NHL Power Rankings: Evaluating the final 8
This is the 16th edition of theScore's NHL Power Rankings for the 2021-22 campaign and the second of these Stanley Cup Playoffs. In this edition, we rank the eight teams left in the postseason.
1. Colorado Avalanche
Previous rank: 2
During the regular season, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said a first-round series against the Avalanche would be a "waste of eight days." Technically, it was a waste of seven days for the Nashville Predators, but who's counting?
Colorado breezed past Nashville in a four-game sweep while outscoring the Preds by a margin of 21-9. It truly doesn't get more dominant than that for the top team in the West.
2. Florida Panthers
Previous rank: 1
The Presidents' Trophy winners looked fairly formidable in the first round. The Panthers clawed their way back against the Washington Capitals with three straight victories after falling behind 2-1 in the series.
Two of those wins came in overtime, and the other was by a two-goal margin. But Florida effectively contained Alex Ovechkin, limiting him to a single goal over six games. The Panthers also got an unlikely Ovi-like offensive explosion from Carter Verhaeghe, who racked up six goals and six assists for the second-most playoff points after Round 1.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
Previous rank: 3
The Hurricanes pulled off a rather impressive feat in their opening-round victory over the Boston Bruins. Yes, Carolina required seven games to vanquish its foe, but the Canes did it without their No. 1 goaltender for the entire series and without their No. 2 netminder for part of it.
Frederik Andersen missed all seven contests due to an injury, but Antti Raanta performed admirably in his absence. The 33-year-old produced a .927 save percentage over six contests, which included his first-ever playoff start in Game 1.
Third-stringer Pyotr Kochetkov had to take over when Raanta got hurt in Game 2, and the rookie started Carolina's Game 3 loss. But the Hurricanes persevered and proved they're still a dangerous team regardless of who's in goal.
4. Calgary Flames
Previous rank: 6
The Flames proved they could prevail in a low-scoring series by overcoming the Dallas Stars in a seven-game slog. They also had to contend with Jake Oettinger, who was the best goaltender of the opening round.
Calgary probably would have appreciated a bit more firepower from some of its 40-goal scorers, but they might have a chance to open things up a bit more against the Oilers. However, it'll be harder to limit Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl than the Stars.
5. St. Louis Blues
Previous rank: 9
Welcome back to the playoffs, Jordan Binnington.
The Blues goalie had struggled in the postseason since his emergence during St. Louis' Stanley Cup win in 2019. Game 7 against the Bruins that year was the last time he'd won a playoff game. But Binnington flipped the script after taking over the starting job versus the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of this first-round series, winning three straight contests while pitching a .943 save percentage.
If Binnington keeps it up, he has a chance to avenge last year's first-round sweep at the hands of the Avalanche.
The Blues also deserve some credit for eliminating the Wild in six games, as Colorado and Florida were the only other teams to advance in fewer than seven.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
Previous rank: 5
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions haven't always looked like their usual dominant selves this season, and that trend has carried over into the playoffs.
The Lightning can't be blamed if they're a little fatigued after playing more games than any other squad over the last two-plus campaigns. But the Bolts are fortunate to be in the second round after narrowly overcoming the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games and by a single goal in the deciding tilt.
Andrei Vasilevskiy posted a paltry .897 save percentage in the series, along with minus-0.15 goals saved above expected and minus-3.21 goals saved above average - the worst GSAA in the postseason entering Round 2.
7. Edmonton Oilers
Previous rank: 11
The Oilers required seven games to defeat a worse team than the Maple Leafs. Edmonton blew out the Los Angeles Kings in Games 2 and 3, but the Kings shut out the Oilers in Game 4 and then prevailed in Edmonton in Game 5 before the Oilers took care of business in the final two contests.
McDavid, Draisaitl, and Evander Kane were great, but the trio accounted for 59% of the team's goals in the series. The Oilers will likely need more from their supporting cast if they hope to upset their archrivals - the heavily favored Flames - in the second round.
8. New York Rangers
Previous rank: 7
There's a lot to be said for the Rangers' ability to stay in the fight. They were down 3-1 in their matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins but then notched three consecutive comeback wins.
However, let's be real: This series would've gone a lot differently if the Penguins were healthy. Pittsburgh controlled 62.31% of the expected goals at five-on-five in the series, and Louis Domingue started most of the games for the Pens. Though he did his best, he's still a third-string goaltender.
New York will need to clean up its act to beat the Hurricanes.