Haggerty’s NHL Power Rankings: Flyers making a run
Haggerty’s NHL Power Rankings: Flyers making a run
By Joe Haggerty, CSNNE.com Bruins Insider
One of the most enjoyable parts of the last month of the NHL regular season is watching teams go on absolute tears to get themselves into the playoff picture, and become the proverbial hot team headed into the playoffs. Playing that role this season is the Philadelphia Flyers, who stepped into the playoff picture this week after some major adjustment pains to Dave Hakstol’s system at the beginning of the year.
The coach and the players are on the same page now, and they have temporarily bumped the struggling Red Wings out of the picture. The Flyers are 10-2-2 in their past 14 games and have been led by young guys Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere as older, slower teams are wilting down the stretch. It will probably be up to the brilliance of Michael Neuvirth to see if the Flyers can stave off the Red Wings, or possibly even move up now that the Penguins will be missing Evgeni Malkin for essentially the rest of the regular season.
But the Flyers are on everybody’s radar now, and have become the “It” team in the NHL over the final month of the season.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (50-14-5, rank last week: 1)
The first team to clinch a playoff berth as they just keep rolling through the regular season. They haven’t hit much adversity this season, so I wonder what happens when the poop hits the fan in the playoffs.
2. Los Angeles Kings (42-22-5, LW: 5)
The Kings are 9-2-1 in their last 12 games, and finishing up strong in a statement to the rest of the Western Conference.
3. St. Louis Blues (41-22-9, LW: 3)
I think the Blues should be scaring a few teams out West. They’ve been banged up all year, but have continued to rise to the occasion while pushing Dallas for the top spot in the Central.
4. Dallas Stars (41-21-9, LW: 4)
The Stars have three wins in their last 10 games, and are having goaltending problems at the worst possible time. This looks like a team ripe for the picking in the postseason.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (41-24-6, LW: 2)
Four losses in a row to the Stars, Blues, Kings and Flyers have the Blackhawks dropping down in the Central, and tumbling in the rankings. They will no doubt be there when it matters, though. They’ve earned that right.
6. New York Rangers (40-23-7, LW: 7)
The Rangers are looking strong at this point, but it’s been a minimal impact from Eric Staal since arriving from Carolina at the trade deadline.
7. Florida Panthers (39-22-9, LW: 12)
The Panthers have reclaimed top spot in the Atlantic Division, and are 5-0-2 in their last seven games at the rocking BB&T Center.
8. Anaheim Ducks (38-22-9, LW: 6)
The Ducks have thrust themselves into a power position in the Pacific Division, and are now just preparing for the battles to come in the playoff bracket.
9. Boston Bruins (39-24-8, LW: 8)
The Bruins are 5-1-2 in the eight games since the trade deadline, but await some stiff competition in back-to-back games against Anaheim and Los Angeles at the end of this week.
10. New York Islanders (38-21-9, LW: 10)
Congrats to John Tavares becoming the first member of the 2009 draft class to reach 200 career goals when he scored against the Bruins last weekend.
11. San Jose Sharks (39-24-6, LW: 11)
The beards for Joe Thornton and Brent Burns are getting pretty fierce-looking, and the playoffs are still almost a month away.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning (40-25-5, LW: 9)
Losses in four of their last five games, including a rough defeat at the hands of the Maple Leafs. The Bolts just haven’t seemed right all season.
13. Nashville Predators (35-22-13, LW: 13)
The 14-game point streak is over for the Predators, but they’ve pushed themselves right back into the playoffs with their strong work down the stretch.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-24-8, LW: 14)
The Penguins have won three games in a row amidst the news that Evgeni Malkin is done for the next six weeks. Can they possibly keep it up?
15. Philadelphia Flyers (34-23-12, LW: 15)
The Flyers have taken 19 of their last 24 points while marching right into a playoff spot. Credit Dave Hakstol for a great job keeping the Philly players’ eyes on the prize.
16. Colorado Avalanche (36-31-4, LW: 17)
Mikkel Boedker is looking like a good acquisition for the Avs: three goals and five points in seven games since the NHL trade deadline.
17. Detroit Red Wings (34-25-11, LW: 15)
The Red Wings are 2-5-0 in seven games during the month of March, and are showing serious problems with their playoff push. What an ego stroke it would be for Mike Babcock if the Wings fall out of the postseason in his first year away from Motown.
18. Minnesota Wild (32-27-11, LW: 18)
It will come down to Minnesota or Colorado for the final playoff spot in the East, and it’s incredibly tough to get a read on which team it will be in the end.
19. Ottawa Senators (33-30-8, LW: 20)
It’s been a disappointing season in Ottawa, but credit to Zack Smith for his 21 goals this season. He’s really maximized his talent for the Senators in a supporting role this season.
20. Carolina Hurricanes (31-26-13, LW:19)
The Canes are only five points out of a wild card spot in the East, but it feels more like 25 points out at this point.
21. Arizona Coyotes (30-32-7, LW: 25)
The Coyotes have won a couple in a row since the return of Mike Smith from injury, but it’s a learning season for this group.
22. New Jersey Devils (33-30-7, LW: 21)
Dead last in the NHL with a team scoring 2.2 goals per game just ain’t going to get it done regardless of how good Cory Schneider had been between the pipes.
23. Montreal Canadiens (33-32-6, LW: 22)
Good to hear that P.K. Subban is going to be okay after that freak incident crashing into his own teammate. It’s been a tough season for that great hockey family.
24. Vancouver Canucks (27-30-12, LW: 23)
Second-worst goal differential in the Western Conference behind only the Edmonton Oilers. Jim Benning has a lot of work to do.
25. Calgary Flames (30-35-5, LW: 26)
Dougie Hamilton and Freddie Hamilton are finally getting their chance to play together at the NHL level. Their parents must be so excited.
26. Buffalo Sabres (28-33-10, LW: 30)
Jack Eichel leads the Sabres with 22 goals this season, and is putting together a very solid rookie season as a 19-year-old. He’s also finishing up strong for Buffalo, which is a good thing.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-33-8,LW: 24)
Cam Atkinson is a good player, but it’s not a great sign for the Blue Jackets when he’s the leading scorer on the team.
28. Winnipeg Jets (29-36-5, LW: 27)
A disappointing season for a team that was in the playoffs last year. They should be making some changes in the summertime.
29. Edmonton Oilers (28-38-7, LW: 29)
The Oilers are 6-5-1 in their last 12 games, and might have competed for the playoffs if guys like Connor McDavid and Oscar Klefbom had managed to stay healthy this year.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (24-34-11, LW: 28)
The Maple Leafs have been playing the spoiler down the stretch with wins over the Islanders, Lightning and Red Wings as Toronto simply plays out the string.