The Boston Bruins won the President’s trophy in the most anti-climatic race in history. That might be hyperbole because I didn’t research it. Unfortunately, the Bruins probably jinxed themselves, as it’s been ten years since a winner has won the Stanley Cup. So what’s left?
The Atlantic crown is up for grabs. But the Carolina Hurricanes have barely led the Devils the whole second half of the season, and I don’t see why that would change. The Florida Panthers are still trying to catch the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead them by a point. The Buffalo Sabres have an outside chance but don’t hold your breath.
Most of the drama out west is at the top. Both division crowns are up for grabs. The Vegas Golden Knights seem most likely to nab the pacific. But it’s shocking the Minnesota Wild are in the driver’s seat for the central and that the Stars have fallen to third after being in first most of the season. The Calgary Flames keep inching closer to the Winnipeg Jets, who led the division for a while. The Jets lead the Flames by two points. They play each other on Wednesday. The Flames will need to win that in regulation to have a chance. But with the easier schedule, they should get in if they do.
The top six teams in both conferences should finish with 100 points. Last season all Eastern Conference playoff teams were over 100.
This is the last weekly recap of the season. I’m thinking next year, I’ll convert this to a weekly podcast hosted on YouTube. Not entirely sure yet.
Things I like
This season was an offensive explosion of sorts. Although we’ll finish just under three goals a game per team, this is the highest-scoring season since 2015-16. Connor McDavid will surpass 150 points, a mark last reached in 1995-96. Five players have at least 100 points (McDavid, Draisaitl, Pastrnak, Nikita Kucherov, Matthew Tkachuk), with six more possibly getting there. Three players have reached 50 goals (McDavid, Draisaitl, Pastrnak), with two more probably getting there.
One reason for the Wild’s surprising success and being third in goals against is Filip Gustavsson. Drafted by the Penguins, he never played there and was dealt with other compensation to the Ottawa Senators for Derick Brassard in a truly terrible trade by the Penguins. He didn’t play much in Ottawa and was swapped for Cam Talbot. Talbot has struggled at times, while Gustavsson should be nominated for the Vezina. The Senators and Penguins could use a goalie, so that didn’t work out well. I don’t understand why teams give up on players that never play. First-round pick Matt Boldy has taken the next step season, doubling his goal total. Since he only played half the season last year, perhaps he would have been a 30-goal scorer twice. At least they have a young star to pair with Kirill Kaprizov. I’ve ragged on the Wild for not drafting well with their top picks and relying too much on other teams’ castoffs. But Boldy is their first-round pick, and Gustavsson is young. This team is much better positioned than last year’s.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Billy Sweezey vs Jakub Lauko
A good back and forth
Joel Farabee vs Alex DeBrincat
It’s not often a skilled player takes it to a bigger player.
Goat of the Week
Felix Sandstrom - Philadelphia Flyers
The Ottawa Senators were up 4-1 in the third and outshot the Flyers 46-11, but they still needed overtime to win. And they got a gift too. Remember how I say goalies should never leave the crease to play the puck? Well, guess what Sandstorm did? He did that and passed it right to Alex DeBrincat for the easy goal.
Stat Line of the Week
4/01/23 Boston 4 vs. Pittsburgh 3
The Bruins faced the Penguins in an odd game. The game was tied after almost two periods when David Pastrnak scored his first blast. The Penguins scored in the third with some help from a Bruin running into Jeremy Swayman, and then Pastrnak hit another blast a few minutes later. The Penguins tied it again with an assist from Sidney Crosby touching Swayman. The Bruins challenged and lost. The Penguins didn’t score on the ensuing powerplay or any of their six. Then Pastranek hit another one-timer to hit 100 points and notch his 14th career hat trick, tying him for second in Bruins’ history with Cam Neely.
300 – Career goals for Connor McDavid
301 – Career goals for Evander Kane
301 – Career goals for Leon Draisaitl
10 – Game winning goals for McDavid, Draisaitl, and Pastrnak
5 – Hat tricks on Saturday (Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Tuch, Noah Gregor, Draisaitl, Pastrnak)
5 – Shutouts on Saturday (Alex Lyon, Ilya Samsonov, Antti Raanta, Andrei Vasilevsky, Jack Campbell)
5 – Bruins in the top eight in plus/minus
1000 – NHL games played for Kris Letang
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
- NY Rangers
- San Jose