Who’ll clinch in the NHL Playoffs? P2

Welcome back to our dive into who could clinch a NHL Playoff berth this NHL season.

Last time we looked at the Atlantic and Central Divisions and this time we’re looking at the Metropolitan and Pacific.

If you haven’t read Part One, you can check it out here.

If you’re just clicked through from Part One, welcome to the second half of this deep dive.

Pacific Division

Vegas Golden Knights – Projected Landing P1

2J4F5AJ Calgary, Canada. 14th Apr 2022. Vegas Golden Knights’ Evgenii Dadonov, centre, celebrates his goal with teammates Nicolas Roy, left, and William Karlsson during second period NHL hockey action against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Thursday, April 14, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Credit: The Canadian Press/Alamy Live News

Now, the Vegas Golden Knights have only really been in operation for six years and have managed to make the Playoffs four out of those six times, missing out last year.

They are leading the Pacific Division, only six points away from the magic number, with only 14 games remaining.

While they continue to build a game series with the other teams from the franchise, they’ll certainly face tough opposition from the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, in back-to-back games at the end of March, as well from the Minnesota Wild in April.

Knights have said that their recently acquired new players Jonathan Quick, Ivan Barbashev, and Teddy Blueger have really shone in recent games. Will they continue to prove their worth in the run up to clinching that Playoff berth?

Los Angeles Kings – Projected Landing P2

2J688RP Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar, of Slovenia, lines up for a faceoff against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Thursday, April 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Credit: The Canadian Press/Alamy Live News

Just behind the Golden Knights are the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are currently nine points away from the magic 96 (87) with just 14 games remaining.

They’re also on course to repeat last season’s impressive score record with their current 39 – 9 – 20.

Getting to the Playoff berth is going to take some hard work. While the Kings don’t have their big win deficit opponent the Montreal Canadiens to contend with, they will have two bouts with the Calgary Flames (103-128-21), Edmonton Oilers (90-102-30) as well as matchups against the Knights and Avs.

What might be concerning for Kings is that Todd Mclellan has hinted ahead of reaching the Playoffs that the team needs ‘two new goaltenders’.

While they going great with the rotation of Pheonix Copley and Joonas Korpisalo, injury and fatigue are key factors which the team can’t ignore.

‘You rarely get through running one, regardless of what happens; injury, fatigue, score, momentum; so you do need two.’ McLellan told the site Hockey Royalty.

Edmonton Oilers – Projected Landing P3

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) and Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrate a goal against the New York Rangers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Friday, November 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Edmonton Oilers have had a very impressive season so far.

Not only are they on course to reach their personal best score record set last season, but their star player Connor McDavid has also made franchise history more times than we can count.

Oilers currently sit on 37 – 8 – 23 with 82 points and 14 games left to go.

Looking at their remaining games, the Oilers looks like it will be avoiding teams it has a big win deficit against. There are worries about confrontations with the Calgary Flames or Chicago Blackhawks.

There will be scraps with the Knights, Kings and Stars but definitely the Boston Bruins. They have their biggest deficit against the Bruins of 27-50-6.

Seattle Kraken – Projected Landing WC2

March 12, 2022, Montreal, PQ, Canada: Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer is scored on by Montreal Canadiens’ Alexander Romanov, not shown, during third period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, March 12, 2022. (Credit Image: © Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via ZUMA Press)

Will this be the Kraken’s first Playoff? For now, they’re projected to land in the Wildcard.

This is Kraken’s second full season in operation and they’ve collected an impressive 81 points. Currently, they stand at 37 – 7 – 23 with 15 games left to go.

Kraken are still building up their cred in the franchise and it means that they don’t have defined foes heading into the remaining games. That means they have the capacity to fight for their remaining 15 points.

Scraps may well be seen with the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights.  

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes – Projected Landing M1

March 26, 2019 – Washington, DC, UNITED STATES – Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal (11) looks on during a stoppage in play as the Carolina Hurricanes play the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2019. The Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division and can clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff position tonight. (Credit Image: © Alex Edelman/ZUMA Wire)

The Canes are 10 wins away from hitting their personal best score record set last season, currently sitting on 44 – 8 – 14.

They currently sit on 96 points with 16 games left to go in their season. Hopefully the run up to the middle of April should be a largely easy going one.

Canes will have to contend with the Philadelphia Flyers (53-88-14) and Montreal Canadiens (80-110-20) whom they have win deficits against, as well as the mighty Boston Bruins, who’ll be picking up points like sweeties.

New Jersey Devils – Projected Landing M2

New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) makes a save during second period NHL hockey action against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

It’s going to be a particularly poignant run to the Playoffs for the Devils. If they make it, it’ll be their first time since 2018 and with a score record on par with their personal best.

They currently sit on 44 – 6 – 17 with 94 points and 15 games left in the season.

Luck might be on the Devils side as they will only face three of their major win deficit opponents in the run up to April. Devils has a defeat trail with both New York teams, New York Islanders (95 – 146 – 22) and New York Rangers (109 – 130 – 27).

Once those hurdles are past at the end of this month, they’ll also face the Boston Bruins (58 – 97 – 19) in April.

Hopefully with the inclusion of Curtis Lazar, Nathan Bastian, Miles Wood, Yegor Sharangovich, Vitek Vanecek to the squad in the recent trade deadline, the Devils have a better chance at clinching.

New York Rangers – Projected Landing M3

New York Rangers centre Mika Zibanejad (93) looks on during third period NHL action against the Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Rangers are one of the teams from the city that look on course to secure a Playoff berth this season.

Currently they are 38 – 10 – 19 with 86 points and 15 games to go.

The Rangers race to the Playoffs should be an interesting one. They will face the Pittsburgh Penguins (135-136-23) in back-to-back games at the beginning of the fixture list followed by the likes of the Buffalo Sabres (87-85-25) in April.

Perhaps, their biggest challenge will the Toronto Maple Leafs (237-290-95) at the very end.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Projected Landing WC3

February 17, 2022, TORONTO, ON, CANADA: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby (87) looks down as he plays against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, February 17, 2022. (Credit Image: © Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via ZUMA Press)

Will the Penguins make it to the Playoffs for the 15th season in a row? Perhaps. Will they win the Stanley Cup again? There’s a question.

At this current time, they sit on 34 – 10 – 23 with 78 points and 15 games left to play.

They are projected to land in the first of the two Wildcard slots in the Metro division alongside the New York Islanders, whom we’ll get to shortly.

Luckily for the Penguins, their biggest win deficit opponent, the Montreal Canadiens (72-127-23) won’t be in their digest of games going into April.

However, they will have to expect stiff opposition from Philadelphia Flyers (113-163-30), whom they trail by 50 games in their series.

What’s worrying is that Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta are injured (at the time of writing). Mike Sullivan will need to create a new defensive posture to compliment almost two dozen others he’s used in the bulk of the season (21 in 67 games).

New York Islanders – Projected Landing WC4

November 6, 2021, WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA: New York Islanders’ goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) makes a save on a Winnipeg Jets shot during the second period of NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday November 6, 2021. (Credit Image: © Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via ZUMA Press)

Will the New York Islanders hit their personal best record of 2019, if they reach the Playoffs?

With 13 games remain for the Islanders with a current score record of 34 – 8 – 27 and 76 points. That means they have a lot of work to do to keep their projected position of WC2.

As for opposition in their final set of games, it looks as if their biggest challenge will come from the likes of the Buffalo Sabres (81-87-18) and the Philadelphia Flyers (118-144-26).

Thankfully, the Boston Bruins (66-99-21) and Montreal Canadiens (65-96-15), whom are their biggest win deficit opponents, are not on the fixture calendar.

Thing is though. Bo Horvat recently joined the Islanders from the Vancouver Canucks and he’s going to be a huge help when it comes to keeping that position.

Do you agree with the projections?

Posted on: 15 Mar 2023