1. New York Rangers (Last Week: 1; 48-21-7, 103 points) – Goalie Henrik Lundqvist returned Saturday and the Rangers promptly lost a pair of weekend contests against the Bruins and Capitals, the latter started by Cam Talbot. The Blueshirts did rebound with a win over Winnipeg on Tuesday and own an eight-point lead in the Metro Division.
2. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 4; 50-22-7, 107 points) – The Ducks clinched the Pacific Division on Wednesday with their fourth straight win.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 2; 47-24-7, 101 points) – With Braydon Coburn already out of the lineup, the Bolts lost fellow defensemen Jason Garrison for 3-4 weeks, Andrej Sustr for 1-2 weeks, and Victor Hedman for a few days. Tampa has lost three of four, but beat Montreal for the fifth time this season Monday.
4. St. Louis Blues (LW: 3; 46-23-7, 99 points) – The Blues have lost five of six and Vladimir Tarasenko left Monday’s loss against Vancouver early.
5. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 5; 47-22-8, 102 points) – Montreal has one win in its last four. The Habs, who have surrendered the fewest goals in the league, have given up 15 in that stretch.
6. Minnesota Wild (LW: 6; 44-25-7, 95 points) – “Admitting you’re wrong is hard to do. So, I won’t. I still think Minnesota eventually puts a run together.” That was me on Dec. 18 about the 16-12-2 Wild. This is me on April 2 celebrating my one win this year. The Wild have won five in a row, 26 of 33 with Devan Dubnyk, and are the last thing a division winner wants to see in a first-round playoff matchup against a wild card.
7. Nashville Predators (LW: 9; 47-22-9, 103 points) – The Predators were one of five teams to clinch a playoff berth in the past week. The Canadiens, Ducks, Lightning, and Rangers also punched their ticket to the postseason.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 8; 42-24-11, 95 points) – The Penguins have been playing with five defensemen because of injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Kris Letang. Because there are fewer than 10 games remaining in the season, the Pens can’t use injured reserve to recall another defenseman.
9. New York Islanders (LW: 7; 45-27-5, 95 points) – The Islanders snapped an eight-game skid at Nassau Coliseum with a 5-4 win over Detroit on Sunday.
10. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 10; 46-24-6, 98 points) – Patrick Kane has been skating for about two weeks and might be on track for an earlier return than the initial 12-week timetable that ran through mid-May.
11. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 11; 45-27-5, 95 points) – The ’Nucks have a seven-point edge on Los Angeles, the first team currently out of the playoff picture, so they look like a lock to make the postseason with five games left.
12. Washington Capitals (LW: 15; 42-25-10, 94 points) – Alexander Ovechkin scored his 50th goal Tuesday night, reaching the milestone for the sixth time. Only Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky (nine each) are ahead of him. Guy LaFleur and Mario Lemieux also hit 50 six times. Overall, not bad company.
13. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 13; 40-23-13, 93 points) – We have a goalie controversy! Jimmy Howard, who is signed through 2018-19, is 6-7-3 with an .895 save percentage since New Year’s. The 23-year-old Petr Mrazek is 15-7-2 with a .915 save percentage this year and has a .930 save percentage in nine games since February. Mrazek has gotten the last three starts.
14. Boston Bruins (LW: 18; 39-25-13, 91 points) – The Bruins drew some heat for announcing the sale of playoff tickets Monday, but they’ve backed it up. The B’s stormed back into a playoff spot with three straight wins, and crushed the Panthers’ hopes with two third-period goals to come back Tuesday. Milan Lucic has three goals in the winning streak, including two against the Rangers on Saturday and the winner against the Panthers.
15. Calgary Flames (LW: 17; 42-28-7, 91 points) – The Flames have scored 10 goals in their last two games, both wins. According to behindthenet.ca, 20-year-old center Sean Monahan has started in the defensive zone for 46.8 percent of the faceoffs. Despite the usage, he has 29 goals and 29 assists this year.
16. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 12; 37-25-14, 88 points) – The Kings are two points behind Winnipeg and three points behind Calgary with a game in hand on each for a playoff spot. The unique aspect regarding the Kings is that they could sneak into the playoffs on the last night of the season and be considered a favorite in the West. I can’t recall a team in any sport quite like this.
17. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 16; 39-26-12, 90 points) – This could probably be considered a soul-crushing week for the Jets. They gave up deciding goals in the final minutes against the Blackhawks and Rangers, failing even to get loser points, and lead the Kings by two points. Sportsclubstats.com lowered the likelihood of a playoff appearance by 15.1 percent just with Tuesday’s loss to New York. The Jets have only 32 regulation/overtime wins this year, so would likely lose a tiebreaker against any team. Making matters worse, defenseman (on most days) Dustin Byfuglien will have a phone meeting with the Department of Player Safety, potentially earning a suspension for a vicious cross check to the Rangers’ J.T. Miller.
18. Ottawa Senators (LW: 14; 38-26-12, 88 points) – The Sens’ bandwagon hit a pothole last week, losing three straight -- including back-to-back nights against Toronto and Florida. Thanks to Clarke MacArthur’s late tying goal, Ottawa came back to beat Detroit on Tuesday, but the Sens trail Boston by three points with a game in hand.
19. San Jose Sharks (LW: 22; 38-30-9, 85 points) – The Sharks have points in four straight games and earned their 13th straight regular-season win against Colorado on Wednesday.
20. Dallas Stars (LW: 19; 37-30-10, 84 points) – The Stars’ slim playoff dreams likely ended Monday night with the help of goalie Kari Lehtonen, who gave up four goals on 19 shots. For the season, he has a .906 save percentage. It will be interesting to see what general manager Jim Nill does this offseason. When he needed centers, he made aggressive plays for Tyler Seguin and then Jason Spezza. The Stars definitely need defense and might need a goalie.
21. Florida Panthers (LW: 21; 35-27-15, 85 points) – The Panthers are likely done after blowing Tuesday’s game against Boston. On the bright side, Jaromir Jagr and young linemates Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov have combined for 13 goals and 38 points in 15 games since Jagr arrived in Florida.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 23; 37-35-4, 78 points) – The Jackets have won seven in a row, including games against Vancouver, Calgary, Anaheim, Chicago, and St. Louis. The Jackets have scored 30 goals in that span, and Ryan Johansen has an eight-game point streak that includes three goals and 11 points.
23. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 20; 35-30-12, 82 points) – The Avs have allowed nine goals over their last two games, both losses.
24. Flyers (LW: 24; 31-29-17, 79 points) – If nothing else (and really, there might not actually be anything else at this point), the Flyers maintain their dominance over the Penguins. They’re 3-0-0 against their cross-state rivals this season, 7-1-0 in the last two years, and 11-1-1 in Consol Energy Center since it opened, and that doesn’t include the playoff-series win in 2012.
25. New Jersey Devils (LW: 25; 31-33-13, 75 points) – The Devils have scored only seven times in their last six games and, surprise, they haven’t won in that span. Cory Schneider has a .927 save percentage and somehow has won only 26 of 63 decisions behind this tire fire of a roster.
26. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 26; 28-37-11, 67 points) – The Hurricanes have had a season less interesting than the SunSetter Retractable Awnings infomercial that plays during every one of NHL Network’s commercial breaks. Let’s just move on.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 27; 29-43-6, 64 points) – Phil Kessel fought David Booth in practice Friday and it barely registered as news. It’s almost as if the Leafs have had too much crazy to digest for a season.
28. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 28; 23-41-13, 59 points) – The Oilers won three straight before losing in Anaheim on Wednesday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is up to 27 points in 30 games since the All-Star break, after he had 29 points in 45 games before it.
29. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 29; 23-46-8, 54 points) – Mike Smith has only a .904 save percentage this season, but that mark is at .934 in 12 games in March. Thanks to a team that’s trying to lose, he’s 3-9 for the month.
30. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 30; 22-47-8, 52 points) – The Sabres have won two in a row, and what are they doing?! You’re going the wrong way! Buffalo has only two fewer points than Arizona with five games left, and the worst team is guaranteed a top-two pick (Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel).