With the NHL Season wrapping up within the next couple of weeks It is getting close to playoff time. Which is usually filled with the best hockey of the season. I mean sure the season is fun to watch play out. But the playoffs are on a different level entirely.
I look forward to the playoffs, as do most hockey fans. It is eight weeks of chaos and action. Some heartbreak for 15 fan bases when it is all said and done. But it is just what drives fans to come back next year. I mean, heck, the Chicago Cubs fans in baseball did it for over 100 years. They knew one day they would see their beloved Cubs win the World Series and ultimately ended up rewarded for it.
But before we get to the playoffs there are two more weeks of hockey left, so let’s get to these power rankings, shall we?
NHL Power Rankings – March 23, 2019
What a season Tampa is having. They started out a little slow but boy has Tampa ever turned it into a historic season. The only question is, can the commitment in the playoffs match the talent on this roster? If it can then Tampa may have a cakewalk into the Stanley Cup Finals. It takes more than talent to win a Stanley Cup, a lesson that Tampa Bay should have learned in last years Eastern Conference Finals.
The Bruins have dealt with some pretty bad injuries over the last several weeks and they still have 99 points and are close to clinching a playoff spot. That shows some good depth and how to play as a team. The Bruins should be a strong contender in the Stanley Cup playoffs if they can remain healthy and get their current injured players back to full health by mid-April.
The Flames are an interesting team. They are the team that I think may have the toughest goaltending to deal with any of the top teams. If Mike Smith for some reason struggles, can the Flames count on David Rittich? We’ll have to wait and see. The Flames offense though should not be a problem.
Speaking of teams with goalies who could become an issue. Has anyone looked at Martin Jones‘ numbers? They aren’t exactly stellar. If the Sharks offense runs dry in any of their playoff series, can they count on Martin Jones to be the difference maker? I can’t see that right now.
The Jets seem to be quietly good. They don’t get into any of the headlines if you really think of it. But yet they are one of the best teams in the NHL. Isn’t that something?
6. Washington Capitals
The Capitals are coming on late and they look primed to make another run at the Stanley Cup. The game the other night against Tampa Bay was fantastic and it could be a preview of a future playoff series down the line.
Toronto is having a great season and that cannot be taken away from them. But as an analyst of the league it is hard not to point out how the Maple Leafs are still a mess on defense and I think they lack the size to be a true contender, I think they will have trouble against Boston and if they move on they will be outmatched by Tampa Bay from a skill perspective and I think Tampa may be a little tougher. I think Toronto’s size will be an issue in the playoffs and even more concerning is that both of their possible opponents on the way to the Conference Finals are better on defense.
The Islanders are a good scrappy team, however, they have an offense that is near the bottom of the league. On the flip side they have the best defense in the NHL but whether they face Washington or Pittsburgh, they will be facing a powerful offense, so how much will that defense matter?
I am very impressed with the Golden Knights. They started the season in rough shape, but they have really become one of the best teams in the NHL over the last 50 or so games. It has been remarkable. With that said the hard work will most likely land them a series with the Sharks or Flames. That is a heck of a consolation prize.
The Predators are going to be a team that will be hard to take down. They have a grade A defense and a world-class goalie. Despite not being high on this list, they are not a team to sleep on. They are talented and can hang with any team in the league.
11. St. Louis Blues
The Blues with their great February and solid March have themselves in a good position to make the postseason if they can continue to get the job done. Which is stunning since they have been a so-so team pretty much all season outside of February.
The Penguins have loads of talent but so far have not put up much in the way of a truly impressive season. If we are being honest they only have 40 wins against 35 losses combined, that is hardly that great. So they may be in the top ten in points, but that is thanks largely to 11 overtime/shootout losses. So, therefore, I don’t put them in the top ten right now, maybe in the last rankings at the end of the season they can get into the top ten but as of right now, I don’t consider them as a top ten team.
Columbus has been cooling off the last few weeks or so which is a bad time considering they are currently one point out of a playoff spot. They need to get their act together or else the work that Jarmo Kekäläinen put into constructing this roster will be ruined. Which doesn’t look good for the chances of keeping Artemi Panarin if they can’t even reach the playoffs?
The Hurricanes/Whalers have been a nice story this season. But the part that I like the most is that they are getting attention for their post-win celebrations. I mean, they deserve to celebrate as they see fit. Why should they care if it is cheesy most of the time? They are having fun, and that fits for that market. Cheesy or not.
Carey Price is doing everything in his power to carry the Canadiens to the playoffs. He has been lights out recently, and thanks to that, the Canadiens have themselves in the final wild-card spot.
16. Dallas Stars
Dallas is playing well at the right time. And because of this, the Stars are four points up on the Coyotes and Avs for the first wild-card spot in the West. They have a cushion and they have the talent to secure their spot in the postseason.
I don’t get the Flyers, one week they seem to play well. And the next week they look awful. I think because of the inconsistency it will be the reason they end up missing the playoffs. But to give them credit, they seem to have something with Carter Hart. The Flyers might have a capable goalie now. But the question remains, will they give him a better defense next year to allow him to truly shine? Time will tell.
18. Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes last weekend had a wild-card spot in their possession. But have since lost two in a row and appear to have lost a little of the luster they were playing with. There is still time to get it back, unfortunately for the Coyotes, I don’t think they have the skillset to match Colorado, Minnesota, or Chicago, all of which are trying to get into the same spot.
The Avalanche are winning at the right time and they deserve a lot of credit for that. There are two weeks left in the season and the Avs control their own destiny in their next five games with 2 games versus the Blackhawks (this weekend), one game against the Blues, Golden Knights, and Coyotes. The Wild-card spot is for the taking if Colorado wants it bad enough.
I give the Blackhawks credit, to even be within striking distance of a playoff spot seems like a shocking development. Especially since I thought that they could be sellers at the trade deadline. But they have put it together and they have a legitimate chance at the playoffs.
21. Florida Panthers
Florida is still in playoff contention but they have to make up seven points with eight games left. It is possible but I just feel like Florida is too far out to make the playoffs and they have grossly underperformed if you compare this season to last year.
22. Minnesota Wild
The Wild are picking a bad time to lose some games, time is running out and their hopes of making the playoffs are fading with every game they lose. Granted the Wild are just one point out of the last wild-card spot. But it seems like a lot more with the losses and who they have come against, which are other teams fighting for the same spot they are trying to secure themselves.
I did not expect much out of the Canucks, and I would say they surpassed my expectations because overall with as young of a team as they have, they have been pretty good and show the potential for a playoff push sooner rather than later.
24. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers are technically still in the race, but they are a long shot. They are playing better with Andrej Sekera back in the lineup. But ultimately they underperformed too long to recover now.
25. Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks are playing better lately and have looked to be a pretty respectable hockey team. I do wonder now that general manager Bob Murray has had the time to stand behind the bench whether or not he has gotten a clearer picture of potential roster moves he might want to make in June/July.
I put New Jersey here because I don’t think the Devils are as bad as they are playing. They are dealing with a lot of injuries to good players. I felt like it was unfair to put them below the next terms because I strongly believe that their season is primarily a result of injuries, not so much talent.
27. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres were sniffing a playoff spot before their most recent run in their last ten games. But now that seems to be long gone. But it is hard to imagine the Sabres not getting in next season, their young talent should mature and only get better.
28. New York Rangers
The Rangers were what I expected them to be, a rebuilding club that will go through some growing pains. I am not sure why the Rangers hung onto Lundqvist, his best days might be gone before this team is ready to compete.
Admittedly I moved the Kings up over Detroit because of their impressive win last night over the Sharks. But also because they have been better than the Red Wings lately. Which isn’t saying much I guess but it still holds some weight in my eyes.
The future is bright, but right now the Red Wings are experiencing some growing pains. They should end up with a good draft pick this season, maybe they can add a piece that can contribute next season.
31. Ottawa Senators
The Senators have had a nightmare season and it looks like it will end as ugly as it started with the owner questioning who the real fans are. The Sens are a dumpster fire right now. And they expect to be handed a new arena? Sure why not? What could possibly go wrong?
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