With about six games remaining, the East has finally and predictably been clinched. Everyone's current seeding should stay the same. The only drama is who will get the top spot in the Metropolitan, the New York Rangers, or Carolina Hurricanes. Since the Hurricanes have held it most of the season, I'd lean that way. However, the Rangers have been much hotter than the Hurricanes, who are slightly below .500 lately. But the Hurricanes just beat the Rangers, they have another game against them next week, and they have an easier schedule. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins could change seeding, but I doubt it.
Out West, the top three seeds in the central and the top seed in the pacific are settled, but underneath is very interesting. The Edmonton Oilers have probably solidified the second pacific seed with their play lately. The Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings can get in three ways. If they win out, the Kings will get the third seed by a point. The Dallas Stars still have a game in hand. The Kings still have the easier schedule. The Stars and Nashville Predators have hard schedules. The Stars play the Golden Knights next week. I still think the Golden Knights won't get in unless the Predators only pick up three points the rest of the season, and that's a real possibility.
Things I like
As has been evident all year, the Colorado Avalanche are the team to beat. Winners of nine straight, they were able to score nine goals without Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri against a Los Angeles Kings team that desperately needed a win. My worry was whether they could sustain their level of play all season, and this game ensured they could. Nathan MacKinnon had five points in that game. The Avalanche have scored 35 goals in seven games this month. The Avalanche's problem is they might draw the Dallas Stars or Vegas Golden Knights in the first round, the only two teams who can beat them in the West.
The only team hotter than the Avalanche are the Florida Panthers, who have won ten straight. Yes, Claude Giroux has scored in nine of his thirteen games with the team. The Panthers have scored 42 goals in eight games this month. The St. Louis Blues have also won nine and have scored 54 goals in ten games this month. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers are 8-1-1 in their last ten. None of this means anything come playoff time, as there are plenty of teams that won the Stanley Cup with a losing streak to end the season, but it helps to be hot at this stage. The Blues can attest to that.
Carey Price returned for the first time since July of 2021 when the Montreal Canadiens were in the Stanley Cup Finals. Price checked in to the player's assistance program at the start of the season and then continued recovering from his knee surgery. Fast forward to now, where the Canadiens are bottom feeders, and Price has been missed. The Montreal faithful greeted him with a thunderous ovation. The Canadiens lost to the Islanders, but the important part was Price's return.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Jeffrey Viel vs Mark Borowiecki
Uneven and fast-paced.
Tom Wilson vs Kyle Clifford
Uneven and slow-paced.
Stat Line of the Week
04/14/21 Pittsburgh 6 vs. New York 3
Skater TOI G A +/- S Hits J.Guentzel 22:29 2 2 4 3 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins played the New York Islanders in back-to-back games. They lost the first, but they beat them the second time to help drive the nail into the Islanders' season. Jake Guentzel had three points in the first game and four points in this one. He has career highs in assists and points and has a chance to hit 40 goals for the second time. Guentzel needs to continue playing at a high level if the Penguins hope to do anything with a struggling Evgeni Malkin and without injured goalie Tristan Jarry.
1.49 – Career NHL points per game average for Mike Bossy, who passed away at 65. He was third all-time behind Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. 12 – Points each in their last five games for Blues teammates Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas 46 – Saves for Alex Nedeljkovic in a shutout win over his old team, the Hurricanes. I'm sure it wasn't personal. ;) 2 – Shutouts in his last four games by Igor Shesterkin 5 – Players with 100 or more points with at least three more joining the club soon 50 – Goals for Chris Kreider 7 – Goals by the Blues in the second period against the Nashville Predators, a good defensive team playing for their playoff lives
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
- St. Louis
- San Jose