NHL Playoff Power Rankings – Full 16-Team Analysis with Players to Watch, Injury Reports, Statistical Updates (Leaders, Special Teams, etc.), and More.
Welcome back to our NHL Playoff Power Rankings. This is usually a collaboration between Matt Duscharme and Trin Potratz, but unfortunately, Trin will be absent this week. In addition to our top 16 rankings, we provide in-depth analysis and feature a weekly player to watch profile to help fans now who to keep on eye on during the first round.
This week site expert Matt Duscharme will be covering all 16 teams.
*all stats in our first NHL Playoff Power Rankings are heading into Thursday (Apr.20th) night’s action.
Apr 17, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goalie Brian Elliott (1) fixes his gear during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The Flames but up an amazing fight but it just wasn’t enough, they were often pushed around by a much bigger and stronger team in Anaheim. But that didn’t stop them from scoring a bunch of goals and having the number one ranked power-play in the post season.
While Johnny Gaudreau came back to lead the team in scoring after his injury in the regular season, he passed the torch to linemate Sean Monahan who took it and ran with it putting up five points in four games. And while Brian Elliott wasn’t solid, he did make some important saves to keep his team in some games. But the play of Chad Johnson in his only game is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. In his only game he posted a .952 save percentage and a 1.16 goals-against-average, maybe the Flames should have started him every game instead.
The Flames captain didn’t put up many points this postseason with only one assist in four games, but he did what a captain is supposed to do. Mark Giordano calmed his team down and helped them keep composed while under a mass amount of pressure. And by the way, Calgary played all year long, expect better things next season.
Apr 17, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing David Pastrnak (88) is surrounded by left wing Brad Marchand (63), defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73), center Patrice Bergeron (37) and center Ryan Spooner (51) after scoring a goal during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
So many series’ in this year’s playoffs have been so close and so electric. Boston and Ottawa have been dueling it out like champions and so far Ottawa has pulled ahead with a 3-1 lead. If Boston’s defense wasn’t so thin, the series would be much closer.
The Bruins can’t seem to get any luck when it comes to keeping their backend healthy. Game after game they end up losing someone, well before game four they got a nice return in Colin Miller. This helped the team a lot as they were able to keep the game close but ultimately lost 1-0.
While Bergeron has only put up two points in the four games played by the club so far that’s not what is really important. He’s been taking every last minute faceoff in the offensive zone, defensive zone, and on the penalty-kill. What’s even better is his faceoff percentage is well over 50% so if Boston stays in this series, it’s because Patrice Bergeron kept winning faceoffs giving the team the majority of puck possession.
Apr 17, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left winger Artemi Panarin (72) reacts after a goal during the third period against the Nashville Predators in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago has surprised us all and not in a good way, they were ranked as Cup contenders before the playoffs started by a boat load of sources. But somewhere along the way, they have lost their game and in turn, have lost three straight giving the Predators a 3-0 series lead.
Now can Chicago bounce back and win the next four? it’s unlikely but it’s happened before. Through the first three games, only six players have touched the scoresheet. Patrick Kane, Dennis Rasmussen, Duncan Keith, Marcus Kruger, Richard Panik, and Jonathan Toews have only a single point each which is not good enough if you’re expecting to make a long playoff run.
Richard Panik has had a tremendous season, he went from an AHL fringe player to a fourth liner in Toronto to playing on the first line in Chicago. His scoring has obviously increased because of this but once the playoffs started he’s gone invisible. But he still possesses a ton of scoring ability so if given space he could potentially put up a few more points before Chicago is eliminated.
Apr 18, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) celebrates a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Columbus beat Pittsburgh 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Columbus hasn’t had the best of luck against the powerhouse Penguins, but they definitely have the team to compete. They would be in a much better position if Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t playing so aggressively the first three games.
However, he tightened up his play and the Blue Jackets finally put some goals on the board led by rookie defenseman Markus Nutivaara giving the Jackets another night to fight with their first win on Tuesday night. Brandon Saad has been the best offensive player for the Jackets since the playoffs started putting up three points in three games. Now while Columbus isn’t expected to make it out of game five, they are not going to go down without a fight.
As stated in a previous article, Nick Foligno won’t carry this team offensively but he will be there as a solid captain should to calm his team down. And he’s gotten himself on the scoreboard with two points and only a minus one rating despite Pittsburgh’s nightly onslaughts. So he is definitely someone to keep an eye on in game five, and if the Jackets win, watch what he does without the puck.
Apr 14, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal in the second period against the St Louis Blues in game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Week: G Devan Dubnyk (3gp 1 win 1.37GAA .950 save percentage)
What’s happened to Minnesota? They were supposed to come into this series with a massive advantage but somehow have dropped the ball and have been unable to pick it back up. They lost the first three games to St. Louis putting them behind the eight-ball from the start, but they did win game four to at least extend their postseason by another game, but for some fans, let’s hope it’s more.
Despite only having one win so far in the series against St. Louis it’s amazing how solid goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been. He’s played all four games and in doing so has put up a 1-3 record with a blistering 1.37 goals-against-average and a .950 save percentage despite being hard pressed to win. The Vezina race is going to be a tough one because of Braden Holtby, Carey Price, and Sergei Bobrovsky. But if Minnesota can somehow claw their way back into this series and win it, he’s going to once again be on top of the list.
Jason Zucker hasn’t put up any points and was caught out on the ice for one against him, but that hasn’t changed how he’s played against St. Louis. The Wild have so much offensive talent up front and Zucker has rushed so many plays and crashed the net it’s only a matter of time before he lands on the scoreboard.
Apr 18, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan watches the game against the San Jose Sharks during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton has been able to hang in there against the more experienced Sharks team who blew them out last game 7-0 to tie the series 2-2. With the series shifting back to Edmonton they have a wild crowd who could very well cheer them into a win. But San Jose is no pushover so it can go either way.
Lucic has played all four games so far and has put up two points and a plus-one rating, what else is solid is he’s managed to stay out of the penalty box with only four minutes in penalties. He’s on the top power play unit and spends a lot of time with Connor, so if Edmonton can take this to six or seven games, expect Lucic on the scoreboard more often.
Apr 18, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save against the New York Rangers during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
While Montreal has been having a hard time matching hit for hit with the Rangers which is surprising. They still have managed to score some goals. Carey Price has had a tough couple of games but his statistics are still solid enough to give Montreal a solid chance at pulling this series off.
2016-17 stats: 2 wins 1.65GAA .942 save percentage
As stated above Price has had some issues with the Rangers depth, but with the numbers, he’s posted he’s still competitive and a top notch goaltender. If the team in front of him can play as solid as he’s been, he’s going to be under pressure in game five which means watch his play, he may steal the show.
Apr 18, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) and Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) celebrate after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Montreal and New York have been putting on one heck of a series, which has come down to a battle of netminders. When you look at Carey Price’s stats and Henrik Lundqvist‘s they are practically on par with each other. While no player on the Rangers roster has put up more than a point per game, they have been scoring across all four lines.
With depth like that, a series is going to be hard to win no matter how solid or weak the opponent is. And when you watch both of these teams you can see how easily New York can run through Montreal, but as stated above, this series is coming down to the goalies.
2016-17 stats: 2 wins 1.89GAA .944 save percentage
When I first stated why Lundqvist was a player to watch was because he’s 36 and wants to win now. And with his play, he’s helped the Rangers gather two wins and even the series. His save percentage and goals-against average are brilliant, which means game five the Rangers could pull off another win, but Carey Price is just as motivated.
Apr 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (29) talks with Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) against the Washington Capitals in game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Once again the Maple Leafs are being carried by their rookies, and while Frederik Andersen‘s stats are nothing to write home about, he has been clutch when needed. The Leafs speed and skill has helped them keep this series against Washington at two wins a piece.
And while Washington is a more experienced team that also has a boat load of talent, the Leafs make up for it with speed and the vast majority of rookies who want to go out every night and win. And while Mitch Marner is the highest scoring rookie at the moment, it is nice to see veteran Tyler Bozak leading this team in points, with defensive cornerstone Morgan Rielly sharing that lead.
There was a reason why James van Riemsdyk was deemed a player to watch. This guy is clutch, and has tons of speed and often goes underrated. Every time he touches the puck or is on the ice you know something good is going to happen, especially when he’s in front of the net.
Apr 18, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman David Schlemko (5) celebrates scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Martin Jones and Cam Talbot have been dueling all post-season and they have played very well. With San Jose being able to tie the series 2-2 with a massive 7-0 win last game that shows just how scary this team can be. Because when you can score seven goals in a playoff game where defense is much much tighter, they are poised to go a long way. But in front of them is a crazy Edmonton crowd who hasn’t had playoffs since 2005-06.
Patrick Marleau is the longest serving player in San Jose and rightfully so, he’s clutch when needed and can score some of the most accurate goals in the league. He’s often relied upon a lot in the playoffs and always rises to the occasion. Hopefully, for him, this is the year he can win a Cup since he was so close last season.
Apr 17, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (19) with forward T.J. Oshie (77) after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The best team in the NHL is in a deadlock with the final Wild Card winning team in Toronto. This has taken everyone by surprise, but it’s not totally unexpected. As stated in the Toronto entry, Washington has that skill and experience plus one of the best goalies in the world. But Toronto has shown to be able to match them up front and Andersen is rivaling Braden Holtby pretty much save for save in this series.
With star forward Alex Ovechkin playing more defensively all season in order to help his team win, it’s worked. He’s often off the scoresheet which is rare but comes through when the team needs him the most. T.J. Oshie has taken over the lead in team scoring putting up six points in four games. And while Holtby doesn’t have the best stats, he can still win this series on his own for the Capitals.
Player to Watch: Braden Holtby
2016-17 stats: 2 wins 3.02GAA .907 save percentage
With only two wins in four games and a 3.02 goals-against-average with a .907 save percentage you may be wondering why is he a player to watch? Well, Holtby is one of the best in the league. And if Washington can figure out a way to slow down the Maple Leafs, he’s going to win this series and take the Capitals very far this post-season.
Apr 17, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) celebrates with defenseman Ben Harpur (67) after a goal during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Week: G Craig Anderson (3gp 3 wins 1.92GAA .915 save percentage)
Erik Karlsson has shown us time and time again this postseason why he’s the best defenseman in the world, from waiting out opposing defenseman or passing the puck 120 feet onto the tap of a rushing forward, Karlsson has really helped the Sens.
What else has helped Ottawa is their scoring depth, they finally have four lines that can score goals, and in the playoffs, that’s very important to have? Craig Anderson has also been spectacular winning three games while posting a 1.92 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage.
As stated above, Karlsson is the backbone of this Ottawa team. He’s put up five points in four games all of which were assists, and beautiful ones at that. So if the Sens can somehow make their way to the later rounds of the playoffs, expect to see his name a lot more on the scoresheet.
Apr 18, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey (65) celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
The Penguins have been lighting up the Blue Jackets and it’s not hard to see why. What’s more impressive is rookie forward Jake Guentzel is two points behind Russian star Evgeni Malkin for the team lead. When you see this kid play you know the Pens are in a perfect situation when they have to move some stars, or when a few retire.
On the flip side of that though, he is going to see a significant increase in pay. One of the biggest surprises was when Pittsburgh injured Matthew Murray in warm up and Marc-Andre Fleury took over. A lot of people were scared and worried but he’s played three solid games helping the Pens gain a 3-1 series lead.
Sidney Crosby is easily one of the best players in the world and when you have him in the playoffs at the top of his game, scary things are going to happen. For instance in game four helping create space to give the team chances to score coming all the way back to make the game decided by just one goal. He’s a scary player and Pittsburgh has a ton of offensive power to not lose the series and with the best player in the world opening up sheets of ice for more offensive dynamo’s they are going to score a lot.
Apr 14, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; St Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz (17) celebrates his goal in the third period against the Minnesota Wild in game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. The St Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Week: G Jake Allen (3gp 3 wins 1.35GAA .957 save percentage)
Jake Allen had a shaky season leaving St. Louis too often resorting to backup Carter Hutton and what they were gonna do come playoff time. Well, they have to worry no longer, Allen has absolutely stood on his head for this team easily winning games one and two all on his own. His three wins in four games with a 1.17 goals-against-average are superb along with his save percentage.
What else is superb about St. Louis is the fact that the departure of Kevin Shattenkirk hasn’t affected the blue line at all. Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson who leads the defenseman in points, along with Carl Gunnarsson and a few more have shown that they can still win without him and they have taken a quick 3-0 series lead before Minnesota finally won a game.
When you think St. Louis is solid on the backend, just look up front. They have a ton of scoring led surprisingly by center Patrik Berglund, but half of all of those scoring chances came off missed opportunities by Vladimir Tarasenko. Now Alex Steen has been solid as well with three points in four games, and once Paul Stastny returns from injury, the Blues, as well as Steen, are going to get themselves a significant boost.
Apr 17, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Kevin Fiala (56) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won in overtime 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
As stated under the Chicago recap, Nashville has surprised us all and even the Blackhawks. They have taken a 3-0 series lead and most of that comes down to the play of goaltender Pekka Rinne who has been lights out. Through three games he’s put up a 0.61 goals-against-average and a .979 save percentage which is insane.
Ryan Johansen hasn’t been that bad either putting up five points in three games leading the team in scoring he also has a plus-five rating, the same as second place scorer Filip Forsberg who has four points so far. Nashville is poised to win this series since theirs only a handful of teams that have ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. So if they can keep up the solid play, they’re off to the second round.
Player to Watch: Colin Wilson
2016-17 stats: 0gp 0g 0a 0pts
Colin Wilson hasn’t played a single game this post-season due to a lower-body injury, while he’s missed big time by the team they have done fine without him and rookie forward Kevin Fiala has stepped up nicely for the club in his absence.
Apr 17, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Shea Theodore (53) celebrates his third period goal with right wing Corey Perry (10) and center Nate Thompson (44) against the Calgary Flames in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
What else can be said about the Ducks that hasn’t been said already? They have become the first team to punch their ticket to the second round and in turn, giving them a nice break before that second round starts.
The play of goaltender John Gibson has been brilliant, and while some may say Calgary never stood a chance they still possess a very talented team that pushed the Ducks every single night. But regardless, Anaheim did sweep them in four. Rickard Rakell has really emerged as one of Anaheim’s top players and now leads the team in points with five along with rookie defenseman Shea Theodore.
Andrew Cogliano hasn’t put up any points yet this post season but that doesn’t mean stop keeping your eye on him. He’s easily one of the fastest players on the Ducks rosters and one of the most underrated. He can achieve a lot given time and space, and now that Anaheim is on their way to the second round, you’ll see him on that scoresheet.