Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: On to the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Credit to the Tampa Bay Lightning for making a mockery of the NHL regular season and racking up 62 wins and 128 points this season, and very nearly re-wrote the NHL record books. Credit to the Bruins and Maple Leafs for making the Atlantic Division live up to the hype as the NHL’s best division, and credit to teams like the Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars for surprising when many thought they wouldn’t be playoff-caliber this season.
There were great team and individual accomplishments during the regular season, and there were some real low points — like anything having to do with the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils or Ottawa Senators. But now it’s on to the best part of the hockey season in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or as it’s otherwise known as the best postseason in all of professional sports. But here’s one last look at what went down in the NHL regular season.
On to the power rankings:
31. Ottawa Senators (29-47-6)
The NHL season is over. That was the best moment from the Ottawa Senators highlight reel from the 2018-19 season.
30. Los Angeles Kings (31-42-9)
Drew Doughty wasn’t good. Anze Kopitar wasn’t good. The season in L.A. was so bad it even dragged down their really good players.
29. Detroit Red Wings (32-30-10)
The Red Wings were competitive all the way to the very end, and they clearly value the job that Jeff Blashill has done coaching them. But Detroit really needs something to start hanging their hockey hat on again.
28. Edmonton Oilers (35-38-9)
The Oilers got great individual seasons from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and that’s a good thing. But there is so much turmoil with the rest of that roster right now.
27. New Jersey Devils (31-41-10)
The Devils stunk up the joint and now they get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. So that’s why Ray Shero had the wide smile on his face before the draft lottery went down.
26. New York Rangers (32-36-14)
There really wasn’t much to write home about for the Rangers, who are now on the lookout for a new President with Glen Sather appearing ready for something other than a rebuild job on Broadway.
25. Anaheim Ducks (35-37-10)
The Ducks actually finished with a flourish winning seven of their last 10 games, and ripping off three in a row to end their season. Which begs the question: Where was that for most of the year?
24. Buffalo Sabres (33-39-10)
The Sabres limped to a 2-7-1 finish in their final 10 games and head coach Phil Housley was fired at season’s end. It’s the same old Buffalo.
23. Vancouver Canucks (35-36-11)
The Canucks finished outside the playoff pack, but they do have the probable Calder Trophy winner in Elias Pettersson. So that’s something at the very least.
22. Minnesota Wild (37-36-9)
The Wild were another Western Conference team that went 3-6-1 in their final 10 games and blew a chance at a playoff spot. It’s a little less surprising after they sold off Charlie Coyle at the trade deadline.
21. Philadelphia Flyers (37-37-8)
The Flyers dropped five in a row to end the regular season and now have a long summer to rebuild, reload and figure out a way to make things good on Broad Street once again.
20. Chicago Blackhawks (36-34-12)
After spending nearly the entire season in last place in the Central Division, the Blackhawks somehow finished ahead of the Minnesota Wild at the very end. I guess that’s something.
19. Florida Panthers (36-32-14)
It was a great season for some individual players like Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov, but it’s also pretty clear that the Panthers need some direction. Joel Quenneville may be able to provide just that.
18. Arizona Coyotes (39-35-8)
The Coyotes were in a pretty good spot to make the playoffs, but they flat-out blew it down the stretch. It’s a good learning experience for a young team that’s on the rise.
17. Montreal Canadiens (44-30-8)
It’s a tough year for the Habs as they managed to get 96 points on the season, but couldn’t crack the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s always sad when there’s no postseason in Montreal.
16. Colorado Avalanche (38-30-14)
The Avalanche went 7-1-2 in their final 10 games to push into the final playoff spot, and now will be a tough first-round draw for the Calgary Flames. Is anybody else feeling the upset special?
15. Dallas Stars (43-32-7)
I wonder if the Stars ownership group has to do a big “I’m sorry” to Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn after they led Dallas to the playoffs this season?
14. Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4)
The Blue Jackets won seven of their final 10 games to beat out the Canadiens for a playoff spot, and could provide a real threat to the Lightning in the first round. That should be a really interesting series with Torts vs. Tampa.
13. Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7)
The Golden Knights won just three of their last 10 games to close out the season, but they should have an energized look with a guy like Mark Stone in a winning situation.
12. St. Louis Blues (45-28-9)
The Blues closed out their season on an 8-1-1 run in their final 10 games, and they have Jordan Binnington in the net as a legit goaltending weapon. It should be an interesting postseason for them.
11. Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7)
The Hurricanes won three games in a row to close out the season, and their fan base is pumped that they’re back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in almost 10 years. Should be a fun environment down there.
10. Winnipeg Jets (47-30-5)
The Jets went 4-5-1 down the stretch to fall into second place in the Central Division, but it still feels like they are locked and loaded for the postseason. Jets and Blues should be a solid first round series.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8)
The Leafs lost three games in a row and won only three of their last 10 games to close out the season, and it seemed like they really weren’t playing with a lot of confidence. That would seem to bode well for the B’s, right?
8. Nashville Predators (47-29-6)
The Predators won three games in a row to take the Central Division and will get the Dallas Stars as a potential first-round victim as a result. To the victors go the spoils.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12)
Even in a down season, the Penguins still managed to get to 100 points, and they will be a major problem in the Metro Division playoff bracket. Does Sid have one more run in him?
6. New York Islanders (48-27-7)
The hard-working Isles deserve all the credit in the world for their 103-point season, and certainly Barry Trotz played a big role in it all. But it feels like all that hard work isn’t going to play in the postseason when everybody is working hard.
5. San Jose Sharks (46-27-9)
It was good to see the Sharks get their stuff together and win a couple of games at the end of the regular season. But now it’s a question of getting that talent on the same page for the playoffs.
4. Washington Capitals (48-26-8)
The Capitals ended the season strongly and certainly will be a tough out in the playoffs after rising to the top of the Metro Division. At some point they will run out of gas, right?
3. Boston Bruins (49-24-9)
The Bruins end the season as the third best team in the league. It’s pretty much a bummer when the NHL’s best team is in your division given the playoff format, though.
2. Calgary Flames (50-25-7)
The Flames lost the last two games of the season and face a Colorado Avs bunch that ended their year on a flourish. Boy does this smell like a first round upset or what?
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16-4)
The Lightning came within five points of setting a new NHL record for points in a season. So yeah, they were pretty dominant.