NHL Weekly Stock Up, Stock Down: 4/08-4/15

NHL Weekly Stock Up Stock Down

The NHL playoffs are set to kick off on May 2nd. That means just over two weeks are remaining in the regular season. With each team set to play a handful of games as they close out their schedules, many postseason spots around the league are still up for grabs. The Dallas Stars currently hold a two-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Furthermore, the Boston Bruins are sitting three points up on the Washington Capitals for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Back with our weekly stock-up, stock-down article, the Toronto Maple Leafs are red hot as they look to lock up the second seed in the Atlantic Division. The St. Louis Blues are also beginning to roll heading into the final stretch.

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Stock Up: Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto is fresh off a dominant 7-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday Night. The team has now won three of their last four and eight of their last ten. Continuing to cement his status for the Hart Trophy as the season’s most valuable player, Auston Matthews eclipsed the 100-point mark for the first time in his young career. He is looking to become the first 60-goal scorer in the league since Steven Stamkos in 2011.

The 24-year-old center has scored four goals over his previous five contests to lead the NHL with 58. Looking as primed as ever to win their first playoff round in over 17 years, this is the deepest the group has been on defense in nearly a decade.

Stock Down: Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were losers of eight in a row to begin the month of April. However, Columbus rattled off victories in three of their last four games as they look to gain momentum to close out the season. Still, 16 points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Brad Larsen‘s group has a long way to go before they can become contenders again. Struggling to keep the puck out of the back of their net, the team ranks 29th in the NHL with 3.68 goals given up per game on average.

Furthermore, they are also allowing more than 35 shots on net each night. Set to undergo some interesting decisions in the offseason, the main question general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will face is what to do with pending RFA Patrik Laine.

Stock Up: St Louis Blues

Arguably the hottest club in the league, the Blues have earned points in their last 10 games. This has led them to leapfrog the Minnesota Wild for the second spot in the Central Division. As deep a group at forward as there is, Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko have both been outstanding for the team. Leading the way for St. Louis as their first-line center, the former has racked up 12 points in his last five contests to shatter his previous career-high, while the latter is fresh off a hat trick on Thursday night.

The most important thing for the franchise of late has been the play of goaltender Jordan Binnington. Undergoing massive struggles during the second half of the season, the 28-year-old net minder has stopped 65 of 68 shots over his last two starts.

Stock Down: Los Angeles Kings 

Quickly starting to stumble heading into the postseason, the Kings have lost four of their last five games. The team was knocked off by the Wild on Sunday before losing 9-3 to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. Unable to keep the puck out of the back of their net, both Jonathan Quick and Calvin Petersen have struggled mightily. Pulled early from his last start, Quick has lost two of his previous three games while posting under a .900 save percentage.

Not able to spell him in relief, Peterson has seen his goals-against average rise to 2.95 on the year. Currently set to square off with the high-flying Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the playoffs, Los Angeles received more bad news on Monday after it was revealed that star defenseman Drew Doughty would miss the rest of the season after undergoing wrist surgery.

Stock Up: Minnesota Wild

One of the stories of the season across the NHL, Ryan Hartman is continuing to enjoy the best campaign of his nine-year career. He is currently second on the team in goals (29). The former first-round pick has also set new career highs in assists (27) and shots (216) while averaging over 18 minutes of ice time a night.

Closing in on their third 100-point season in the past six years, Minnesota rattled off three consecutive wins over the Dallas Stars, Oilers, and the Kings. Capable of going on a run in the postseason, they are as fun to watch as any team in the game. Currently fifth in the league in offense, if their goaltending holds up in the playoffs, this is as dangerous a group as any.

Stock Down: Pittsburgh Penguins

Still, without Evgeni Malkin, as he serves his four-game suspension, the Penguins have dropped three of their last five games. The team is currently clinging to a five-point lead over the Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. Putting together one of the finest years of his 17-year NHL career at the age of 34, Sidney Crosby continues to lead the way for the team up front.

The former first overall pick has added eight points over his last five games to bring his season total up to 80. However, the group has struggled to generate on the offensive end behind their longtime captain. Bryan Rust has added just one point over his previous five contests, while Rickard Rakell has gone scoreless during his most previous seven.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
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