By Sportlogiq Staff (@Sportlogiq)
The National Hockey League regular season has entered its final week, and with that we present the final edition of our Power Rankings.
According to our model, the Calgary Flames will be the best bet for a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993.
The Flames are one of only two teams in the NHL to rank in the top three in goal differential and expected goal differential. The other is the top-ranked Florida Panthers.
Johnny Gaudreau is having a Hart Trophy-caliber season, leading the league in even-strength points with 86 – 10 more than Auston Matthews, who ranks second. Calgary has few if any identifiable weaknesses. Our model has been high on the Flames all season and believes Calgary is the best bet in the Western Conference to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
The Toronto Maple Leafs went 2-1-1 last week and have dropped out of our top five, falling from fourth to eighth. The slip in our rankings is largely due to some incredible play from other teams and less because of any real concern with Toronto’s play. Auston Matthews missed three games last week as he continues to chase 60 goals. Matthews needs to score twice in the final two games to hit the milestone.
There is a 91 per cent chance the Leafs will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Toronto is 2-2-0 against the Lightning this season.
The Edmonton Oilers drop one spot from 10th to 11th in our rankings following a 2-1-0 week. Since the trade deadline, the Oilers have a .706 points percentage, tied for fifth best in the NHL.
Edmonton is on a collision course with the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, a team it won three of four games against this season. Goaltending had been considered the Oilers’ Achilles’ heel for much of the season, but Edmonton has posted the third-best save percentage in the league since the trade deadline.
The Vancouver Canucks drop four spots on our list to 17th overall following three straight losses that all but sealed their fate as a non-playoff team this season. The Canucks are a respectable 30-15-9 since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the bench – good for 12th overall in points percentage. Unfortunately, the hole Vancouver dug itself early in the season proved too deep to climb out of.
At the very least, Canucks fans should feel optimistic about next season given how well the team has played of late. Elias Pettersson has scored 42 points in 32 games since the start of February, which ranks 23rd overall. Thatcher Demko continues to prove he is an elite goalie and defenseman Quinn Hughes has been outstanding this season.
The Winnipeg Jets stay put in 19th spot on our list which is exactly where they sit in points percentage. The Jets also rank 19th in goal differential and 18th in expected goal differential. Unfortunately for Jets fans, these types of numbers continue a trend in which Winnipeg is decidedly average.
The Ottawa Senators move up three spots from 24th to 21st in our year-end rankings following a 3-1-0 week. The Sens continue to build for the future and there were plenty of positive signs this season to suggest a playoff-caliber team may be on the horizon.
Brady Tkachuk’s next goal will be his 30th of the season. Josh Norris has doubled his career-high in goals, scoring 34 in just 63 games, and Tim Stutzle has proven he can take games over with his elite-level skill. Playoffs might still be a stretch next season but there is no denying the Senators are on the upswing and playing an exciting brand of hockey.
Lastly, the Montreal Canadiens who finished 31st on our list. Montreal has lost nine straight games in regulation as its up-and-down season continues. The Canadiens were a league-worst 8-30-7 before hiring Martin St. Louis as head coach. Montreal proceeded to post a 9-6-2 record from the time of his hiring him until the trade deadline.
After shipping out a few regulars, the Habs have once again failed on hard times, winning just three of 18 games since the deadline. There will no doubt be more changes to come before this team hits the ice again next season.