Welcome to Week 6 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.
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Note: Rankings are updated up to games ending Sunday May 12. Stay tuned for Week 6 updates.
Top 20 Forwards
Only three teams remain. Tomas Hertl remains the most impressive overall player so far this postseason, with incredible possession stats (all three categories above 54%), and 15 points to go along with it. However, teammates Timo Meier and Logan Couture are right on Hertl’s tail, and if the playoffs ended today with a Sharks win, Couture would be the definite favourite to win the Conn Smythe. Couture has 20 points so far, 18 of them being primary points which surpasses Hertl’s total points entirely. This is one of the most interesting deviations from what our model shows, and the reason for this lies in the disparity between the two players to create scoring chances.
When looking at individual Corsi events for, scoring chances for, and high danger chances for, Hertl and Couture are worlds apart. Couture wins the Corsi battle 108-101, but Hertl wins in scoring chances 81-52 and in high danger chances 49-17. It’s just not close. So, while Couture is running away in the counting stats, Hertl is doing the heaviest lifting on the Sharks in terms of generating offensive chances. This is definitely something to keep an eye on as the playoffs progress…
Assuming the Sharks make it past this round. They’re currently down 3-2 to the Blues, who have seven of the top 20 forwards. The most valuable Blues forward so far has not been superstar Vladimir Tarasenko, though he has been excellent in the playoffs. Instead, it’s been winger Jaden Schwartz. Up one spot from last week, Schwartz is second overall with 12 goals, third overall with 16 points, and absolutely stunning possession numbers as well (62% CF, 60% SCF, 58% HDCF). Schwartz is a huge reason for the Blues being one win away from a Stanley Cup Final berth.
In the East, just the Bruins remain, lead by their dynamite top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak, currently at numbers four, five and seven respectively in the rankings. The Bruins are a deep, talented team and are the odds-on favourite to win the Cup right now, regardless of how the West ends up.
Top 10 Defencemen
A lot has been made of Erik Karlsson holding down one of the top spots in the rankings. His tendency to give up the puck at key times and be reckless in the defensive zone has been under fully scrutiny these playoffs, but there’s no arguing with the difference he’s made on the scoresheet. He currently sits at 55% CF, 52% SCF, and 50% HDCF; despite his defensive warts, he’s still coming out on top. And with 16 points, third overall in the league, he’s doing his part. Karlsson is an offensive defenceman, and he’s done that brilliantly for the Sharks so far.
Karlsson is second only to teammate Brent Burns, who is still having an excellent playoffs, despite the 5-0 beatdown in game five. He’s a key cog in the Sharks’ machine and he’ll need to bring his A-game to force game seven tonight.
One of the biggest gainers for defencemen this week is Blues defender Vince Dunn. Dunn has been tremendous this playoffs, and a nice surprise for the Blues blueline. He’s dominating possession and driving play for the Blues, currently at 59% CF, 56% SCF, and 51% HDCF.
It’s the same old story in the crease: Tuukka Rask is the best. The only goalie who is even close to Rask in this debate was Ben Bishop. Now that it’s just Rask, Binnington, and Jones left, it’s just not a fair race.
There is a very legitimate argument to be made that Rask has been the Bruins’ most valuable player this postseason, despite the great play from Bergeron and Co. Rask was one of the biggest reasons the Bruins even made it out of the first round, let alone sweep the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. If Boston won the Cup today, it would be a close vote between Rask and Bergeron for the Smythe.
Binnington has done a great job in the Blues’ crease, but he has had a few games that really haven’t gone his way. If he can continue to bounce back from those losses, the Blues are in fine shape to be the team to fight the Bruins in the final.
This is a big night. Jones will have to come up big for the Sharks, and judging from his season so far, he’s going to need all the help he can get.
What are your thoughts? Are you surprised where your favourite players landed this week? Let us know at @wincolumnblog.