TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings
Updated: Monday, April 14, 2014 1:40 PM
The Stars and Devils are up while the Blues, Lightning and Coyotes are down in the season's final edition of of the NHL Power Rankings.
Follow Scott Cullen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen and e-mail him at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca.
Scott Cullen's Power Ranking Methodology is explained here. (Note: While all injuries are taken into account, those listed as Key Injuries for each team generally consist of top six forwards, top four defencemen and starting goaltenders.)
This Week1Last Week1Boston Bruins54-19-9
Sure, it was in the lesser Eastern Conference, but the Bruins finished atop the league standings, owned the best goal differential and had four regulation losses in 28 games against the West, so they aren't going to be overmatched, no matter the opposition.
Key Injuries: D Dennis Seidenberg (knee).
This Week2Last Week4Chicago Blackhawks46-21-15
The Blackhawks seem to be expecting C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane back from injuries, though there's probably a difference between being able to suit up in the playoffs and being at 100%. In any case, 11-11-1 in the last 23 games of the regular season isn't exatly entering the postseason on a high note.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week3Last Week3San Jose Sharks51-22-9
Relatively healthy, with the return of rookie LW Tomas Hertl (and potential return of hard-hitting LW Raffi Torres), the Sharks' reward for an 111-point season is a first-round matchup with the Kings, another bona fide Cup contender.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week4Last Week5Pittsburgh Penguins51-24-7
Placing the Penguins' fourth isn't so much a vote of confidence for a team that has one regulation win in the past seven, but it does factor in that the Penguins' defence ought to be improved with Paul Martin and Kris Letang returning to action and ignores G Marc-Andre Fleury's unfortunate recent playoff track record. Of course, they'd be even better if they could get Evgeni Malkin back at some point in the playoffs -- the earlier the better.
Key Injuries: RW Pascal Dupuis (knee), C Evgeni Malkin (foot).
This Week5Last Week2St. Louis Blues52-23-7
A team that previously hadn't lost more than two in a row all season, the Blues finished the year with six straight losses, scoring a total of five goals. Injuries are a major issue and the Blues would sink further if it turns out that first-liners C David Backes (foot) and RW T.J. Oshie (head) aren't ready for the start of the playoffs.
Key Injuries: RW Vladimir Tarasenko (hand), C Patrik Berglund (shoulder).
This Week6Last Week6Colorado Avalanche52-22-8
8-1-2 in the final 11 games of the season allowed the Avalance to finish with 112 points, tops in the Central Division. Like some other contenders, though, injuries could be a concern as top C Matt Duchene is recovering from a knee injury and rising star D Tyson Barrie was leveled against the Sharks Friday.
Key Injuries: RW Alex Tanguay (ankle), C Matt Duchene (knee).
This Week7Last Week8Anaheim Ducks54-20-8
9-2-1 in the final dozen games of the season, with seven of them going to goaltenders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, left the Ducks with the best record in the Western Conference. The young goaltenders have played well and may be difference-makers in the Ducks' postseason hopes.
Key Injuries: D Sheldon Souray (wrist).
This Week8Last Week7Los Angeles Kings46-28-8
The league's top possession team, the Kings won one of five to finish the year. Probably not coincidentally, D Drew Doughty was injured in the first of those five games, but is expected to return for the start of the playoffs. What the Kings could also use is another big playoff performance from G Jonathan Quick, who has only been okay during this regular season.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week9Last Week10New York Rangers45-31-6
9-2-2 in the last 13 games of the season, the Rangers have finished strong despite minimal contribution from trade deadline acquisition RW Martin St. Louis (1 G, 7 A in 19 GP), so they could be particularly dangerous if St. Louis gets on track for the postseason.
Key Injuries: LW Chris Kreider (hand).
This Week10Last Week13Dallas Stars40-31-11
8-5 in the final 13 games of the regular season was enough to land the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture, and the Stars could be lively 'dogs. They will need someone from the supporting cast to provide scoring, presuming that LW Jamie Benn and C Tyler Seguin -- who both finished in the Top 10 in league scoring -- can't do it alone.
Key Injuries: RW Rich Peverley (heart).
This Week11Last Week9Montreal Canadiens46-28-8
11-3-1 in the final 15 games of the season, the Canadiens hit 100 points for the second time in 21 seasons since their last Stanley Cup, and they're by no means dominant, but they're reasonably healthy and have a top tier goaltender in Carey Price, which could prove to be the difference against Tampa Bay in Round One.
Key Injuries: LW Alex Galchenyuk (lower body).
This Week12Last Week11Philadelphia Flyers42-30-10
Once they surged into a relatively safe playoff position, the Flyers finished the year with three regulation wins (vs. Toronto, Buffalo and at Florida) in the last dozen games and head into the playoffs with hopes that Steve Mason's career-best .917 SV% is an indication that he's ready to handle the responsibility as the No. 1 goaltender on a playoff team.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week13Last Week14Minnesota Wild43-27-12
Would be more bullish on the Wild's chances if goaltending was remotely reliable. As it is, Ilya Bryzgalov is the healthy one, and he's played well for the Wild, but this follows nearly 120 games of shaky performances in Philadelphia and Edmonton. If Bryz is merely solid, the Wild could upset the Avs in the first round.
Key Injuries: G Josh Harding (illness), G Darcy Kuemper (lower body).
This Week14Last Week16Columbus Blue Jackets43-32-7
7-3-1 in the final 11 games landed the Blue Jackets in the postseason for the second time in franchise history. It's largely a lunch-bucket group, though C Ryan Johansen and G Sergei Bobrovsky have the potential to make a difference and they'll have to if Columbus is going to upend the Penguins in the first round.
Key Injuries: RW Nathan Horton (lower body), LW Nick Foligno (lower body).
This Week15Last Week19New Jersey Devils35-29-18
Welcome to the best non-playoff team in the league this season, a Devils team with strong possession stats, a positive goal differential and a spectacularly abymsal 0-13 shootout record that made their overall record look far less impressive.
This Week16Last Week18Detroit Red Wings39-28-15
While the Wings are clearly underdogs against Boston in the first round, Detroit can, at the very least, make it interesting after finishing the season 16-9-4 (a 102-point pace) in the final 29 games. If C Pavel Datsyuk can bring the magic and LW Gustav Nyquist continues scoring like he has in the second half of the season, then maybe the result won't be a foregone conclusion.
Key Injuries: LW Henrik Zetterberg (back), D Jonathan Ericsson (finger).
This Week17Last Week12Tampa Bay Lightning46-27-9
The Lightning won their last four games, all of which came after the injury suffered by G Ben Bishop, yet the Bishop injury is the biggest concern for the Lightning, since the drop in play from Bishop (.924 SV%) to Anders Lindback (.888 SV%) is enough to affect the Lightning's hopes.
Key Injuries: G Ben Bishop (arm).
This Week18Last Week17Nashville Predators38-32-12
There has been talk of this being the end for head coach Barry Trotz in Nashville, but the Predators had one regulation loss in the final dozen games, so it's not like the coach lost the room of a team that was out of playoff contention thanks, mostly, to subpar goaltending with starter Pekka Rinne out for much of the year.
This Week19Last Week15Phoenix Coyotes37-30-15
Had a chance at a playoff berth, but were winless in seven before winning the final game of the year against Dallas, after the Stars had clinched the final playoff berth. Given the Coyotes' situation, they probably needed that playoff berth and the resulting revenue/increased interest more than most.
This Week20Last Week20Washington Capitals38-30-14
Despite a 4-0-1 finish to the year, the Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, which may cost some people (GM George McPhee and/or head coach Adam Oates) their jobs.
This Week21Last Week21Calgary Flames35-40-7
Going 19-13 in the final 32 games of the regular season showed a real competitiveness, for a team that was way out of it, and the Flames were so far out of it that, even with that strong finish, they're looking at a Top-5 draft pick, which should bring a quality asset as part of their rebuilding effort.
This Week22Last Week22Carolina Hurricanes36-35-11
A fifth straight season out of the playoffs is likely to bring change in Carolina, with rumours of GM Jim Rutherford being replaced by Ron Francis the starting point, though trades and a coaching change are possibilities too.
This Week23Last Week24Winnipeg Jets37-35-10
A middling team, which could be good enough for a playoff spot with improved goaltending, the Jets were 18-12-5 under Paul Maurice to finish the year, but they enter the offseason with a big question mark hanging over LW Evander Kane, after the 22-year-old was a healthy scratch in Toronto and finished with a lower points-per-game (0.65) than he had in the previous two years.
This Week24Last Week23Vancouver Canucks36-35-11
I'm not as down on the Canucks as some might be, following a season in which they finished with their lowest points percentage since 1998-1999, but the hiring of Trevor Linden as President of Hockey Operations requires some patience, given his inexperience and not knowing who will ultimately be his general manager.
This Week25Last Week25Ottawa Senators37-31-14
9-2-1 in the final dozen games, the Senators likely cost the Ducks a few spots in the draft, but the key to offseason improvements will likely be tied to how much they are willing to invest. A bargain roster this season wasn't good enough to make up for massive goaltending regression from their feel-good 2013 campaign.
This Week26Last Week26Toronto Maple Leafs38-36-8
One regulation win in the final 16 games cost the Maple Leafs what appeared to be a gift of a playoff berth and that brings change. First off, Brendan Shanahan is coming in as President of Hockey Ops and that could affect the current brain trust, including GM Dave Nonis and head coach Randy Carlyle. Though it's also possible that the same crew returns next season, chalking up this season's disappointment to mysterious ways of their late-season slump.
This Week27Last Week28New York Islanders34-37-11
Despite mediocre goaltending, the Islanders were still competitive after the Olympics, going 11-7-3, despite missing C John Tavares due to injury and subsequently trading LW Thomas Vanek. The silver lining was that a lot of prospects got good looks late in the season.
This Week28Last Week27Edmonton Oilers29-44-9
Despite LW Taylor Hall's 80-point season, the Oilers were a long way from competing for a playoff spot, their eighth straight seasons on the outside looking in (since their 2006 Cup Final run). Thus, more change has to be on the way this summer, with defensive improvement priority No. 1.
This Week29Last Week29Florida Panthers29-45-8
Rookie C Nick Bjugstad led the Panthers in scoring with a grand total of 38 points, the lowest point total to lead a team in a full season in the modern era. As disappointing as this year may have been for the Panthers, they have some quality assets around which to build.
This Week30Last Week30Buffalo Sabres21-51-10
Not only were the Sabres the worst team in the league this season, finishing 14 points behind the Panthers, but they are so far down that they are early favourites for the first pick in the 2015 draft too. A big job awaits GM Tim Murray, but he's stocked with the draft picks over the next few seasons to ultimately make this rebuilding effort pay dividends.