One of the primary keys for a successful playoff team is to have few if not no weaknesses. Obviously, there are surprises, and some teams can have weaknesses and still go on a crazy run.
For example, last season, no one expected the Dallas Stars to go to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. But to increase the chances of ending up in the finals, teams need to play perfect games to overcome any flaws. So out of the teams this year, here are a few weaknesses to watch.
The success of Connor McDavid shadows the Edmonton Oilers. The man is a walking beast, but he can’t do it alone. Their forwards are on another level, but that alone can’t win a championship. Both of Edmonton’s goalies are over thirty and have some concerns.
his season, Mike Smith has been a truck, but will that continue. Mikko Koskinen has been a bad option as the Oilers’ second option. Especially in a high-scoring division, goaltending is vital. Unless the goalies continue playing great, Edmonton’s chances aren’t great.
New York Islanders
Following the injury to Anders Lee, the New York Islanders haven’t been the same. Lee’s role for the team was huge, and while they can fill some of it, the rest of it is the issue. First, the first line hasn’t been the same. Sure they do better when Leo Komarov is in, but he doesn’t contribute offensively to help Mathew Barzal enough.
Second, their power play has been abysmal. The Islanders tried a few different options out, but none have worked. In crucial playoff games, teams need to take advantage of these opportunities.
Their excellent goaltending and penalty killing make up for some of this lost void, but they will need to fix the power play struggles for the Islanders to succeed.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have always been successful during the regular season, but their playoff experiences have not been great. Similar to the Oilers, the Maple Leafs have goalies issues. Jack Campbell is inexperienced, and Frederik Andersen has been dealing with injuries, and when he is in the lineup, he hasn’t been great. Goaltending is the only weakness for Toronto but is a major one. With unreliable support behind the players, Toronto will need to be excellent on offense to keep up in the playoffs.
The Washington Capitals’ team isn’t getting much younger. Although Alex Ovechkin is hopeful of keeping playing, other long-time Caps will soon leave. Washington seems to follow the common weakness amongst the playoff teams. They have faced many issues surrounding their goaltending this season. When it all seemed okay, Vitek Vanecek got hurt in the first game, and veteran Craig Anderson filled in for him. In a tough series against Boston, Washington’s defense will need to step up to help Anderson in as many ways possible.