"It's only a matter of time before they overtake the Rangers and win the Eastern Conference." That's how, um, yours truly began the summary for the Pittsburgh Penguins in last week's SI.com Power Rankings.
Count that among my many personal "Dewey Defeats Truman" proclamations. The Daterjinx (TM) got the Pens pretty good, I must say. It can be a powerful thing. (I used to get nasty emails from Ranger fans angry that their team was not No. 1 here. Now I'm getting emails saying they're thankful that the Blueshirts are not on top.)
I sure didn't foresee the Pens giving up EIGHT goals to Ottawa in one loss, nor their back-to-back defeats at the hands of the mighty Islanders. So, Pittsburgh takes the requisite fall in the standings this week as we welcome a new No. 1 team -- the Vancouver Canucks -- with the Rangers a close second in what will be our last rankings for the regular season. Next week, I'll rank the playoff field, which will qualify as our final top 16. Just in case knowing where your team wound up from 17 to 30 matters to you, I'll list the also-rans in order.
A DISCLAIMER (of sorts): These rankings are based not just on each team's record, but an empirically tested formula that includes a) realistic near-term future expectations; b) consensus talent level and payroll considerations and; c) whatever the Magic 8-Ball I've had since I was seven years old tells me will happen. One more thing: Rest assured that I don't have it in for your team. OK, so I once hated the Philadelphia Flyers with a passion bordering on the psychotic, but that was 30-something years ago and Dave Schultz has long since retired. I welcome your emails to the link attached to my name above, and I always respond -- even to the ones that start with "Dear Idiot."
All stats and records through games of Monday, April 2.
NHL Power Rankings