NHL Power Rankings – Week 24

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Welcome to the next installment of HockeyClan’s weekly NHL power rankings. Each week throughout the season, HockeyClan ranks every team in the National Hockey League from top to bottom.

Who’s #1? Who’s rising? Who’s falling? It’s week 24 in the NHL season — that’s right! Hard to believe we’re coming down the home stretch in the race for the Stanley Cup. Our season rankings have remained remarkably consistent over the last month but with just weeks remaining before the post-season playoff chase begins it’s time to ask: Who’s in, who’s out?

1-Tampa Bay Lightning (51-19-4) Bolts blast seven goals in triumph over Isles to set franchise record with its 51st victory. With 106 points, Tampa Bay extends its lead to six over the second-place B’s. With 95 points, Nikita Kucherov is holding off McDavid (94), MacKinnon (92) and Malkin (91) with eight games remaining. Last: 1

Nashville Predators celebrate a goal by Filip Forsberg (9) during their game against the Buffalo Sabres on March 19, 2018, at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY. (Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2-Nashville Predators (48-15-10) Smashville is 8-1-1 over their last 10 games, but Thursday night’s 5-2 loss at home to the Leafs must sting. Glue guy Viktor Arvidsson hit the I.R. with a lower-body injury but with the experience of last season’s Stanley Cup run, the Preds are still the team to beat out West. Last: 2

3-Vegas Golden Knights (47-21-6) Despite three losses in their last five, Vegas is arguably an improved team with Tomas Tatar and Ryan Reaves on board. The first-ever expansion team to eclipse the 100-point plateau, the Golden Knights are locked in playoff position. Last: 3

4-Toronto Maple Leafs (44-23-7) The Leafs welcomed back Auston Matthews Thursday night and the 2016 No. 1 overall pick showed little rust coming through with a highlight reel goal in a triumph over Nashville. Toronto is just 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, but the return of Matthews after missing each of the last 10 is a promising sign. Last: 5

5-Winnipeg Jets (44-19-10) Winners of three straight, The ‘Peg is 7-3-1 over its last 10 with victories over Chicago, Dallas and L.A. The Jets are top-five in goals-for (240, 5th), goals-against (188, 4th), power play (23.3%, 4th) and penalty kill (83.1%, 4th). The Jets are holding their breath on Patrik Laine, however, who is expected to miss the next two weeks with a lower-body injury.  Last: 6

6-Boston Bruins (45-17-10) Injuries continue to mount at the worst possible time for the B’s with a scary injury to David Backes, but Patrice Bergeron is close to a return. Though Boston is doing its best to weather the storm going 6-2-2 over its last 10 games, they have lost each of their last two to Columbus and St. Louis. Last: 4

7-Washington Capitals (43-24-7) With 44 goals, Alexander Ovechkin continues to set the pace, just as he’s done his whole career. The Caps are getting solid play from both of their goaltenders, Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer, right now and have seven wins over their last 10 games to sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 93 points. Last: 8

8-Pittsburgh Penguins (42-27-5) The Pens have cooled off after a torrid stretch, but Sidney Crosby is still ripping off highlight reel goals and The ‘Burgh still boasts the best power play unit in the league converting a remarkable 26.2 percent. Losses to the Rangers and Islanders raises questions, however, the return of Matt Murray in net should boost confidence. Last: 7

Related: NHL Power Rankings – Week 23

Tier Two

Artemi Panarin #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates with Cam Atkinson #13 and Nick Foligno #71 after scoring a goal in the third period against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

9-Columbus Blue Jackets (42-28-5) En fuego! The hottest team in The League, Columbus extended its winning streak to 10 games with a huge shutout of the surging Panthers on Thursday night. Left for dead in February, the BJax are arguably the best in the East with recent wins over Boston, Philly, Vegas and San Jose. Last: 14

10-San Jose Sharks (42-23-9) Logan Couture played the role of hero with his team-leading 31st goal of the season as the Sharks took a bite out of Vegas. With the victory in overtime, San Jose extends its winning streak to six, second only to Columbus in the NHL right now. Last: 9

11-Los Angeles Kings (41-27-7) The Kings will be a dangerous team in the playoffs if they can hang in there for two more weeks. L.A. is just 5-3-2 over its previous 10 games, but with 89 points — a one point lead over Colorado and Anaheim — the race out West will be a photo finish. Last: 10

12-Anaheim Ducks (38-24-12) Currently riding a four-game winning streak, the Ducks are making moves as HockeyClan predicted last week. If the season wrapped up this weekend, Anaheim would be in thanks to their recent surge and trust us — no one — no one wants to see this group in the first round out West. Last: 12

13-Minnesota Wild (41-24-8) The Wild have a losing record on the road but if the playoffs ended today, Minnesota would be in thanks to its 24-6-7 record at Xcel Energy Center. The road woes are definitely concerning for The State of Hockey, which has dropped three of its last five games. Last: 11

14-New Jersey Devils (37-28-8) Columbus did the Devils a huge favor shutting out surging Florida Thursday night. With 82 points, New Jersey is one point up on the Panthers for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils have a chance to dictate their own destiny, however, with six of their last eight games at Prudential Center. Last: 13

15-Colorado Avalanche (40-26-8) The Avs will just not go away, but HockeyClan is still hesitant to buy-in on Colorado which is 5-2-3 over its last 10 but 15-16-6 on the road this season. Convincing 5-1 victories over Detroit and Chicago behind their top line of MacKinnon-Rantanen-Landeskog is nice, but then the Avs get blown out 7-1 by L.A. Last: 16

16-St. Louis Blues (40-28-5) The Blues have won three straight but it might be too little too late for St. Louis which is three points back Anaheim and Colorado in the Western Conference. Top to bottom, St. Louis is a better team than the Avalanche, but it might come down to their final head-to-head bout the last game  of the season to determine who’s in. Last: 17

17-Philadelphia Flyers (38-25-12) If the playoffs ended today, Broad Street would be in but it’s hard to get excited about Philly which has done its best beating up on a bad Eastern Conference. Just 4-5-1 over its last 10 games, the Flyers seem to have solved its goaltending woes, however, with the addition of Petr Mrazek. Last: 18

Related: NHL Power Rankings — Week 20

Tier Three

Florida Panthers Center Derek MacKenzie (17) celebrates a goal with teammates during first period National Hockey League action between the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators on March 20, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

18-Florida Panthers (37-28-7) Though Florida is 6-3-1 in their last 10, every loss is a blow to its playoff hopes which are slipping away by the day. One point back of New Jersey for the final spot in the East, the Panthers have a rather favorable schedule the rest of the way versus Arizona, Ottawa, Buffalo, Carolina and the Islanders. Last: 20

19-Dallas Stars (38-26-7) Losers of six straight! Yikes! The losing streak — currently the worst in The League — could not be coming at a worse time for Dallas. Free Agent signee Ben Bishop, who was supposed to be the key to a return trip to the post-season, is out indefinitely leaving fan unfavorite Kari Lehtonen in between the pipes for the foreseeable future. Last: 15

20-Calgary Flames (35-26-10) The Flames all but doused their chances at the post-season with four straight losses. Minus-22 in goal differential and just 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, it has been a disappointing end to what was a rather promising start in Alberta. Stat of the day: Calgary is 15-18-4 at home and 20-12-6 on the road. Last: 19

21-Carolina Hurricanes (32-31-11) A game over .500, but it’s been another ho-hum season in Raleigh. Minus-34 goal differential and a lackluster defensive corps in front of Scott Darling, who was supposed to be the savior, is to blame. There just isn’t a lot to like on this team. Last: 22

22-Edmonton Oilers (33-36-5) It has been a lost season for weeks, but The Oil have actually been playing pretty decent hockey lately. Winners of two straight and 6-3-1 in their last 10, Edmonton is doing its best wrecking havoc on other’s playoff chances. Still, it’s hard to believe this is the worst power play unit in the league (14.4%, 31st) but it is. Last: 25

23-Chicago Blackhawks (30-36-9) My how the mighty have fallen. The Blackhawks will miss the post-season for the first time in a decade in 2017-18. It’s the end of the line for Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook which are a shell of their former selves. Expect coach Joel Quenneville and Corey Crawford to return despite a shake-up and a return to form in 2018-19. Last: 23

24-New York Rangers (32-34-8) The Rangers mailed it in at the NHL Trading Deadline, but it’s still been tough to swallow for The Blueshirts faithful which have lost three straight. It is an end of an era at MSG. Might we have seen the last of King Henrik? After being written off so many times previously, Lundqvist continues to tick but this might be it. Last: 21

25-New York Islanders (31-33-10) It’s no secret this is the worst defensive team in hockey (267 goals-allowed, 31st), but the Isles hit a new low surrendering seven goals to Tampa Bay Thursday night. The league’s worst penalty killing unit, shutting down the opposition 74.5 percent of the time (31st) is also to blame. Last: 24

Related: NHL Power Rankings – Week One

Tier Four

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) deflects the puck during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks played on March 16, 2018 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

26-Detroit Red Wings (27-36-11) Last: 28​

27-Montreal Canadiens (26-36-12) Last 26

28-Ottawa Senators (26-36-11) Last: 27

29-Vancouver Canucks (26-39-9) Last: 29

30-Arizona Coyotes (25-38-11) Last: 30

31-Buffalo Sabres (23-38-12) Last: 31

 

records and rankings through 3/22

 

 

Main Image: Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) congratulates Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) following the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets on March 13, 2018, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

 

 

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