NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Wild, Capitals Clinch Postseason Berths; Updated StandingsApril 18, 2022
The Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals each clinched berths in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs on Sunday.
For Minnesota, it was a 5-4 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks that secured its spot in the postseason.
THAT'S RIGHT, GET WILD‼️ <br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/mnwild?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mnwild</a> are back in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> Playoffs! <a href="https://t.co/sx5tIjv9dg">pic.twitter.com/sx5tIjv9dg</a>
This is the third straight season the Wild have made the playoffs, and the team is hoping to win its first-ever Stanley Cup since entering the league during the 2000-01 season.
It's also the ninth time since 2012-13 that Minnesota has reached the postseason, which trails only the Pittsburgh Penguins (10) for most playoff appearances in that span, according to NHL Public Relations.
Here's an updated look at the top of the Western Conference standings:
- Colorado Avalanche: 55-14-6, 116 points
- St. Louis Blues: 46-20-10, 102 points
- Minnesota Wild: 47-21-7, 101 points
- Calgary Flames: 46-20-9: 101 points
- Edmonton Oilers: 44-26-6: 94 points
- Los Angeles Kings: 40-27-10: 90 points
- Dallas Stars: 43-27-5: 91 points
- Nashville Predators: 43-28-5: 91 points
And here's a look at the top of the Eastern Conference standings:
- Carolina Hurricanes: 48-20-8: 104 points
- New York Rangers: 49-21-6: 104 points
- Pittsburgh Penguins: 43-23-11: 97 points
- Florida Panthers: 54-15-6: 114 points
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 50-20-6: 106 points
- Tampa Bay Lightning: 46-21-8: 100 points
- Boston Bruins: 46-24-5: 97 points
- Washington Capitals: 42-23-10: 94 points
The Wild have been paced this season offensively by second-year forward Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman.
Kaprizov entered Sunday's game against the Sharks leading the team with 43 goals, in addition to 50 assists for 93 points in 73 games. It's been quite the year for the 2015 fifth-round pick, who is just 24 years old.
Zuccarello, meanwhile entered Sunday with 22 goals and 52 assists for 74 points in 66 games, while Fiala had 28 goals and 41 assists for 69 points. Hartman entered with 31 goals and 28 assists.
While these three have been the driving force, Minnesota has plenty of depth on offense with Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Frederick Gaudreau and Matt Boldy having tallied at least 30 points this season.
Minnesota's defense has been anchored by Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon, but it also has received solid efforts from Jordie Benn, Dmitry Kulikov and Alex Goligoski.
As for goaltending, the duo of Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot has been impressive. Minnesota acquired Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline, and he's been an important addition in the crease.
Still, the Wild will face an uphill battle in the Western Conference with teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames in the driver's seat.
In addition to the Wild, the Capitals clinched a postseason berth for the eighth straight season when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 in regulation on Sunday.
Washington Capitals @Capitals
Headed to the postseason for the eighth straight season‼️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ALLCAPS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ALLCAPS</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/Boeing?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Boeing</a> <a href="https://t.co/dY5qfyxnsN">pic.twitter.com/dY5qfyxnsN</a>
Led by Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson offensively, Washington has the capability to be a serious threat in the playoffs. John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov also anchor the team's defense, but each has been stellar offensively, tallying at least 12 goals this year.
While Washington has made the postseason every year since 2014, it has not had much success since lifting the Cup in 2018. The Capitals have been eliminated in the first round in each of the past three seasons.