Welcome to Week 3 of the TWC Postseason Player Rankings: Road to the Smythe! Here at TWC, we use a statistical model to effectively rank players on a week to week basis. The model takes into effect individual statistics including goals and assists, as well as possession metrics like CF%, SCF%, HDCF%, and a correction for PDO. Each statistical category is weighed and scored differently, giving each player a unique TWC Score that determines their ranking after each week. Don’t like where someone is ranked? Unfortunately, they will have to turn it around on the ice, as we take zero personal opinions into effect.
NEW FOR WEEK 3: Based on reader feedback, the model has been updated as a means of better capturing playoff performances. All numbers are now at all situations to account for power play and shorthanded performances.
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Top 30 Forwards
It’s officially Round 2. A trio of Game 7s last week sent home quite a few members of the previous top 30, allowing 13 new names to rise up the rankings. Among them is a new number one: Tomas Hertl. Hertl’s playoffs that is in a league of his own as of right now, he did after all made good of his guarantee to send the series against the Golden Knights to Game 7.
Hertl’s basically above 55% in all three possession metrics, nearly 60% in GF%, and is tied for second among non-eliminated players with 10 points so far. He’s running the San Jose offence right now and nobody on any team is close to having the same type of impact as he is on the Sharks….
Except for maybe Nathan MacKinnon. As promised, MacKinnon is up a whopping 16 spots to number two overall after another couple of strong games (and a larger sample size). He’s definitely benefiting from having such a capable supporting cast of Mikko Rantanen (third), Gabriel Landeskog (12th), and even Colin Wilson (26th) to help shoulder the load, but MacKinnon is the heartbeat of the Avalanche and the best hockey player on the planet still playing meaningful games in the best league.
If either the Sharks or Avalanche win the Cup, it’s Hertl or MacKinnon as the slam dunk favourite for the Smythe right now.
Other than MacKinnon, the biggest gainer this week is Brad Marchand, up 13 spots to fourth overall. Marchand has nine points in nine games and is above 53% in all three possession metrics. He’s been nothing short of spectacular this postseason, and surprisingly, hasn’t done anything too weasely compared to previous antics – yet.
Our previous leader, Jordan Eberle, is still in the top 10, but down seven spots to eighth overall this week. The Islanders have faced quite the test against the Hurricanes through two games so far, and if they want to climb back in the series, they’ll need more from their big guns of Eberle and Mathew Barzal, down 12 spots this week to 20th overall.
Now that we’re into Round 2, each of the eight remaining teams have players represented in the top 30. San Jose and Boston lead with five players each, while St. Louis and Columbus have just two.
Top 20 Defencemen
Another week with another number one defenceman, as Morgan Rielly’s Leafs were eliminated in Game 7 against the Bruins last week. Brent Burns now tops the chart, and is one of 12 new additions to the list this week. Burns is above 52% in all three possession metrics, and leads all defencemen with 11 points in nine games played. In fact, Burns sits tied for first overall in points among non-eliminated players. He’s picked up right where he left off after 82 regular season games.
Joining Burns is fellow Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, up 10 spots to number three this week. Karlsson is buoyed by amassing 10 assists in nine games; he’s underwater in both SCF% and HDCF%, and has been on the ice for 20 goals against (that’s seven more than the next closest player).
The biggest drop this week is Avalanche rookie Cale Makar, who, after a larger sample size of games, has fallen a bit closer to Earth. Makar’s first few games in the first round against the Calgary Flames went about as well as it could have possibly gone, but he’s now facing some adversity against the Sharks. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it and how he factors into Colorado’s success.
All remaining teams have at least two defencemen in the top 20; four teams have three. It’s a fairly even spread so far, with most teams’ top blueliners in the mix.
Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer has finally faced some quality shots and sustained pressure courtesy of the Sharks. As a result, he is this week’s biggest drop (of significance), down five spots to sixth overall. Grubauer has just a .855 HDSV%, a much lower figure than in his first round series against the Flames. he’ll have to start making more big saves if the Avs are to advance past the Sharks.
This week’s biggest gainer is Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. He’s been sensational so far in these playoffs and is the only goaltender sporting a HDSV% greater than .900 other than…
Robin Lehner, the new number one goalie. Despite dropping the first two games of his second round series against the Hurricanes, Lehner has been nothing short of spectacular for the Islanders. He currently has a .955 HDSV%, and has allowed just nine goals so far in these playoffs. No goalie who has played more than two games has allowed fewer goals than Lehner. Right now, if the Islanders were to win the Stanley Cup, Lenher would be the easy choice for the Conn Smythe.
Curtis McElhinney did a great job in relief of Petr Mrazek after he was injured in Game 2. He stopped all 17 shots he faced and earned the win to put the Hurricanes up two games to none, but it’ll be a tough task going toe-to-toe with Lehner. It will be interesting to see if he’s up to the task.
What are your thoughts? Are you surprised where your favourite players landed this week? Let us know at @wincolumnblog.