NHL Power Rankings
by Joe Paciella - 04/07/2008
As the regular season draws to a close, we get set to embark on the best time of the year in the NHL. The playoffs feature many good teams loaded with talent, which should make for good hockey. But before we drop the puck for those games, let's take a look at the final regular season NHL power rankings of 2008…
You will see playoff beards for a while on:
1. Detroit Red Wings (115 pts.) - Detroit has regained the top spot in the final power rankings of the season due to a strong finish that included only three regulation losses in the months of March and April. The Red Wings get a Nashville team that had a pretty shaky March, which should make this series fairly one-sided.
2. San Jose Sharks (108 pts.) - San Jose did not have a regulation loss in the month of March. In fact, the final two games of the season were the only two games that they failed to record a point since Feb. 20. Now they get a Calgary team that hasn't been able to sustain any type of winning streak down the stretch. Take the Sharks here.
3. Montreal Canadians (104 pts.) - Montreal had enough in the tank to edge out Pittsburgh for the most points in the Eastern Conference. The Canadians now get home ice in the East and a first round matchup with Boston. They are 8-0 against the Bruins this year. The Habs should advance in four or five games.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (102 pts.) - Pittsburgh missed a golden opportunity to knock off Philly and wrap up home ice in the East. Now, the Pens get the No. 2 seed and an Ottawa team that played them well this year. Don't be surprised if this one goes the distance, but Pittsburgh will eventually advance.
Dark horses that could get it going towards the Cup:
5. Anaheim Ducks (102 pts.) - Anaheim is the No. 4 seed and will take on Dallas in the first round. These two teams are going in completely different directions. The Ducks are 8-2 in their last 10 and Dallas only has four wins since March 1. Ducks all the way here.
6. Washington Capitals (94 pts.) - Washington closed out the season winning 11 out of their last 12 games en route to capturing the Southeast Division title. If Philadelphia, their first round opponent, isn't careful, they could get steamrolled by the NHL's leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin and this red-hot squad.
7. New York Rangers (97 pts.) - New York lost on Sunday to New Jersey, giving the Devils home ice against the Blue Shirts for their series beginning on Wednesday. Despite being the lower seed, the Rangers actually have a great matchup here; Sunday's loss was the first against the Devils over the eight games they faced each other this year. Rangers should advance in five.
8. Minnesota Wild (98 pts.) - Minnesota fended off the rest of the teams in the Northwest Division to capture the title and the No. 3 seed. They draw Colorado, a team they know very well. Look for this series to go at least six.
Outside chance to make a run:
9. Philadelphia Flyers (95 pts.) - Philadelphia has looked good down the stretch, especially with the tough schedule they had. Things don't get any easier though, with the streaking Capitals as their first round opponent. Washington will try to ride that momentum and put the Flyers away early, but Philly should be strong enough to make it close. Caps will prevail in seven though, in a high scoring series.
10. New Jersey Devils (99 pts.) - A cold stretch in late March dropped New Jersey from being a contender for the top seed in the East to barely holding onto home ice for their first-round series. This is cause for concern, especially as they prepare to take on the Rangers, a team that has their number this year.
11. Colorado Avalanche (95 pts.) - Colorado seems to have righted the ship somewhat, as they went 5-0-1 in their last six. This momentum shift is good and could be the edge in what should be a close series against Minnesota; only one of the eight games they played this year against the Wild was decided by more than two goals.
Teams in the playoffs because the format says they need to be:
12. Dallas Stars (97 pts.) - Although Dallas took the season series against Anaheim, their first round opponent, 5-3, they have been ice cold in March and April, and should not be trusted with any wager. The Ducks are the play here.
13. Nashville Predators (91 pts.) - Congratulations Nashville! Despite a not-so-great March, you went 5-1-1 in your last seven and got yourselves into the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. What have you won? A first round matchup with Detroit! We will have some lovely parting gifts for you, though.
14. Calgary Flames (94 pts.) - Although Calgary won three out of four this year against San Jose, their first round opponent, they will not have enough to get it done in the postseason. The Sharks are great on the road, which negates any home ice advantage the Flames will have when the scene shifts back to Canada.
15. Boston Bruins (94 pts.) - This will be the most lopsided series of the first round, as the Bruins will get disposed of quickly. The Celtics will lose to Tim Duncan and the Spurs, as the best playoff team in any sport will get it rolling. The Red Sox will be overtaken by the Rays and miss the playoffs. And the Hoodie will face a multi-game suspension for his role in Spygate. The fans of Boston sports will begin to wonder if their short run of championships for the city was just some kind of cruel joke.
16. Ottawa Senators (94 pts.) - With only seven wins since late February, the Senators will prove that you cannot turn on good play from poor play when you need to, as they will get bounced from the playoffs by the NHL's golden boy, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Late season collapses and runs that came up short:
17. Carolina Hurricanes (92 pts.) - The finish wasn't as bad as last year's Mets, but Carolina got passed by the surging Capitals and missed the playoffs. The Canes could have wrapped up the division, but with losses to Washington and Florida in two of their last three, that possibility disappeared.
18. Buffalo Sabres (90 pts.) - The Sabres gave it a good run down the stretch, but a bad start in January put them in a position that was close to impossible to recover from.
19. Edmonton Oilers (88 pts.) - Teams at the top of the West are glad that Edmonton did not get in the playoffs. They had a great March and were really coming on strong before they were eliminated.
20. Chicago Blackhawks (88 pts.) - Team scoring leader Patrick Kane wrapped up the regular season rookie scoring title, as he beat out Washington's Nicklas Backstrom. The Blackhawks certainly have something to build on for the future.
21. Florida Panthers (85 pts.) - A seven-game winning streak in March was great, but they really needed to go undefeated in the month to have a shot at making the playoffs.
Teams already looking towards the draft:
22. Vancouver Canucks (88 pts.) - A bad March and April proved that Vancouver was not a team that would be able to contend with the big boys in a playoff series.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (83 pts.) - Mats Sundin's status is one of the biggest stories for this club in the off-season. It's a big question mark right now.
24. Phoenix Coyotes (83 pts.) - They didn't finish last, which is where many picked them to end up. That has to be worth something.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (80 pts.) - Not to say that they would have made the playoffs, but winning only four games in March and April didn't help their cause. A better run down the stretch may have made things a little more interesting.
26. St. Louis Blues (79 pts.) - In one of the few bright spots of the season, Keith Tkachuk scored his 500th career goal in a game against Columbus. Congrats on that milestone and on a great career.
27. New York Islanders (79 pts.) - The Isles good play over the Rangers this year is about all they can take away from a horrible season.
28. Atlanta Thrashers (76 pts.) - Ilya Kovalchuk finished second in goals in the NHL behind Alexander Ovechkin. That's the headline for the Thrashers this season.
29. Los Angeles Kings (71 pts.) - The Kings gave up a conference-high 266 goals on the season. If defense wins championships, this team has a lot to work on if they want to get close to a Cup.
30. Tampa Bay Lightning (71 pts.) - Vincent Lecavalier needs some help.