Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Bruins still No. 1
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings
The playoff matchups are starting to formulate, and teams such as the Boston Bruins are going to start resting veteran players such as Zdeno Chara. It’s another couple of weeks of games that should be exciting for those playoff bubble teams, but the real excitement will begin when the Stanley Cup playoffs get going on April 16.
With the teams long since back the Olympic break and teams looking to avoid injuries at all costs at this time of year, here are the rankings:
30. Buffalo Sabres (21-45-9, last week: 30) – You know your team is bad when they’ve only got four more wins for the entire season (21) than the backup goaltender (17) for the Bruins.
29. Florida Panthers (27-42-8, LW: 28) – Brad Boyes blasted the team for being unprepared to play amidst a four game losing streak. Yawn.
28. Edmonton Oilers (26-41-9, LW: 29) – I really thought Andrew Ference could help pull them out of this mess. Boy, was I wrong. They need much more help than that.
27. Calgary Flames (31-38-7, LW: 25) – Did Brian Burke make a bet that he won’t cut his hair until the Flames get back into the playoffs?
26. New York Islanders (30-35-10, LW: 27) – Boy, don’t the Islanders wish they still had that first round pick that they traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek. What a bum deal that turned out to be.
25. Winnipeg Jets (34-33-10, LW: 24) – Has anybody put out an APB for Evander Kane in the greater Winnipeg area? Tough to find him in a lot of the box scores lately. Two goals and a minus-8 in 15 games during the month of March.
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
24. Carolina Hurricanes (33-32-11, LW: 21) – Happy trails to Jim Rutherford as he gets kicked upstairs in the Carolina organization. It might be time for a different tack with the Hurricanes.
23. Ottawa Senators (32-29-14, LW: 23) – Daniel Alfredsson made the right call bolting for Detroit last summer, didn’t he?
22. Nashville Predators (33-32-11, LW: 22) – That’s two years in a row out of the playoff for Nashville. Wonder if GM Dave Poile opts for big changes this offseason, or if Poile himself is a part of those changes.
21. Vancouver Canucks (34-32-11, LW: 21) – Will it be Mike Gillis? Will it be John Tortorella? Will it be both?
20. Toronto Maple Leafs (37-32-8, LW: 19) – That weekend loss to Detroit showed the Leafs have no guts to check at this point.
19. New Jersey Devils (32-28-16, LW: 20) – The Devils are hanging off the edge of the playoff ledge, and another loss or two will drop them down for good. You feel like this has been a smoke and mirrors team all season.
MIDDLE OF THE SCRUM
18. Washington Capitals (34-29-13, LW: 17) – Four losses in a row for a Caps team that’s looked unprepared in do-or-die games down the stretch. They’re either regular season road kill or a first round victim at this point.
17. Phoenix Coyotes (36-27-13, LW: 14) – Dave Tippet finally benched Mike Ribeiro after he’d been mailing in performances for weeks. Tough to stomach that around playoff time.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets (38-30-7, LW: 15) – Ryan Johansen as a 30-goal scorer really snuck up on me. It’s been a great season for an exciting young player with the Blue Jackets.
15. Dallas Stars (37-27-11, LW: 18) – The Stars were impressive in a 5-0 spanking of the Capitals on Tuesday night as they drive strongly toward the postseason. The win LWend over the Blues was also a statement game for a young, hungry team.
14. Detroit Red Wings (35-26-14, LW: 16) – Pavel Datsyuk is on the verge of returning, and the Wings are on the verge of being very dangerous in the postseason.
13. Philadelphia Flyers (39-27-9, LW: 12) – They’re on a 4-0-2 run in their last six games against some pretty good competition, and look like they could be a dark horse choice to come out of the Metro Division.
A FIGTHING CHANCE
12. Minnesota Wild (39-26-11, LW 13) – Don’t you get the sense that Minnesota ownership wanted more out of this team after forking over big dough for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise a couple of years ago?
11. New York Rangers (43-30-4, LW: 11) – The bubble wrap is finally off after a shorthanded goal for Marty St. Louis on Tuesday night. It’s still strange to see him in a Rangers sweater.
10. Montreal Canadiens (43-27-7, LW: 8) – Thomas Vanek hitting a hot streak for the Canadiens, and their fan base is ecstatic for the postseason…just like they always are.
9. Los Angeles Kings (44-26-6, LW: 9) – The Kings have won six of their last seven, and are definitely peaking at the exact proper time for an experienced playoff bunch.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning (42-25-9, LW: 10) – Who would have thought this team would be in this position after losing Steve Stamkos for most of the season, and then trading away Marty St. Louis. It’s an amazing story.
7. Colorado Avalanche (48-21-6, LW: 7) – Colorado is winning hockey games right now, but losing Matt Duchene for a month really provides a crushing blow to their playoff hopes.
BEST OF THE BEST
6. Chicago Blackhawks (42-19-5, LW: 4) – The Blackhawks had better hope that Jonathan Toews is okay after that Brooks Orpik hatchet job the other night. Chicago is very beat up going into the postseason.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (48-23-5, LW: 6) – It was a big win on Sunday over the Blackhawks for a team that’s been in the playoffs eight straight years, but they’re looking more like a wounded lion at this point.
4. San Jose Sharks (48-20-9, LW: 3) – The Sharks are just maintaining going into the playoffs, and that’s all they need to do. That team has nothing to prove during the regular season.
3. Anaheim Ducks (49-18-8, LW: 5) – Both the Ducks and the Sharks are highly motivated to avoid the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs, a tough second place consolation prize in the Pacific Division.
2. St. Louis Blues (51-17-7, LW: 2) – The Blues have started losing a game here or there, but that was to be expected from the deepest, most well-rounded team in the Western Conference.
1. Boston Bruins (52-17-6, LW: 1) – The 15-1-1 month of March when they played 17 games in 30 days was one of the more impressive things I’ve ever seen from that club.