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Cup hopeful Canucks go out on top

NOTE: All games and stats through games of Sunday, April 10. This is the final regular season installment of Power Rankings. We thank you for your time this time until next time.

NHL Power Rankings
1Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 1
Don't be fooled by the back-to-back losses to the lowly Oilers, they'd already wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy, so it was nervous-wait time. Cody Hodgson and Victor Oreskovich were called up as possible playoff additions. Playoff-opening scratches are likely to be forward Jeff Tambellini and defensemen Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts. Last week: 2-1-0
 
2Washington Capitals
Last Week: 2
For all the talk about Alex Ovechkin struggling to put up his past numbers, the captain did score his 300th career goal last week, as the Caps wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the East. At 25 years, 200 days, he is the sixth-fastest in history to the milestone. "It's a big accomplishment," he said. "I play for a great team and my partners give me sometimes unbelievable chances to score goals. Without them, I don't score those goals." The recent rest A.O. got may have recharged his batteries. Last week: 2-1-0
 
3San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 3
San Jose Sharks (48-25-9)
Despite two losses, they finished 9-2-1 and looked strong heading into the postseason. They also learned power forwrd Ryane Clowe (62 points, 100 penalty minutes) is a go after missing three games with a lower-body injury. "Ryan's built for the playoffs," said Dan Boyle. "Just the way he plays the game, that's the way the game is played in the playoffs. He's strong along the boards, can score, fight and hit. He's a huge piece of our puzzle." Last week: 1-2-0
 
4Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 6
In their last eight games, they had six wins against non-playoff teams and two losses against teams in the playoffs, clinching home ice in the first round and giving the Flyers a run for the division title. The Pens finished with a respectable 44 points in their 35 games without star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and they warmed up a power play that had been 3-for-65. "We made some changes on the power play and we've seen some good things that have made us dangerous," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We have found something that is working." Not good news for the Tampa Bay. Last week: 3-0-0
 
5Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 4
Sure, they're heading into the playoffs with their 16th division title and the No. 2 seed in the East, but before a 7-4 win against their personal punching bag (the Isles) closed the season, they'd been on an 0-3-2 skid and 0-2-4 at home. Now, the health of captain Chris Pronger, out for nearly two months with a broken right hand, and the steady play of somebody in goal loom as their biggest concerns. "Now the real season starts," said Brian Boucher, who may yet be a piece of the goalie puzzle. "It's what we've been waiting for since last year." Time to wake up, then. Last week: 1-1-1
 
6Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 5
They wrapped up by flexing their muscle against the Hawks; beating them on their home ice and making them sweat until the Wild eliminated the Stars on the final day. The bad news was that they'll be without frontline forward Henrik Zetterberg for at least the opening game against Phoenix because of that dreaded and ever-vague "lower-body injury". Zetterberg has had this problem and missed games before, but, he admitted this week, "It wasn't as serious and I didn't miss much time then. I think it's a little worse now." Last week: 2-1-0
 
7Boston Bruins
Last Week: 8
Boston Bruins (46-25-11)
There's simply no better rivalry in hockey than Bs vs. Habs. That was true long before Zdeno Chara took out Max Pacioretty and Mark Recchi began talking on the radio. It was true by the time Don Cherry had trouble counting to five. "We just worry about ourselves, but they're definitely a good team and they're a team with a lot of confidence and it's going to be a tough battle," forward Milan Lucic said. "Every time we play the Canadiens it's always a great series. You can definitely expect this one to maybe even go seven games." Last week: 2-1-0
 
8Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 7
Granted, Pittsburgh has some stars out of action, but the Bolts may have more players hurting than the Pens. Defensemen Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer have been hobbled, forward Steve Downie is still smarting from an early-season injury, and Randy Jones has been out since March 7. On the brighter side, Vinny Lecavalier finished on a hot streak, scoring in each of his last three games and finishing the week with five points. In his last 14 games, he totaled 17 points, including nine goals. Last week: 2-1-0
 
9Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 12
Anaheim Ducks (47-30-5)
With a sizzling 15-5-0 finish and a pair of wins in a home-and-home against cross-offramp rival L.A., the Ducks pulled themselves into fourth place in the West. Goalie Dan Ellis was a big reason for the success, going 2-0-0 with a 1.21 GAA and .964 save percentage in his three appearances. In all,he turned awat 80 of 83 shots, appearing once in relief of creaky Ray Emery and leaving open the chance that he will open against his old teammates, the Predators. Last week: 3-0-0
 
10Nashville Predators
Last Week: 11
The hard-charging Preds closed on a 9-1-1 run before a 2-0 loss to St. Louis brought down the regular season curtain. On one hand, their leading goal scorer, Sergei Kostitsyn, finished with just 23 goals, compared to the 50 put up by Anaheim's Corey Perry. On the other, they did knock off the Ducks in three of four meetings this season and goalie Pekka Rinne may give them an advantage in the position that matters most. Rinne finished the season second only to Boston's Tim Thomas in save percentage and goals-against average. Last week: 2-1-0
 
11Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 10
Phoenix Coyotes (43-26-13)
With Detroit's Jimmy Howard struggling, Chris Osgood hurt and Dominik Hasek unavailable before his 75th birthday, the Yotes are looking at a potential series-changing advantage in goal if Ilya Bryzgalov plays up to standard. "Bryz is probably the best player in the series," captain Shane Doan said. "I think he's the most talented goalie in the League, and when he's on, he's as good as anybody there is. We lean on him and he likes the pressure." Last week: 1-1-1
 
12Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 14
After a Sunday afternoon loss at home to the rival Wings, they spent their most important game of the season in front of the TV watching the Wild beat the Stars to get them into the playoffs. "It's the most excited I've ever been for a game that didn't involve our team," said coach Joel Quenneville. Now they face the Canucks, a team they bounced last spring, but this time they'll have to do it without 10 Cup team regulars, some of whom will be missed. "It isn't always the first line that wins series for you," says Marian Hossa. "We had real depth last season." They don't now. Last week: 2-1-1
 
13Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 9
Before a pair of losses to Anaheim, their 10-3-1 streak earned them a spot in the playoffs. But without leading scorer Anze Kopitar in the lineup, there is plenty of concern. They may have Justin Williams, who missed the last three weeks with a dislocated shoulder, for the playoffs. He's been feeling more up to par after skating for several days and taking planned light checks from teammate Drew Doughty. Anything he can contribute against the Sharks will be gratefully received. Last week: 1-2-0
 
14Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 15
Buffalo Sabres (43-29-10)
After losing to Carolina, 1-0, on March 15, they went on a 9-1-2 run that lifted them into a berth. Coach Lindy Ruff continued to ease goalie Ryan Miller into the postseason by giving him a couple of half-games. In the meantime, sniper Thomas Vanek recorded consecutive three-point games against playoff teams Tampa Bay and Philly. Vanek picked up his first hat trick of the season against the Bolts and scored an OT winner against the Flyers. Nice tuneup for the playoffs. Last week: 3-0-0
 
15Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 13
The Habs and B's will face one another for the 33rd time in the playoffs, more than any two teams in any major North American sport, with Montreal holding a 24-8 edge. The Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty added spice to what is already the NHL's reigning blood feud. "I doubt that this series will be lacking any emotion or intensity from the part of the players or either of the cities' fans," said Habs forward Mike Cammalleri. "The regular season is the regular season, but this is where rivalries are really made ? in the playoffs." Grab your helmet and fasten your seatbelt. Last week: 2-0-1
 
16New York Rangers
Last Week: 17
After an 11th-hour win against the Devils and a Carolina loss gave them a last-minute berth, the Blueshirts prepared for a series against a Washington team it defeated, 7-0 and 6-0, in a pair of meetings this season. The matchup between ace goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Washington's Alex Ovechkin will be especially fun. Asked about Lundqvist's good numbers against him. Ovechkin once replied, "His equipment is really big." Lundqvist on Ovechkin: "Nobody is a god." Last week: 1-1-0
 
17Dallas Stars
Last Week: 18
Dallas Stars (42-29-11)
They had their playoff fate in their hands with four straight wins before crashing in the season finale against the underwhelming Wild. "It wasn't for lack of effort by our guys," said coach Marc Crawford thye day before the club presented him with a slip tinged pink. "They tried their tails off tonight. I can list off a bevy of injuries that our guys have played through?Adam Burish playing with a broken leg, and Brenden Morrow hasn't practiced in the last month-and-a-half. Yet they come in and find ways to play. I'm really proud of these guys." Last week: 3-0-1
 
18Calgary Flames
Last Week: 16
Calgary Flames (41-29-12)
Sure they amassed 41 wins, the most ever for a Calgary team that missed the playoffs, but that isn't enough for GM Jay Feaster. "This is unacceptable," he fumed. "The fact of the matter is we are a salary cap team and being on the outside looking in for two years is not acceptable." For the record, unrestricted free agent Alex Tanguay said he wants to return next season. Forward Brendan Morrison will undergo knee surgery next week and hopes to be back at a hundred percent by training camp. Last week: 1-0-1
 
19Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 19
Carolina ran on empty in a dreary 6-2 loss to the Bolts that would have put them into the playoffs. Afterwards, coach Paul Maurice said that Eric Staal had been playing through a serious groin injury for the last 10 games. "The more you invest in something, the more painful it should be when it goes away from you," said Maurice. "I still would much rather have been in a position where we fought as hard as we could to get to this point and have to go through the pain of the result than letting it slip away a month ago." Last week: 2-1-0
 
20St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 21
St. Louis Blues (38-33-11)
The season went badly and the early offseason won't be much better. Since they didn't win the draft lottery, their first-round pick will be sent to Colorado as part of the deal that brought Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart in. That means they'll get tge Avs' second-round pick and do without one in the first, a bitter pill for a team that needs more promising bullets. Last week: 2-0-1
 
21Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 22
Minnesota Wild (39-35-8)
They played spoiler on the season's final day, knocking the Stars out of a spot, but after two straight years out of the playoffs, they felt compelled to show head coach Todd Richards the egress. "I just felt going forward we needed a new voice to lead this team into next season," GM Cliff Fletcher said on the team's website. "Certainly, the disappointment of not making the playoffs had a part in this, but I also feel that going forward we needed a new voice; we needed a new direction." Up would be a good a choice. Last week: 2-1-0
 
22Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 20
In his exit interview, GM Brian Burke said his top priority will be a No. 1 center to play with sniper Phil Kessel. The blustery GM has 11 picks to work with and has shown a willingness to trade both ways in drafts depending on his club's needs. Burke took some responsibility for leaving Kessel to play with Tyler Bozak, who played well in spurts, but scored just 15 goals while compiling a minus-29 rating and wasn't what you'd call first-line material. "If we have Tyler in the No. 1 hole and he isn't a fit for it, that's my fault," Burke said, "not Tyler's fault." Last week: 0-2-1
 
23New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 24
Coach Jacques Lemaire retired again after leading the Devils from the depths of 30th place to within striking range of the playoffs. They were 9-22-2 before he arrived, 29-17-3 with him. "I said today when I talked to my wife, if I were younger I'd come back, because I love it," said Lemaire, 66. "But hockey demands a lot. I want to enjoy life." At least the future in Jersey looks a little more promising. By winning the draft lottery, the Devils moved up from the eighth pick to fourth. Last week: 2-2-0
 
24Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 23
They went 0-for-April, finishing with one win in their last 11 games. And the ranks were not happy. In particular, don't expect defenseman Mike Commodore back next season if coach Scott Arniel has a say. Commodore's trade request was denied in January and he only played sporadically for the team's minor-league affiliate in Springfield. (He had six points in 20 games with the Jackets.) With two years left on his contract, expect the team to buy out the former Cup-winner. Last week: 0-3-0
 
25Atlanta Thrashers
Last Week: 25
They gave out their end-of-season awards, bestowing MVP honors to forward Andrew Ladd and handing their three-stars award for game-by-game performance to goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Still, there wasn't a lot to celebrate, given the long summer ahead. "Disappointment," Ladd said in summing up the season. "We had a goal this year and weren't able to reach that goal. Everybody in here should realize it's not good enough. The talent is there if we decide to play the right way." Last week: 1-3-0
 
26Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 27
Ottawa Senators (32-40-10)
Hours after their final game, they became the first team to boot their coach, dropping Cory Clouston as well as assistants Greg Carvel and Brad Lauer. "We felt a change was necessary," said GM Bryan Murray, who dodged his own bullets, inking a three-year contract at age 68. "Coaches always get the finger pointed them more than they should, but in this case all of us felt that we had a competitive hockey team and for whatever reason, we didn't play to the level that we thought and expected. As a result, changes have to be made." Last week: 2-1-0
 
27New York Islanders
Last Week: 26
After sniffing a berth a month or so ago, they wheezed to the finish line with one win in their last eight games, but coach Jack Capuano was signed for next season. They also dropped from fourth to fifth in the draft when New Jersey moved up to fourth via the lottery. Now they not have to improve during the offseason and find a captain, as Doug Weight, 40, eyes likely retirement. It's been a fine run in the NHL for the Detroit native, who eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier on Long Island after winning the Cup in Carolina. Last week: 0-2-1
 
28Florida Panthers
Last Week: 28
Florida Panthers (30-40-12)
It didn't help coach Pete DeBoer that his team shut out the East-leading Caps, 1-0, in its final game. He was told to hit the bricks anyway. "These decisions are always tough to make, but we felt strongly that it was the right time to make a change," GM Dale Tallon said. Florida's 72 points ranked last in the East and left the franchise, which reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, without a playoff appearance for the tenth straight season. Last week: 1-2-0
 
29Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 29
Sum up their season thusly: their last win in regulation took place on Feb. 22 against St. Louis. That was 22 games ago. Their last win by more than one goal took place on Jan. 14. Where have you gone, Joe Sakic? After the season's final contest, a 4-3 home-ice win against Edmonton, it was fitting that the Avs tossed their jerseys into the stands while bidding goodbye to a lost year. Alas, they will miss classy captain Adam Foote, who confirmed his expected retirement at age 39. Last week: 1-3-0
 
30Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 30
Edmonton Oilers (25-45-12)
They won the draft lottery as the teams with a chance to draft ahead of them failed to have their name selected. With New Jersey, ineligible to earn the No. 1 pick, drawing first, Edmonton will keep the top pick. All signs point to them choosing Burnaby product Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall. The forward with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL amassed 31 goals and 75 assists in 69 games. Nugent-Hopkins, the top-rated prospect by NHL scouting, turned 18 this week. Last week: 1-3-0
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