Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings
The Stanley Cup playoffs are only a few weeks away now.
Teams like the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights are sprinting toward the finish, and certainly look like they’re going to be hitting all cylinders as the playoffs begin.
One thing to watch this coming week? It’s next week’s Monday night showdown between the Bruins and Tampa Bay in Tampa as a possible preview of the second round of the postseason. The B’s may be the NHL’s best hope to take out the Lightning in the early going of the postseason based on the current playoff structure. But they’ll need to show it if they’re up for the responsibility and they’ll get a chance to do that in the regular season showdown in the Bolts’ building.
So that will be the marquee matchup next week as it could be the top two NHL teams both coming out of the same division. Wouldn’t that be something?
Now on to the power rankings:
31. OTTAWA SENATORS (25-41-6)
The 9-25-2 record on the road for the Ottawa Senators is one of those numbers that stands out for its dreadfulness. It’s almost unfair that team has to finish out the season at this point, but that’s why they’re paid.
30. LOS ANGELES KINGS (25-39-8)
The Kings have lost three in a row and are sporting the worst goal differential (minus-60) in the NHL this season. That thud you heard was them hitting rock bottom in the Western Conference.
29. DETROIT RED WINGS (26-37-10)
The Red Wings are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and have dropped 12 of their last 15 games. It’s kind of sad when the Wings are as irrelevant as they are in the NHL right now. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
28. ANAHEIM DUCKS (30-35-9)
The Ducks have won a couple of games in a row and they’re not dead last in the Pacific. So they have that going for them, which is nice.
27. NEW JERSEY DEVILS (27-38-9)
The Devils have lost a couple of games in a row while settled into the bottom of the Metro Division. It’s been a tough row while missing guys like Taylor Hall for big chunks of the second half.
26. VANCOUVER CANUCKS (31-32-10)
The Canucks are six points out of a playoff spot and have won a couple of games in a row. Is it possible with this young team? It’s probably not, but the Canucks are making it interesting anyway.
25. EDMONTON OILERS (32-34-7)
The Oilers have lost a couple of games in a row after a nice little run, and are headed off into the sunset in the Pacific Division. Better to start from scratch next season.
24. NEW YORK RANGERS (28-32-13)
The Rangers have lost five games in a row and are sinking to the bottom of the Metro Division in their rebuild efforts. It’s a shame there will be no Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
23. BUFFALO SABRES (31-32-9)
The bottom is falling out for the Sabres with a 2-7-1 record in their last 10 games, and it was really obvious when Jack Eichel was out suspended for a couple of games. The Sabres are just too young and not deep enough as a group right now.
22. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (35-30-8)
It’s all Gritty all the time for a Flyers team that’s out of the playoff loop at this point. Tough times on Broad Street.
21. FLORIDA PANTHERS (32-29-12)
Back-to-back losses to the Ducks and the Stars have the Panthers hitting hard times on their West Coast trip. Six losses in a row followed by four wins in a row, and now two straight losses. Streaky group.
20. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (32-30-10)
Amazingly the Blackhawks are still within shouting distance of a playoff spot while last in the Central right now. It doesn’t feel like they’ve got a run in them, though.
19. COLORADO AVALANCHE (32-29-12)
The Avalanche are outside the playoff pole position right now, but they scored a big 3-1 win over the Wild in their last game. The Avs are still kicking and they have the talent to get in the postseason and make some noise.
18. MINNESOTA WILD (34-31-9)
The Wild are hanging around, but they’ve also lost a couple of games in a row while trailing the Coyotes for the last playoff spot. It’s the battle of who could care less, as Ben Folds once said.
17. ARIZONA COYOTES (36-31-6)
The Coyotes have put themselves in a playoff spot, but they’re riding a two-game mini-slump. It’s good for them that the Wild have lost a couple of games in a row as well.
16. DALLAS STARS
The Stars are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and making their push to the postseason. They are fortunate that there are plenty of playoff openings in the West right now.
15. MONTREAL CANADIENS (38-28-7)
The Habs have lost five of their last eight games and seem to be limping toward the end with some real trouble scoring. It would be too bad if they end up outside the playoff bubble after a surprisingly good season.
14. ST. LOUIS BLUES (38-27-8)
St. Louis gets Vladimir Tarasenko back and promptly routs the Oilers. Things are back to normal for the Blues as they get ready for their own playoff run.
13. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (40-29-4)
The Blue Jackets still have a narrow grip on the last playoff spot in the East, but they’ve lost two games in a row while remaining barely ahead of the Montreal Canadiens.
12. CAROLINA HURRICANES (40-25-7)
The Hurricanes have won 12 of their last 16 games and continue to push toward the postseason. What a bunch of jerks, right Grapes?
11. VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (41-27-5)
The Golden Knights have won three games in a row and gone 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, and continue to trend upward toward the end of the regular season. Could lightning strike again for them this postseason?
10. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (39-24-11)
The Penguins have lost three in a row, but also keep picking up points while going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. Sid the Kid and Geno Malkin will make sure they play with the heart of a champion when the playoffs open.
9. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (42-27-5)
The Predators have won three games in a row and continue to push with Winnipeg for overall supremacy in the Central Division. Nashville will be a tough draw for anybody in the postseason.
8. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (42-24-7)
The Isles have had a pretty good regular season, but boy did they look tired in a 5-0 loss to the Bruins on Tuesday night. The hard-driving Barry Trotz-style might be starting to wear on them.
7. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (43-25-5)
The Leafs have lost two games in a row and are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games while sputtering along. Could they be easy prey in the first round of the playoffs for the Bruins, or whoever else might be in their sights?
6. WINNIPEG JETS (43-25-4)
The Jets have won three games in a row and Mark Schiefele has been posting big numbers at the same time. Winnipeg is another team that seems to be peaking at just the right time.
5. SAN JOSE SHARKS (43-22-8)
The Sharks have lost three games in a row and have dropped back behind the Flames in the Western Conference a bit. They should still be a powerhouse in the playoffs based on the roster.
4. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (43-23-7)
Nine wins in their last 11 games as they put up big offensive numbers and have climbed to the top of the Metro Division. It sure looks like the Caps are peaking at the right time.
3. CALGARY FLAMES (45-21-7)
The Flames continue to look like the class of the Western Conference, and Matthew Tkachuk has been on fire for them. It will be interesting to see how a run-and-gun, younger team fares in the playoffs after a great regular season.
2. BOSTON BRUINS (44-20-9)
The Bruins have righted the ship with a couple of wins in a row and David Pastrnak is back and healthy. Now they’re just looking to settle in as the second-best team in the NHL this season.
1. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (56-13-4)
116 points. A plus-96 goal differential. A five-game winning streak and continued dominance as the days run down on the regular season. The Tampa Bay Lightning look like a super-team hellbent on NHL destruction.