season and has been one of the better goalies in the league. But until he does it in the playoffs there is going to be that question mark looming over him. Very good season, but still mostly unproven.

St. Louis Blues. The Blues are probably having some second thoughts about that Jordan Binnington contract extension. After back-to-back playoff meltdowns Binnington has come back this season and had his worst season as a pro, currently owning a .899 save percentage on the season. The good news for the Blues is Ville Husso has stepped in to save the day. He has had a great year but he has very little NHL track record to base any projection on.

Boston Bruins. With Tuukka Rask retired Bruins fans are going to have to find a new scapegoat this season. His absence has been filled by the duo of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. They have been …. fine? Not liabilities. Not game-changers. Just …. fine. Swayman has been the better of the two overall this season but he has struggled since the beginning of March. The Bruins are a great defensive team with some impact players at forward so there is a lot of potential here. They just need the goaltending to be good.

Dallas Stars. The Stars opened the season with four NHL caliber goalies on their roster, and it has been a journey just keeping one of them healthy and in the lineup. Jake Oettinger has emerged as the starter, but he falls under the same category as Jarry, Husso, and Swayman. Fine performance, but not enough of a track record to really be 100% confident with what he is going to do in the playoffs. Assuming the Stars get there.

nhl goalie ranking
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

This is a cause for concern

Florida Panthers. Okay now things start to get really interesting. The Panthers have the best offense in the NHL by a mile. When Aaron Ekblad is healthy they have a very formidable defense. This has been the best full season in Panthers franchise history and there is every reason for fans to believe they have a team that can win it all. The only thing that can disrupt that is goaltending. And guess what just so happens to be a cause for alarm as the playoffs approach: goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky had a wonderful start to the season, but he has fallen off significantly in the second half and some of his previous playoff performances leave something to be desired. Spencer Knight is the future of the position in Florida, but he has not had the rookie season the Panthers may have hoped for. Since the start of February their team all situations save percentage of .894 is one of the worst in the NHL. This is a potential problem.

Los Angeles Kings. Jonathan Quick is a two-time Cup winner and has some of the NHL’s best single season playoff runs on his resume. But he has not been that goalie for a few years now. As a duo, he and Calvin Petersen have been pretty average this season, and that has been good enough for a quickly improving Kings team that has exceeded expectations.

Vegas Golden Knights. The concern here is that Robin Lehner has not consistently been healthy this season, and when he has been on the ice his play has regressed from the past few years. If he is healthy and playing like we have seen in the past, they should be fine. But they have no Plan B like they did in recent years.

No confidence at all. This is a problem position.

Toronto Maple Leafs. The offense is great. Defensively they are probably better than their critics want to admit. But that goaltending is a real problem and the obvious weakness here. Jack Campbell has been awful since the start of December, as his .890 save percentage since Dec. 1 is 34th out of the 37 goalies that have appeared in at least 20 games since then (ahead of only Ilya Samsonov and Philip Grubauer). Petr Mrazek has struggled pretty consistently all season. This is going to be a problem.

Washington Capitals. The Capitals have two options in Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, neither of which has done anything to secure the starting job. Washington was unable to add a goalie upgrade before the trade deadline and seemed to be happy with Vanecek’s play. But that has tailed off in recent weeks and now the Capitals are set to enter the playoffs with no good (or proven) option.

[Related: Capitals goaltending situation could be big problem]

Edmonton Oilers. They stuck with the same goalie duo that was not good enough a year ago. They have the worst team save percentage of any playoff team, and teams with this level of goaltending typically do not win. The best option here might actually be Stuart Skinner, and not Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen.