NHL Just One Month Away From Playoffs


Photo by The New York Times

Scott Harris, PR Mnager

The 2021-2022 regular season is coming to a close and here’s what the NHL has brought to the table in their first full season back. From the beginning of the season to the trade deadline this season has reflected the complete opposite of what one would expect from last season. From Stanley Cup contenders to being dead last and familiar faces being sent to unfamiliar places, one can only guess what this season could’ve brought to the table.

With an entire month left in the season, the Montréal Canadiens secured their fate in nearly last place with a loss against the Florida Panthers. This goes a long way considering the Canadiens were the ones who had faced the Tampa Bay Lightning in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. This loss against the Panthers had officially knocked the Montréal Canadiens out of playoff contention. Teams like the Seattle Kraken seemed to have tanked in their inaugural season as well, which had left many uneasy because the last expansion franchise the Vegas Golden Knights had made the finals in their inaugural season of 2018. The next team to be eliminated from contention is the Arizona Coyotes, the Coyotes have been struggling for years now. With their team being booted into the smallest NHL arena and ongoing attendance issues, the Coyotes are used to rocky roads. With players like Clayton Keller, Phil Kessel, and Louis Erikson; the Arizona Coyotes are a group of strong players given the short end of the stick. 

While there are teams that have been usually unsuccessful, many teams and players have found their success this season. With a core starting line containing players such as Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, the Colorado Avalanche has undoubtedly dominated this season while maintaining their first place spot for the remainder of the season. A team that has risen in the standings in the past few years and showing no sign of stopping is the New York Rangers. The Rangers are backed by superstars Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, and Igor Shesterkin who all lead in their respective statistics across the league.

The defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning continue to show a paved road for a possible “three-peat” in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs as they float around the league’s top 10 spots. The players who have made the biggest difference are Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Forward Brayden Point, and Defenseman Victor Hedman. The Bolts recently acquired forward Brandon Hagel from the Chicago Blackhawks and has already improved the Lightning’s offensive core. 

As the trade deadline just passed, the NHL has had a whole lot to acclimate to. Blockbuster trade after blockbuster trade, teams had to give away their best for a strong future. Some of the major players included in trades were veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who was sent to the Minnesota Wild and Flyers long-time captain Claude Giroux was sent to the Florida Panthers. With all the excitement and drama throughout the season, the playoffs are shaping up to be the ultimate faceoff.