NHL Power Rankings: 3/17/14

A lot of movement in this week’s edition of the NHL power rankings. It’s mostly the same teams at the top, but the middle-class looks starkly different compared to a week ago – as it likely will next week, too. The jockeying continues! 

RANK

TEAM (Record)

LW

MOVEMENT

THE SKINNY

1

St. Louis (46-14-7)

2-0-1

The Blues have yet to lose in regulation since adding Steve Ott, proof that he was the missing piece to the team’s puzzle. Just kidding. That move was all about Ryan Miller, who, with six wins in seven games, has put St. Louis over the top.
2

Boston (45-17-5)

3-0-0

Winning has turned into a checklist item for the Bruins, who have now won eight in a row. They show up to the rink, wear down the opposition, collect their two points and head for home. It’s clockwork.
3

San Jose (45-17-7)

4-0-0

∧ 1

An impressive week for the Sharks, who dismantled Toronto at home on Tuesday before going three-for-three against the Metro on the road. San Jose has officially caught Anaheim in the Pacific Division, and boy, what a race that will be down the stretch.
4

Anaheim (45-16-7)

2-2-0

∨ 1

The Ducks finally have some company atop the Pacific Division, which might be just what they need to shake off the late-winter doldrums. The fire has cooled in Anaheim – 6-6-2 since their Stadium Series win against L.A. – but a Thursday night trip to San Jose has combustibility written all over it.
5

Colorado (44-19-5)

3-1-0

∧ 2

Perhaps only the Bruins have a more Bettman-proof record than the Avs, who depend little on shootout wins and extra-time losses. What’s that mean? Patrick Roy’s boys are for real.
6

Pittsburgh (44-19-4)

2-2-0

∨ 1

Without James Neal and Chris Kunitz, the Pens went winless in a weekend home-and-home against the Flyers. This team has dealt with injuries all year long, but you have to wonder if the losses to Philadelphia portend more of the same.
7

Chicago (39-15-4)

1-2-0

∧ 1

Since the start of January, the Blackhawks have 10 wins in 25 games. That they remain near the top of the West is a tribute to how well they played early on, but the Cup isn’t handed out in October. Expect Chicago to ratchet things back up before the playoffs.
8

Minnesota (35-22-10)

1-0-2

∧ 2

The Wild have picked up points in 10 of their past 11 games, as they slowly begin to build a cushion on the first wild card spot out west. They’re now five points clear of second-place Dallas, and look like a playoff lock at this point.
9

Los Angeles (38-24-6)

1-2-0

∨ 3

The Kings’ eight-game win streak was short-circuited by a pair of losses to Toronto and Anaheim to close out the week, but the slide should end there. L.A. enjoys a friendly slate of games against the Coyotes, Capitals and Panthers this week.
10

Philadelphia (35-25-7)

2-1-0

∧ 4

A home-and-home sweep of the Penguins was just what the Flyers needed to validate their recent surge. The next test? A trio of games against the Blackhawks, Stars and Blues.
11

Montreal (37-25-7)

2-1-0

∨ 2

That big rivalry game against the Bruins didn’t live up to the hype, largely because the Habs didn’t show up. Montreal needs Thomas Vanek – one point in five games – to get going.
12

Toronto (36-25-8)

2-2-0

The Leafs negated two impressive wins last week with two unimpressive losses, a reflection of where they’re at as a team. Toronto has the firepower to run with the best of them, and the vulnerabilities to stumble with the worst of them.
13

Tampa Bay (36-24-7)

2-0-1

∧ 3

A pair of wins over the Panthers and Devils last week helped stabilize a team in free-fall. Maybe there is life after Marty St. Louis after all.
14

Dallas (32-24-11)

1-1-1

∨ 3

An opportunity squandered for the Stars, who followed up a big OT win over the Blues on Tuesday night with losses to the Flames and Jets to close out the week.
15

Phoenix (32-25-11)

3-1-0

∧ 5

A big jump for the Coyotes, who are peaking at the right time. They won three of four last week and two of three the week before that, and are knocking on the door out west.
16

Columbus (35-26-6)

2-0-1

∨ 1

No one chugs along quite like the Blue Jackets, who are the quietest team in hockey outside of that cannon they blast at Nationwide Arena after a Columbus goal. A Friday night game against the Rangers brings major playoff implications.
17

N. Y. Rangers (36-29-4)

1-3-0

∨ 4

The Rangers are undoing all the good work they did before the Olympics. They have won just four of ten since Sochi, and have fallen from second in the Metro to second in the Wild Card.
18

Washington (32-27-10)

2-2-0

∨ 1

The Caps rebounded after being swept in a home-and-home against the Penguins to grab four points over the weekend. But outside of the playoff picture looking in and with fewer games remaining than most teams ahead of them, Washington can’t afford another week of .500 play.
19

Detroit (30-24-13)

1-2-0

∨ 1

If there’s one hope for the Wings to hold on to, it’s that they have games in hand on the teams they’re chasing in the East. But that won’t matter if they continue to turn in the type of effort they did on Sunday night in Chicago.
20

New Jersey (29-26-13)

1-2-0

∨ 1

The Devils just don’t seem capable of winning more than a couple games in a row, which is, of course, exactly what they’ll have to do to grab one of those wild card spots in the East. They haven’t won three straight since November.
21

Nashville (29-29-10)

3-1-0

∧ 2

Great to see Pekka Rinne back and playing well(ish), but time has probably run out on the Preds, who are seven points shy of the playoffs with 14 games to go. It will take an im-pekka-ble run of play to erase that gap.
22

Vancouver (31-28-10)

2-1-0

∧ 3

The John Tortorella-led Canucks refuse to die, grabbing four points out of a possible six last week to close in on Dallas. Maybe, if they hadn’t given up 189 goals in the third period against the Islanders on Monday night, things would look even brighter.
23

Carolina (29-30-9)

2-2-0

∧ 1

For a brief moment last week, the Hurricanes had a pulse. But wins over the Rangers and Sabres were quickly wiped out by losses to the Bruins and Oilers, and Carolina flat-lined once again. That can’t be healthy for the fans.
24

Ottawa (28-28-11)

0-3-0

∨ 3

 It’s hard to believe that this team was a dark-horse pick to win the Cup back in September; they’re likely now to miss the playoffs. Perhaps the Sens were so underrated they were overrated.
25

Winnipeg (30-28-12)

1-1-2

∨ 3

A six-game losing streak came mercifully to an end on Sunday, but that’s about the only positive you can draw out off Winnipeg at this point. Realignment really hurt the Jets, who looked much more competitive last season in the Eastern Conference.
26

Calgary (27-35-7)

2-2-0

∧ 2

Kudos to the Flames, who continue to play hard even with the playoffs out of the question. Calgary took down the Ducks and the Stars last week, and gave the Kings and Coyotes all they could handle.
27

N. Y. Islanders (24-36-8)

2-1-0

∧ 2

Ditto the Isles, who stunned Vancouver on Monday and played San Jose tight on Friday. The seven goals in a single period against the Canucks was a franchise record.
28

Florida (25-34-8)

1-2-1

∨ 2

Roberto Luongo has been solid so far in his return to Florida, but the Panthers still have a good deal of retooling to do before they’re back in working order.
29

Edmonton (24-36-9)

2-1-1

∨ 2

For all the skill on this roster, 24 wins through 69 games is a dramatic underachievement. That being said, don’t be surprised to see the Oilers play spoiler down the stretch.
30

Buffalo (19-41-8)

0-4-0

If you’re gonna tank, then really go for it, right? In a league with a reverse-order draft, it’s better to be awful than bad and the Sabres are prepared to demonstrate why this summer.