Hockey World Blog NHL Power Rankings: Playoffs Week 1

The regular season is over and we are now in playoff mode. Just under half the teams are making tee times and vacation plans, while 16 others are game planning for their upcoming playoff series. Five Original Six teams made the playoffs for the first time since 2002, when New York missed the postseason. In addition, more teams from California (3) made the playoffs than teams from Canada (2). Wednesday night at 7:00 will be time for the most exiting playoffs in all of sports: the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

Rank Team Team Notes
1 VAN They are playing some of the best hockey in the league. The only question I have for them is can they take the next step and reach the conference finals for the third time in team history. The other two years (1982 and 1994) they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.
2 WAS Another team that needs to take that “next step” is the Capitals. The last time they reached the conference finals was 1998, when they lost to Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals. The East is unpredictable, but if they have solid goaltending, they can reach the finals.
3 BOS They will have an interesting matchup against Montreal. Bothteams are heated rivals as both Original Six teams face each other often. The Bruins were 2-3-1 in the season series, but won two of the last three games, both in Boston. That could be a factor as the Bruins have home-ice advantage.
4 SJ One of two teams to make the playoffs every year since the lockout, the Sharks are modeling themselves to be the class of the Pacific. They were out of the playoff hunt at the all-star break before going 27-6-4 in its last 37 games.
5 BUF One of the hot teams coming into the playoffs as a low seed, the Sabres face the Flyers, a team they went 2-2 against in the regular season. They are riding a 16-4-4 record since February 22, when Terry Pegula bought the team. 
6 TB I give Tampa a lot of credit. They could have sat down players, laid an egg against Carolina and enabled them to make the playoffs. But they respected the integrity of the game, played it like it was any of the 81 previous games to win and keep Carolina at home. They have the team necessary to make a long run, it will be see how they stack up against Pittsburgh.
7 ANA Anaheim is one of the sneaky teams in the last month of the season. They rallied behind the goaltending of Ray Emery when Jonas Hillerwas out with injury. They have used a league-high five goalies this season, which means a lot of bad play and injuries.
8 PIT If I told you not only would they make the playoffs without Sidney and Evgeni but would host a first round series most people wouldn’t believe me. They have won four straight and could make for an exciting series against Tampa.
9 LA The Kings have lost three of their last four coming into the playoffs. Is that reason for concern? Another concern for them is how will they play without Anze Kopitar.
10 PHI They stammered and struggled at the end, but the Flyers ended up winning the Atlantic. What is working in their favor is they will have home-ice advantage for at least two series. They had a 22-12-7 home record, 5th best among Eastern playoff teams.
11 MTL The best medicine is revenge. They will face Zedno Chara and the Bruins in the first round. If they really want to make the Bruins pay for the Max Pacrietty hit, beat them in the playoffs.
12 DET The Red Wings have made the playoffs for 20 consecutive years. They have a lot of concerns going into the postseason, such as lackadaisical defense and question marks in goal. If they are healthy, they will be able to give Jimmy Howard the help he needs to win in the playoffs.
13 NYR Things are looking up on Broadway, as the Rangers are in the playoffs after coming up one shotooutgoal short last year against Philadelphia. The Rangers will go into the playoffs with a healthy Chris Drury, who is finally healthy enough to play.
14 NSH They missed their chance to have home-ice advantage witha loss Saturday night. But their date with Anaheim will be exciting because of the goaltending matchup between Dan Ellis and Pekka Renne.
15 PHO Phoenix is in a no-lost situation. Their only playoff option was Detroit or San Jose. But they will draw the Red Wings, a team they took to seven games last season in the first round. This time around they will be without home-ice advantage. Phoenix fans better show up in droves to prevent their arena from becoming Joe Louis Arena West because Red Wings fans in Phoenix will take over the crowd if given the chance.
16 CHI They barely made the playoffs this season after losing to Detroit yesterday then had to depend on Minnesota to beat Dallas. That did happen, so the defending Cup champs live to play another day. They get to fave Vancouver, which could be both entertaining and high scoring.

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