NHL Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 25 Poll
There is one week remaining in the 2013-14 regular season, which means teams are not only pushing to reach the playoffs, but they are doing everything in their power to move up the Bleacher Report power rankings.
Well, maybe they're not doing the second thing, but that doesn't mean our expert panel isn't churning out our list as teams head down the home stretch.
The Presidents' Trophy is still up for grabs, as are the final wild-card spots in each conference. But with one week to go, the really important thing here is which team is atop the B/R power rankings. Did the Boston Bruins hang on? Did the Chicago Blackhawks or anyone else do enough last week to supplant the Bruins?
This week's rankings, just like all of them, reveal not just this writer's opinion but that of our entire panel. Voting this week are Jonathan Willis, Allan Mitchell, Lyle Richardson, Carol Schram and Rob Vollman as well as myself.
Read on to see where every NHL team ranks this week.
Unless otherwise noted, news and statistics are courtesy of NHL.com and are current through the start of action on April 6.
30-26: Buffalo Sabres-Toronto Maple Leafs
30. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 30). The Sabres are 3-14-1 since March, although they beat the Devils in a shootout last week. Then again, everyone beats the Devils in shootouts, so it's not really that impressive.
29. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 28). They have one victory in 10 games, but they found a way to beat the Stars on Sunday. It's easy to forget that it was just two years ago when the Panthers were not just a playoff team, but had two chances at winning their first-round series before losing in seven games.
28. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 29). The Oilers have won two in a row, dealing blows to the playoff hopes of the Coyotes and the divisional title hopes of the Ducks this week. They finished the season 2-3-0 against the Ducks.
27. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 26). They had two nice wins last week vs. Dallas and Pittsburgh before falling in a close game with the Devils. Jordan Staal is having a disappointing season with 39 points in 78 games, but his 18:59 of ice time per game is his lowest since 2007-08.
26. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 27). Their elimination from postseason isn't official, but it now seems like it's just a matter of time. It would take a lot for the Leafs to get off the mat after a 4-2 home loss to the Jets on Saturday, especially with their final three games taking place on the road.
25-21: Winnipeg Jets-Ottawa Senators
25. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 25). They played the role of spoiler quite well last week, beating the Coyotes and Leafs on the road. Evander Kane was a healthy scratch for the game in Toronto, which makes one wonder if his time in Winnipeg could come to an end this summer.
24. New York Islanders (Last Week: 24). The Islanders have acquitted themselves quite well since the horses left the barn, but they have lost two straight after winning five of six.
23. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 23). The Flames have been pretty good since their season ceased to matter. They took two of three last week and are 17-11-1 in their past 29 games yet are still 27th in the league standings.
22. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 20). The Canucks' post-deadline collapse has been well publicized, but the team did manage to put together a stretch of seven points in eight games that was only snapped with a loss to Anaheim on Saturday.
21. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 21). They've won four of six, but losses to the Islanders and Canadiens last week ended any hopes of a Cinderella run back to the postseason. Kyle Turris has a nice season that's flown under the radar, posting 25 goals and 56 points in 78 games, all career bests.
20-16: Nashville Predators-Phoenix Coyotes
20. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 22). The Predators have won three straight and four of five, including two road wins last week against the Ducks and Sharks. They are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but they'd need a second Music City Miracle to get there.
19. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 19). They stopped the bleeding of a five-game losing streak by rallying to beat the Islanders in overtime Saturday. Still, their hopes for the playoffs are all but dead.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 14). They halted a 1-4-2 stretch by handling the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. They finish with three of their final four games on the road.
17. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 18). Every time it looks like they're dead, they pull themselves halfway out of the grave. They still likely need to win their final four games to make the playoffs, so a loss to the Flames on Monday could serve as the nail in the coffin.
16. Phoenix Coyotes (Last Week: 16). They have lost four straight but still control their destiny for a playoff spot. Thomas Greiss has cost the team points with a couple bad games since taking over for Mike Smith two weeks ago.
15-11: Detroit Red Wings-Columbus Blue Jackets
15. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 13). They saw their four-game winning streak snapped in Montreal on Saturday, but their surge has them looking good for the playoffs. Three of their final four games will take place on the road.
14. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 17). A devastating loss to the lowly Panthers on Sunday leaves them one point ahead of Phoenix for the final wild-card spot in the West. One thing the Stars have going for them is that three of their final four games will take place at home.
13. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 15). The Wild are locked into the top wild-card spot and likely have a first-round date with either the Sharks or Ducks. They went 1-1-1 vs. both the Ducks and Sharks this season.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 11). They have lost three of four, but have three of their final four games at home this week. It would take a lot to pass the Canadiens to finish second in the Atlantic.
11. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 12). Because of Rich Peverley's health issue in their game with Dallas last month, the Jackets will make up that game this week. That means the Jackets close with four games in five nights, the final three occurring on the road.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 10
Recent Trend: The Penguins went two up and two down this past week, and are 4-2-1 in their past seven as they slowly get healthy—welcome back, Paul Martin—with the playoffs around the corner.
Big Picture: They are locked into the second spot in the Eastern Conference, which means they will draw the top wild-card team.
By the Numbers: With Martin out of the lineup after the Olympics, the Penguins went 7-7-1. His return should provide quite the boon for the Penguins in the postseason.
9. New York Rangers
Last Week: 9
Recent Trend: The Rangers went 1-1-1 last week, letting a win slip away in Colorado and wasting a chance to clinch a playoff spot Saturday by losing at home to the Senators.
Big Picture: They still control their fate in terms of earning home ice in Round 1. The Flyers and Blue Jackets are nipping at their heels, but closing with the Hurricanes and Sabres this week should help the Rangers' cause.
By the Numbers: The Rangers are 31-5-2 when scoring first this season, the sixth-best mark in the NHL.
8. Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 6
Recent Trend: It was a troublesome week for the Ducks, who went 1-2-1. They rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Jets on Monday, came back from down 2-0 to the Oilers to win 3-2 on Wednesday before getting their gut punched by the Predators in a 5-2 loss Friday. They lost 4-2 to the Oilers on Sunday with a chance to stake their claim to the division.
Big Picture: Points are points, but falling behind 4-0 and 2-0 to the Jets and Oilers, respectively, is a bad sign. Still, they are in the driver's seat to win the Pacific and avoid the Kings in the first round.
By the Numbers: Jonas Hiller's save percentage in his past nine starts is .881. With Frederik Andersen out with a head injury and Viktor Fasth playing his trade now in Edmonton, Hiller needs to turn his game around quickly.
7. Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 5
Recent Trend: The Canadiens took two of three last week and are 7-1-0 in their past eight games.
Big Picture: This season-ending surge has put the Habs in position to have home-ice advantage in their pending first-round matchup with the Lightning.
By the Numbers: Thomas Vanek had one assist in his first five games with the Canadiens after he was acquired from the Islanders at the trade deadline. Since then, he has six goals and 13 points in 10 games.
6. St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 2
Recent Trend: The Blues opened the week by handling the Flyers and Sabres, but lost to the Blackhawks and Avalanche by a combined 8-2 score over the weekend.
Big Picture: The Central Division is theirs, but they'll need to stop this mini-slide quickly if they want to hold off the Ducks for the top spot in the West and catch the Bruins for the best record in the NHL.
By the Numbers: A lot was made about how Ryan Miller would solidify the goaltending in St. Louis after playing so well for the moribund Sabres, but that hasn't exactly been the case. In 15 games with the Blues, Miller has a .915 save percentage; in 40 games with the Blues before he was traded, Jaroslav Halak had a .917 save percentage.
5. Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 8
Recent Trend: The Avalanche had their six-game winning streak snapped in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Penguins on Sunday.
Big Picture: They have a one-point lead on the Blackhawks for second in the Central with a game in hand. They don't have Matt Duchene, who's out with a knee injury, but that has yet to present a problem for the scrappy Avs.
By the Numbers: The Avs are expected to have trouble without Duchene in the playoffs, but it hasn't been a problem in the regular season. With Duchene out of the lineup, the Avs are 6-0-1 this season.
4. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 3
Recent Trend: The Kings were 13-3-0 in their first 16 games after the Olympic break, but the wheels came off a bit last week. They went 1-3-0 and had just seven goals in those four games.
Big Picture: That slide could have to do with complacency settling in, as the Kings are locked into the third spot in the Pacific and have been for most of the season. They'll face either the Sharks or Ducks in Round 1.
By the Numbers: On Saturday, the Canucks outshot the Kings 40-27 in a 2-1 victory. It was only the sixth instance of an opponent outshooting the Kings by double digits and the first time it happened since Dec. 15, a span of 45 games.
3. San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 4
Recent Trend: The Sharks went 2-1-0 last week, but with a chance to make up ground on the Ducks with a nonplayoff team in the Predators visiting San Jose, the Sharks were blanked 3-0.
Big Picture: The chances of the Sharks passing the Ducks in the Pacific are slim, but if they beat the Ducks in regulation on Wednesday, they will have a chance.
By the Numbers: The Sharks have suffered 12 losses at home this season; 10 of the losses have come against teams that are currently outside of a playoff position.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 7
Recent Trend: The Blackhawks won three straight last week, their first three-game winning streak since December. The wins came without the services of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, making them that much more impressive.
Big Picture: Time is running out to catch the Avalanche for second place in the division, but there's still a chance. Considering the Blackhawks are 26-6-7 at home an 19-12-8 on the road, home-ice advantage could be quite meaningful.
By the Numbers: Corey Crawford has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his past nine starts.
1. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 1
Recent Trend: When the Bruins lost 3-2 to the Red Wings on Wednesday, it was the first time they were defeated in a 60-minute hockey contest since March 1. They followed that with an overtime loss to the Maple Leafs before gathering themselves for a home win against the Flyers on Saturday.
Big Picture: They clinched the top spot in the East and hold a two-point lead on the Blues for the best record in the NHL. Still, they will very likely offer players rest during the final week, even with the Presidents' Trophy up for grabs.
By the Numbers: The last time backup goaltender Chad Johnson lost in regulation was Dec. 28. His record since that defeat is 11-0-2.
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