Islanders rebound, win on road and end 39-year championship drought
The New York Islanders defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 at Honda Center in Game 7 to become the 2021-22 Stanley Cup champions, ending a 39-year drought since they last raised the Lord Stanley Cup trophy in 1983.
Stanley Cup Final recap
Conference Finals – Ducks to battle Islanders for Stanley Cup
The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 to win the Western Conference Final. The 5-game series was the quickest for the Ducks to advance past an opponent in this postseason. Anaheim will face the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final. New York defeated the Tampa Bay Lighting in 7 games.
During the regular season, New York won both meetings (3-2, 2-1 OTW). The Ducks leading scorer in the playoffs has been C/LW Trevor Zegras (18 GP, 10 G, 7 A, 17 PTS). Goalie John Gibson carries a 2.68 GAA into the series.
Playoffs/2nd Round – Ducks remain Mighty, Lightning rally
Tampa Bay came back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat Florida in seven games. In Game 7, Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy notched his first shutout of the playoffs as the Lightning blanked the Panthers 2-0. The win came at a cost though — points leader Steven Stamkos suffered an upper-body injury and is being evaluated.
The Anaheim Ducks continued their ‘mighty’ run by defeating the Calgary Flames 4-2 and will face Chicago in the Western Conference Final after the Blackhawks swept the Dallas Stars 4-0.
The postseason points leaders thru round 2: Steven Stamkos (TB) 21, Patrick Kane (CHI) 16, Victor Hedman (TB) 16, Anthony Duclair (FLA) 15.
Goalie leaders (min 5 games): Semyon Varlimov (NYI) 1.92, Jake Oettinger (DAL) 2.04, Marc-Andre Fleury (CHI) 2.05, Sergei Bobvrosky (FLA) 2.23, Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB) 2.29
Playoffs/1st Round – Plenty of upsets
The 1st round of the playoffs is in the books, and there were some major upsets. In the West, #1 seed Golden Knights were eliminated by Calgary in 5 games. The Flames barely made the playoffs as the 8th-seed. Edmonton, the 2nd seed, were also shown an early exit after Anaheim beat them 4-3.
Tampa Bay played like a top seed they were to defeat Carolina in 5 games. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov both finished with 10 points, 6 assists, and 4 goals.
Among goalies who made at least 5 appearance, Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky led the qualifiers with a 1.83 GAA.
April – Several teams are saying, “Oh so close”
Colorado (41-31-9) and Winnipeg (38-29-14) suffered late season collapses and failed to qualify for the playoffs after being among the top 8 clubs in the West in May. Their downfalls opened the door for Chicago and Calgary to slip into the playoffs.
The LA Kings (92 pts) also slipped out of the playoff picture, falling down to 9th-place from 8th-place. It was close though — finishing a point behind Calgary (93 pts).
Tampa Bay and Vegas held on to 1st-place after entering the final month as their respective conference leaders.
Dallas (45-30-6) finished the month wining 7 of their last 10 games, which helped them to climb 4 spots (10th to 6th). If they had failed to make the playoffs, it would have been a big disappointment. For 5 months, they were 6th-place or better, then hit a brick wall in March.
March – Lightning pull even, Ducks mightier than last month
For the first time this season, Pittsburgh (44-23-2, 90 pts) will not begin the month in sole possession of 1st-place in the East. They are now tied with Tampa Bay (90 points). The Penguins ended March going 3-7-0 in the last 10 games, while Tampa Bay road a 7-3-0 finish to pull even with Pittsburgh.
Washington (33-26-8, 74 pts) continued their decline for the sixth straight month. Once a 2nd-place club, the Capitals dropped to 4th, then 7th, and now down to 9th-place. One big reason was due to the absence of Alex Ovechkin (52 pts, 29 goals, 23 assists) who missed 11 games with an injury.
Anaheim (38-19-12, 88 pts) made a charge, and climbed 5 spots in the West standings to 2nd-place. A potent offense has fueled their success, ranked 2nd to Edmonton in GFPG (3.52), and their goal difference is a whopping +.87. (Tampa Bay’s is +.65).
Edmonton (39-25-4, 82 pts) dropped from 5th-place to to 6th-place. They have maintained a playoff position since December, but if they fall out of the top 8 clubs, it will be because of Connor McDavid’s absence (foot injury). He’s expected to return around May 21st.
February – Pittsburgh at full throttle, Wild down again
Pittsburgh (38-14-2, 78 pts) remains the strongest team in the entire league, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They lead in home game wins (20) and are tied with Edmonton in road victories (18), and the Penguins have the largest goal difference between GFPG and GAPG (.83). Evgeni Malkin and Sydney Crosby are tied for 5th in the NHL in points (58), and goalie Tristan Jarry is 7th in GAA (2.47).
Minnesota (27-24-5, 59 pts) took fans on another wild ride. Their inconsistency has them back down to 8th-place, falling 5 spots since the end of February. The Wild are barely holding on to a playoff spot, and any stumble in March could see the LA Kings, or Vancouver overtake them (both clubs are 3 points behind Minnesota).
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will miss the rest of March with an MCL sprain. He has played in 53 games and scored 50 points (28 goals). In the pandemic shortened 2020-21 season, Ovechkin finished with 42 points.
The Colorado Avalanche (29-17-7, 65 pts) continued their climb up the Western Conference standings — now in 4th-place. They started in last place after a month into the season, then steadily improved each month. Goaltending has helped them to succeed. Their 2.55 GAPG is ranked 4th in the league. Darcy Kemper is ranked NHL 9th in GAA (2.61). Center Nazem Kadri leads the team in scoring (54 pts).
January – Minnesota on a wild ride while Flyers soaring high
It’s been a wild ride for Minnesota. They held 1st-place early in the season before falling to 7th-place. Then things went south ain December and they dropped to 11th-place. Now, the Wild are back! Climbing 8 spots to take hold of 3rd-place in the West. But can Minnesota keep up the pace — that’s the question. Goalie Kaapo Kähkönen is allowing 2.54 goals per game and Kirill Kaprizov is ranked 8th in scoring with 52 points.
Around the league thru February 1st
The Philadelphia Flyers are on a roll. They have performed better with each month and last month’s effort earned them another rise in the standings to 3rd-place. If not for two losses to the Islanders in December, the Flyers would like be in 2nd-place. Goalie Carter Hart’s 2.48 GAAPG ranks 8th in the league.
Biggest changes in standings: Winnipeg (8>12), Vancouver (7>13), Colorado (13>7), Minnesota (11>3), while Toronto’s fall from 2nd to 6th was the most-surprising.
December – Ducks looking Mighty, while Kraken free fall
Anaheim made a strong push up the standings, climbing 6 spots to 2nd-place in the Western Conference. They benefitted from the collapse of the Seattle Kraken who fell a whopping 8 spots to 12th place after a good start to the season. The Ducks are ranked 2nd in GFPG (3.66) while ranked 16th in goals allowed (2.97 GAPG).
The Eastern Conference version of Anaheim was the Flyers who jumped 6 spots into 5th-place. Philadelphia capped the month on a 8-2 run — only Calgary had a better finish (8-1-1). Goalkeeper Corey Hart is ranked NHL 7th with a 2.54 GAA.
Teams that moved into a playoff position: Calgary (13th to 6th), Winnipeg (from 9th to 8th), NY Islanders (9th to 8th), and Philadelphia (11th to 5th). Teams that fell from a playoff position: Carolina (8th to 9th), Minnesota (7th to 11th), Seattle (4th to 12th)
November – Vegas makes run while Predators lose their bite
The St. Louis Blues had a strong finish to their month, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 as the 1st-place team in the Western Conference. The Blues are playing tough at home as well, losing just 2 of the 12 games they’ve played at Enterprise Center. They are averaging a league-leading 3.91 goals per game while their 2.45 GAPG is a league 3rd-best. RW Pavel Buchnevich and LW David Perron lead the team with 28 points, while Buchnevich is out front with 16 goals. Jordan Binnington has played strong in the net: 14-2-0, .921 SV%, 2.20 GAA.
The Vegas Golden Knights went 8-2-0 in their last 10 and moved up from 8th place to start November to 3rd-place by the end of month. Jack Eichel is off to a strong start with his new team, amassing 20 points through 21 games. He’s tallied 4 power play goals and 11 assists.
The Nashville Predators’ season took a U-turn in November after beginning the 2021-22 campaign with a good start. They entered the month in 10th-place at 4-4-0 and proceeded to go 3-7-5 in December (1-5-4 in the last 10 games), falling to 15th-place in the West with 19 points. Only the San Jose Sharks are worse with 17 points. Their offensive production went in reverse — going from 2.63 to 2.52 GFPG. At the same time, their defense suffered, allowing 3.00 goals per game at the end of November (up from 2.56 the month prior).
October – Penguins, Wild, Kraken off to hot starts
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild finished the first month with the best overall record (7-1-0), tied with the Seattle Kraken (7-2-0) with 14 points.
The Kraken were the ranked second in GFPG (3.78). Their offense was fueled by C/RW Yanni Gourde who tallied 10 points (3 G, 7 A). But Gourde couldn’t stay out of the penalty box where he racked a team-high 12 minutes.
Evgeni Malkin put in a good first month performance for Pittsburgh, earning a team-high 12 points (7 G, 5 A). Sidney Crosby and Evan Rodrigues followed with 10 points each.
While the Islanders struggled, their cross town rivals were even worse. The New York Rangers won just once in 9 games to finish with 3 points (last in the league). Elite goaltender Igor Shesterkin has a surprisingly bad beginning to the season with a 3.49 GAA and .897 SV%. Not one of the Rangers’ skaters finished in plus-territory in plus/minus.