The Bruins have the NHL’s leading goal scorer (David Pastrnak), a Vezina candidate in net (Tuukka Rask), an unyielding defense and, now, potential depth past its first line. As such, Boston is back atop our Power Rankings. Teams looking themselves in the mirror can’t distort unrealistic reflections of their current state. The trade deadline has passed. It’s too late to fire a coach. Each game takes on a bit more weight with less than six weeks left in the regular season, and this week we take stock on where each team stands in its quest to capture the Stanley Cup, a playoff spot or the No. 1 overall pick.
*All odds via MoneyPuck through 3/2
31. Detroit Red Wings | 15-48-5 | Previous Ranking: 31
Odds to win draft lottery: 18.5%
The Red Wings could win eight games in a row—something the franchise hasn’t done in 12 years—and they’d have a three-point lead on last place, at best. Detroit is on pace to be the first team to finish with worse than a -140 goal differential since the 1999–00 Atlanta Thrashers and luck is the only thing standing in the way of receiving the No. 1 overall pick.
30. Los Angeles Kings | 25-35-6 | Previous Ranking: 30
Odds to win draft lottery: 10.7%
Despite a recent three-game winning streak, the Kings are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention as it winds down Year 1.5 of a true rebuild. Veteran Jonathan Quick and rookie Cal Petersen, however, have helped L.A. with a .926 team save percentage since Feb. 9, piloting the Kings to a 6-3-1 record in that stretch and muddying the battle to finish as the league’s second-worst team.
29. Ottawa Senators | 23-32-12 | Previous Ranking: 29
Odds to win draft lottery: 11.6%
Up in Belleville, Ont., Sens blue chip prospects Drake Batherson, Josh Norris and Vitaly Abramov are battling for the team’s AHL affiliate, who have the best record in their conference. Safe to say, it’s going to be a couple years before Ottawa becomes a contender as long as it is shipping off NHL talent for draft capital. Meanwhile, Bobby Ryan received a standing ovation after scoring a hat trick in his second game back after spending three months away in treatment for alcoholism. The positives have been there—if you search for them—despite another losing season.
28. Anaheim Ducks | 26-32-8 | Previous Ranking: 28
Odds to win draft lottery: 9.7%
Newcomer Sonny Milano has already endeared himself to Ducks fans, scoring twice in his debut and adding an assist in the team’s 3–2 win against the Penguins. The rearrangement up front with Milano, David Backes and Danton Heinen is welcomed for an Anaheim team that has struggled to score, but its defense is in a state of disrepair with Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler and Erik Gudbranson sidelined with injuries. Lessening John Gibson’s workload would save the Ducks’ netminder from undue cruelty down the stretch. It wouldn’t hurt the team’s tanking efforts, either.
27. San Jose Sharks | 29-33-4 | Previous Ranking: 26
Odds to win draft lottery: 8.9%
The Sharks opened the year with a 5.9% chance to win the Stanley Cup (tied for eighth-best) but now their odds to come away with the first overall pick are 50% higher than that. San Jose hasn’t been abysmal since the All Star break: The team ranks seventh in high dangers attempts per 60 minutes and 17th in expected goals for percentage. However, poor shooting, bad luck, a declining power play and the departures of Brenden Dillon and Patrick Marleau have the Sharks positioned to come away from the draft lottery with a top-five pick.
26. New Jersey Devils | 26-28-12 | Previous Ranking: 27
Odds to win draft lottery: 7%
No matter how many players the Devils have traded away, it hasn’t seemed to matter. New Jersey has a 9-4-5 record in its last 18 games and a 7-2-1 record against current bottom-five teams, which isn’t helping its lottery odds. MacKenzie Blackwood’s hot stretch (.967 save percentage and 1.27 goals against average in February) might be the Devils biggest obstacle in its effort to tank.
25. Chicago Blackhawks | 30-28-8 | Previous Ranking: 25
Odds to make playoffs: 11%
Less than half of the Blackhawks’ remaining games are against current playoff teams, but Chicago needs a significant winning streak combined with collapses from the Flames, Predators, Jets and Coyotes. Not impossible, but not likely with a sub .500 record since the beginning of February and considering GM Stan Bowman traded the better of his two goaltenders and top-four defenseman Erik Gustafsson.
24. Buffalo Sabres | 29-29-8 | Previous Ranking: 23
Odds to make playoffs: 0.4% | Odds to win draft lottery: 6.6%
Buffalo is where no team wants to be: not good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to fall down the cellar. The Sabres odds of reaching the postseason have dropped over 20% and they’ve played close to .500 hockey throughout that stretch, falling more than 10 points out of a playoff spot.
23. Montreal Canadiens | 31-28-9 | Previous Ranking: 24
Odds to make playoffs: 3.2% | Odds to win draft lottery: 4.1%
With six losses after leading in the second period, no team has blown more third period leads than the Canadiens. Montreal’s playoff hopes have slowly dwindled to almost non-existent levels, but at least its priority to chase a higher draft choice rather than a wild-card spot has been locked in since selling at the deadline.
22. New York Rangers | 35-27-4 | Previous Ranking: 21
Odds to make playoffs: 29.8%
The Rangers have vaulted themselves into the playoff picture with a 12-5-0 record since the All-Star break, but injuries to Chris Kreider, who suffered a fractured foot on Feb. 28, and rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin have put a damper on the elation of a playoff push. The team will be competitive down the stretch as long as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are still playing, but a shaky defense might make it hard to overcome key losses.
21. Minnesota Wild | 33-26-7 | Previous Ranking: 22
Odds to make playoffs: 62%
The Wild are inching closer to a postseason position, in no small part due to Kevin Fiala’s second-half surge. Exchanged for Mikael Granlund at last season’s trade deadline, Fiala notched nine points in four games last week and has been producing at a point per game since the New Year’s. Last night’s win against the Predators helps put Minnesota right in the thick of the West’s wild-card race.
20. Arizona Coyotes | 32-27-8 | Previous Ranking: 19
Odds to make playoffs: 34.3%
Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper made his first start since suffering a lower-body injury on Dec. 19, but his return isn’t an all-encompassing salve for the team’s troubles. Even after adding Taylor Hall, Arizona ranks 21st in goals for and 27th in high danger attempts against per 60 minutes. Kuemper can power the Coyotes to the postseason on his own but improved defensive play would make that task much easier.
19. Winnipeg Jets | 34-28-6 | Previous Ranking: 20
Odds to make playoffs: 20.3%
After a stretch of success in the beginning of February, the Jets have reverted to inconsistency and have lost four of their last six games. Several injuries have taken bites out of Winnipeg’s lineup—Patrik Laine and Josh Morissey returned Tuesday night after missing a handful of games—but defense remains a long-term issue. The Jets will play fewer games in March after a busy February, but face a schedule stocked with opponents vying to keep them out of the playoffs.
18. Nashville Predators | 32-26-8 | Previous Ranking: 18
Odds to make playoffs: 41.3%
The Predators, for the first time since Nov. 13, are back in a playoff position, despite getting blasted 8–3 by the Oilers on Monday. Quietly, Juuse Saros has taken 13 of 22 starts since John Hynes took over while compiling a 9-4-0 record and plus-.920 save percentage in that stretch. Saros’s recent performance has helped offset lackluster special teams units, but GM David Poile is hoping the roster, as currently constituted, is good enough to go on a postseason run. The Predators can do that if they play up to their own talent level on paper.
17. Calgary Flames | 34-26-7 | Previous Ranking: 17
Odds to make playoffs: 79.1%
One day after his grandfather died, Johnny Gaudreau scored once and assisted on another in a 3–0 win over the Panthers. Captain Mark Giordano, the team’s heart and soul, returned after a three-week absence caused by a right-ankle injury and the Flames will be back at the Saddledome for 11 of its final 15 games. That hasn’t been a benefit, though, as Calgary has lost six of its previous seven contests at home and has the league’s fourth-worst home record. If the team’s offense continues to pick up steam, that shouldn’t be a huge issue.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets | 32-21-14 | Previous Ranking: 16
Odds to make playoffs: 38.8%
Here’s a list of players who have gone down with injuries in the last 30 days: Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Elvis Merzlikins and Nathan Gerbe. There’s not much John Tortorella and a Columbus team short of NHL bodies can do, except sputter with a 2-5-5 record in their last 12 and cling onto the East’s final playoff spot.
15. Florida Panthers | 33-26-7 | Previous Ranking: 15
Odds to make playoffs: 17.2%
Winless in their last seven games at home, the Panthers dropped three straight to the Leafs, Blackhawks and Flames and saw their odds to make the playoffs dip by 25%. Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov were held scoreless and the team’s power play and offense have cooled off considerably since the All-Star break, ranking 30th in scoring chances for per 60 minutes.
14. Vancouver Canucks | 34-25-6 | Previous Ranking: 12
Odds to make the playoffs: 61.6%
Comparison is the thief of joy, so here are some things to find joy in this season: Rookie Quinn Hughes has blossomed in front of Canucks fans and ranks fourth among defensemen in total points (51). Elias Pettersson should score 30 goals for the first time in his career. J.T. Miller has vastly outperformed expectations. And, Vancouver will make the postseason for the first time in five seasons. The Canucks’ defense might not hold up past the first round and the team might run into a tandem quandary with Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko, but file this season as a success for the post-Sedin era.
13. Edmonton Oilers | 36-23-8 | Previous Ranking: 14
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 8.7%
Leon Draisaitl became the league’s first player to notch 100 points this year, collecting three points in a 3–2 win against the Jets that gave the Oilers a bit of breathing room. For now, 14-year veteran netminder Mike Smith and the league’s top power play are enough to hold Edmonton near the top of the Pacific. Beyond that? Connor McDavid, Draisaitl & Co. will be looking for its second playoff series victory since 2007.
12. Toronto Maple Leafs | 35-24-8 | Previous Ranking: 13
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 11.6%
For once, the Leafs might avoid the Bruins in the first round. Their prize? A date with the Lightning, the only team in the league scoring at a higher rate than them. But even that is not a sure thing. With the loss of Jake Muzzin for a month, Toronto is trotting out an amalgamation of Tyson Barrie and inexperienced defensemen to hold down the backend long enough for starters to return.
11. New York Islanders | 35-22-8 | Previous Ranking: 9
Odds to make the playoffs: 70.7%
In the middle of a rough patch, some welcome news: The Islanders will play all of their playoff games at Nassau Coliseum, doing away with splitting half its postseason games between Long Island and Brooklyn. A positive spin has been hard to find, though. The Islanders power play continues to tank, winger Anthony Beauvillier has hit a cold streak and the team’s usual combination of steadfast defense and goaltending hasn’t been there to bail them out. The Isles are stumbling and face the second-toughest schedule the rest of the way.
10. Carolina Hurricanes | 35-24-5 | Previous Ranking: 7
Odds to make the playoffs: 69.3%
After collecting a point for the first time in a week, the Hurricanes have a four-day break before playing 16 games in their next 27 games. No matter how many players GM Don Wadell brought in at the deadline, Carolina’s playoff hopes will ride on figuring out which goaltender between Alex Nedeljkovic and Anton Forsberg can guide them there.
9. Philadelphia Flyers | 38-20-7 | Previous Ranking: 11
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 21.1%
The Flyers’ power play has been on fire, scoring the second-most goals per 60 minutes in the league in the team’s last 10 games while Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux heat up. Goaltender Carter Hart has benefitted from stingier defensive play, but that should be put to the test in upcoming contests against the Capitals, Hurricanes, Bruins and Lightning. Philly has an outside shot of claiming the Metropolitan Division as Washington and Pittsburgh’s struggles persist.
8. Dallas Stars | 37-21-8 | Previous Ranking: 10
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 11.3%
With at least a two-game lead on the Central’s last playoff spot, the Stars’ first-round opponent will be the leftover of whoever finishes second in the division between the Blues and Avalanche. Take regular season matchups for what they’re worth, but Dallas has a 1-3-1 record against St. Louis and a 4-0-0 record against Colorado. There’s no Mats Zuccarello–esque infusion of talent riding in this season and the Stars will need their top-10 power play, along with the usual staunch defense and goaltending, to offset some issues at even strength.
7. Vegas Golden Knights | 37-23-8 | Previous Ranking: 8
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 21.6%
The Kings ended the Golden Knights’ eight-game winning streak, but not before Vegas leapt atop the Pacific. GM Kelly McCrimmon padded his team’s lineup with Alec Martinez and Robin Lehner, which should get a good dose of playoff-level hockey in a five-game road trip against postseason contenders and hopefuls in the Jets, Flames, Oilers, Wild and Avalanche.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins | 38-21-6 | Previous Ranking: 4
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 3.8%
The Penguins lost six in a row for the first time in the Sidney Crosby–Evgeni Malkin era, but snapped its losing skid with a win against the Senators. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin and and John Marino’s returns should help stem defensive ails while Pittsburgh works to implement deadline acquisitions Conor Sheary, Evan Rodrigues and Patrick Marleau.
5. Colorado Avalanche | 40-18-7 | Previous Ranking: 6
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 14.2%
Last year, the Avalanche were the talented new kids on the block, nearly breaking their way into the Western Conference finals. Expectations are higher now, and rightfully so. Colorado has a 12-3-1 record since the All-Star break despite Philipp Grubauer, Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri each going down with injuries. If Rantanen and Kadri return and remain healthy, Nathan MacKinnon & Co. is capable of making it past the second round. Home-ice advantage and a Central Division title aren’t out of the question, either.
4. St. Louis Blues | 40-17-10 | Previous Ranking: 5
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 10.5%
The Blues threw out the odds in last year’s magical run, but they were one of the league’s top two teams after Jordan Binnington took over. This year is a bit of a different story. St. Louis is a good, not outstanding, possession team, but that’s been without sniper Vladimir Tarasenko for the majority of the season. St. Louis will also be powered in part by youth, including defenseman Vince Dunn and forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, in its quest to repeat as champions.
3. Washington Capitals | 40-19-6 | Previous Ranking: 3
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 14.5%
There’s no goalie controversy, if only because neither Braden Holtby or Ilya Samsonov have wrangled control of 1A duties. The Capitals’ goalie tandem has the fourth-worst even strength save percentage since the All-Star break. The blue line could stand to improve but, with a struggling power play, Washington isn’t the Eastern Conference behemoth it was in the first half of the season. Of course, that can change at any moment for a team that has Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning | 41-20-5 | Previous Ranking: 1
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 13.7%
Since a franchise-record 11-game winning streak, the Lightning fizzled and lost four in a row and surrendered 5.3 goals per game in the process. Somehow, no team has scored fewer goals on the power play than the Lightning since the New Year. Tampa Bay broke it’s winless streak, but lost Steven Stamkos for 6 to 8 weeks following surgery to repair a core muscle injury. Until then, the Lightning have a pair of playoff previews on tap with games against the Bruins and Leafs in the next week.
1. Boston Bruins | 42-13-12 | Previous Ranking: 2
Odds to reach the Stanley Cup finals: 16.4%
After a mediocre 7-6-7 stretch, the Bruins have rebounded with 18 wins in their last 24 games while receiving an influx of goals from third-line center Charlie Coyle. Deadline additions Anders Bjork and Nick Ritchie should give coach Bruce Cassidy new tools to wield and give the Bruins more depth after its first two lines and, as usual, Rask is capable of carrying Boston as far as he wants. The goaltender leads the league in both save percentage and goals against average.