NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup playoffs edition
NHL Power Rankings
CSN's Charlie Roumeliotis ranks all 16 NHL teams heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
16. Ottawa Senators (44-28-10, 98 points)
The Senators are the only playoff team with a negative goal differential (minus-2), and are also in the bottom third in possession numbers. That's not a great recipe for success in the postseason. They've gotten by on the shoulders of potential Hart Trophy finalist Erik Karlsson along with solid goaltending by Craig Anderson and Mike Condon.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (40-27-15, 95 points)
The Maple Leafs might've been the league's best story this season, working their way into the playoffs led by a star-studded rookie class of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and second-year William Nylander. But the uncertainty surrounding injured starting goaltender Frederik Andersen is a concern, and playoff experience is so valuable, which they have little of. Not to mention drawing the worst possible opponent in the first round: No. 1 Washington.
14. New York Rangers (48-28-6, 102 points)
The Rangers have been a below average team over the last month and a half, finishing the season with an 8-9-4 record in their final 21 games. Perhaps Henrik Lundqvist's injury played a role — as well as their motivation level by sitting in the first wild card position for so long — but they're a bottom-five possession team and lack offensive playmakers. Their defense also isn't as good as it's been in the past, which is usually something they can fall back on. The Rangers will have to bank of their playoff experience and future Hall of Fame goaltender for a deep run.
13. Nashville Predators (41-29-12, 94 points)
The Predators have had a roller coaster year, sometimes looking like a real contender and other times looking like a non-playoff team. They haven't been able to put together a consistent effort over the long term. Which team will show up in the postseason?
12. Calgary Flames (45-33-4, 94 points)
The Flames ended the year on a 21-9-1 run, and have finally looked like the team many thought it would at the beginning of the season. They have an intriguing combination of youth, skill, size, grit and playoff experience, and will be a nightmare to deal with. Brian Elliott has also been one of the league's best goaltenders in the second half, and can steal a round by himself if he needs to.
11. St. Louis Blues (46-29-7, 99 points)
The Blues are one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs, finishing on a 15-2-2 run. They're clicking on all cylinders, and Mike Yeo has them playing an up-tempo style of hockey that's much better suited for this group. It will be interesting to see how they respond to last year's Conference Final run without three key leaders in Troy Brouwer, David Backes and Brian Elliott.
10. Boston Bruins (44-31-7, 95 points)
The Bruins are easily the sleeper to come out of the East, owning the best puck-possession numbers of any playoff team and having that playoff experience from their top guns. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have been terrific down the stretch, with Marchand playing his way into the Hart Trophy discussion. They've got a banged-up blue line with Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo, but are getting reinforcements with top prospect Charlie McAvoy.
9. San Jose Sharks (46-29-7, 99 points)
The Sharks ended the season by losing nine of their final 13 games, and lost two important players in Logan Couture (face) and Joe Thornton (leg) along the way. The latter is far more important than the team letting the Pacific Division title slip out of their hands. All signs point to Thornton playing in Game 1, but you have to wonder how healthy he'll be. If he and the Sharks are as close to 100 percent as possible, they have as good of a shot as any to come out of the West again.
8. Montreal Canadiens (47-26-9, 103 points)
The Canadiens are 16-7-1 since Claude Julien took over as head coach, and have lost back-to-back games in regulation only once under their new boss. They haven't dwelled on any losses, and have responded the right way. This isn't a team that's going to beat you on fire power, but their forward group is extremely difficult to deal with and it doesn't get any easier with Shea Weber as the No. 1 defenseman and Carey Price in goal.
7. Edmonton Oilers (47-26-6, 103 points)
The Oilers are a hard team to project going into the playoffs. They concluded the year by winning 12 of 14 games, and have the ability to be a surprise team in the West with Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid playing on another level and Cam Talbot emerging as a dark horse in the Vezina Trophy conversation. But they did finish in last place in the conference a year ago and are tasting the playoffs for the first time since 2006, so expectations should be tempered. And their first-round draw is the defending West champion San Jose Sharks, which is no easy task.
6. Minnesota Wild (49-25-8, 106 points)
The Wild were tail-spinning their way into the playoffs, but put together a four-game winning streak to end the season — albeit all against non-playoff teams. It's a good enough momentum-builder to start feeling good about yourselves again, though. The lineup on paper is not an issue with Minnesota. It's the psychological part it will be battling.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (50-24-8, 108 points)
The Blue Jackets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 comeback win over Toronto in the regular-season finale, and are entering the playoffs with some confidence. They're a young team that lacks a true superstar up front, but their four-line rotation makes them hard to defend. They also have one of the league's best young defensive cores in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, have the season's best goaltender manning the crease in Sergei Bobrovsky, and are solid on special teams. There are no glaring issues on paper, other than their lack of playoff experience.
4. Anaheim Ducks (46-23-13, 105 points)
It took a while for the Ducks to get going, but they finished the season on an absolute tear with a 14-2-3 record in their final 19 games. They're getting contributions from up and down the lineup, and their best players have been playing like it, particularly Ryan Getzlaf. The only concern is the health of their blue line. Cam Fowler remains out with a knee injury, and Hampus Lindholm just returned and will be asked to carry the bulk of the load.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (50-21-11, 111 points)
It's hard to imagine the Penguins repeating as champions without Kris Letang, who will not play in the playoffs due to a neck injury. But it's still a lineup that comes at you in waves, and possesses the best 1-2 punch up the middle in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The length of their run will be determined by health, plain and simple.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (50-23-9, 109 points)
After a long offseason to rest and recharge, the Blackhawks look primed to make another deep run this spring. They've gotten stellar goaltending from both Corey Crawford and Scott Darling all season, and have improved their puck possession numbers dramatically over the last three months. Artem Anisimov (leg) is expected to return for Game 1 of the first round, meaning they'll be as healthy as ever going into the playoffs.
1. Washington Capitals (55-19-8, 118 points)
The Capitals put themselves in great position once again to capture their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, securing home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Maybe it's said every year, but this team feels poised to make a deep run. They've got star power, a dangerous four-line rotation and deep defensive depth, a Vezina-caliber goaltender, and one of the best coaches behind the bench. Is this the year they finally put it all together?