The Chicago Blackhawks held on to top spot in the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings, a post they held for every week since the third week of the 2013 NHL season.
Even though that is the case, it's not as though the Blackhawks are light years ahead of the competition. The Pittsburgh Penguins, ranked second, could be the top-ranked team if Sidney Crosby returns to the lineup. As it stands right now, Crosby's status remains questionable as he works to return from a broken jaw.
Gaining ground late in the season, the New York Rangers climbed from ninth to fifth in the rankings, their highest placement since being ranked second in the preseason.
Facing the prospect of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990, the Detroit Red Wings reeled off four decisive wins to finish the year and that late surge was enough to move up from 16th to 11th in the final rankings of the season.
The Dallas Stars, who lost five straight to end the year, were the one team to suffer a significant drop, going from 18th to 23rd, in the rankings.
Among Canadian teams, the Northeast Division was well-represented. The Ottawa Senators, with Erik Karlsson returning on defence, was ranked fourth; the Toronto Maple Leafs slipped a bit, to seventh, but it's still a lofty placement for a team that has spent a considerable amount of time ranked in the twenties in recent years.
Strangely enough, the Montreal Canadiens are ranked 10th amid questions about the quality of their goaltending. A late-season slump has left Carey Price below his customary level.
The Vancouver Canucks stumbled late, recording one regulation win in their last six games, and have injury questions hanging over their goaltenders, so the Canucks were ranked 14th.
As for the non-playoff Canadian teams, the Edmonton Oilers ended up ranked 20th, the Winnipeg Jets were 22nd and the Calgary Flames finished up 28th.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.