It's the final week of the NHL regular season, and as we prepare for the excitement of the postseason, we take another look at our NHL Power Rankings. As always, voting was done by bloggers from around the 34 sites that make up SBN Hockey.
1. Washington Capitals: 51-15-12 overall, 2-0-1 last week
SBN Blog: Japers' Rink
The Washington Capitals have already clinched the President's Trophy and have earned the right to coast through the final week and gear up for the playoffs. That being said, don't count on that out of these Caps. They showed in a Monday night win over Boston that they won't be coasting, and with another coming up against Atlanta, they're going to be a major factor in the race for final playoff positions in the East.
2. San Jose Sharks: 48-20-11 overall, 1-1-1 last week
SBN Blog: Fear The Fin
The San Jose Sharks are the top team of the Western Conference, but with thebreathing down their necks and the not giving up yet, that top spot could turn into a fourth seed in a matter of days. The Blackhawks are two points behind in the second position while the Coyotes are five points back with three games left. If the Sharks don't pick up any points against the Canucks and the Flames, it could setup an intriguing final game of the season between Phoenix and San Jose.
3. Chicago Blackhawks: 49-22-7 overall, 3-1 last week
SBN Blog: Second City Hockey
The Blackhawks have officially clinched the Central Division and is pretty much a safe bet for either the first or second spot in the Western Conference. Their goaltending has been questionable all season and could very well be the reason why the team doesn't make a deep run this year. Head coach Joel Quenneville has made it apparent though that Antti Niemi is go to guy in the playoffs.
4. Phoenix Coyotes: 48-25-6 overall, 1-2 last week
SBN Blog: Five For Howling
The Phoenix Coyotes could clinch their first ever Pacific Division title this season, but they'll need some major help. The Coyotes need to win out, while the Sharks need to not earn any points in their three games. It helps, of course, that the Coyotes play the Sharks to finish the year, and as we mentioned, that game could be wild. We're not rooting against San Jose here, but how great would it be if that game meant something?
5. Nashville Predators: 46-28-6 overall, 3-1 last week
SBN Blog: On The Forecheck
The Nashville Predators are one of the quiet teams in the NHL. They don't get a lot of attention from the mainstream media and their fan base is passionate yet small. That being said, they are a team to contend with in the playoffs and this year's team may have the best chance yet according to the Tennessean:
Of the five playoff berths in franchise history, this may be the most impressive. This team finds ways to gut out victories.
The 4-3 win in Detroit was the 23rd road victory this season, a franchise best. Eleven of Nashville's last 13 wins came by one goal, telling us two things about this team - there is little margin for error, and the Predators are quite comfortable in close games.
6. Vancouver Canucks: 48-27-4 overall, 3-1 last week
SBN Blog: Nucks Misconduct
The Canucks have clinched the Northwest Division, and at 100 points are most likely going to earn the 3rd seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Unfortunately for them, that likely means a match up against the a Vancouver-Detroit showdown., a team they are 1-2-1 against this season. It's this fact that has the fine folks over at Winging It In Motown ready for
7. Detroit Red Wings: 41-24-14 overall, 2-1-1 last week
SBN Blog: Winging It In Motown
The Red Wings were in danger of not making the playoffs as short as a few weeks ago, but with just one regulation loss in their last 11 games, the Wings enter the postseason as one of the most feared teams in the West. With a hot goaltender in Jimmy Howard and obvious loads of playoff experience, nobody will really be surprised if the Wings get back to the Cup Finals for a third year in a row.
8. New Jersey Devils: 45-26-7 overall, 1-0-2 last week
SBN Blog: In Lou We Trust
... he has accomplished these things with different coaches and players, and he continues to thrive today as he leads all NHL goalies to date with 42 wins. The elder statesman does not seem to be slowing down at all as he also has played in more games, (73) and has more time on the ice, (4,260:03) than any other NHL goalie this season.
How far will he take his team this time? Another Division Championship is within the team's grasp.
It's hard to take anything away from the ingenuity of [general manager Lou] Lamoriello, who has been able to craft a system and choose the proper players to thrive in that system, but one could argue that without Martin Brodeur, "the system" might very well have been a failure.
9. Buffalo Sabres: 43-25-10 overall, 2-2 last week
SBN Blog: Die By The Blade
The Sabres can clinch the Northeast with just one more win, but in two attempts so far they haven't been able to get the job done. Regardless of when they finally do clinch the division, or even if they drop down and Ottawa clinches, the Sabres are going to a be an intriguing team this postseason. They've kind of flown under the radar a bit all season with Washington, Pittsburgh and New Jersey getting most of the attention in the East.
But with solid goaltending and excellent team defense, the Sabres are just as poised as anybody to make a deep run in the postseason.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins: 45-26-7 overall, 1-1 last week
SBN Blog: Pensburgh
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby and company are tied with the New Jersey Devils as of this writing for the Atlantic Division lead, each with four games left to go. The Devils have an easier schedule with games against Atlanta, Florida, the Islanders and Buffalo, but some how the Penguins always find a way.
11. Los Angeles Kings: 44-27-7 overall, 2-1-1 last week
SBN Blog: Jewels From The Crown
The Los Angeles Kings have earned their first playoff appearance since 2002 and they could very well have the pleasure of meeting the high-flying Chicago Blackhawks. With four games left, leapfrogging into fifth place could very well happen, though. LA is a young team without much playoff experience, so it'll be interesting to see where they go in the postseason.
That being said, some Kings players may be upset that they have to forgo their tee times this year....
12. Ottawa Senators: 43-31-5 overall, 2-1 last week
SBN Blog: Silver Seven
The Ottawa Senators have solidified at-least the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and barring a major collapse by the Sabres in the last week, they will end up with that position heading into the playoffs. That means a potential match up between either the Devils or Penguins, whom they have a combined 3-5 record against.
13. Calgary Flames: 40-30-9 overall, 2-1 last week
SBN Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
The Calgary Flames need some help to get into the playoffs, but that doesn't mean that they aren't playing some good hockey right now. The tragic number for the Flames -- the total amount of points the Avalanche gain or the Flames squander -- is five. With games against San Jose, Minnesota, and Vancouver, gaining those points may be difficult.
14. Colorado Avalanche: 42-29-7 overall, 1-2 last week
SBN Blog: Mile High Hockey
The Avalanche control their own destiny still, even despite a Friday night loss to the Calgary Flames. The Avalanche have four games left this week and any points they capture in those games are going to help their chances at making the playoffs. One Colorado win and one Calgary loss in the final week will wrap things up.
15. Montreal Canadiens: 39-32-8 overall, 2-1 last week
SBN Blog: Habs Eyes On The Prize
The Montreal Canadiens are currently hanging on tight for a playoff spot, but they should get there when everything gets sorted out at the end of the week. They're four points ahead of the ninth place New York Rangers with three games left. Montreal's cake schedule of the Islanders, Carolina, and Toronto are what should seal the deal for this team, but you can be sure that some of those teams -- especially the Leafs -- are looking to play spoiler.
16. Anaheim Ducks: 38-31-9 overall, 3-0-1 last week
SBN Blog: Anaheim Calling
The Anaheim Ducks are going to be out of the playoffs when all is said and done, but they have played some inspired hockey in the last week to garner some votes. They are six points out with four games left and two other teams to leap frog. The Ducks, though, are a team that have the pieces in place and can make a serious run next year, and they likely would've been there this year if not for an implosion following the Olympic break. Could have something to do with the fact that half their team went to the Vancouver Games, perhaps?