Power Rankings: Stanley Cup Favorites
Well, it’s that time of year. There is only one week remaining in the regular season, which means the Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner.
This week’s Power Rankings will rank each team based on the likelihood that they’ll win the Stanley Cup in 2022.
1 – Colorado Avalanche:
I realize that the Panthers have been nearly unstoppable, but many of their players haven’t been on a long playoff run. It kind of feels like the Avs are due to have a lot of success. They’re clearly the best team in a tough Western Conference.
2 – Tampa Bay Lightning:
Listen, I know the Lightning have gone through some difficult times down the stretch. I still wouldn’t want to play them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even if you get past them, it might take all of the energy out of your group. The back-to-back defending champions get the benefit of the doubt.
3 – Florida Panthers:
We’ll see if they can get it done in the postseason. Last year, they were bounced early but they lost to the Bolts. This year, expectations will be different. They went into the weekend riding a 12-game winning streak. It’ll be fascinating to see if their regular season success will transfer over in the playoffs.
4 – Carolina Hurricanes:
The Hurricanes have won playoff rounds over the last few years and have played in the Eastern Conference Final. It’s all about taking that next step. Frederik Andersen has given them some solid goaltending, but he wore out his welcome in Toronto because he didn’t always deliver in big moments. Will that change in Carolina?
5 – Calgary Flames:
The turnaround has been remarkable in Calgary this year. A lot of credit goes to their coaching staff, but Johnny Gaudreau has taken his game to new heights, too. Many oddsmakers have the Flames as the third-likeliest team to hoist the Stanley Cup this year.
6 – Toronto Maple Leafs:
The Leafs need to start by winning a round before they can even think about lifting Lord Stanley above their heads, but there’s no denying their talent. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and the crew have to find a way to match their regular season production come playoff time. This could be the year it all clicks. They need Jack Campbell to shine between the pipes.
7 – Minnesota Wild:
Who expected the Wild to be one of the top teams in the West this season? Not many. They have a star in Kirill Kaprizov and a lot of good players around him. They need to get healthy before the start of the postseason though. The fact that they have a solid goalie tandem with Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury also helps their chances.
8 – St. Louis Blues:
The Blues are battle-tested, and several members of their roster were around when they won the Stanley Cup a few seasons ago. If the young guys like Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou can continue improving, they’ll have a legit shot at making a run.
9 – New York Rangers:
I don’t know if the Rangers are ready for a real run at the Stanley Cup, but they’re talented enough to get there. Heading into the weekend, they were one of the top five teams in the NHL which means they have to be taken seriously. If Igor Shesterkin plays like he did in the regular season, they’ll be a tough out.
10 – Washington Capitals:
The Caps have question marks between the pipes, but they’re another one of those teams that has been there and done that. They’ll need to figure out which of Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek will be able to lead them.
11 – Pittsburgh Penguins:
As of right now, Casey DeSmith will lead the Penguins into the playoffs because Tristan Jarry is week-to-week with an injury. Was Jarry good in the playoffs last year? No way. But this is a huge amount of responsibility for DeSmith. Can the leaders on this team make up for that? Will Crosby, Malkin and Letang be able to play huge minutes during a long run?
12 – Boston Bruins:
The Bruins will need Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak to lead the charge. Do they have enough secondary scoring? Can they win without Tuukka Rask around? Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have something to prove this spring.
13 – Edmonton Oilers:
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl clearly won’t get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to drawing penalties in the playoffs, so other Oilers will have to step up in the scoring department. If everything clicks, this team can make a run. They just have to prove that they can make it work.
14 – Nashville Predators:
Roman Josi should be more involved in the Hart Trophy discussion, but that award rarely goes to defensemen. But he’s been amazing. Forwards like Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen will have to deliver if the Preds are going to shock the world and win their first cup.
15 – Los Angeles Kings:
The rebuild is perfectly on schedule. The dark days are a thing of the past and it appears as though they’re going to get into the playoffs this year. The Kings have a nice mix of veterans and young players. This will probably be a learning experience for them in the postseason, but again, it’s all trending in the right direction.
16 – Dallas Stars:
The Stars have had their share of ups and downs but they’re currently in the final Wild Card spot in the West. They have veteran experience with players like Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and others, so you may not want to deal with them at playoff time. They need to get more out of Alexander Radulov and Denis Gurianov though.
17 – Vegas Golden Knights:
What a disappointing year for Vegas. They made the huge trade for Jack Eichel, but things haven’t worked out for them. In fairness to the Golden Knights, they had to deal with multiple injuries to key players like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alex Pietrangelo, all while waiting for Eichel to get healthy enough to play too.
18 - Vancouver Canucks:
As of Sunday evening, the Canucks need a miracle to get into the playoffs. Literally everything has to go their way over the final three games of the season. If it happens, watch out. It’s just not likely.