I think it’s safe to say that the Rangers are currently the best team in the Eastern conference and perhaps the entire league. This is great news for me, since it’s much easier to find pop culture references for New York than it has been for Oakland in the weekly NBA Power Rankings (Shameless plug. Check it out y’all.). Thank you New York. We love you right now.
The Rangers held firm at the top of the rankings, thanks to Cam Talbot’s second consecutive appearance on “Who’s that handsome devil saying no to everyone”. He posted a 3-0-0 record this week, a 1.00 GAA, and a .969 save percentage. Welcome back, Cam (with cameo from Mrs. Cam!).
Another week, another “Holy Tarasenko!” The Blues came on strong this week and along with the Predators recent slide, find themselves atop the ultra-competitive Central Division.
If this team could be completely healthy at some point, they would be a really terrifying force in the Eastern conference. Recently acquired Braydon Coburn is now out for four to six weeks, just as Matt Carle is ready to return.
Things are probably going well for Montreal. Carey Price is my hero, episode 2:
Two periods through Sunday’s game against the Predators, the Ducks were slotted to drop at least one spot in the rankings (You’re generally not allowed to go negative and get away with it.). A Predators implosion in the third period rescued that, and the Ducks find themselves still atop the league in points, tied with the Rangers.
Slightly alarming: The Predators offense has scored more than two goals just twice since February 19th and the team is 3-9 over that span. Panicking? No. Concerned? Definitely.
This is the reason the Red Wings are on their way to the playoffs for the 24th straight season:
They continuously find gems in the system and Mike Babcock quietly does a world-class job making the pieces fit together successfully. A lot of people hate the Wings because of it, but it’s hard not to respect such a successful organization.
I would comment on the dismantling of the Sharks, but is that really that surprising? More importantly, approximately t-9 weeks till Kaner.
The Wild crack the top ten for the first time and have come a long way since being entrenched in what seemed like a hopeless abyss in the bottom third of the rankings just six or seven weeks ago. This team is 19-4-2 since Devan Dubnyk joined the roster and have the best record since the All-Star break. It’s probably time they get their due.
I’m worried that this team is going to be just a “nice story” and not a championship contending team without shoring up the defensive corps and goaltending situation. Goaltending wins championships (Tim Thomas 2011, Jonathan Quick 2012, Corey Crawford 2013, Jonathan Quick 2014 were the best goalies in the playoffs and were instrumental to their Stanley Cup runs) and Halak has simply not been good enough to be in that discussion without a drastic change.
Regardless of what happened on the ice this week, it’s always nice to see stories of athletes and role models contribute to their community.
On the ice, the Capitals will be fine probably. Braden Holtby is definitely in consideration for the Vezina.
The Kings are projected to need about 96 points to make the playoffs, meaning they would need 17 points in 14 games, or a manageable 8-5-1 mark to close out the season. It’s difficult to believe that this battle-tested team won’t be a postseason factor.
There are three “heartwarming story” teams in the Western conference (as well as two “heartcooling story” teams: San Jose and Colorado) in Calgary, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. Out of those, I expect Calgary to unfortunately be the one that crashes and burns come playoff time without captain Mark Giordano and suspect netminding. They likely won’t be a major threat to any team after the first round. That is… if they make it.
The least suspect of the “heartwarming story” teams, just because of their recently successful seasons with their gameplan of surrounding their Swedish meatballs with a lineup of protective goons. The chemistry between the Sedins is unparalleled, but the talent on the rest of the roster is actually quite easily paralleled.
The Bruins felt the heat on their tails from Ottawa and Florida and responded strong with a 3-1-0 week. Also a positive for them, the Canadiens are no longer atop the Eastern conference, which means the Bruins might NOT get swept when they get to the playoffs. Fun fact: Tuukka Rask is 6-17-3 lifetime against the Habs. Ouch.
I’m sincerely apologetic for this ranking. I don’t think the Penguins should actually be this low, but I needed a way to reward the three teams immediately above them for going positive in this season-defining week for them while the Penguins dropped three of their four even though they’ve clearly already punched their ticket to the postseason.
Andrew Hammond was a close second in “Who’s that handsome devil saying no to everyone” this week (contrary to what I said about him likely not repeating for the award) and the Senators are trying their absolute hardest to sneak into the playoffs behind the Hamburglar’s work.
The playoffs are slowly sneaking away from the Panthers as the Bruins build a lead on the last spot. The positive we can draw from this is the return of our Florida panther “Did you know?” segment.
Buff’s return to the ice is huge news for the Jets, who are just trying to stay alive in the race. Ideally, it won’t take many moments of individual brilliance like this to make that happen, because the Jets have definitely put together the body of work necessary to be worthy this season.
Every game is a “Game 7” for this team right now, and the win over the Flames was big to give the Avs a slim chance at the postseason, but it’s beginning to look like the Avalanche were a “nice story” last season than a perennial power.
Week four of the “Shark Watch”: STILL pissing their way out of playoffs. Accidentally trending up again this week, looking good through two periods against the Blackhawks, but then remembered to maintain mediocrity again and allowed a four goal third.
The Stars are the worst team in the West that isn’t Arizona or Edmonton, and I guarantee you no team in their right mind would want to go play the Stars and their electrifying offense. With that offense in tow, if Kari Lehtonen makes half an appearance in goal, this team is terrifying. Here’s our “Terrifying Tyler” of the week:
The Flyers are the Eastern conference version of the Stars as their playoff hopes dim. They’re the random dangerous team that screws up seeding for the playoffs for contenders (by suddenly routing Detroit 7-2)
The Devils should buy Cory Schneider more than just dinner.
Scotty Hartnell paced the NHL with five goals in four games this week, and this Jackets team shows flashes of competitive edge and grit, just much too little, way too late in the season. This is the biggest example of “But next year…”
This is a real shame and kind of the story of the Hurricanes. The seats don’t fill, with average attendance dropping by over four thousand fans per game over the last four or five years, and unless change comes quickly, realistically the Canes might not be in Raleigh for much longer.
This article makes it seem like the Leafs AREN’T trying to lose every game. Don’t be fooled people, they definitely are.
The highlight of the Oilers season is the Monday night matchup between Toronto and Edmonton in a bout of “teams treading water”. Someone HAS to win! (Other “teams treading water”: Arizona, New Jersey)
Just remember Sabres fans…
Featured Image: empirewritesback.com