Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NHL Power Rankings (4 of 4)

The season is over and the playoffs have begun.  This is the final power rankings according to my personal take on the standings:

The Red Wings have made the playoffs 22 years in a
row thanks to a 4-game winning streak to finish strong.

  1. Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Anaheim Ducks
  4. Montreal Canadiens
  5. Boston Bruins
  6. Vancouver Canucks
  7. St. Louis Blues
  8. Washington Capitals
  9. Los Angeles Kings
  10. Toronto Maple Leafs
  11. San Jose Sharks
  12. New York Rangers
  13. Ottawa Senators
  14. Detroit Red Wings
  15. New York Islanders
  16. Minnesota Wild
  17. Columbus Blue Jackets
  18. Winnipeg Jets
  19. Phoenix Coyotes
  20. Philadelphia Flyers
  21. Dallas Stars
  22. New Jersey Devils
  23. Buffalo Sabres
  24. Edmonton Oilers
  25. Carolina Hurricanes
  26. Calgary Flames
  27. Nashville Predators
  28. Tampa Bay Lightning
  29. Colorado Avalanche
  30. Florida Panthers
End of season divisional breakdown:
I fully saw three teams making the playoffs out of this division, but the Islanders were not one of them.  They have young talent that makes them a scary team going into the future, and top goalie in Evgeni Nabokov.  They will have their hands full with Pittsburgh in the first round but it will be an educational round that will benefit them going forward.  New York got the lucky draw of Washington in the first round.  King Henry is a different guy come playoff time so look for New York to potentially make noise.  New Jersey went on a stupid skid at the end of the year that saw their playoff dreams go out the window.  As for Philly, boy do they wish they still had Bobrobsky.  They were pathetic considering what they are capable of.  Better luck next year to Devils and Flyers fans.

I did NOT expect four of this division's teams to make the playoffs, but that is how it turned out.  Boston had a weird schedule late in the year which may have led to them being 4th instead of 2nd.  They were in a dogfight with Montreal all year for that #2 seed but came out on the losing end.  Boston finds itself in an original six matchup with Toronto in the first round.  The Maple Leafs are back in the playoffs for the first time since before the 2005 lockout.  The Rask and Kessel trades will be a key factor in the series which should be a thriller.  Montreal also finds itself playing a team within the division, so it will go from 4 teams to just 2 after this round.  Ottawa almost knocked off the Rangers last year in a 7 game series, so do not expect this team to be an easy team for the Habs.  Price was a Vezina candidate all year until he forgot how to stop pucks down the stretch.  If he finds his top game again, the Habs are true Cup contenders.  Buffalo was a disappointment this year but they are building a bright future by trading away players with great return.  Look forward to brighter days without Ruff as your coach Buffalo fans, this team will be better next year.

Have I ever told you this division is a joke.  Washington is hot right now but Holtby vs Lundqvist does not bode well for them.  They secured the 3 seed as the only team to make playoffs in the division.  Ovechkin remembered how to score but we will see how long that lasts going into playoffs.  Winnipeg put up a good fight with Washington but ultimately couldn't keep up.  I must say I am very disappointed they did nothing at the trade deadline to better their roster.  Florida, Tampa, and Carolina are all near the bottom of the league and have their work cut out for them in the future.  Florida has incredible prospects in their system, but the other two teams should be a bit more worried.

Chicago held on to the best record in the NHL after their historic start to the season.  They are looking good going into the playoffs but Emery and Bolland are key injuries that could hinder such success.  St. Louis after the trade deadline is a completely different team than they were before.  Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold are HUGE additions to an already stacked defensive team.  Elliot is playing with confidence again and the Blues are serious contenders.  The Red Wings won their last 4 games to extend their postseason streak to 22 years.  Meanwhile, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets won their last 3 only to end up tied with Minnesota for the 8 seed but lose the tiebreaker.  Bobrovsky or Niemi should be a Vezina winner when the awards are announced.  Nashville clearly missed Ryan Suter this year, but this young team is going to be fine under the tremendous coaching of Barry Trotz.

Obviously Vancouver won this division but to only be a 3 seed is slightly startling.  They underachieved despite winning the division.  They had the softest schedules in the NHL and they still have a goalie controversy.  Will it be Luongo or Schneider?  Stay tuned.  They were 0-3 against San Jose this year so they didn't get a fortunate first round draw.  Minnesota snuck in as the 8 seed but have to play Chicago first.  Throw in the injuries to Heatley and Backstrom and they have their work cut out for them.  Edmonton is still young and not ready for a playoff run quite yet.  Calgary and Colorado meanwhile face bleak futures due to their inept roster.

The Anaheim Ducks secured the 2 seed long before the end of the season.  They had an incredible run early in the season but with Getzlaf and Perry receiving their massive long-term contracts I question their motivation.  Even if they survive the Red Wings in the first round, they do not seem like Cup contenders.  The defending champion Los Angeles Kings may not have wanted to win that season finale against San Jose.  Despite making quick work of the Blues last year in the second round, I still think the Blues are a tall task for anybody.  The Kings and Blues will likely go 6 or 7 games and be beaten up when that series is all over.  The Sharks have a 3-0 record against Vancouver and also have the best home record in the NHL.  If they take one of the first two games in Vancouver, they should be fine in surviving this tough first round contest.  Phoenix and Dallas came up short this year but were in contention until the last week.  Dallas continues to finish in the 9-11 rank every year.  Maybe if they didn't trade away Jagr, Morrow, Ryder, and others while still in contention then maybe they'd be playing right now.  The Pacific Division continues to be one of the strongest divisions in the league.

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