NHL Power Rankings: Super Eight
By Kevin Mejia
- Colorado Avalanche – After solving Darcy Kuemper in games four and five (both 7-1 wins) the Avs cruised to a series victory against the Arizona Coyotes. Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avalanche with 13 points. Second line center Nazem Kadri has put together a solid postseason performance, as he has six goals so far. Philipp Grubauer’s .937 save percentage is second best among remaining goalies. On paper, this team is complete as it gets. They open the second round against Dallas tonight. Watch for Cale Makar and Sam Girard to be difference makers on the back end.
- Tampa Bay Lightning – Exercising demons is a necessity during a Stanley Cup run. We all know what happened to Tampa last postseason. Tampa took care of things this time around, as they knocked out the Blue Jackets in five games. During the series, the dictionary definition of “clutch” changed to Brayden Point. Point had the game-winner in the fourth longest game in NHL history, a 5 OT marathon in game one, along with the series-OT-winner in game five. Nikita Kucherov sits one point behind Point for the team lead, as Kuch has nine (including three assists in game five). Andrei Vasilevskiy must continue to perform at an elite level for the Bolts to take down Boston.
- Vegas Golden Knights – How deep are the Knights? Everyone that has played a postseason game has registered at least one point. More than half of the team has at least four points. Goalie situation? Robin Lehner and Marc-André Fleury are playing below their standards yet have only combined for one loss. Reilly Smith and Mark Stone are tied with eight points each to lead the way for Vegas. Defenseman Shea Theodore is tied with Alex Tuch and Stone for the team lead in goals, at four a pop. Vegas has the ability to run four lines down your throat and will come at teams with skill and physical play. Vancouver has a lot on its hands.
- Boston Bruins – Doubters abound, it only took five games for the Bruins to take care of business against the Carolina Hurricanes, showing just how effective the team can be. Even without Tuukka Rask (left bubble for personal reasons) and David Pastrňák (out for games two, three, and four) the team did not miss a beat. Veterans David Krejčí and Brad Marchand lead the Bruins in scoring with nine and seven points respectively, as the team rolls into a matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jaroslav Halák must be better than his .912 save percentage for the B’s to take down Tampa.
- New York Islanders – Swarming. Buzzing. Infuriating. Defensively sound. Claustrophobic. When the Islanders come to town, this is how you will feel watching them. Under head coach Barry Trotz (best coach remaining, and it is a runaway) the Isles have made themselves a fortress which seems unbreakable. The Isles have not allowed a team to hit the 30-shot mark once this postseason, a nine-game streak, the longest since before I was born. Anthony Beauvillier is a speedy forward who slows down for no one. He also leads the team with six goals. Mat Barzal is one of the craftiest players in the league and his OTGWG against the Caps backs it up. This team can go far, watch for an upset against Philly.
- Philadelphia Flyers – Carter Hart, Carter Hart, and Carter Hart. A .943 save percent this postseason is absolutely absurd. Hart had a shutout streak of 122:53 during the Flyer’s series against the Habs. Ivan Provorov has played excellent defense for the Flyers and has shown up on the scoresheet as well, producing four points for the team. Young gun Joel Farabee has three goals and an assist to provide depth to star forwards Jakub Voráček, Kevin Hayes, and Sean Couturier. Couturier has five dimes and plays one of the best two-way games for a forward. Philly might struggle against an upstart Isles team.
- Dallas Stars – Seven unanswered goals. The Stars threw up seven unanswered goals on the Flames to clinch the series in six games. Denis Gurianov had four of his own in that game. Ridiculous. This team has the experience to go far, as they were down two games to one during this series against Calgary, not to mention a second-round appearance last postseason. The Stars defenseman are very active and always get involved in the rush. The best player at this on the Stars, Miro Heiskanen, leads the team with 12 points. Anton Khudobin has been excellent in the absence of Ben Bishop, posting a .919 save percent. The Stars have a difficult test ahead in Colorado.
- Vancouver Canucks – One of the best young teams remaining, the Canucks took down the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in six games. Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser all have at least eight points now. Captain Bo Horvat, a young player himself, has provided some of the nastiest goals of the postseason and has put up eight points as well. Jacob Markström has been stellar in net with a .929 save percent. This is now Canada’s team. The young guns mixed with veteran experience will play well against Vegas, but it will be up to Markström to win the series.