NHL Power Rankings: Rangers finish No. 1 as playoffs loom

1:46 | NHL
NHL Power Rankings: Rangers No. 1 for fifth straight week
Tuesday April 7th, 2015

Welcome to the final regular season edition of our NHL Power Rankings. For 26 weeks we've been harshing your mellow with our deluded pronouncements, but you (and we) have survived. And so, as the schedule dwindles into its final small handful of games, we bow down and crown the Rangers, who have held the top spot since March 10. Clearly the beasts of the east, the Broadway Blueshirts may want to keep a wary eye out for Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, who have been on a steady rise for three weeks and ended up with their highest ranking of the season. Next week our own Al Muir will survey the playoff field and give you fresh reasons to grind the enamel off your molars.

NHL
NHL Playoff Race: Projected matchups if season ended today

As per custom, a few choice words about these rankings: Our sage scribes—Mr. Muir, Sarah Kwak and Sam Page—submitted their detailed choices for the top 10 and dutifully ranked all 30 teams according to the order in which they were drawn out of a large stovepipe "sorting hat." The final results were stirred, not shaken, with a dash of on-ice performance, strength of schedule, number of disabled bodies, general outlook on life and how high each club came in on our writers’ ballots. In some cases another reprehensible and utterly mystifying (even to us) formula involving darts, coins, dice and goat entrails was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers and inspire you, gentle reader, to call for an avalanche of pink slips if not outright criminal charges.

We’ve lovingly presented the 30 teams in groups, with the top 10 receiving the most trenchant commentary. Overview paragraphs precede both the middle 10 and bottom 10. Weekly movement up or down has been duly noted by colorful little arrows. So without further ado, unleash your hoary oaths and epithets.

1
1New York Rangers
last week: 1
record: 51-21-7


PAGE (1): Lundqvist has been a shot in the arm for a team that really didn’t need one in the first place. It seems that everything is coming into place at the perfect time for the Rangers, again. The only difference between this season's team and last year’s may be a less formidable Western Conference opponent waiting for them in the Cup finals. 

2
2Minnesota Wild
last week: 2
record: 44-27-8

Last week: 0-2-1

3
3Anaheim Ducks
last week: 3
record: 50-23-7

Last week: 1-1-0

4
4St. Louis Blues
last week: 8
record: 49-23-7

Last week: 3-0-0

5
5Washington Capitals
last week: 10
record: 44-25-11

Last week: 3-0-1

6
6Tampa Bay Lightning
last week: 5
record: 48-24-8

Last week: 1-1-1

7
7Montreal Canadiens
last week: 6
record: 48-22-10

Last week: 1-0-2

8
8Chicago Blackhawks
last week: 7
record: 48-25-6

Last week: 2-1-0

9
9Nashville Predators
last week: 4
record: 47-22-10

Last week: 0-0-2

10
10Boston Bruins
last week: 16
record: 41-25-13

Last week: 3-0-0

[pagebreak]

They’re limping, but we still like the Islanders in the playoffs. O.K.—they weren’t used to a stretch drive in which they were one of the leaders. But the playoffs will give this young team a jolt. Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk know about how to win in the postseason, which is good, as they’ll have to be the best Islanders on the ice in order to repeat their successes with Chicago and Boston respectively.  If the Isles make it in, they’re likely to be every pundit’s dark horse pick. Sam Page is just ahead of the curve by a week. 

NHL
Reeling Penguins look like cannon fodder for playoffs if they get in

Al Muir says his flint-hearted colleagues will scoff at his pick, but the never-say-die Blue Jackets have earned a top 10 nod from him. Before dropping an OT heartbreaker to the top-ranked Rangers on Monday night, Columbus had won a franchise-record nine consecutive games while playing for nothing but pride. It’s easy to get caught up in what might have been for this team if not for nearly 500 man games lost to injury, but a lot more fun to imagine what lies ahead for this promising group.

As the final week begain, the Senators sat on the outside of the playoff bubble, two points behind eighth place in the East, but it still feels like a big uphill battle as they trail in the tiebreaking category of regulation and overtime wins. Ottawa will likely need a flawless finish to qualify. But thanks to rookie Mark Stone and center Kyle Turris, who combined for 16 points in their last six games, the Senators actually could pull off a dramatic finish.

Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen started two must-win games at home last week ... and failed to finish both of them. When Dallas looks back at what went wrong this season, there’s no doubt where the fingers will be pointing. Lehtonen’s been a decent placeholder during the past few years but he’s not the guy who can get this team where it wants to go.

 

11
11Vancouver Canucks
last week: 14
record: 46-29-5

Last week: 2-2-0

12
12New York Islanders
last week: 13
record: 46-27-6

Last week: 1-0-1

13
13Los Angeles Kings
last week: 18
record: 39-25-13

Last week: 2-0-1

14
14Winnipeg Jets
last week: 12
record: 41-26-12

Last week: 2-1-0

15
15Detroit Red Wings
last week: 15
record: 41-25-13

Last week: 1-2-1

16
16Pittsburgh Penguins
last week: 9
record: 42-26-11

Last week: 0-3-0

17
17Ottawa Senators
last week: 17
record: 40-26-13

Last week: 3-0-1

18
18Calgary Flames
last week: 11
record: 43-29-7

Last week: 1-1-0

19
19Columbus Blue Jackets
last week: 21
record: 39-35-5

Last week: 3-0-1

20
20Dallas Stars
last week: 19
record: 39-31-10

Last week: 2-1-0

NHL
Toxic offense dooms Flyers' playoff chances, and change won't be easy

Amazing that on a team as bad as this season’s Flyers Steve Mason could set a franchise record for save percentage (.929). The guy has no hope of breaking into a crowded field of Vezina contenders but what he’s done for Philly is award-worthy.

Though the Avalanche have been eliminated from postseason, this team still has some power over the playoffs. With games against Nashville, Winnipeg and Chicago this week, Colorado could wreak some havoc on the seedings—or in the case of the Jets, be a death blow to playoff hopes. 

Congratulations to the Sabres for securing the basement in our rankings after mudwrestling with the Coyotes, Oilers and Leafs. Too bad it doesn’t guarantee at least the No. 2 in the draft.

21
21Florida Panthers
last week: 20
record: 36-29-15

Last week: 1-3-0

22
22San Jose Sharks
last week: 22
record: 39-32-9

Last week: 2-2-0

23
23Philadelphia Flyers
last week: 24
record: 32-29-18

Last week: 2-0-1

24
24Colorado Avalanche
last week: 23
record: 36-31-12

Last week: 1-2-0

25
25New Jersey Devils
last week: 25
record: 32-34-13

Last week: 1-1-1

26
26Carolina Hurricanes
last week: 27
record: 29-39-11

Last week: 1-3-0

27
27Toronto Maple Leafs
last week: 26
record: 30-43-7

Last week: 2-1-1

28
28Edmonton Oilers
last week: 28
record: 23-43-13

Last week: 0-3-0

29
arizona Coyotes
last week: 29
record: 23-49-8

Last week: 1-1-0

30
30Buffalo Sabres
last week: 30
record: 23-49-8

Last week: 2-2-0

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.