A new week brings yet another new face to the top of the rankings. The Ducks have flown slightly under the radar, but they’ve been burning up the ice recently and have finally earned a deserving spot pacing the rest of the field.
The Ducks took one to the gut against the Blue Jackets but bounced right back and ripped off three straight road wins to take a somewhat unexpected lead in the President’s trophy race. For this, we’ve rewarded them with their first appearance at the top of the standings. As has been the storyline with this team in recent years, with this being their third straight Pacific division crown, the real test will come in the playoffs where they haven’t made nearly enough noise given their regular season success.
Perhaps the slump was actually good for the Preds, who have come back strong and have a three point cushion on the Blues in the standings. It’s important to learn these lessons before the real adversity strikes in the postseason.
Even with a suboptimal week, the Habs find themselves atop the Eastern conference standings thanks to the Rangers recent struggle. I think it’s clear that Carey Price and the Canadiens, the Rangers, and to some extent the Lightning are far and away the class of this year’s Eastern conference. Carey Price is my hero, episode 4 (Seriously, how does he do stuff like this every week?):
Maybe the Rangers do need Henrik Lundqvist after all, following a 1-3-0 week. They’re still on pace to finish atop the East, but they’ve stumbled at an inopportune time.
A bad week bumps the Lightning down a few spots, and while this team has its skeptics this season (myself being one of them), the future is definitely bright.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) March 30, 2015
Devan Dubnyk makes his second appearance on “Who’s that handsome* devil saying no to everyone” (The asterisk returns because… let’s just say Dubnyk doesn’t clean up as much as some of our previous studs.). Dubnyk posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.22 GAA and a 0.962 save percentage.
The Blues spend their second straight week (and second week overall) outside the top five since the inception of these power rankings. They’ll have to work to assimilate Kevin Shattenkirk back into the lineup down the stretch if they want to make a deep playoff run.
Some Hawks fans are optimistic with the team’s chances without Kane (t-7 weeks till Kaner). Not this loyal fan, who states simply:
The Hawks better not blow this.
This is a man that takes no prisoners.
The win over the Rangers was supremely important to put the Capitals back on track to finish strong, who have a fighting chance to overtake the Islanders or Penguins for a divisional playoff spot, sitting just three points out right now.
The Islanders are another team that can take solace in their season despite the overwhelming skepticism of their playoff chances. Like the Lightning, this team is incredibly young, and having taken such a huge step forward this year, the future looks very promising.
The goaltending situation has to be a concern for the Red Wings right now. Jimmy Howard has been incredibly inconsistent, and realistically he’d be out of a job in most feasible situations. On the flipside, his backup Petr Mrazek has been “a yippy puppy that keeps slipping his leash” so he can’t take over the job firmly either. After a 5-4 loss to the Islanders, this is something the Red Wings really need to look at closely if they want to make a deep playoff run.
Countdown to 96 points: 3-1-0 week brings them to a manageable 4-3-0 to finish the season. Even better for them, they only have three more playoff teams on the docket (at Chicago, at Vancouver, and at Calgary).
This is no knock on the Flames, but I can guarantee the Canucks are hoping against hope that the Flames can hold on just long enough to keep the Kings out of the postseason, because it’s a well-known fact: NO ONE wants to play the Kings in the playoffs. At this point, every point is the most important point of the season, so the overtime home loss to Dallas was a big blow, especially after putting up a no-show against the Avs the game before.
The Flames have done very admirably since losing their captain and best player in Mark Giordano. I have stated multiple times that I’m worried for their playoff prospects without Giordano, but this team has been proving people wrong all season, so who are we to write them off yet again?
I kept my promise and move the Penguins up! Sure, it was only one spot, but the blows keep coming for this team. Just as Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup, Kris Letang ended up in the hospital after this hit:
We can say all we want about the Penguins playoff struggles due to “lack of mental toughness” or coaching issues over the last few years, but without a healthy lineup all that is out the window.
Andrew Hammond has hit the inevitable rough patch recently, giving up 14 goals on 113 shots (a 0.876 save percentage) in a recent four game swoon, and the Sens dropped a crucial set of back to back games (at Toronto (Hello?) and a home game against Florida). Concerned “Karlsson”:
Their lead on the Kings is getting slimmer by the day, and the Jets really need to find a way to put it all together in the continued absence of top-line center Bryan Little, or else they’ll find themselves on the couch much sooner than they want to be. Maybe the Sharks and Jets can spend the summer competing in West Side Story-themed friendlies. I’d buy into it for sure.
The Panthers are just so close but not quite there in search of the last playoff spot. Now sitting four points behind the Bruins with six games left all we have left is hope.
The Bruins have responded to the critics in some force, picking up five of six points and trending back towards “when they reach the playoffs”. Unfortunately for them, if the playoffs started today, they’d be facing their dreaded Montreal Canadiens.
This week, terrifying Tyler is hungry.
The classic story of “way too little, way too late” continues for the Blue Jackets, who strung together a really impressive week with convincing wins over Anaheim, Chicago, and St. Louis. The “what if” speculation could continue for quite some time for this team regarding their really unfortunate injury struggles all season.
Week six of the “Shark Watch”: They have no idea what they’re doing. BLOW IT UP BOYS. PLEASE.
The Avalanche are officially once again bringing up the rear in the Western conference “less than elite” group (I didn’t mention them last week, but this group also has the Sharks as well.), and it’s beginning to seem more and more like last season was a fluke and perhaps not the norm.
The Flyers are stuck. They’re not a young team. The only players under 24 on the roster are Michael Del Zotto, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Zac Rinaldo. They have a few “entering their prime” guys in Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek but after that there’s really not to talk about in terms of the youth movement. Unless something changes quickly, it’s hard to imagine the Flyers will be anything more than a middling team for the next few seasons at the very least.
Flashback to vintage Cam Ward. He shows up three times a season. That might be part of the problem in Raleigh.
Devils captain Patrik Elias says the problem with the Devils over the last three years (since their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012) has been an overall lack of goal scoring ability. Maybe they should coax Ilya Kovalchuk to come back to America. He’s a decent goal scorer.
27: Edmonton Oilers (22-40-13: 57 Points) Last Week: 27
Todd Nelson in a recent interview about the return of Taylor Hall and their recent offensive surge:
When we put that line together, it looked good on paper and in theory, and it’s nice to see them getting rewarded for hard work. (Friday) night, they (Dallas Stars) had their two big lines going and it was a situation where I had any three of those lines able to play against those two.
Yeah Todd, we agree, at one point it all looked decent on paper too. And then the season started…
28: Toronto Maple Leafs (28-42-6: 62 Points) Last Week: 28
The season may be lost for the Leafs, but this is a beautiful gesture, and it’s always awesome to see stories like this.
A secretly good week has Coyotes fans probably sadder than they want to be as they lose ground in the McEichel Derby.
The Sabres were cheered by their home crowd when they lost in overtime in the crapfest of the season (Arizona vs Buffalo). Just remember Sabres fans, finishing last just means that they’re the best at losing!
Featured Image: espn.go.com