With only ten or so games left in the regular season, NHL teams below the eighth seed really need to gear up for a final playoff push. With the season ending at the end of April, the top tier teams are already on the cusp of cinching playoff berths. So let’s check in with the league this week.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (30-5-4) Last week: 1
The ‘Hawks proved they are still the best in the league by winning three games this week and being the first team to clinch a playoff spot.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (30-10-0) Last week: 2
With an all-star roster, the Penguins have done well without Sidney Crosby. They won two games this week and have clinched the Atlantic Division.
3. Anaheim Ducks (27-9-5) Last week: 3
The Ducks won another two games this week as captain Ryan Getzlaf tries to lead Anaheim to a playoff berth. Unfortunately a loss to the Avalanche Wednesday prevent them from clinching a playoff berth, but it's only a matter of time for the elite team.
Who should start in goal for the Flyers while they still have a chance?
4. Boston Bruins (26-9-4) Last week: 4
Jaromir Jagr proved to be a good addition for the Bruins, as the team logged three wins this week. He’ll definitely come in handy when the Bruins need extra offensive depth during the playoffs.
5. Montreal Canadiens (25-9-5) Last week:5
The Habs are definitely making up for a poor 2011-12 season by dominating this shortened season. The best thing they did this season was re-sign P. K. Subban, who led them to two wins this week.
6. Vancouver Canucks (23-11-6) Last week: 7
The goalie tandem of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider has surprisingly been a good thing for the Canucks. Vancouver won all four games this week.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (22-14-4) Last week: 6
The Leafs split their games this week, so they don't move much in the rankings. Thanks to James Reimer's prowess in net, they are primed to see a playoff run for the first time in nine years.
8. St. Louis Blues (22-14-2) Last week: 10
Jay Bouwmeester has definitely helped the Blues but we can’t forget about goaltender Brian Elliot, whose stellar netminding helped the Blues maintain a four-game win streak.
9. Ottawa Senators (19-14-6) Last week: 8
Injured goalie Craig Anderson has finally returned to the lineup, but it hasn’t helped the team. The Sens are currently trying to snap a five-game losing streak.
10. Los Angeles Kings (22-14-4) Last week: 12
The Kings did okay this week as they split four games. If they really want to defend the Stanley Cup, they have to play like they mean it.
11. San Jose Sharks (20-12-7) Last week: 11
The Sharks weren’t great this week, winning one of three games. However they are fifth in the Western Conference so they just need to continue to get points to make it into the playoffs.
12. Minnesota Wild (22-15-2) Last week: 9
The Wild had a bit of an off week as they lost two of three games. They also will be without Dany Heatley for the rest of the season, which could hurt come playoff time.
13. New York Rangers (20-16-4) Last week: 17
The Rangers looked to be in trouble early in the season, but they have recovered and currenty hold the eighth seed in the East. Marc Staal has also been cleared to play, so they will get some help when he returns to the ice.
14. Detroit Red Wings (19-15-5) Last week: 14
The Red Wings struggled again this week, logging two losses. They hold the eighth seed right now. If Pavel Datsyuk can rally the team, they may just make it to the playoffs this season.
15. Washington Capitals (21-17-2) Last week: 22
The Caps jump up significantly this week. They are division leaders on a five-game win streak. Alexander Ovechkin has turned his season around after an unimpressive start.
16. New York Islanders (20-16-4) Last week: 16
With another two wins under their belts and the scoring tandem between Matt Moulson and John Tavares, the Isles are close to seeing another playoff run.
17. Winnipeg Jets (20-19-2) Last week: 18
The Jets rallied this week by successfully routing the Flyers and the Sabres in back-to-back games. They are just below the Rangers in the standings, so they just need a solid push to make the playoffs.
18. New Jersey Devils (15-15-10) Last week: 15
The Devils have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to knock out the Jets and the Rangers for the eighth spot in the East. It’s going to be tough to do if their seven-game losing skid continues.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (17-16-7) Last week: 13
The Blue Jackets are probably in a better playoff position than they ever have been, but splitting their games this week leaves them at No. 10 in the West. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky earned a shootout, but they need to do more this month.
20. Dallas Stars (19-17-3) Last week: 24
The Stars will be fighting the Blue Jackets and the Red Wings for a playoff spot, and winning all three games this week helps.
21. Phoenix Coyotes (18-16-6) Last week: 25
The Coyotes logged another three wins, but they are not in a good position for a playoff run this season.
22. Buffalo Sabres (16-18-6) Last week: 27
The Sabres jump up after winning two more games and leapfrog ahead of the Flyers in the rankings. Even so, they are still in danger of missing a postseason.
23. Philadelphia Flyers (17-19-3) Last week: 21
The Flyers have been truly disappointing this season. They followed up a great week with a mediocre one in which they only won one of three games. Jakub Voracek is the only silver lining on the team, but he can’t carry them to the playoffs by himself.
24. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-20-2) Last week: 26
Is it time for Steve Stamkos to demand a trade out of Tampa Bay? Splitting four games this week does not help them as they are on the verge of missing the playoffs yet again.
25. Edmonton Oilers (16-17-7) Last week: 20
The Oilers poor performance does not come as a surprise to anyone. They drop again this week after losing four in a row.
26. Carolina Hurricanes (16-21-2) Last week: 23
While the ‘Canes are on a six-game skid, it’s safe to say they will not make the playoffs this year.
27. Nashville Predators (15-18-8) Last week: 19
Is anyone else wondering what happened to the Preds this season? They started out strong this season but again flop this week with a four-game losing skid.
28. Calgary Flames (14-21-4) Last week: 29
The Flames dropped another three games this week, so it’s not surprising that they are still in the Bottom 5 this week.
29. Florida Panthers (13-20-6) Last week: 28
The Panthers split two games this week, but considering their record, they are still horrendous.
30. Colorado Avalanche (13-22-5) Last week: 30
The Avalanche might just win…at being absolutely terrible this season, as they are now the worst team in the league.