With each passing week, the NHL inches closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As the true contenders rise to the top, all focus is on the teams near the bottom of the standings. The race for both wild card spots is wide open in each conference. How much fluctuation will there be from now until the end of the regular season? Stay tuned and find out.
NHL Power Rankings: Predators Claim Top Spot
Here are the weekly NHL Power Rankings:
- Nashville Predators – Clearly the best team in the Western Conference and possibly the NHL. Even though their 10-game winning streak was halted, Nashville has the depth to be a Cup contender again this year.
- Tampa Bay Lightning – Still one of the elite teams in the NHL and best in the East, Tampa Bay has not been as dominant as they once were. Once Ryan McDonagh gets acclimated to the system, look to Tampa to roll.
- Vegas Golden Knights – A rough stretch of games over the past week for Vegas. Still, if this team gets home ice throughout the playoffs, they will be tough to beat.
- Boston Bruins – How much longer can the Bruins continue to win with key players out of their lineup? Once these players do come back the Bruins can contend for Stanley Cup. It is not out of the realm of possibility.
- Winnipeg Jets – Trying to keep pace with Nashville will be tough considering the rash of injuries the Jets are having. The main goal now is to stay healthy down the stretch.
- Toronto Maple Leafs – Sure Toronto would love to have Auston Matthews back in their lineup, but having a playoff spot pretty much locked up means the team does not have to rush him back.
- Pittsburgh Penguins – Pittsburgh has two legitimate Hart Trophy candidates on their team in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While Crosby has been good, Malkin has been much better and is the team’s MVP.
- Washington Capitals – Going forward the Capitals need Braden Holtby to play at an elite level. His play has dropped off and if Washington wants to make a deep run, Holtby will need to be the man.
- Minnesota Wild – While the Wild have been playing some excellent hockey, is this team a true contender for the Stanley Cup? The fact remains is that Eric Staal is having himself a great season.
- Florida Panthers – Despite their loss to Ottawa last night, the Panthers are playing some good hockey, especially on home ice. Do the Panthers have enough left in the tank to get into the playoffs?
- Dallas Stars – As Ken Hitchcock put it so gently, “this team is not playing the type of hockey conducive to winning.” If Dallas can fix their flaws they will be a tough out come playoff time.
- Colorado Avalanche – The little engine that could that continues to be a thorn in the side of teams in the Central Division. They may not be contenders, but Nathan MacKinnon is doing his best to get them there.
- San Jose Sharks – There are no concerns about a wild-card spot, the Sharks know continue to win and they have the second seed in the Pacific locked up.
- Anaheim Ducks – Ryan Miller did a great job filling in for John Gibson, Will the Ducks have enough steam left to pull an upset come playoff time?
- Philadelphia Flyers – Throughout the entire season, the Flyers have been a team of streaks. Petr Mrazek and Co. will be a tough first round divisional opponent for whomever they face.
- New Jersey Devils – Suddenly there is a goalie controversy with the Devils. Hanging on to their playoff lives by a thread, the Devils will need to ride their hot goalie in Keith Kinkaid down the stretch.
- Los Angeles Kings – Despite their hot start to the season, the Kings have come back to Earth. However, the Kings have the team to get into the playoffs. They need to play with more consistency.
- Columbus Blue Jackets – Who knew that Thomas Vanek and the other veteran players Columbus brought in were the missing link? Ever since those trade Columbus is playing much better. Still in a fight though.
- Calgary Flames – There is still hope for Calgary. Now with Mike Smith back in the lineup, the Flames are hoping they can turn things around and get back into the playoff race.
- St. Louis Blues – Is it too little too late for the Blues? St. Louis went back to Jake Allen after Carter Hutton’s injury. Will Allen get back to his All-Star level? If he can, the Blues may have shot to get back in the playoffs.
- Carolina Hurricanes – With all the changes in the management structure, do the Hurricanes have enough talent on the ice to get to the playoffs.
- Chicago Blackhawks – Despite a poor season such a poor season by the Blackhawks, the only constant has been Patrick Kane.
- Edmonton Oilers – It would have been great to Connor McDavid in the playoffs again. With his play recently, McDavid has put himself in the Hart Trophy conversation.
- New York Rangers – Another team that has a great home record, but away from Madison Square Garden, they only have 12 wins.
- New York Islanders – As John Tavares poetically said, “It’s just not fun anymore.” He got that right. The downward spiral may cost Doug Weight his job.
- Detroit Red Wings – My how the mighty have fallen. The Red Wings have a long way to go to get back to the team that went to the playoffs 23 straight seasons.
- Montreal Canadiens – Nothing has gone right for the Canadiens this season. This team by far has one of the worst road records in the league.
- Vancouver Canucks – Ever since the Canucks lost Bo Horvat, Vancouver has never been the same team. It seems like ages ago the Canucks actually started the season off winning some games.
- Arizona Coyotes – Over the past 10 games, the Coyotes might have played themselves out of the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes.
- Ottawa Senators – Do not call this team a spoiler, even though they are playing like one. The Senators are pesky and that is how they play every game.
- Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres cannot catch a break. Injuries continuously to mound up for Buffalo. They were already a bad team, the injuries just make them look worse.