FOXSports.com’s NHL power rankings
By Joe Rosen
1. Rangers 42-15 -7 —
No Eastern team is within 12 points of New York entering the new week. Though Pittsburgh has played them tough, the Rangers are a combined 10-2 against the Bruins, Flyers and Penguins. Is there a rematch of the 1994 Cup Final in the works?
2. Canucks 41-17 -8 —
The Canucks’ 3-2-2 stretch can be explained by their 1-for-18 power play in that time. We like the minor holes they filled in their lineup at the deadline and give them the narrowest of edges over Detroit and St. Louis. They haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation since Nov. 3-4.
3. Blues 41-18 -7 +1
The Blues will rely on their consistent goaltending and penalty kill to get them through a seven-game trip that begins Sunday in Columbus. They have killed off 27 penalties in a row as Jaroslav Halak has won his past five starts to emerge as a likely Game 1 playoff starter.
4. Red Wings 43-20 -3 -1
Injuries have affected the Wings, who will look to improve upon their 16-16-1 away record when they hit the road for five of their next six. Their three-game California leg features potential playoff previews against San Jose and Los Angeles.
5. Penguins 38-21 -5 +1
The Pens’ offense is humming along with 23 goals during their five-game winning streak, and seven of their past eight wins have been decided by at least two goals. The real wild card of the top five, this is a serious Cup-contending team if Sidney Crosby – and Kris Letang – can return and provide minutes throughout the playoffs.
6. Predators 38-20 -7 +1
Andrei Kostitsyn earned the game’s second star in his second game with the Predators, a 3-1 victory over Florida on Saturday. For the second consecutive year, they’re looking at an extraordinarily even 4 vs. 5 first-round matchup.
7. Flyers 36-21 -7 +4
Ilya Bryzgalov dispatched the Capitals in his eighth consecutive start on Sunday, stopping all 34 shots for his 26th career shutout.
8. Bruins 38-23 -3 -3
The skidding Bruins haven’t won back-to-back games since mid-January and haven’t beaten current playoff teams consecutively since Christmas. They have earned one point in three games against the Rangers this season. Tuukka Rask is injured and will be reevaluated this week.
9. Blackhawks 36-24 -7 +6
The Blackhawks have turned streakiness into an art form and haven’t won or lost fewer than three games in a row since mid-January. Ray Emery has picked up the slack in net with Corey Crawford getting the hook in consecutive starts.
10. Coyotes 33-23 -9 -1
It has been a breakthrough year for 20-year-old Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has eight goals and 24 points while handling nearly 21.5 minutes of ice time per game. The Coyotes didn’t help themselves by losing in regulation to Calgary and Columbus last week.
11. Devils 36-24 -5 -3
New Jersey has scored and allowed 13 shorthanded goals this season, the most in the league in both categories. The Devils made it awfully easy on Anders Nilsson in a 1-0 loss to the Islanders on Sunday and have only one win in their past six to enter the week.
12. Panthers 31-22 -12 +1
The Panthers have allowed the first two goals in six of their past eight games, yet they are 4-3-1 in that span. Their 31 wins entering the week are tied with fourth-place Tampa Bay.
13. Senators 34-25 -8 -1
We like what we see in Robin Lehner. Having stopped 121 of his 129 shots while keeping the seat warm for Craig Anderson, the 20-year-old prospect has allowed only seven even-strength goals in his five starts this season.
14. Stars 35-26 -5 +2
The Stars still have three games remaining against San Jose; if one team goes 0-3 in those contests, their playoff chances take a big hit. Jamie Benn has been effective in shootouts recently by starting wide and finishing far-post with a hard wrist shot.
15. Sharks 33-24 -7 -1
It’s nail-biting time in San Jose as the Sharks are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Pacific Division will be determined in San Jose’s 11 remaining divisional games (four home, seven road) – three against Dallas, Los Angeles and Phoenix and two against Anaheim.
16. Kings 30-23 -12 +3
Newcomer Jeff Carter netted his first two goals in Saturday’s win over Anaheim, and the goal-starved Kings have scored four in three of his first four games. A punishing schedule awaits, beginning with a road trip to Nashville, Columbus, Detroit and Chicago this week.
17. Avalanche 34-29 -4 +1
Semyon Varlamov (.947 save percentage, two shutouts in February/March) has picked the right time to contribute his best hockey of the season. Last week’s 2-0 loss to Columbus will sting throughout the summer if the Avalanche miss the playoffs by one point.
18. Sabres 30-27 -8 +6
The Sabres, 6-0-2 in their past eight entering this week, are right back in the thick of the playoff discussion. Cody Hodgson is pointless but a plus-three in his first three games; Ryan Miller has been stellar. Inching toward collective health and playing with confidence. We like Buffalo’s playoff chances.
19. Jets 31-27 -8 -2
There’s a ton of competition in Winnipeg’s rearview mirror as resurgent Tampa Bay and Buffalo have turned up the heat on that eighth playoff spot out East. The Jets’ penalty kill has allowed at least two goals in four of its past 11 games.
20. Ducks 28-28 -10 -10
In just about any realistic scenario, they’re dead Ducks following a 1-3 week that sealed their fate. Will Anaheim sign and promote NCAA prospect Justin Schultz when Wisconsin’s season is over?
21. Capitals 32-28 -5 -1
This is exactly when the Capitals need Alexander Ovechkin to be at his absolute best, and they’re just not getting it from him. He was held without a point last weekend despite taking seven shots on Ilya Bryzgalov in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
22. Lightning 31-28 -6 +3
With 47 goals entering this week, Steven Stamkos is likely your only 50-goal scorer this year. Tampa Bay has been resuscitated with wins in seven out of nine and is in a prime hunt for a playoff spot.
23. Flames 29-25 -12 -2
With four recent loser points, the Flames are still alive in the playoff race. Though with only one win in seven games, they are facing a daunting challenge. They’ll look to stay afloat with four home games out of their next five.
24. Maple Leafs 30-28 -7 -1
It was only a matter of time before Randy Carlyle was hired again. Leafs fans would be wise to heed Carlyle’s 36-26 career playoff record and seven playoff series wins.
25. Wild 28-28 -10 -3
After resurfacing briefly, the Wild have been shut out in three of four games and now trail the Los Angeles Kings in goals per game, averaging a meager 2.08.
26. Islanders 28-29 -9 +1
One of five goalies to appear in a game for the Isles this year, 21-year-old Anders Nilsson pitched a shutout Sunday for his first career win, 1-0 over New Jersey. The Islanders’ past three wins have come against the Rangers, Bruins and Devils.
27. Hurricanes 24-27 -14 -1
No team in hockey has fewer road wins than Carolina’s seven. Considering the Hurricanes will play 12 of their remaining 17 games away from home, they’re looking at picking up the third or fourth pick in the NHL Draft.
28. Canadiens 25-31 -10 —
David Desharnais enters the new week riding a four-game point streak and with points in 10 of 12. The Habs continue to lead the league in penalty killing with an 89.2 percent success rate.
29. Oilers 25-33 -6 —
With 13 goals and 12 assists, Taylor Hall has averaged a point per game in his 15 games in the new year. The Oilers have as many games remaining against Anaheim (three) as they do against the Northwest Division.
30. Blue Jackets 20-38 -7 —
The Jackets made friends with a lot of playoff hopefuls last week by playing the spoiler role against Phoenix and Colorado. The Jeff Carter-Jack Johnson reunion takes place this Thursday when Los Angeles visits.