With 95% of regular-season games completed (1,241 of 1,312) and the 20-millionth fan of 2021-22 set to go through the turnstiles next week, a look at what lies ahead before we enjoy the “Mayhem” of the First Round – which will begin on May 2.
The Playoff Picture
* 7 of 8 matchups for the First Round have yet to be determined.
* 4 playoff teams are still to be decided, with 6 teams still in the running (EDM, LAK, NSH, DAL, VGK, VAN). At least 2 of the 4 remaining spots are guaranteed to be claimed by a Pacific Division club (EDM, LAK, VGK, VAN).
* The playoff line in the Western Conference (i.e., the difference between the second Wild Card spot and first non-playoff team) has been five points or fewer for the entire 2021-22 season, with that divide now at 2 points.
* 1 division title hangs in the balance, with the Hurricanes (50-20-8, 108 points) and Rangers (51-21-6, 108 points) neck and neck atop the Metropolitan. Each club has four games remaining including a head-to-head showdown Tuesday.
The Presidents’ Trophy Race
* For a second straight year, the Presidents’ Trophy race is heading down to the wire, with the Panthers (56-15-6, 118 points) and Avalanche (55-16-6, 116 points) in contention. In 2020-21, Colorado claimed the No. 1 seed in the NHL in its final game of the regular season – the first time since 2011-12 (VAN) that a team earned the award in that way. The trophy has never been clinched in the winning team’s finale over consecutive seasons.
* Only 10 teams in NHL history have recorded 120+ standings points in a season – all of whom either won the Presidents’ Trophy (introduced in 1985-86) or finished as the League’s No. 1-ranked team. The only season in League history in which multiple teams finished with a points percentage of .750 or higher was 2012-13.
* The Panthers lead a pack of eight Eastern Conference teams at or headed toward the 100-point benchmark – which would be the most for one conference in NHL history (currently 7 teams: 2006-07 West and 2009-10 West).
Individual Trophy Races
* The Art Ross Trophy race features four players separated by less than 10 points, including front runners Connor McDavid and Jonathan Huberdeau who have 113 points apiece. This marks the first time in 75 years that at least two players are tied for the most points in the NHL with each having five games remaining.
* Already with the most Art Ross Trophy wins among active players, McDavid is vying for his fourth scoring title while Huberdeau aims to become the first Panthers player to top the League in points. With both on pace for 120 points, this could be the second time in 25 seasons that multiple players finish with 120+ points (2 in 2005-06).
* In the past 11 seasons, only one player has been the first from his franchise to win the Art Ross Trophy – Jamie Benn, tallied four points on the final day of the 2014-15 season to overtake both John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, who entered play tied for the lead. That was the only time in NHL history that a player entered his team’s final game ranked third or lower in the scoring race and had a performance that made him the scoring champion.
* The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race features 4 players who have hit the 50-goal mark – a first in 16 years (5 in 2005-06). Leader and reigning winner Auston Matthews is two shy of the first 60-goal season in a decade despite missing eight games in 2021-22, a campaign in which he has collected 14 multi-goal performances – one shy of the single-season franchise record. Leon Draisaitl, who tops the League with 15 multi-goal outings and has five games remaining, sits four goals back of Matthews.
* The winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy could also come down to the wire as the Hurricanes (192 GA), Rangers (194 GA) and Flames (195 GA) all have fewer than 200 goals against (including shootout-deciding goals) entering their final four contests. The only goaltender on those teams that has claimed the award is Carolina’s Frederik Andersen, while Calgary is the only one of those clubs to have had a Jennings recipient.
More on Scoring
* Goals-per-game stand at 6.3 – it has been 26 years since a season ended with a rate that high (6.3 in 1995-96).
* 6 players have 100+ points, with 3 others within 5 of joining them – it has been 26 years since the NHL had 9 players hit the century mark in the same season (12 in 1995-96).
* 11 players have 40+ goals, with 6 others within 2 of joining them – it has been 26 years since the NHL had 17 players hit the 40-goal mark in the same season (18 in 1995-96).
* 124 players have scored 20+ goals, with 16 others within 2 of joining them – 140 players with 20+ goals would be a single-season NHL record (currently 135 in 1980-81).
* Roman Josi needs 1 point for the first 90-point season by a defenseman in 28 years, while Cale Makar sits three shy of becoming the first active defenseman to score 30 goals in a season.