We’re at the point in the season where a lot of teams are making reappearances on the Weekly Lost & Found. This, the 14th edition, is no exception. While we stayed in the Western Conference for the last edition, today we take a trip back to the east and look at a team in every division.
For some teams, the dog days of the season are just that, days they have to get through en route to the playoffs. For others, these are going to be an important few months, especially as the trade deadline approaches. Let’s get it going with a trip to Philadelphia to kick things off.
Lost: Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars Losing Ground in Wild Card Hunt
Lack of Depth and Inconsistent Goaltending Hurt Flyers
The Flyers find themselves on the Weekly Lost and Found for the second time, and they’re in the same place as they were back in the eighth edition. They’re 13 points out from the second wild card position in the east, and sit in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve yet to record a win in 2022, while having gone are 2-5-3 in their past 10 games and winless in their past seven.
This is far off from where the THW Staff projected they’d be at the start of the year. They’re one of the worst goals-for and goals-against teams in the league, which is exemplified on their recent skid. They’ve scored 14 goals while allowing 28. Carter Hart has stared four of their past five games. In their two losses this past week, they’ve allowed six goals while scoring four.
Their past two games against the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers showed some signs of improvement; they came back before ultimately losing against Boston and then blew a short-lived 2-1 lead against New York. Add an overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks the week prior, and they have seen some improvements relative to their previous losses.
A big problem is that the team really lacks offensive depth. Add that to some inconsistent goaltending and you’ll have a team that is floundering in mediocrity. They’re falling deeper and deeper out of the playoff race, but not deep enough to have a good shot at a top-five pick.
Following a COVID-19-related schedule change, they’ll have four games this upcoming week. The Flyers need to capitalize on these matchups and find a way to pull out a win following this string of close games before it’s too late. If they can create some sort of traction over the next few weeks, general manager Chuck Fletcher may look to the trade market to find something to push them back into playoff contention. However, a lot needs to go right in order for that to happen.
Stars Need To Find a Way To Win on the Road To Help Turn Recent Play Around
Is their third Weekly Lost & Found appearance the charm for the Stars, having been found once and lost once? Evidently, no it’s not. The Stars are just four points out of the second wild card position, but lost three-of-four games this past week, and allowed a touchdown to the Florida Panthers.
They beat the Seattle Kraken 5-2 for their lone win, which isn’t saying much at this point as they’re on a six-game losing streak, but were written about too recently to make this list. They scored just three goals in their three losses, while allowing 12. The three losses came on the road, where the Stars really struggle. They’re the second-worst road team in the NHL with a 4-12-1 record.
The goaltending has been a bit more of a bright spot than the offense, as the team has trouble scoring goals and not a lot of depth. Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger have led the way, with Anton Khudobin filling in as needed due to injury and COVID protocols. Holtby and Oettinger combine for a respectable 2.52 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%). This is good to see, considering they have one of the worst penalty kills in the NHL.
Joe Pavelski has been fighting off the hands of time and leading the team in scoring. Youngsters Jason Robertson, Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz have been carrying the load offensively, but that’s about it, which it’s a major part of the problem.
The Stars take on Montreal, Buffalo and Detroit this week. While there’s no guarantees in the NHL, or sport in general, these are games they should really capitalize on. Detroit is just a point above them, and have played four more games, but the other teams are below them in the overall league standings. This will be an important week for Dallas.
Found: Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings Among Hottest Teams in NHL
Bruins Stars Lead the Way as a Familiar Face Returns
The Bruins are back in the “found” column as they’ve rifled off five straight wins, including four this past week and eight in their past 10 games. Over the last week, they’ve scored 19 goals and allowed just nine.
It all seems to be clicking for them of late. Their power play is eighth in the league at 23.8%, with Brad Marchand sitting tied for fourth in the NHL with 17 power-play points. Their penalty kill is at 83.2%, tied for seventh in the NHL. They’ve won 53.8% of faceoffs for fourth-best, which is instrumental to any team’s success.
It’s the members of the recently broken-up Perfection Line that lead the way offensively for the Bruins. They’ve combined for 47 of the team’s 111 goals, or 42%. Marchand’s 43 points in 30 games is eighth in the league. More on him, despite missing five games, he’s on pace for 55 goals and 118 points over an 82-game span. Thus blowing his career-highs out of the water.
While the goaltending duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark has been dependable this season, they have added a familiar face back to the mix. Tuukka Rask has rejoined the team, and won his first game back in black and gold.
They hold the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference by seven points, and are five points out of third in the Atlantic Division, trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have at least a game in hand on both teams. While they won’t be seeing the Leafs this month, this week they’ll take on the powerful Carolina Hurricanes, as well as a Washington Capitals team they put up a touchdown against, before finishing off against the Winnipeg Jets.
Veterans Lead the Way as Kings Look To Extend Four-Game Winning Streak
The Kings’ veterans got them the nod for the inaugural “found” team in the first Weekly Lost & Found edition, and now in the 14th edition, they’ve returned and found themselves in the same spot. They’re riding a four-game winning streak, and have won seven of their past 10 games, which includes three this past week.
They outscored opponents 12-4, never allowing more than two goals. Their stingy defense has been on display all year, as they allow just 2.53 goals-against per game, the fourth-best in the NHL. What’s even more impressive is that their special teams are among the worst in the league. Their 16.7% power play is 24th-ranked, and their 75.5% penalty kill is 27th.
Much like in their first appearance here, veterans are helping lead the charge. At 34 years old, Anze Kopitar is leading the team offensively with 34 points in 38 games, and 31-year-old Drew Doughty has 19 points in 19 games on the blue line.
Goaltending has been one of the leading factors for their success, led by Jonathan Quick. At 35 years old, the Milford, CT. native has an 11-8-4 record with two shutouts, a 2.38 GAA and .921 SV% in 23 games. Cal Petersen has played well in 14 games, and Garret Sparks as well, though he’s only been called on when needed and played in two games.
The Kings are in an interesting spot. They’re second in the Pacific Division, and have games in hand on the two teams closest to them, while the two Albertan teams a bit farther off have games in hand over them. They’ll take on one of those teams in the Sharks, before playing three non-divisional games this week. They’re the only team in the division currently on a winning streak, and should look to capitalize on that while they have the chance.
Given each conference’s respective playoff picture, these upward and downward trending teams are all in interesting positions. There’s still a lot of hockey left, and anything is possible, but changes may need to be made for those lost teams to really have a shot. Stick with the THW staff for those respective teams for more as the season moves forward.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.