nhl playoff preview: round one

By: Adam Kierszenblat

The NHL playoffs are set. 16 teams start their journey in the quest for the Stanley Cup. Today, we review all eight playoff matchups and try to predict who will come out the winner.

1) Carolina Hurricanes versus 4) Nashville Predators

Season Series (8 games): Hurricanes win 6-2

The Carolina Hurricanes are a powerhouse team that should have no major issues with the Nashville Predators. Top to bottom, the Hurricanes are a better team. The only way the Nashville pulls out a series win is if Roman Josi has one of the most incredible playoff series on record and Jusse Saros stands on his head.

That being said, Nashville is still going to put up a fight. This won’t be a sweep but with players like Sebastian Aho, Dougie Hamilton and Teuvo Teräväinen, expect this series to be over quick.

Prediction: 4-1 Carolina

2) Florida Panthers versus 3) Tampa Bay Lightning

Season Series (8 games) : Panthers win 5-3

This will be the first time the two Florida based teams play each other and it is sure to be an exciting one. You have the powerhouse Lightning lead by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman versus the pesky Panthers lead by Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Carter Verhaeghe and Keith Yandle. In net, it will be the battle of the Russians as Andrei Vasilevskiy takes on Sergei Bobrovsky. This will be a series we will talk about for years to come.

The series is gonna come down to seven games. Both teams are just too talented and evenly matched for one to blow out the other. The reason Tampa is going to come out on top however is due to Florida missing Aaron Ekblad. Florida’s star defenceman is out for the season and will lead to big of a hole to fill on the blueline.

Prediction: 4-3 Tampa Bay

1) Pittsburgh Penguins versus 4) New York Islanders

Season series (8 games) Penguins win 6-2

This series is going to bizzare to watch. You have the high flying Penguins lead by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin versus the tight checking Islanders led by Matt Barzal and Josh Bailey. The Penguins will most likely outshoot New York in every game, but the games will be low scoring as the Islanders bend but don’t break philosophy will be on full display.

The reason the Islanders will pull of the upset is the play of goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The Islanders goaltender is having a career game and is being discussed as a potential Vezina Trophy winner handed out to the best goaltender that season. Because of Varlamov’s play, the Islanders will win.

Prediction: 4-2 New York

2) Washington Capitals versus 3) Boston Bruins

Season Series (8 games): Tied 4-4

This should be an exciting matchup as it pins two high flying offenses against each other. You have the Ovechkin led Capitals versus the Marchand led Bruins. No one had an edge in the season series but Boston did score one more goal head to head so this series is a toss up.

The series is going seven games. The teams are too balanced and this is a series where we may see three or four overtimes. That being said, the trio of Backstrom, Carlson and Ovechkin will be able to power the Capitals through to the second round.

Prediction: 4-3 Washington

1) Colorado Avalanche versus 4) St. Louis Blues

Season Series (8 games): Avalanche win 5-3

Colorado is going to run away with this series. They needed to go 5-0 in their final five games to be crowned regular season champions, and that is exactly what they did. The team is stacked throughout the lineup with players like Cale Makar, Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Expect this series over quick.

The real reason St. Louis made the playoffs is due to the week division. There were three solid teams in the west and then five iffy teams. They just survived long enough to make the playoffs. It is possible they pull off the upset, but in reality, the Avalanche should have no problems.

Prediction: 4-1 Colorado

2) Vegas Golden Knights versus 3) Minnesota Wild

Season Series (8 games): Wild win 5-3

This series is similar to the Penguins/Islanders series in the sense that you have an offensive powerhouse going up against a defensive sound team. The problem for the Wild however is that no upset will be happening this year. The series should be closer than the Avalanche/Blues series but expect Vegas to come out on top.

The Golden Knights are built to compete for the cup. They have solid goaltending, a defence that can compete against anyone and one of the strongest top-nine forward groups in the league. The Wild can only hold off for so long and should fall to Vegas despite losing the season series.

Prediction: 4-2 Vegas

1) Toronto Maple Leafs versus 4) Montreal Canadians

Season Series (10 games): Maple Leafs win 7-3

In the battle of the original six teams, the Maple Leafs will try and beat the pesky Canadians in the first round. For Montreal to pull off the massive upset, they will need players like Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher to return as well as the Maple Leafs goaltending to crumble. The good news for Montreal is that the Leafs goaltending has been questionable and should open a door for them to have a chance in the series.

Although Montreal does have a chance, Toronto should take the series. They can score at will which should help mask the defensive issues that persist. Also, Montreal has limped into the playoffs. They lost 10 of their final 15 games and have not looked great. Look for the Maple Leafs to win this series even though the series will be close.

Prediction: 4-2 Toronto

2) Edmonton Oilers versus 3) Winnipeg Jets

Season Series (9 games): Oilers win 7-2

This is going to be a fun series as both teams are very evenly matched. Connor McDavid for the Oilers is the best player in the world, but he has no real supporting cast. The Jets on the other hand have a balanced team but their defence is not the greatest. This is a series that is going to come down to goaltending.

If goaltending is a huge factor, Winnipeg should come out on top. Mike Smith has been great all season but Connor Hellebuyck is one of the best goaltenders in the league despite his average season. For that reason, look for the Jets to pull off the upset in round one.

Prediction: 4-3 Winnipeg

An Exciting Playoffs

Regardless of final scores, this should be an exciting playoffs. Fans are back in most building and the intensity should lead to some great series. It all gets going on Saturday May 15th.

Predictions recap:

4 – 1 Carolina Hurricanes

4 – 3 Tampa Bay Lightning

4 – 2 New York Islanders

4 – 3 Washington Capitals

4 – 1 Colorado Avalanche

4 – 2 Vegas Golden Knights

4 – 2 Toronto Maple Leafs

4 – 3 Winnipeg Jets

How the Bruins Turned Their Whole Season Around With Two Trades 

By: Justin Homes

The Boston Bruins have punched their ticket to the 2021 NHL playoffs. It’s been a whirlwind of a season, with a hot start and then a slew of injuries leading to a tough stretch. But, a big part of why they are heading to the postseason is winning 10 of their last 12 games, since making two big trade deadline acquisitions. 
First, it was the big one… at about 12:30 in the morning, I got a notification that the Bruins had traded for Curtis Lazar. But, then Darren Dreger said that it was a part of a bigger deal. 

Next thing you know the Bruins had traded Anders Bjork and a second-round pick for Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar. 

There was doubt out of the gates that Hall could not be part of a winning culture and that he had “only scored 2 goals this season”. From that point on I don’t think anyone who watches the Bruins had any doubt in the 2018 Hart trophy winner. His offensive production has been unbelievable on a line with Craig Smith and David Krejci which has blossomed in the past weeks. Hall has scored 6 goals and 5 assists since joining the Bruins while being a +11. The surprising part has been Hall’s defensive presence with huge back checks on many occasions and his very polished transition game. Hall has also been top 5 in expected goals since joining the Bruins. 

Curtis Lazar has also fit right into the mix jumping between the 3rd and 4th line, providing a physical yet polished game to bring energy to the Bs.  Lazar has a goal and 2 assists since getting to the Bruins. He’s turned the fourth line right around, making them once again one of the best in the league with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. This line has shown a glimpse of the 2011 “The Merlot Line” for the Bruins of Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Shawn Thronton that helped the Bruins win Lord Stanley.  

The Bruins also did a very under-the-radar deal that has proven to be just as effective as the latter. They Traded a 3rd round pick to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Mike Rielly. #6 slotted right into a top role on the Bruins by getting time on the top pair while quarterbacking the powerplay. A banged-up Bruins blue line needed the boost and depth that Rielly has provided. Rielly has been producing at a high rate as well having 7 assists in just 12 games with the team. The best part of Reilly’s game is his ability to get his shot to the net much like Matt Grzelcyk, which creates so many scoring chances. 

In the past Bruins GM, Don Sweeney hasn’t been known to go out and make a big deal, such as last season where he added Nick Ritchie for Danton Heinen. A move that at the time didn’t seem like much but has panned out into a very good trade with Ritchie tying his career-high in goals with 14 this season. In 2019 Sweeney acquired Charlie Coyle in exchange for Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick, another deal that has worked out very well for the Bruins as Coyle fits right into Boston’s system. This year adding a former Hart winner like Hall may be his biggest splash under the Black and Yellow.

This is the 5th season that the Bruins will see the playoffs under Bruce Cassidy, and with the depth and potential of this lineup… they could have a real shot at Lord Stanley. 

No matter what happens in the postseason it will be interesting what the Bruins do with Hall and many other unrestricted free agents in the offseason. From what we’ve heard Hall wants to be in a Spiked B long-term and Don Sweeney and the Bruins may just have the cap space to do so.

5 Suprises of the NHL season so far

By: Adam Kierszenblat

With the NHL’s season wrapping up, we look back at some of the top unforeseen storylines from the season. From Covid protocols to rookies dominating the league, this season had twists and turns throughout. Here are the top five moments:

5) COVID-19 Issues Across The League

Coming into the season, many expected there to be Covid issues throughout the NHL. We had seen similar problems in the NFL and MLB, but the NHL had some major issues this season. From the Dallas Stars starting the season late, to the Canucks shutting down for three weeks as over 20 players and staff contracted the virus, it has been a challenge for players and team personnel. With the playoffs on the horizon, teams will have to be more diligent with their protocols to ensure that the postseason goes off without a hitch.

4) Here Come The Panthers

Florida has been a major surprise this season. They currently sit near the top of the league which is surprising as many had them pegged as a bottom place team in the stacked East Division. Florida has clinched a playoff spot for only the second time since the 2000-2001 season. Last year, they did not even make it out of the playoff qualifier. With new staff and the emergence of some of their younger players, Florida could be on their way to a run this year. Look out for players like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Carter Verhaeghe as they are sure to put on a show this postseason.

3)Buffalo’s Losing Streak

Buffalo had a lot of promise coming into this season. They signed Taylor Hall this offseason and already had foundational pieces like Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin. Expectations were high, but the team was never able to produce and went on one of the worst losing streaks in NHL history. Players like Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner could not score, Jack Eichel got hurt and a Covid pause all contributed to this historic losing streak. Between February 23rd and March 31st, the Sabers went 0-15-3. They blew multi-goal three-goal leads and were even shutout 6-0 on one night. This will be a streak that no hockey fan will forget for a long time. It was a defining moment of another disappointing season.

2)Is He A Rookie Or Isn’t He

There has been much debate this season about Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov. The 25-year-old is in his first season with the Wild and has put up 22 goals and 41 points in 47 games. Kaprizov is the favorite to win the best rookie this season, but some feel he should be excluded from the race due to his age and experience.

Kaprizov has played the last six seasons in the men’s top division of Russia. Normally, rookies have one or two years of playing against older players before entering the league so this is where the debate comes in. Should players who have multiple years playing in pro leagues be considered rookies when they come to the NHL. There is also the age argument. Most rookies are between the ages of 19-22 while Kaprizov is 25. Whichever side of the fence you on, it is universally understood throughout the hockey world that Kaprizov is a great player. He will help redefine the Wild and has already helped them clinch a playoff spot this season.

1) Rookies Taking Over

Rookies have really stepped up this season. Outside of Kaprizov in Minnesota, you have Jason Robertson in Dallas, Nils Höglander, Josh Norris, and Tim Stützle as well as Ty Smith in New Jersey. All these skaters have produced for their teams this season and are in the conversation for rookie of the year.

You also have quite a few rookie goaltenders that are stealing the spotlight. Vitek Vanecek in Washington, Kevin Lankinen in Chicago, and Igor Shesterkin in New York are all rookie goaltenders that have solidified the starter’s net for their teams. With additional roster spots due to taxi squads, rookies are getting more of an opportunity this season compared to previous years. The future of the NHL is bright and these rookies will be wowing fans for the next several years.

An Exciting Season

Although fan participation in the arenas has been limited this season, the NHL has been a lot of fun to watch. Playing only rivalry games has added fuel to the fire and should turn up the heat for when these divisional foes play in future seasons. The play on the ice in addition to the new TV contract with ESPN and Turner Sports should lead to more viewers and interest surrounding the sport. Now that the season is done, get ready for rough and wild playoffs as teams fight for the ultimate prize in sports, The Stanley Cup.

Who has the best line in all of hockey? Top 5 Lines

By: Justin Homes

Who is the Best Line in All of Hockey? 
Year by year it seems to be a debate that truly never has a sure-fire answer. Which line is truly the best? Now some scenarios around the league see lines constantly being shuffled such as over in Edmonton. So it adds another layer to the already spirited debate. So, here is my breakdown of the top lines in the league and who I think takes the crown. 

5. Washington Capitals  Alex Ovechkin – Evgeni Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson 
This line has it all, one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the game, a hard-nose player that can put a puck in the back of the net, and one of the better centermen in the league. Ovi is sitting at 730 goals good for sixth place in NHL history and just one behind Marcel Dionne. I don’t think I have to explain how good Ovi is. Kuznetsov can be the heart and soul of this team, when he is doing good, the Caps are doing great. He started the year slow but has picked it up as late having 9 goals and 19 assists on the year. Tom Wilson is one of the most notorious players in the league. Whether you love him or hate him he does have some skill and compliments the guys on his line. He’s having another decent year as well with 11 goals and 18 assists. 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs *Insert Left-Winger Here* – Matthews – Marner 
All joking aside you can legitimately insert any left-winger on the Leafs into that slot and it’s going to be successful. There’s been a rotation of them including Alex Galchenyuk, Joe Thornton, and now Nick Foligno. Where this line sees all its success is the unbelievable chemistry of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Marner is one of the elite playmakers in the game and can dangle his way through a team and roof one at any given moment. Then, at Centre, you have the best goalscorer in the NHL in Auston Matthews. A lethal shot that can strike at any moment with his quick release and a defensive improvement from year past puts this line up with the best of the best. 

3. Edmonton Oilers Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Puljujarvi
When you have the unanimous best player in the game on your line it’s going to be a top 3 line. The Oilers have shuffled their lines a BUNCH this season. Which is what made this such a tough choice. When Draisitl is with McDavid it is unmatched. So I went with the Nuge and Puljujarvi combo for my entertainment. Puljujarvi has had an unreal comeback season sporting 12 goals and 7 assists. Nugent-Hopkins has had a good year as well on the verge of him becoming a UFA, with 13 goals and 14 assists. He started the year on fire but has slowed down as of late with injuries. I said it once I’ll say it again, McDavid is the best player in all of hockey. If you’re going to debate me on that you are NUTS. He has 81 points on the year with a not too shabby 28 goals. He will win yet another Hart trophy this season and may be able to eclipse the 100 point mark in just 56 games. Something no one ever thought we would see. 

2.Colorado Avalanche Landeskog – Makinnon – Rantanen 
It’s hard to argue against the notion that this line isn’t the best in the game. Mackinnon has been in the Hart Trophy race year in and year out. He has the best hands in the game and isn’t as far behind McDavid for best in the league as people think. Landeskog is an unreal two-way player that compliments both of the players on this line well. He’s put up 50 points in 6 seasons and is putting together yet another impressive season with 16 goals and 41 points. On the right-wing, you have one of the most underrated players in the game, Mikko Rantanen. The 24-year-old has put up 80 points twice in his young career and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. With 26 goals and 26 assists on the year, he’s a top 10 NHL player. 

1.Boston Bruins “The Perfection Line” Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak 
Although fans of the Bruins may not like the nickname it has seemed to stick and for good reason. The thing that makes this line so great is the defensive side of things. Captain Patrice Bergeron has won 4 Selke trophies which ties him for the most all-time with Bob Gainey, Just proving how good of a two-way player he truly is. Then you’ve got the reigning Rocket Richard co-winner in David Pastrnak. A 24-year-old that is destined to stay atop of the goal race for years to come with his lethal one-timer and slick moves. Ahhhh and finally the man himself Brad Marchand. Love him or hate him he is making a debate for him to be in the Hart Trophy race. He’s got 24 goals and 33 assists being among the league leaders. It’s a hard group to beat and once you put the offensive and defensive effectiveness of this line together… They are simply the best line in all of the NHL.

Two NHL Playoff Contenders and two playoff pretenders

By: Dave Browne

The NHL playoff picture is taking into shape with just weeks left in the regular season. Rosters are pretty much set, and teams are ready to make that push for hockey’s Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup. Here are two legitimate contenders and teams that will underwhelm come playoff time.


Vegas Golden Knights– Vegas is a team that is on the cusp of winning a championship. Vegas has reached the Stanley Cup Final, followed by losing in the Divisional round and Conference Finals in their three-year existence. They have two dominant scoring lines, a solid third line and an energetic fourth line that could chip in on the score sheet. The acquisition of left-wing Mattias Janmark at the trade deadline may turn out to be one of the more underrated moves this season. He’s a perfect complimentary piece on the third line who brings 45 games of playoff experience. Collectively, Vegas averages 3.35 goals per game, fourth in the NHL.

Vegas signed prized free agent and former Stanley Cup Champion Alex Pietrangelo to round out their impressive defensive core. The workhorse defenseman averaged over 25 minutes a night during the 2019 St. Louis Blues playoff run. A defensive core of Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Nicolas Hague, and Zach Whitecloud will make it difficult for opposing offenses. This defense could also contribute offensively.

Between the pipes Vegas have two viable goaltenders who could backstop any team for a playoff run. They have former Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. Between the two Fleury and Lehner have a 2.17 goals against average (1st in NHL) and a .923 save percentage (2nd).

Special teams also play a pivotal role in the playoffs. Their elite penalty kill ranks second in the NHL at 85.8 percent. Vegas has one of the deepest rosters in the league. When things tighten up come playoff time, Vegas has the defense and goaltending to push them over the top. Bank on Vegas to go deep into the playoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes– A storm is brewing in Raleigh and it’s time that the league takes notice. The Hurricanes made noise two seasons ago when they made the Eastern Conference Finals after a nine-year playoff exodus.

The Hurricanes were not an active club at the NHL trade deadline. However, just as good as a trade deadline acquisition is the return of Teuvo Teravainen, who has been limited to just 13 games this season. The team has a solid core of young players and veterans and is as deep as any team in the league.

The Hurricanes possess one of the more underrated top lines in the league with young superstar Sebastian Aho anchoring the line along with wingers Andrei Svechnikov and Teravainen. Their depth at forward runs deep with the likes of Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter, Martin Necas, Jordan Staal, Brock McGinn, and Jesper Fast.

The defense is another strength of the team, headlined by defenseman Dougie Hamilton who is having a career season in his contract year. Rounding out the stellar defense is the underrated Brett Pesce and Jacob Slavin, Jake Gardiner, Joakim Ryan, and Jani Hakanpaa.

The biggest strength of the team is the special teams. They hold the NHL’s top power-play unit and the third-best penalty kill. If any one of the goaltending trios of Petr Mrazek, Alex Nedeljkovic, and James Reimer gets hot in the playoffs, the Hurricanes will be a tough out.


Edmonton Oilers– The Oilers have been a pleasant surprise this season, currently sitting in third place in the North Division and one point away from rival Winnipeg with two games in hand. Connor McDavid is the games best all-around hockey player, and Leon Draisaitl isn’t too far behind. However, those two cannot simply carry the entire team themselves over four rounds of the playoffs.

The team is lacking scoring depth at the wing position besides Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Top six wingers Jesse Puljujarvi and Kyler Yamamoto have shown flashes but have yet to show much consistency putting the puck into the net. The bottom-six forwards lack a scoring punch as well.

Defensively, they will miss the presence of two-way defenseman Oscar Klefbom, who has missed the season with a shoulder injury. Darnell Nurse, Tyson Barrie, Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear, Dmitry Kulikov and Caleb Jones are a solid, if unspectacular unit.

Goaltender Mike Smith has had a phenominal 2021 season. He has a 2.32 goals against average, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts. At 39 years of age, could he endure the vigours of a lengthy four series playoff run? Smith also has won just one playoff game in his last six playoff appearances.

Edmonton has been a nice story this season. However, even the best player on the planet in McDavid can’t make up for the lack of depth on the team.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers have been a wonderful story this season. As of this writing, they sit in second place in the Central Division standings at 31-14-5. Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Frank Vatrano, and Mackenzie Weegar make a nice core for the club.

The Panthers have had good seasons from unlikely sources. Wingers Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair have performed admirably as top-six wingers. The Panthers addressed some much-needed depth by acquiring winger Nikita Gusev off of waivers from the New Jersey Devils, and center/winger Sam Bennett and defenseman Brandon Montour via trade from the Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres, respectively.

The biggest hole lies at center and defense. Could Alexander Wennberg or Sam Bennett provide enough scoring punch anchoring the second line? Losing their best defenseman for the year in Aaron Ekblad on defense is irreplaceable. The Panthers have depth at the position, but lack a shutdown pair on defense which is much needed in the playoffs.

The Panthers have to decide which goaltender to ride come playoff time. Is it Sergei Bobrovsky, whom the Panthers are paying 10 million a season for, or Chris Driedger who has surprisingly blossomed this season? Bobrovsky has struggled for much of his tenure with the Panthers but has come around lately. Driedger has performed the better of the two. This is a situation worth monitoring.

The Panthers need to finish first in the Central Division to avoid playing the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning or Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams have two games in hand on the Panthers, with the Hurricanes hanging on to a two-point lead. Even if Florida were to win the division, they would likely face the defending Stanley Cup Finalist runner-up Dallas Stars or the red-hot Nashville Predators in the first round, no easy task. A second-round date with the Lightning or Hurricanes could loom as well.

Do you agree, disagree with my contenders and pretenders? Who do you think could make a Stanley Cup run?

You could find me on Twitter @BrownieNJD82 for your sports takes and sports betting needs.

NHL Power Rankings Post Trade Deadline: Who looks like Contenders?

By: Justin Homes

  1. Colorado Avalanche – They currently aren’t playing any games because of COVID-19 protocols…But right before they got shut down they made some minor moves that are going to come up big. They traded for Devan Dubnyk who is a proven vet and will give the Avs the depth they needed in last year’s playoffs. 
  1. Carolina Hurricanes – they sit atop of the Central division and have some of the best depth in the league. Not to mention Petr Mrazek doesn’t let pucks in the net. Carolina is a young team that will be in contention for years to come. 
  1. Vegas Golden Knights – They were quiet at the trade deadline, But they made all the noise they needed in the summer by getting Pietrangelo and re-upping Lehner. The matchup of them and the Avs come playoff time could be an all-time series. 
  1. Tampa Bay Lightning –  The current champs haven’t slowed down this season. They added some depth at Defense by adding Dennis Savard. Andrei Vasilevskiy is the best goaltender in the league and should be getting more love for the Hart Trophy. 
  1. Washington Capitals – Some may say they got fleeced on the Mantha deal. Although I believe they did overpay, Mantha is a perfect fit for this Capital team and has scored in every game since becoming a Capital.
  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs are another team to go all-in after trading for David Rittich, Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, and Ben Hutton. Lots of insurance for a big playoff run. Now, the question is can they make it past the first round? 
  1. Florida Panthers – Alexander Barkov is one of the best players in this league. They lost Aaron Ekblad for the entire year which is a HUGE blow to the team. But they’ve got the stars and depth to get things done. Adding Sam Bennett will do wonders for this team. 
  1. New York Islanders – The Islanders play the game by the book… and man does it ever work. Adding Kyle Palmeri was just replacing the void that Anders Lee left. This team is built for playoff hockey. 
  1. Boston Bruins – They’ve made it back to the top 10. The Bruins have looked like a different team since the deadline. Taylor Hall is producing and more importantly that second line of David Krejci and Craig Smith has caught fire. Watch for Mike Reilly down the stretch as he has fit in even better than the guys from the Sabres. 
  1. Minnesota Wild –  I expected the Wild to do something at the deadline. Yet, it seems like they are happy with what they’ve got after exceeding everyone’s expectations for the season. Kirill Kaprizov has made Wild hockey fun again. 
  1. Winnipeg Jets – The Jets have the forward group to make a run and Connor Hellebuyck could steal a game at any moment. Only adding Jordie Benn at the deadline is concerning to me. As I don’t trust their defensive depth. 
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins – I know they are pretty low on my rankings. But, I just don’t trust their goaltending
  1. Edmonton Oilers – You never want to run into the best player in the league. Connor McDavid can take over a game. But do they have the depth around #29 and #97? Not at all. 
  1. New York Rangers – Not often does a team lead their division in goal differential but not sit in a playoff spot. That’s the case for the red hot Rangers. They have been getting scoring from all over the place and are going to need to continue if they want to slip into a playoff spot.
  1. Nashville Predators – a couple of weeks before the deadline it seemed like everyone could be off this team. But they’ve done a complete 180 and have put themselves in a playoff spot. Juuse Saros has been brilliant as well with a .949 save percentage and 1.60 GAA in the last month. 
  1. Dallas Stars – How was this team just in the Stanley Cup final. Although they looked a lot better as of late with the Robertson – Hintz – Pavelski line leading the way.
  1. Montreal Canadiens – This team was once leading the way in the power rankings. They are still in a playoff spot, But just aren’t the team that we thought they were. Maybe Cole 

Caufield will come up and put some pep in their step. 

  1. Chicago Blackhawks – They have a tough schedule to finish off the year and are going to need to beat some tough teams. But I’ve been impressed with what this team has done this year, playoffs or not.
  1. St Louis Blues – This team has lost that “it” factor this year. Even with bringing in some big free agents like Torey Krug and Mike Hoffman, they just can’t get it done. I may be on the Binnington is not a good goalie train (But we dont have the time for that). 
  1. Calgary Flames – I could just tell you to read the sentence above. The additions of Markstrom and Tanev haven’t fixed anything in Calgary. I think this team might see a big shakeup come this offseason. 
  1. Arizona Coyotes – Getting Darcy Kuemper back between the pipes will be huge for this team. But I feel like they’re just lacking the star power to put them from an average team to a good one 
  1. Vancouver Canucks – This team has been through hell and back these past couple of weeks and all credit to them as they beat Toronto in a gutsy way. Shocking that they are already playing again though. 
  1. Philadelphia Flyers –  What is wrong with this team. One of the worst defensive teams I’ve seen. Can you believe people had them to win the Cup?!? Also, I dont know if Carter Hart will ever recover from this season. 
  1. Detroit Red Wings – This team has the young core to be good in a couple of years. Jakub Vrana is going to be a big part of it. 
  1. San Jose Sharks – They still could sneak into the fourth spot in the west. Other than that this team seems to be stuck in a weird middle place of not re-building but not good enough to go for it. They have way too much money invested in their defense. 
  1. New Jersey Devils – They’ve been struggling as of late but after sending Zajac and Palmeri to the Islanders they could only get worse. 
  1. Los Angeles Kings – I’ve seen a lot of impressive things out of the Kings this season including Cal Petterson. This team has a good future. 
  1. Buffalo Sabres – After that big losing streak they have seemed to be a bit better of a team. Not a good one, but they dont just count as an automatic 2 points anymore. 
  1. Ottawa Senators – Brady Tkachuk is going to lead the league in shots and hits. Something that hasn’t been done before. 
  1.  Anaheim Ducks – Young guys like Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale have been impressive in their times in the league. Surprised they didn’t ship out more guys at the deadline. 

31. Columbus Blue Jackets Laine has been bad. Domi has been scratched. They don’t get too much going on over in Columbus

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