Three teams have already clinched spots for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while more playoff qualifying races and the home advantage are in full swing.
The regular season now ends on May 19 but the last WaFd Bank The weekly warm-up for April begins now.
Do the math of the NHL division
The three teams with playoff spots in hand are all from the Western Division: Vegas, Colorado and Minnesota, setting up a three-team showdown for first place. All three teams are comfortably ahead of the rest of the division, with Arizona and 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in a tug for last playoff spot.
St. Louis, one point behind the standings, has three games underway over Arizona. But it also means 11 games in 24 nights for the Blues against eight games for the Coyotes. The two teams do not face each other in the home stretch, but will continue the rivalry when Arizona move to the Central Division in the fall when the Krakens join the Pacific Division.
The (all-Canadian) North and East could be tighter between third and fourth place, delaying qualifying for the playoffs. But the Central Division is likely to turn soon as Carolina, Florida and 2020 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay have a 12-14 point lead in the standings with no more than eight games (potential 16 points) at to play.
Scoring and soaring
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid leads the NHL with 77 points (25 goals, 52 assists), creating distance even with his top-flight teammate and 2020 League MVP Leon Draisaitl (22 G, 42A for 64 points). This allows McDavid to win his third Art Ross Trophy, awarded to the top scorer in total points each season.
McDavid, 24, will become the second NHL player to win the Art Ross three times before his 25th birthday.e anniversary (he went back to back in 2016-17 and 2017-18). None other than the all-time great Wayne Gretzky has performed this feat five times (the last in 1984-85).
Hockey fans and insiders alike regularly debate whether McDavid or Colorado center Nathan McKinnon is the best player in the league. McDavid impresses more people, but McKinnon’s teams have been superior, especially in the playoffs.
For his part, McKinnon (third in score, 18G, 41A) is doing a solid business. The 25-year-old has scored in 13 straight games heading into Monday’s road game in St. Louis with eight goals and 16 assists in the period that began on March 27. If he gets a goal or an assist tonight, he’ll tie Carolina defenseman Dougie. Hamilton scored a 14-game streak earlier this season.
Perspective from the hard-working NHL public relations team: MacKinnon may become the third player to post multiple point streaks from at least 14 games with the Avalanche / Nordiques franchise. Peter Stastny (five times) and Michel Goulet (two). In fact, only four active players have accomplished the feat on multiple occasions: Patrick Kane (four) of Chicago, Ryan Getzlaf (two) of Anaheim, Sidney Crosby (two) and Evgeni Malkin (two). It is an elite company and all of them are Cup winners.
Swayman on goal, child
It’s time to take over the Boston Bruins rookie third-string goaltender, who plays a starter. Jeremy Swayman, who started the season with AHL Providence, stepped in when Boston veteran Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak were injured. Rask is back, but Swayman still sees time in the net (he lost a 1-0 crush against Pittsburgh and suddenly reverted to his young 2020 goalie Tristan Jarry).
Swayman, from Anchorage, AK, was a fourth round (111e overall) 2017 draft pick. He was a three-year starter for the NCAA University of Maine Powerhouse before starting this season for the Bruins’ top branch in the American Hockey League. In seven games, his GAA is a sparkling 1.57 with an equally stunning 0.946 save percentage. Impressive fact: Since his first season in Maine, Swayman’s GAA season has been shrinking every year and increasing his level of play.
He ruled out the New York Islanders and kept Boston media entertained by revealing that he loves shootouts, has no superstitions, and “is proud not to be the freaky goalie, but my teammates could say the opposite “.
Devil of a time
By the start of Sunday’s game with Philadelphia, the New Jersey Devils had lost nine straight games in settlement. Holding a 3-1 lead with less than two minutes remaining, NJD looked good to stop the slip. But Philly veteran Claude Girioux scored two goals in 22 seconds (18:34 and 18:56) to tie the game. The Flyers extended Jersey’s misery when forward Kevin Hayes scored in the sixth round of the ensuing shootout.
This is arguably the worst stretch in the history of the Devils. That matches a 10-game losing streak in 2017, but he has included eight regulation losses and two classification points for just one point this season in 10 games.
Games to watch this week
monday and wednesday: The Edmonton Oilers’ future Kraken rival heads to Winnipeg for a two-game set that will be the last between the two clubs. The Jets lead Edmonton by one point for second place and the rink advantage in the first round in the North, but EDM was two games less.
Monday, Thursday, Saturday: Another future Kraken rival Calgary is making a late push with new coach Darryl Sutter. The Flames, fifth, have beaten fourth-placed Montreal in the last two games with a third straight game scheduled for a rare weekday afternoon start in Calgary. Next, the Flames face the Oilers on Thursday and Saturday in yet another “Battle of Alberta”. Calgary is 6-2 so far against Montreal. Monday’