NHL power rankings

NHL power rankings: Leafs moving up, closing in on long-awaited return to playoffs.

There are less than two weeks of hockey left, and the Blackhawks inch closer to the Presidents’ Trophy and home ice throughout the playoffs that comes with it. And with a six-game winning streak, Chicago doesn’t seem content to back off heading into the playoffs.
1 Blackhawks 33-5-4

Ray Emery, who was out of the league just a couple years ago, is 16-1-0 after the Hawks’ 5-2 win over the Stars on Monday. Good enough to be a starter ahead of Corey Crawford for the playoffs? Probably not, but Emery isn’t a bad fallback.

2 Penguins 32-10-0

Sidney Crosby (broken jaw) was back practicing with a full shield on Monday. A great sign even if his timetable to return is still uncertain. With the Pens already securing a playoff spot (and the division), there’s no rush.

3 Ducks 27-10-5

Anaheim is in the playoffs, although a two-game skid won’t inspire confidence. Neither will a listless offense that has scored only two goals combined in those two games.

4 Canadiens 26-11-5

Carey Price might want to find the receipt for his new pads. (Or maybe CCM needs to refit the Habs’ star goalie.) He allowed three goals on four shots against the Leafs on Saturday and gave up six goals on 29 shots in Monday’s loss to the Flyers.

5 Bruins 26-11-4

The Bruins could get deeper at center shortly, not that it was much of a concern after Monday’s tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon. Patrice Bergeron (concussion) may have made his return in Monday’s game against the Sens before it was canceled.

6 Canucks 24-12-6

Vancouver, through Monday’s action, has lost just twice this month (5-2-0), and those setbacks were by a one-goal margin. Ryan Kessler is back from a broken foot that kept him on the shelf for 19 games. Things are trending in the right direction in BC.

7 Kings 24-14-4

Throw out one game this month -- a 5-1 loss to Dallas on April 8 -- and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has allowed two or more goals just twice. That’s good enough for a 3-2 record, but more importantly it shows a cog in last year’s Stanley Cup run could be back to form.

8 Sharks 22-13-7

San Jose is on a 7-2-1 streak, the latest win coming with a 4-0 thumping of the Coyotes on Monday. The task gets tougher Tuesday (Kings) and Thursday (Wild), but both are at HP Pavilion, where the Sharks are 14-1-5.

9 Maple Leafs 24-13-5 +2

The Leafs could clinch their first playoff berth Tuesday night in eight seasons. A victory over the Caps (and a Jets loss) would seal it, although they might want to put more than five shots on net through the first two periods like in Monday’s 2-0 win over the Devils.

10 Wild 23-16-3 -1

Minnesota has yet to win back-to-back games this month, although the Wild can change that against the sputtering Oilers on Tuesday.

11 Senators 21-14-6 +1

Just about every team in the East has beaten the Devils lately, but goalie Craig Anderson’s shutout of New Jersey on Friday is worth noting, as it was his first since he returned from an ankle injury.

12 Capitals 23-17-2 +1

The Caps enter Tuesday’s game against the Leafs owning the longest current winning streak (seven games) in the league. This has happened minus forward Brooks Laich (groin), but at least deadline acquisition Martin Erat is back from a leg injury.

13 Blues 23-16-2 -3

St. Louis’ streaky play in recent weeks is worrisome. The Blues chased a six-game winning streak with consecutive losses where they scored one goal in decisions against the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks.

14 Blue Jackets 20-16-7 +7

A four-game winning streak has Columbus even in points with the Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. (The Red Wings have a game in hand.) Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has keyed this most recent surge, including a 29-save performance in Monday’s 4-3 OT win over the Avs.

15 Red Wings 20-15-7

Detroit is cutting it close in its bid to make it into the postseason for a 22nd consecutive season. Working in the Wings' favor is the fact only two of their final six opponents (Vancouver and Los Angeles) are currently playoff teams.

16 Islanders 21-16-5 +1

Not that defense has been an issue of late, but the Isles have defensemen Brian Strait and Joe Finley back from injury. The Islanders are 7-2-1 over their last 10, the most recent game a 1-0 loss to the Rangers in OT on Saturday.

17 Rangers 21-16-4 -3

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist waited until the Rangers’ 41st game for his first shutout of the season, although it was a timely one. The Rangers are 5-1-1 over their last seven games, and their remaining schedule isn’t too daunting.

18 Jets 21-19-2 +2

Winnipeg’s current three-game streak is helping erase the five-game skid that preceded it.

19 Stars 21-18-3 -1

The severity of rookie forward Alex Chiasson’s shoulder injury -- suffered in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Blackhawks -- could determine whether Dallas can make a late playoff push.

20 Sabres 18-19-6 +4

Could a season of tumult that led to longtime coach Lindy Ruff’s dismissal end with a playoff berth? Not likely, but the Sabres are playing some of their best hockey of late.

21 Devils 15-17-10 -2

The Devils’ slide reached 10 games in a 2-0 loss to the Maple Leafs on Monday. The skid equals the longest in franchise history and has significantly dimmed last season’s Stanley Cup finalist’s chances for a return trip to the playoffs.

22 Coyotes 18-17-7 -6

Goalie Mike Smith was scratched from Monday’s game with a lower-body injury. You might as well do the same with the Coyotes’ playoff hopes after a 4-0 loss to the Sharks.

23 Flyers 18-21-3

The Flyers aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, although for one game the numbers looked good. Scott Hartnell netted a hat trick in a 7-3 victory over the Habs on Monday.

24 Oilers 16-18-7 -2

A five-game skid apparently was finally enough for the underperforming Oilers to fire GM Steve Tambellini. In comes former Oilers coach (and player) Craig MacTavish to what he said hopes won’t be “a wake.”

25 Predators 15-21-8

A 5-2 loss to the Canucks extended the Preds’ losing streak to seven games, equaling a franchise record. No surprise Nashville, the lowest-scoring team in the league, netted more than two goals just once during this stretch.

26 Lightning 17-22-3

Steven Stamkos could very well end up as the league’s top scorer. Too bad he can’t play goalie.

27 Hurricanes 17-22-2

A seven-game losing streak ended with 4-2 victory over Boston on Saturday. The questions about how a team that picked up Alex Semin and Jordan Staal last offseason could stumble this hard continue.

28 Avalanche 14-22-7 +1

The Avs are 2-0-2 since goalie J.S. Giguere’s outburst last week where he said his teammates “are more worried about their Vegas trip at the end of the season than playing the games.” Maybe he should have spoken up sooner.

29 Flames 16-22-4 +1

The talk in Alberta is about which team is better off: Calgary or Edmonton. There’s no right answer.

30 Panthers 13-22-6 -2

The Panthers not only have the worst goal differential (minus 43), but it’s not even close. (Colorado is the next worst at minus 32.) Hardly a recipe for success.

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