Hockey World Blog NHL Power Rankings: Week 24

The regular season is almost over. While some teams are playing simply to get younger players experience to get some momentum for next season, others still have playoff spots to play for. Four spots are claimed in the Eastern Conference while only one is officially secured in the Western Conference. By this time next week, there could be a few more spots earned on both sides. In the East, there are five teams playing for four spots. Carolina is the team with work ahead of them as they are five points behind Buffalo. The other teams are safely in with room to spare (barring a collapse seen currently by Minnesota), so they are simply playing for playoff position and seeding.

In the West, there are nine teams playing for seven spots. Of those nine, only Detroit and San Jose can be considered safely in. The others are separated by only seven points.

Rank Team Last Week Team Notes
1 VAN 2 The team playing the best hockey improved to 11-2 in the month of March. They play their final game in the United States tomorrow night in Nashville before finishing the remainder of their schedule in Canada.
2 PHI 3  Despite losing to Boston last night, I kept the Flyers at this spot because this was their first loss in regulation in three weeks. March 6 was when they got whipped 7-0 against New York. The Flyers fans boo’ed the division-leading team off the ice at the end of the game last night. And I thought Detroit Red Wings fans were harsh on their team.
3 WAS 1 Just like Vancouver, Washington has a 11-2 record in March. Their second loss came this week at the hands of Ottawa. They did bounce back and beat a slumping Montreal team on the road the next night.
4 PIT NR  I don’t know about you, but I all but buried this team once Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down with injuries. They won all four games they played last week, which just happened to be when Matt Cooke began his suspension. Once the dirtiest goon in the NHL was benched, the Pens started playing hockey and winning.
5 NSH NR  The Preds are playing good hockey just at the right time. They just have found the right time to get hot and play their way into the playoffs versus depending on other teams to lose. They find themselves only five games of Detroit, and the two teams meet Saturday night in Nashville.
6 NYR NR  Another team that has played their way to inside the playoff bubble, the Rangers are sporting a 8-3-1 record this month. They still have work left to secure a playoff spot, as they have three road games followed by ending the season with three at home.
25 MTL NR  When you lose three straight games by a combined 11-0 score, something is wrong. The Canadiens are currently inside the playoff bubble, but if Carey Price and Co. don’t start scoring goals and winning games, they could miss the playoffs for the second time since the lockout.
26 FLA NR  Should they lose tomorrow night at Columbus, the Panthers will finish the month without a road victory. Aside from three overtime/shootout victories in February, they last time they won in regulation on the road was January 25 in Madison Square Garden.
27 CBJ 27  The Blue Jackets were shut out for the fifth time this season Thursday night in Phoenix, but three of those five blankings have come in the last five games. Combine that with scoring once yesterday against Vancouver, the Jackets have scored three goals in their last five regulation losses.
28 COL 29 Colorado is slowly climbing their way out of the cellar. What has worked in their favor is the two teams ranked below them in this week’s rankings is also in their division. The big question looming in Denver is weather long-time player Milan Hejduk will return next season as he hits free agency. 
29 EDM 30 Early in the month, they won three straight games. Since then, they have earned only three points. They were beating Calgary 4-1 with 14 minutes remaining only to choke away the game and lose in a shootout. Only seven games remain before their season is over.
30 MIN 28  All the Wild had to do was win games and play their way into the playoffs. But the playoff chase collapse is in progress as they have lost eight straight games. They have earned only six points this entire month in 12 games. They have two games remaining this month.

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