NHL Morning Skate: Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition – Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May 31, 2022

NHL Morning Skate: Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition – May 31, 2022

* The 2022 Conference Finals are set, with New York securing the lone remaining spot with a 6-2 Game 7 victory against Carolina. The Rangers will face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, beginning Wednesday in New York.

* The Western Conference Final begins tonight in Denver, with the Avalanche set to host the Oilers in a matchup between the two highest-scoring clubs this postseason. Game time is 8 p.m. ET on TNT, Sportsnet, TVAS and CBC.

* It has been a combined 81 years since the Avalanche (21), Rangers (28) and Oilers (32) have won the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, the two-time defending champion Lightning are seeking to become the fourth different NHL franchise to three-peat and first since the Islanders from 1980-83 (4x).

Did You Know? The Lightning have 17 Stanley Cup winners on their roster while the three remaining clubs have six combined.

A six-goal Game 7 from the Rangers, led by Chris Kreider (2-0—2), Mika Zibanejad (0-3—3), Adam Fox (1-1—2) and Igor Shesterkin (37 saves), catapulted New York into the fourth and final spot in the 2022 Conference Finals as the Rangers became the fourth team in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to win multiple series in one postseason after facing a multi-game deficit in each. New York, which handed Carolina its first home loss of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, improved to 8-1 in its past nine Game 7s (2-0 in 2022).

* Shesterkin, who made 16 saves in the first period while the Rangers built a two-goal lead, became the third goaltender in franchise history to win multiple career Game 7s, joining Henrik Lundqvist (6-2) and Mike Richter (2-0).

* Zibanejad, who tied James Patrick (0-3—3 in 1992 DSF) for the most assists in a Game 7 in Rangers history, improved his totals to 4-7—11 in contests when facing elimination in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs – tied for the most in NHL history in a single postseason with Justin Williams (6-5—11 in 7 GP in 2014 w/ LAK) and Anze Kopitar (5-6—11 in 7 GP in 2014 w/ LAK).  

* Fox recorded his ninth and 10th point in games when facing elimination (2-8—10) to establish an NHL record for most by a defenseman in a single postseason, surpassing Ray Bourque in 1980 (2-6—8 in 4 GP), Ian Turnbull in 1976 (1-7—8 in 3 GP) and Denis Potvin in 1975 (3-5—8 in 9 GP). He also became the fifth blueliner in franchise history to record multiple points in a Game 7 – only Brian Leetch (1-2—3 in 1992 DSF) and Patrick (0-3—3 in 1992 DSF) have more.

* Kreider scored his 14th and 15th career goals in games when facing elimination. Only five players in NHL history have as many: Mark Messier (16), Jaromir Jagr (15), Maurice Richard (15), Gilbert Perreault (15) and Williams (15). Kreider surpassed Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (13) for the most among active skaters.

* Kreider also became just the fourth Rangers skater to record a multi-goal outing in a Game 7, with the other three all coming in the 1992 Division Semifinals against New Jersey: Adam Graves (2),Messier(2) and Darren Turcotte (2).

The Rangers have clinched a berth in the Conference Finals for the first time since 2015 and the fourth time in the past 10 years. New York’s fourth Conference Final appearance since 2012 is the second most among all teams over that span, trailing only its 2022 Eastern Conference Final opponent, Tampa Bay (6).

Chris Kreider is the only member of New York’s 2015 team who remains on the roster – he concluded that postseason with the second-most goals among Rangers players – and has been with the club in all three Conference Finals appearances over the past 10 years.

* Among players to skate in at least one game for the Rangers so far during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, five others have Conference Finals experience: Barclay Goodrow (2019 w/ SJS, 2020 & 2021 w/ TBL), Ryan Reaves (2018, 2020 & 2021 w/ VGK), Justin Braun (2016 & 2019 w/ SJS), Jacob Trouba (2018 w/ WPG) and Andrew Copp (2018 w/ WPG).

* The Rangers and Lightning have met in the postseason once, also during the Conference Finals. Tampa Bay earned a 2-0 shutout win in Game 7 to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, a contest where Lightning netminder Ben Bishop became the third goaltender in NHL history to record multiple Game 7 shutouts in a single postseason (following Patrick Roy in 2002 & Tim Thomas in 2011).

* The Lightning-Rangers series will pit two of the League’s top netminders: Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin, a first-time Vezina Trophy finalist, posted a League-leading 2.07 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in the regular season – the seventh-best save percentage among all NHL goaltenders since the statistic was officially recorded in 1955-56 (min. 25 GP). Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, was tied for the NHL lead in wins during the regular season (39), marking the fifth consecutive campaign he has led or co-led the League in wins.


A few highlights from the #NHLStats Pack covering the Avalanche-Oilers Western Conference Final matchup – which is now available on the League’s media site, with one to follow Tuesday for the Rangers-Lightning Eastern Conference Final.

* The Oilers (4.33) versus Avalanche (4.30) matchup is the fifth final-four series in Stanley Cup Playoffs history – and first in 34 years – to feature two clubs each entering with an average goals-per-game of 4.30 or higher.

* The Avalanche-Oilers matchup will be the first series in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to feature each of the top four active skaters on the career playoff points-per-game list (min. 30 GP).


2022 NHL Conference Finals schedule

Antti Raanta of Hurricanes leaves Game 7 against Rangers with injury
Brandon Hagel expected to play for Lightning in Game 1 of Eastern Final
Projected No. 1 pick Shane Wright to interview with 12 teams at Combine
*Paul Ludwinski‘s versatility, smarts stand out ahead of 2022 NHL Draft


After combining for 29 points in the Second Round and 52 overall this postseason, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid take their identical 7-19—26 stat lines into Game 1 in Denver, where the home team also enters the Conference Finals with a star-powered duo tied for the team lead in points (Nathan MacKinnon: 8-5—13 and Cale Makar: 3-10—13).

* McDavid sits one point from 150 in 2021-22 (regular season and playoffs combined) and two from 50 in his Stanley Cup Playoffs career. He can become the first player in 26 years to accumulate at least 150 total points in a season including playoffs and, should he notch two points in Game 1, become the sixth player ever to record 50 postseason points in 34 or fewer career games.

* Draisaitl heads into his first Conference Finals with at least three points in each of the past five games (making up the entire Second Round, where he recorded 17 points). That is a Stanley Cup Playoffs record and one shy of the longest such run ever recorded during a single regular season. Teammate Zach Hyman enters on a hot stretch of his own as he sits one shy of equaling the longest goal streak in franchise playoff history.

* MacKinnon scored a goal in all three games against Edmonton in 2021-22 and has a four-game goal streak against the club dating to Nov. 27, 2019 (4-3—7 in 4 GP). One of those tallies was an overtime marker in the first meeting between the Oilers and Avalanche this season, when Makar set up MacKinnon for the winner off a 2-on-1 rush against McDavid.


Oilers goaltender Mike Smith is set to play in the third Conference Finals of his career (also 2011 w/ TBL & 2012 w/ PHX) while Avalanche netminder Darcy Kuemper readies for his debut in the round. Kuemper holds the edge over Smith in their seven head-to-head meetings, but both goaltenders have had regular season success against the club they’re set to face.


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