With the NHL season officially over, it is now time to shift our attention on the offseason. The Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup championship in the franchise' history with a 4-3 win in Game 5 over the Vegas Golden Knights on the road. The Capitals overcame their playoff demons.
Throughout most of the regular season, I wrote who the top 10 teams were in the NHL for that week. The last time I did this was the last week of the regular season. Here are the final top 10 rankings of the season:
10. Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers are a team on the rise and they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round. Sean Coutrier scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 and scored a hat trick in Game 6 with a torn MCL.
It didn't look like he had a torn MCL at all. The Flyers have goaltending problems, but Carter Hart will be ready at some point for them next season. Last week of regular season ranking: not ranked
9. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs took the Boston Bruins to seven games in a tough first-round series.
Toronto had a 4-3 lead heading into the second period intermission, until they gave up four goals in the third period.
Frederik Andersen once again had a tough playoff series. Lou Lamoriello isn't in Toronto's front office any more and Kyle Dubas is the new general manager in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs need to give Auston Matthews a contract this offseason. Last week of regular season ranking: 7.
8. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks swept away the Anaheim Ducks in round one and they lost in six games in round two against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Joe Thornton didn't return for San Jose from injury in the postseason. Martin Jones played well once again this postseason.
His record was 6-4 with a .928 save percentage and a 2.26 GAA, along with two shutouts. Last week of regular season ranking: 9.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pittsburgh Penguins were defending no more when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a fast break goal in Game 6 in overtime and he went five-hole on Matt Murray.
It stung the Penguins and its fan base, but they know there is optimism for the near future. Kris Letang wasn't great and he was one of the reasons why they lost.
Phil Kessel played hurt and he only scored one goal and recorded eight assists, and his plus/minus was -5.
There is an apparent rift between him and head coach Mike Sullivan. Pittsburgh is looking to trade Kessel. Evgeni Malkin played hurt with a leg injury and he missed three straight games and Pittsburgh went 2-1 in that span.
Jake Guentzel scored 10 goals and recorded 11 assists, and his plus/minus was 11. Sidney Crosby scored nine goals and recorded 12 assists, and his plus/minus was 7. Last week of regular season ranking: 10.
6. Boston Bruins: The Boston Bruins were surprisingly ousted in five games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line was contained in that series. Tuukka Rask once again was the Boston Bruins down fall in the playoffs.
His record was 5-7 with a .903 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA in the playoffs. This was Boston's best team in the Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron era. Last week of regular season ranking: 2.
5. Nashville Predators: Nashville won the Presidents' Trophy during the regular season and once again a team who that, was eliminated in the second round.
The Predators lost to a very tough Winnipeg Jets team in seven games. Nashville lost three times at home in that series.
Pekka Rinne didn't play very well at all. His record was 7-6 with a .904 save percentage and a 3.07 GAA, along with two shutouts.
Rinne was pulled early in Game 7 in favor of Juuse Saros. Rinne's teammates all had his back after Game 7. Last week of regular season ranking: 1.
4. Winnipeg Jets: After dominating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, I thought the Winnipeg Jets were going to cruise in that series. Instead, they happened to lose the next four games.
The Jets have a lot of hope for the future and one of the reasons is because of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. In the playoffs, his record was 9-8 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.36 GAA, along with two shutouts. Last week of regular season ranking: 3.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: After losing the first two games at home to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the next three games.
For the second time in three seasons however, Tampa Bay blew a 3-2 series lead in the conference finals.
Brayden Point emerged into a star during the postseason. In 17-postseason games, he scored seven goals and recorded nine assists.
His plus/minus was -6. The Lightning are one of the favorites to win it all next season. Last week of regular season ranking: 4.
2. Vegas Golden Knights: The Vegas Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season in the NHL.
They only lost three games in the Western Conference Playoffs. Vegas won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but they lost the next four games.
The Golden Knights never lost four straight games at any point this season before then. Marc-Andre Fleury was excellent in the first three rounds, but he looked ordinary in the Stanley Cup Finals.
He had a .849 save percentage and a 4.00 GAA against the Washington Capitals. In the playoffs, Fleury's record was 13-7 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA, along with four shutouts.
Vegas will look to improve the roster this offseason and they have a ton of cap room. The Golden Knights will have higher expectations next season. Last week of regular season ranking: 5.
1.Washington Capitols: Braden Holtby wasn't even the starting goalie to start the playoffs for the Capitals. Philipp Grubauer was the starter and he was pulled after the second period in Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Washington lost that game in overtime 5-4 and they were down 0-2 in the series and it looked as if the Capitals were heading for another early postseason exit. Alex Ovechkin guaranteed the series would go back to Washington tied at two and it did.
Lars Eller scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 3. Washington won that series in six games.
They finally then dethroned the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round in six games thanks to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
The Capitols suffocated the Penguins defensively. Washington then beat Tampa Bay in seven games. The Capitals won in five games against the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals to win their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.
Alex Ovechkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy with 15 goals and 12 assists. His plus/minus was 8. He led by example throughout the entire playoffs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 12 goals and recorded 30 assists. His plus/minus was 12. Braden Holtby's record during the postseason was 16-7 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.16 GAA, along with two shutouts.
Head coach Barry Trotz did a great job leading them to a championship. His contract is up and the Capitals need to re-sign him.
The Washington Capitols have a good chance to repeat as champions in 2018-2019. Last week of regular season ranking: 6.Published 12 Jun 2018, 01:54 IST