May 2 — The 2022 NHL Postseason Starts Today

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Last Night’s News 📰

McDAVID AND MATTHEWS REPEAT: For the second year in a row—and the fourth time in his career—Conor McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. McDavid ended the season with 123 points, eight more than second-place finishers Johnny Gaudreau and Jonathan Huberdeau. Also, for the second straight season, Auston Matthews has won the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored on the year. Matthews became the first player in Toronto Maple Leafs history to record 60 goals. 

KRAKEN THE CODE: It was the last game of the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural season, and thanks to Kyle Connor’s 47th goal, the Kraken will end the year dropping five of their final six games. Blake Wheeler scored in his fourth straight game, and Paul Stastny recorded his 800th career point as the Winnipeg Jets came back to defeat Seattle 4-3

INJURY UPDATES: Alex Ovechkin is likely to play for the Washington Capitals in Game 1 against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night after sitting the last three games with an upper-body injury. Additionally, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen will miss Monday’s opening game against the Boston Bruins, while Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins is out for at least the first two games against the New York Rangers. 

HOW SWEDE IT IS: Despite being outshot 51-15 by the Americans, Team Sweden found the back of the net six times to win its second-ever gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Under-18 Men’s World Championships, winning 6-4. Noah Östlund and Liam Öhgren scored twice for the Swedes, as all-tournament goaltender Hugo Hävelid made 47 saves in the victory. 

FINNISH STRONG: Team Finland outlasted Czechia in the IIHF U18 Men’s Worlds bronze medal game, winning 4-1 despite being a one-goal contest late in the third period. Finnish captain Jere Lassila contributed two goals and two assists for the country’s fifth bronze at the tournament and first medal since winning gold in 2018. 

Who Said It

1) “It’s going to be different mindset, it’s going to be different speed, it’s going to be different battle level.”

A. Anže Kopitar
B. Alex Ovechkin
C. Johnny Gaudreau

2) “Usually in the playoffs, it’s hard to control your emotions. You’re nervous a lot about mistakes, all that stuff. I think winners can control the emotions and do everything that they do before. So I hope we can do this. I’m sure we can do this.”

A. Jeremy Swayman
B. Elias Lindholm
C. Artemi Panarin

3) “For us as a team, I think we’ve been through a couple of post-season experiences where we left here very unsatisfied. It’s up to us to come out and put out the right effort and hopefully it gets us the results.”

A. Darnell Nurse
B. Mitch Marner
C. Roman Josi

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

One Burning Question: Eastern Conference

We’ve made it!! The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here, and one of the remaining 16 teams will embark upon a path to hoist hockey’s holy grail. Amidst a wide-open field, there may be favorites, but everyone has an opportunity if things break just right. I mean, look at the Montreal Canadiens last year!

Today, we’re offering up one burning question for each Eastern Conference playoff team. Tune in tomorrow for our Western Conference edition!

Florida Panthers vs Washington Capitals

Panthers: What will playoff Sergei Bobrovsky look like?
Capitals: How serious is Alex Ovechkin’s upper-body injury?

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Capitals will need all the help they can get to match Florida’s high-powered offense, so Ovi at less than 100% isn’t ideal.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Maple Leafs: What will it take for the Leafs to finally break out of the first round?
Lightning: Can the likes of Ross Colton, Nick Paul, and Brandon Hagel fill the middle-six void in Tampa?

If Colton and new additions Paul and Hagel can offset the absence of Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Yanni Gourde, then Toronto could be facing another one-and-done postseason.

Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins

Hurricanes: Any healthy goalies around here?
Bruins: Who’s it going to be between the pipes?

Questions abound in both creases, where Carolina’s Jennings Trophy-winning tandem of Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are both dealing with injuries, and Boston could ride with either Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman (Boston tabbed Ullmark for Game 1).

New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Rangers: Can the Blueshirts score some goals?
Penguins: Is Casey DeSmith ready for the spotlight?

Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

DeSmith will be the go-to option in net for the Pens with Jarry injured, but the Rangers still need to find the back of the net after averaging just 3.05 goals per game (third-worst among playoff teams) in the regular season.

Stanley Cup Dark Horses

The 2021-22 NHL regular season has concluded, with the final game (between non-playoff teams Seattle and Winnipeg) occurring yesterday. Today begins the postseason, with four series in action tonight and the other four getting underway on Tuesday.

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers are the top seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Colorado Avalanche hold the top spot in the Western Conference. Both are talented teams who are favored to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. However, there are lower-seeded teams that should get a second look. Here are a couple of dark horse teams from each conference who could make a run at the Cup.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers

The Rangers surprised many people by going 52-24-6 (110 points) this season and finishing as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Veteran forward Chris Kreider finished third in the NHL in goals with 52 (to go along with 25 assists), while veteran forward Artemi Panarin finished third in the NHL in assists with 74 (to go along with 22 goals).

With Igor Shesterkin, who’s currently the NHL’s best goaltender, the Rangers could win the Stanley Cup (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

New York also has one of the best defensemen in the league in 24-year-old Adam Fox, who had 74 points (11 goals, 63 assists) in 78 games. But the main reason the Rangers could go all the way is presumptive Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin, who led all goalies with a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA) and a .935 save percentage (SV%) during the regular season.

Boston Bruins

Without legendary goaltender Tuukka Rask, many pundits had concern for the Bruins going into this season. However, the veteran-laden team snatched the Eastern Conference’s first Wild Card spot after posting a record of 51-26-5 (107 points).

Brad Marchand and the Bruins have the experience to make a deep postseason run (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With guys like Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrňák, among others, Boston has plenty of skill and experience to make a deep playoff run like they did three seasons ago. The key will be the inexperienced goalie tandem of Jeremy Swayman (23-13-3 with a 2.41 GAA and .914 SV% in 41 games this season) and Linus Ullmark (26-10-2 with a 2.45 GAA and .917 SV% in 41 games).

Western Conference

Minnesota Wild

Despite being the second seed in the Western Conference after finishing the season with a 53-22-7 (113 points), Minnesota’s odds to win the Stanley Cup are similar to those of the Rangers and Bruins. The Wild haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs in seven seasons and went 0-1-2 against their first-round opponent (the St. Louis Blues) during the regular season.

A deadline deal for former Stanley Cup winner Marc-André Fleury could help the Wild win their first Cup (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

However, the Wild have a superstar in 25-year-old Kirill Kaprizov, who set a franchise record with 108 points (47 goals, 61 assists) in 81 games this season. Minnesota also boasts a strong goaltending tandem in three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-André Fleury (9-2-0, 2.74 GAA, .910 SV% since arriving at the deadline) and incumbent Cam Talbot (8-0-3, 2.25 GAA, .925 SV% since the trade for Fleury).

Edmonton Oilers

Despite a midseason slump that led to a coaching change, there is no denying that the Oilers, who are the Western Conference’s fifth seed after finishing the regular season 49-27-6 (104 points), have the talent, at least on the offensive end, to make a postseason run.

The OIlers have defensive deficiencies, but they also have arguably the league’s best player in Connor McDavid (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers have two offensive stars in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Two-time Hart Trophy winner McDavid will win his fourth Art Ross Trophy after finishing with an NHL-best 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists), while 2019-20 Hart Trophy winner Draisaitl finished fourth in the NHL with 110 points (55 goals, 55 assists). However, they’ll need their defense, which ranked 19th in goals allowed during the regular season, to step up for the team to have a chance.

MSk8 Debate 💬

The playoffs start today, and everyone has their frontrunner for the Stanley Cup race. Today, our crew gives their thoughts on who they think will lift Lord Stanley’s chalice at the end of the postseason.

BF: The East produced eight playoff teams with 100-plus points, so there isn’t a weak link among the bunch. Here’s betting that means we get some surprises, and the New York Rangers could be primed to benefit. While some may be concerned by a rocky end of the season that saw the Blueshirts drop three of their last four, they still boast all-world goalie Igor Shesterkin and are set to face a Pittsburgh Penguins team with Casey DeSmith filling in for Tristan Jarry, making for arguably the most lopsided first-round series in net. If they get going, watch out!

KF: This is an extremely difficult question to answer. The playoffs are a completely different beast, and as long as you’re in, you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. We all know that a hot goaltender can carry a team far, which means fans should not count out the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, or Carolina Hurricanes. If I have to select a frontrunner at this juncture, I am going with the Minnesota Wild. They have a solid tandem in the crease with Marc-André Fleury and Cam Talbot, and we can’t forget about Kirill Kaprizov, who was one of eight players to notch over 100 points this season. They are finally poised to make a deep run for the first time since 2003. 

GT: I think the Panthers, who won the Presidents’ Trophy, are the best overall team. However, the playoffs are a bit unpredictable, as the top overall seed hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 2013. There are several teams I could see winning it all, but I’m going to take a stab at the Carolina Hurricanes. Forward Sebastian Aho is a bonafide star, and as long as he’s healthy, Frederik Anderson is one of the best netminders in the league (he’s out for Game 1). The Canes have been on the rise for a few seasons now, and this might be the year they take the next step.

KK: Will this be the first time since the salary cap era that a team wins three Cups in a row? While the Tampa Bay Lightning are as strong as ever, I think the wear and tear of the playoffs will finally take its toll. That leaves the door wide open for teams like the Panthers, Rangers, Hurricanes, and Flames. However, none of those clubs have faced the playoff heartbreak that typically comes before a team makes a run. One organization that has had that heartbreak, and addressed its needs this offseason and trade deadline, is the Colorado Avalanche. I see the Avs raising the Cup in June! 

Let us know your thoughts by using #MSk8Debate on Twitter!

Who Said It Answers

  1. Alex Ovechkin
  2. Artemi Panarin
  3. Darnell Nurse

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

NHL’s Scoring Leaders

Today’s NHL Schedule