NHL power rankings: Ducks making late push in West
APR 09, 2014 7:17p ET
The Boston Bruins didn't get overly excited about earning the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
"It's something we wanted to do, but it wasn't like really our main goal," goaltender Tuukka Rask told reporters. "If we play our style of hockey, we're going to have a chance to beat everybody. Especially this year, we've shown glimpses of really good hockey, and lately, we've been playing pretty well, so I think the team feels pretty confident going into the playoffs."
The Bruins remain atop our power rankings in the last week of the regular season. Here is how the NHL pecking order shakes out:
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1 Bruins 53-18-8
GOOD NEWS: Winger Loui Eriksson is finally getting in stride for his new team, bolstering the third line and adding offensive depth.
BAD NEWS: Many Bruins, including winger Jarome Iginla and defenseman Kevan Miller, are battling nagging injuries.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Claude Julien must weigh the value of winning the President's Trophy against the value of resting many of his veterans in the final week.
2 Ducks 51-20-8 +4
GOOD NEWS: Elite goaltending prospect John Gibson shut out the Vancouver Canucks in his NHL debut.
BAD NEWS: Veteran netminder Jonas Hiller has not played his best hockey down the stretch.
BOTTOM LINE: The Ducks are pushing for a team record in regular season points. But what will that matter if they don't advance in the playoffs?
3 Blues 52-20-7 -1
GOOD NEWS: Key winger Vladimir Tarasenko returned to practice on a limited basis, raising hopes he could return from his broken hand during the playoffs.
BOTTOM LINE: They played some of their worst hockey with the playoffs 10 days away. This was not how coach Ken Hitchcock wanted the regular season to end.
4 Sharks 49-21-9 -1
GOOD NEWS: Supreme agitator Raffi Torres could be back to full speed for the playoffs. Opponents will hate to hear that.
BOTTOM LINE: They have every ingredient to win a Stanley Cup. Is this the year they finally do that?
5 Avalanche 51-21-7 -1
GOOD NEWS: They won six consecutive games before salvaging a shootout loss point Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
BAD NEWS: They will start the playoffs without top center Matt Duchene, who is recovering from his knee injury.
BOTTOM LINE: They are playing as well as anybody in the league right now. They seem destined for a first-round battle with the Chicago Blackhawks, which would be something.
6 Blackhawks 45-19-15 -1
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Johnny Oduya has recovered from a lower-body injury that cost him three games.
BOTTOM LINE: The defending Stanley Cup champions should be close to 100 percent healthy for the start of postseason play.
7 Kings 45-28-6
GOOD NEWS: They locked up at least the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference bracket with a huge post-Olympic push.
BAD NEWS: Top defenseman Drew Doughty suffered a minor upper body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: The former Stanley Cup champion remains a top contender with Jonathan Quick on top of his game.
8 Penguins 50-24-5
GOOD NEWS: Injured center Evgeni Malkin has been cleared for light skating. That is his first step toward returning during the playoffs.
BAD NEWS: The Penguins won just four times during a span of 11 home games.
BOTTOM LINE: They could regain their edge in Pittsburgh if they could just get most of their skilled guys healthy.
9 Canadiens 45-27-7 +3
BAD NEWS: They sank to 26th in the NHL in five-on-five scoring, despite adding explosive winger Thomas Vanek.
BOTTOM LINE: They won 10 times in 12 games to generate tremendous momentum heading toward the playoffs.
10 Rangers 44-31-5 -1
GOOD NEWS: Injured defenseman Ryan McDonagh might make it back from his arm injury for the playoffs.
BAD NEWS: Winger Martin St. Louis scored just four points (one goal, three assists) in his first 17 games with this team.
BOTTOM LINE: The Rangers returned to postseason play despite some late struggles. With Henrik Lundqvist in goal, they will be dangerous.
11 Lightning 43-27-9
GOOD NEWS: They secured a playoff berth with their late 7-0-2 surge.
BAD NEWS: Then they turned around and lost three of their next four games, raising questions about their lasting power.
BOTTOM LINE: The Lightning will need better goaltending from Ben Bishop to get past the first round of the playoffs.
12 Flyers 41-29-9 -2
GOOD NEWS: Agitating winger Steve Downie got back in the lineup after recovering from a concussion.
BOTTOM LINE: Their late 1-4-2 downturn compromised their bid to earn the home-ice advantage in the first playoff round.
13 Wild 42-26-12
GOOD NEWS: New goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has become a lifesaver, earning back-to-back shutouts after taking over as the team's fourth No. 1 goaltender this season.
BAD NEWS: Winger Dany Heatley went 15 games without scoring a goal.
BOTTOM LINE: They locked up their wild-card playoff berth with a late 4-0-1 streak.
14 Stars 39-29-11
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Kari Lehtonen went 5-0-0 with a 1.91 GAA in his last six home starts.
BAD NEWS: The Stars complicated their playoff quest with an unfortunate 3-2 loss at Florida Sunday.
BOTTOM LINE: They exploited their home-ice advantage while making their late playoff push. They went 6-0-1 during a seven-game stretch in Dallas.
15 Red Wings 38-27-14 +1
GOOD NEWS: Veteran center Pavel Datsyuk fought his way through knee soreness and back into the lineup.
BAD NEWS: His running mate, Henrik Zetterberg, is still recovering from back surgery.
BOTTOM LINE: A spring surge gave the Red Wings an opportunity to extend their postseason streak to 23 seasons. Coach Mike Babcock worked miracles with an injury-battered team.
16 Blue Jackets 41-31-7 +2
GOOD NEWS: Goaltending is everything in this sport, and Sergei Bobrovsky earned his fifth shutout of the season Sunday.
BAD NEWS: A stretch of four games in five days will test the Blue Jacket depth.
BOTTOM LINE: They have an excellent shot at reaching the playoffs for just the second time in the franchise's 13-year history.
17 Coyotes 36-28-15 -2
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Mike Smith returned to practice while trying to come back from a knee injury.
BAD NEWS: Center Mike Ribeiro played his way into "healthy scratch" status in the first year of a four-year, $22 million deal. He hasn't scored in 10 games, heading a long list of slumping scorers.
BOTTOM LINE: An ill-timed 0-2-2 slump put the Coyotes on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
18 Capitals 36-30-13
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Jaroslav Halak offered at least a marginal upgrade, going 4-4-3 with a 2.53 GAA and .923 save percentage in his first 11 games for the Capitals.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Mike Green went down, adding to this team's litany of woe.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Adam Oates and Geoge McPhee could both depart if this big-budget operation starts over.
19 Maple Leafs 38-34-8
GOOD NEWS: Center Nazem Kadri scored in back-to-back games after scoring just three goals in his previous 20 contests.
BAD NEWS: Key forward Joffrey Lupul (22 goals and 22 assists in 69 games) suffered a season-ending knee injury.
BOTTOM LINE: The demise of goaltender Jonathan Bernier sealed this team's fate. The Maple Leafs staggered toward the back of the wild card race with a six-game losing streak.
20 Devils 34-29-16
GOOD NEWS: They stayed in the Eastern Conference playoff race until the final week, keeping things interesting for their fans.
BOTTOM LINE: Given the advanced age of Elias and Jaromir Jagr, this team has lots of offensive rebuilding ahead.
21 Senators 34-31-14
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Erik Karlsson reached the 20-goal and 70-point plateaus, reaffirming his status as the league's top offensive defenseman.
BAD NEWS: Despite beating the Rangers on the road Saturday, the Senators were virtually eliminated from the playoff race entering the final week.
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting offseason awaits a franchise that fully expected to return to postseason play and earn a decent seed.
22 Predators 35-32-12 +1
GOOD NEWS: Winger Patric Hornqvist has seven goals and seven assists during a seven-game span.
BAD NEWS: Heading into the final week, the Predators failed to win more than three consecutive games all season.
BOTTOM LINE: The Predators caught fire with a late 5-1-1 run. Unfortunately, that came too late to keep them in the middle of the playoff race.
23 Canucks 35-33-11 -1
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Eddie Lack proved durable, making 19 consecutive starts since the Olympic break.
BAD NEWS: Fans chanted for the dismissal of general manager Mike Gillis during the team's 3-0 loss to Anaheim at home.
BOTTOM LINE: Their string of five consecutive playoff appearances ended ignominiously.
24 Jets 35-35-10
GOOD NEWS: Key prospect Connor Hellebuyck signed his first pro contract and moved onto the player development path.
BAD NEWS: Top winger Evander Kane earned "healthy scratch" status by violating a team rule, triggering another round of trade speculation.
BOTTOM LINE: Maybe coach Paul Maurice wasn't the answer after all. The Jets have resumed tanking on his watch.
25 Hurricanes 34-34-11
GOOD NEWS: A belated 3-0-2 push allowed them to reach the final week of the season with mathematical life in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
BAD NEWS: But a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils effectively ended their season.
26 Flames 34-38-7
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Mark Giordano scored his 14th goal of the season Monday. His previous season high was 11.
BAD NEWS: The Flames didn't hit stride until the second half of the season, dooming them in the Western Conference.
BOTTOM LINE: They improved their road record to 16-20-4 with a 1-0 victory at New Jersey. Coach Bob Hartley made this team difficult to play against.
27 Islanders 31-37-11
GOOD NEWS: After losing 13 of their first 17 road games, they reversed their fortunes with a 14-5-2 run.
BAD NEWS: This once-proud franchise missed the playoffs again, going away.
BOTTOM LINE: The next owner of the Islanders could have a pretty solid nucleus to rebuild around. But the next owner better hire an excellent general manager â because there is a LOT of work to do.
28 Oilers 28-43-9
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Ben Scrivens hit a rough patch, going 1-4-0 with a 4.15 GAA during a six-game stretch at home.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Dallas Eakins may get a second crack at moving this team forward, but he would be on a short leash.
29 Panthers 28-44-8
GOOD NEWS: Rookie center Brandon Pirri scored three goals and added two assists during a four-game point streak.
BAD NEWS: They haven't done much to support new/old goaltender Roberto Luongo, who can only hope the franchise adds many reinforcements this summer.
BOTTOM LINE: They showed some belated pride by beating the Dallas Stars 3-2 Sunday, snapping a five-game losing streak. But that was just their second victory in 10 games.
30 Sabres 21-49-9
GOOD NEWS: With coach Ted Nolan under long-term contract, the league's last place team can begin planning for next season and beyond.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel had their 2014-15 auditions cut short by concussions.
BOTTOM LINE: Their injury list reached double digits for the season's final week, making a difficult season even more bleak.