Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Cold dose of reality
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Cold dose of reality
Reality is setting in for the pretenders around the NHL even if the woeful Colorado Avalanche are the only team that’s been officially, and mercifully, eliminated at this point.
The New Jersey Devils have lost 10 in a row while dropping like a stone in the powerful Metro Division with zero hope of the playoffs. The equally doomed Carolina Hurricanes have lost 12 of 16 while becoming an easy mark over the past month. The Buffalo Sabres have lost 9 of 11, the Detroit Red Wings 5 of 6 games and the Winnipeg Jets four in a row while allowing a sieve-like 18 goals in the process.
The lone exception is the Arizona Coyotes, who have somehow won three in a row amidst the turmoil of where their long-term home is going to be. So, clearly there is still some hope for the Desert Dogs on the horizon, but it’s a dark time of year for so many also-rans just playing out the string in this season’s final months.
Anyway, without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (45-17-7, previous ranking: 1)
The Capitals have lost some games and endured a 10-game goal-less stretch from Alex Ovechkin, and those are warning signs for the playoffs. But they hang onto the top spot for at least one more week.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (43-16-9, PR: 3)
You’ve got to be pretty good if you have two legit Hart Trophy candidates on your team and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both legit Hart Trophy candidates. So, the Penguins are pretty good.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (44-18-6, PR: 5)
The Blue Jackets have gone 9-3-1 in their past 13 games and are again surging toward the top in the home stretch of the season. Man, that Metro Division playoff bracket is going to be an absolute battleground.
4. Chicago Blackhawks (44-20-5, PR: 3)
The Blackhawks are 14-3-0 in their past 17 games since the beginning of February and are just rolling as they steam into the postseason. They should be the odds-on favorites to come out of a down season in the Western Conference.
5. Minnesota Wild (43-19-6, PR: 2)
The Wild have scored two goals or less in five of seven games this month and they’ve lost five of seven. Minnesota has had a great year, but they feel like a giant bust once they get to the playoffs to me and that’s about par for the course for Bruce Boudreau.
6. San Jose Sharks (42-20-7, PR: 6)
Jumbo Joe Thornton is hitting some pretty big milestones in his NHL career these days and it’s kind of perfect timing because he’s hiding most of them in his beard.
7. New York Rangers (44-24-2, PR: 8)
The Rangers have lost two of three games since Henrik Lundqvist went down to injury and it looks like they’re going into the postseason going the wrong way. Still, at least the Blueshirts built up a huge cushion headed into the final stretch, so the playoffs should be there regardless.
8. Ottawa Senators (39-22-7, PR: 9)
Guy Boucher is a Bond villain sent from the past to kill the entertainment value of hockey, but there’s no denying that it’s been effective for the Sens this season. They may even finish in first place, which would prove they’re more than just a systems team.
9. Montreal Canadiens (39-23-8, PR: 7)
The Canadiens are 8-4-0 under Claude Julien and Carey Price is putting up brilliant numbers since then. The offense for the Habs? Well, that’s a different story entirely.
10. Calgary Flames (39-26-4, PR: 16)
It’s 10 wins in a row for the Flames as they continue to surge up the standings in the West, and help punch their ticket for the playoffs. Johnny Gaudreau has been a wizard with the puck for a Calgary team that should be fun to watch.
11. Anaheim Ducks (36-23-10, PR: 12)
Impressive wins over the Blackhawks and Capitals this month, and the Ducks haven’t loss by more than a goal all month when they do fall. It definitely feels like the Ducks are slipping into playoff mode and they should be a handful given their depth and toughness.
12. Edmonton Oilers (36-24-9, PR: 11)
The Oilers are 4-5-1 in their past 10 and have hit a bit of a bump in the road. The concern is now that they’ve burned out goalie Cam Talbot too much, which could lead to their quick undoing in the postseason.
13. Boston Bruins (37-26-6, PR: 13)
The Bruins have won 11 of 14 and continue to push hard for the postseason. They’re amidst a Western Canada trip right now and Brad Marchand is amidst a very real candidacy for the Hart Trophy after his third-period hat trick against the hated Canucks.
14. St. Louis Blues (36-27-5, PR: 16)
The Blues have won five in a row after losing five in a row and look like they’re locking up a playoff spot even after selling off on Kevin Shattenkirk. That’s the best of both worlds for St. Louis, and a long-term path more teams should embrace when they’re merely a bubble team.
15. Nashville Predators (30-23-11, PR: 14)
The good news for the Predators is that they’re trending for a playoff spot and Viktor Arvidsson is having a breakthrough campaign with 24 goals and 50 points. With their goaltending, they’ve always got a shot in the playoffs with their ramped-up offense.
16. Tampa Bay Lightning (34-26-9, PR: 19)
The Lightning have won four in a row and are getting closer to expecting Steve Stamkos back. It looks like the Bolts are not so dead after all, and are a very real threat to some of the other bubble playoff teams in the East.
17. New York Islanders (33-25-11, PR: 15)
Brooklyn, we have a problem. The calls from Isles fans to bring Jaroslav Halak up from the AHL as the puck-stopping savior could also be labeled the sounds of desperation.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs (31-23-14, PR: 18)
While the Leafs rookies have been awesome this season, they are now learning some lessons about how much more difficult the NHL can be down to the wire. A 7-2 loss to a desperate Florida Panthers bunch is the latest sign that Toronto is encountering some issues.
19. Los Angeles Kings (33-29-7, PR: 17)
Just four wins in their past 10 games and two losses in a row are the death throes for a once-proud Kings group. Barring an epic winning streak to close out the season, the Kings won’t be so kingly this spring.
20. Florida Panthers (30-27-11, PR: 20)
Too little, too late for the Panthers, who really couldn’t afford to lose Roberto Luongo to injury. Florida has lost four of five since the injury and needed to provide James Reimer with seven goals for his only win this month.
21. Philadelphia Flyers (31-29-8, PR: 21)
When you lose three in a row to Toronto, Boston and Columbus this time of year, it’s a pretty unmistakable message that they’re more worthy of the playoffs than you are. It’s amazing to think the Flyers will miss the postseason after their epic winning streak earlier this season, but mediocre-to-bad goaltending is almost impossible to overcome.
22. Winnipeg Jets (30-33-7, PR: 22)
The bottom is dropping out for Winnipeg now with four losses in a row and no shot to get back into the periphery of the playoff picture. They’ve been outscored 18-10 in the past four games, and once again have major goaltending and defensive issues.
23. Buffalo Sabres (28-30-12, PR: 23)
The Sabres have lost 9 of 11 and are ending their season with a whimper. That’s not a good look for Dan Bylsma or Tim Murray and has got to be bitterly disappointing for fans in Buffalo who were excited for this season.
24. Carolina Hurricanes (28-27-12, PR: 24)
The Hurricanes have lost 12 of 16 and are another team that’s seen playoff hopes dashed and is instead trying to play the disappointing role of spoiler. That’s a tough way to go through life in the NHL.
25. Vancouver Canucks (28-32-9, PR: 25)
Mumps, food poisoning, general malaise. The Canucks are being hit on all sides right now, and watching Brad Marchand drop a third-period hat trick on them on Monday night was the latest indignity.
26. New Jersey Devils (25-31-12, PR: 26)
The Devils have lost 10 in a row and taken points in just two of those 10 games. It’s safe to say that reality has set in for a no-name team that couldn’t muster much of anything outside of Taylor Hall and Cory Schneider and needs to hope they can find something moving forward to the future.
27. Detroit Red Wings (26-30-11, PR: 27)
The Red Wings have lost five of six this month while coming to the end of their Western Canada trip and will miss the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. It’s high time that Detroit embraced the pain and fully rebuilt for the future rather than reloading on the fly.
28. Dallas Stars (27-32-10, PR: 28)
The Stars have lost three in a row and seem to finally be coming to terms with their fate this season as evidenced by Jamie Benn’s downcast meeting with the press recently. This team was a mess and a monumental disappointment in Big D, so you have to wonder what changes might be coming in the future.
29. Arizona Coyotes (26-35-8, PR: 29)
The Coyotes have won three in a row and are making noise informally about signing BU standout Clayton Keller after the season. Presently, the young and improving Coyotes simply need to work on not getting Shane Doan killed during pregame warm-ups
30. Colorado Avalanche (19-46-3, PR: 30)
It’s wholly appropriate that the Avalanche have become the first team to officially get eliminated from playoff contention. Colorado has been an unmitigated disaster and failing to sell off a lot of players was an equally disastrous mess from the Avalanche management group.