NHL Push for the Playoffs: Bruins’ offense goes cold without Pastrnak, Lindholm

nhl push for the playoffs
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

In early April the Boston Bruins were the NHL’s hottest team and looked to have everything clicking in perfect harmony. On April 4 they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2, in overtime to improve to 17-4-1 over a 22-game stretch. They were rapidly climbing the standings and looked like they were establishing themselves as Stanley Cup contenders in the Eastern Conference.

That game against Columbus was the last time David Pastrnak played.

The next game defenseman Hampus Lindholm, a key trade deadline acquisition for them, was injured. He has not played since.

Without those two players Boston has managed just a 3-5-0 record in the eight games that followed, with only one of those wins (a 2-1 win against Pittsburgh this past weekend) coming in regulation.

Even worse: The offense has gone ice cold, scoring just 16 goals in the eight games. That is a two-goal game per game average, while they scored more than three goals in exactly zero of those games. On Thursday, they were shutout (granted, on 52 shots on goal) in a 4-0 loss to Casey DeSmith and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Part of the problem is the Bruins have typically been a very top-heavy team offensively in recent years with a large portion of their goals coming from the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Pastrnak. Take one of them away, and the offense takes a significant hit.

But there has also been an element of bad luck and poorly time cold streaks.

Marchand, for example, has been held without a goal over the past eight games despite registering 33 shots on goal. Taylor Hall and Craig Smith have combined for one goal between the two of them on 37 shots. That means Marchand, Hall, and Smith (three pretty important players for the Bruins offense) have combined for one goal on 70 shots over the past eight games. That is astonishingly unlucky. Given their normal shooting percentages you would expect that trio to combine for 8-9 goals on that same number of shots. An additional 8-9 goals over that stretch would be fairly significant for the Bruins.

The good news is Pastrnak and Lindholm are nearing returns — perhaps this weekend — and should give the offense a much-needed lift. In the short-term, the Bruins managed to get through that tough stretch without them and are three points back of Tampa Bay for a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Panthers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

METROPOLITAN DIVISION
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Rangers vs. Penguins

CENTRAL DIVISION
Avalanche vs. Stars
Wild vs. Blues

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Avalanche vs. Oilers, 9 p.m. ET
Capitals vs. Coyotes, 10:30 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Panthers – clinched No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference
Maple Leafs – clinched
Lightning – clinched
Bruins – clinched
Red Wings – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated
Senators – eliminated
Canadiens – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – clinched
Rangers – clinched
Penguins – clinched
Capitals – clinched
Islanders – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference
Wild – clinched
Blues – clinched
Predators – 97.2%
Stars – 72.8%
Jets – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Flames – clinched Pacific Division
Oilers – 100%
Kings – 96.5%
Golden Knights – 31.9%
Canucks – 1.7%
Ducks – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Kraken – eliminated

draft lottery
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DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via Tankathon)

18.5% – Coyotes
13.5% – Canadiens
11.5% – Flyers
9.5% – Kraken
8.5% – Devils
7.5% – Blackhawks (*conditional)
6.5% – Senators
6.0% – Red Wings
5.0% – Sabres
3.5% – Sharks
3.0% – Ducks
2.5% – Blue Jackets
2.0% – Jets
1.5% – Islanders
0.5% – Canucks
0.5% – Golden Knights (*conditional)

“Beginning this season there will be a limit on the total number of selections (10) a team participating in the lottery can move up in the event it wins one of the lottery draws, a change announced by the NHL on March 23, 2021. Only the top 11 seeds will be eligible to receive the No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft.”

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery drawing will be held May 10

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, 113 points
Jonathan Huberdeau, 113 points
Johnny Gaudreau, 109 points
Leon Draisaitl, 106 points
Auston Matthews, 102 points
Matthew Tkachuk, 100 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, 58 goals
Leon Draisaitl, 54 goals
Chris Kreider, 51 goals
Alex Ovechkin, 50 goals
Kirill Kaprizov, 44 goals
Kyle Connor, 44 goals

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.