How the Stanley Cup playoffs are shaping up
Posted On July 15, 2021
When it comes to the Stanley Cauldron, the playoffs are almost a certainty.
After the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the Cup at home Sunday night, the Los Angeles Kings are on a three-game winning streak.
If they can win three more games to go, they could get their first playoff appearance since 2008.
That’s a lot of history for the Kings to bounce back from and, as the playoffs get underway, how much they can control what happens in the first two rounds.
Here’s what we learned: 1.
The playoffs are not a slam dunk.
The NHL has not yet announced the winner of the Presidents Trophy.
The Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins all hold the best records in the league with a combined 29 points.
But if the Wild and Penguins win their first and second rounds, and the Blackhawks win their second and third rounds, they’ll have the best chance of getting into the final.
The Wild and Blackhawks will be tied with the Nashville Predators, who could be a good match up for either team.
But even if they win their rounds, there are no guarantees that they’ll advance to the second round.
The Penguins could face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second-round.
The Blue Jackets also face the New York Islanders in the third-round and the St. Louis Blues will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth-round, and they could be the team that the Blackhawks play in the final against.
The Blackhawks and Penguins will face each other twice in the playoffs, with each team losing the other two times.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who finished a disappointing 7-13-1 in the regular season, will need to be on their game when it comes time to face the winner.
The playoff field is a bit thin.
The Kings have four of the top six goal scorers in the NHL (Jarome Iginla, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews) and the Penguins have a pair of the best scorers (Jaromir Jagr and Sidney Crosby).
The Flyers have a number of solid goal scoreers (Evgeni Malkin, Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Jakub Kindl) and are a good team.
The Islanders are another team that is capable of playing a good game, but their depth issues make it difficult to make a deep playoff run.
If the Blackhawks and Kings are playing out of their minds, the Wild will likely lose.
If it’s a blowout, the Predators and Blackhawks have a great chance of beating each other.
If a game is close, however, it could get ugly.
If you want to win a Stanley Cup in your hometown, you’re going to have to be in the right place at the right time.
The Stanley Cup is tied with a third-place finish for the third seed.
The Ducks are tied with Nashville and the Blues are tied for third.
The Red Wings and Kings will have the final two playoff spots, so they could both be a bit more than a game out of the playoffs if they don’t win the conference finals.
The Predators are the only team that has won two of the last three Stanley Cups, so that’s something to keep an eye on. 5.
The Hawks have a shot to win it all.
If their defense can get their game in gear, the Hawks could surprise everyone by beating the Blues, Predators and Penguins in the conference final.
That would give them a chance at making the Stanley Playoffs.
The best of the rest.
The Rangers have been on a tear since taking over the Presidents’ Trophy in January.
They have seven straight wins, including four straight on home ice.
They’ll have to make the playoffs to stay in the hunt, but the Wild could easily knock off the Flyers and Kings and make the finals.
The Oilers are the best team in the West.
The Dallas Stars have been in the midst of a tremendous run, scoring 60 goals and finishing with the best record in the Western Conference.
They’ve scored at least 30 goals three times and had three 30-goal seasons.
Their goalie is solid, and their goalie coach, Ken Hitchcock, is one of the most accomplished goaltenders in the game.
It will be tough for the Oilers to win three of the first four rounds.
The biggest question mark for the Sharks is the defense.
The Sharks have been an incredible team in their last 10 games, scoring at least 35 goals and giving up just 21.
They were tied for fourth in the Pacific Division with 27 goals in the same span.
Their top four defenseman are Ryan Callahan, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, and defenseman Brooks Orpik is an unrestricted free agent.
The defense will need a lot more of an improvement to be a threat in the Stanley Series.
There’s a ton of talent in the AHL.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had a tough time making the playoffs since the 2014-15 season.
The team is without top-six defenseman