As the 2014-15 NHL regular season winds to a close, here is the final edition of our Power Rankings:
1. New York Rangers (Last Week: 1; 52-21-7, 111 points) – The Rangers locked up the Presidents’ Trophy on Tuesday night and, with Kevin Klein on the verge of returning, are almost entirely healthy going into the playoffs. They also set a franchise record with their 52d win and are a point shy of the team record set in 1993-94.
2. St. Louis Blues (LW: 4; 49-24-7, 105 points) – The Blues moved into the lead in the Central Division after beating Chicago on Sunday night, which you might not have noticed because you never got over Ryan Reaves pulling out his tooth on the bench.
3. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 2; 50-24-7, 107 points) – The Ducks dropped two straight with Ryan Getzlaf out of the lineup for rest. Anaheim can lock up the top seed in the West with a win in its finale in Arizona on Saturday.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 3; 48-24-8, 104 points) – The Lightning clinched home-ice advantage in the first round with a win over Florida on Saturday. Meanwhile, the team also announced it would sell playoff tickets only to Florida residents. Insert snarky Sunbelt-hockey-market comment here.
5. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 5; 48-22-10, 106 points) – The Habs lead the Atlantic Division with two games to go, but Max Pacioretty will miss the remainder of the regular season after Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov knocked him awkwardly into the boards Sunday. Pacioretty leads the Canadiens with 37 goals and 67 points.
6. Minnesota Wild (LW: 6; 45-27-8, 98 points) – Minnesota is officially heading to the playoffs after a 2-1 win over Chicago on Tuesday. The Wild is 27-8-2 since acquiring Devan Dubnyk in January.
7. Washington Capitals (LW: 12; 45-25-11, 101 points) – Alexander Ovechkin passed Peter Bondra for the most goals in Caps history. The 29-year-old has 474 in his career. Braden Holtby, who has played 72 games this year, picked up his ninth shutout of the season Wednesday, tying Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury for the league lead. The Caps have won five of six and are in line for home ice in the first round.
8. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 10; 48-26-6, 102 points) – The Hawks have lost two straight one-goal games to Central Division rivals, St. Louis and Minnesota. Patrick Kane was ruled out for the first round of the playoffs, and Kimmo Timonen and Brad Richards both missed Tuesday night’s game.
9. Nashville Predators (LW: 7; 47-23-10, 104 points) – Nashville has lost four straight. Remember Nashville’s big trade for defenseman Cody Franson? Whoops.
10. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 17; 42-26-12, 96 points) – Dustin Byfuglien is three games into a four-game suspension, but the Jets are sealing up a playoff spot without him. Ondrej Pavelec pitched shutouts on back-to-back nights in Minnesota and St. Louis on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. He has a career-high .919 save percentage.
11. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 11; 46-29-5, 97 points) – Henrik Sedin set up brother Daniel Sedin with a gorgeous no-look pass for his 700th career assist Monday night.
12. New York Islanders (LW: 9; 46-28-6, 98 points) – The Isles have lost nine of 12, and Jaroslav Halak’s gaffe against the Flyers prevented the team from clinching its playoff spot. New York needs one more point to lock it down.
13. Calgary Flames (LW: 15; 44-29-7, 95 points) – The NHL’s Cinderella story is two points away from securing a playoff spot, but the Flames will play two teams competing for the final spots -- Los Angeles on Thursday and Winnipeg on Saturday -- to close the season.
14. Ottawa Senators (LW: 18; 41-26-13, 95 points) – The Sens are making their playoff push dramatic. Ottawa’s last five games have gone to overtime, and it has won four of them. The Sens left a pair of points on the board with overtime losses to the Leafs the past two weekends, but those games seem like an afterthought following the come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Sens are even with Boston and trail Pittsburgh by a point and Detroit by two, but don’t have the tie-breaker over anyone, so they’ll need some help to get into the dance. Erik Karlsson, who has 66 points this season, became the fastest defenseman in 17 years to reach 300 career points with an assist Sunday.
15. Boston Bruins (LW: 14; 41-26-13, 95 points) – The Bruins’ five-game winning streak ended with a loss in Washington on Wednesday. Boston finishes with games in Florida on Thursday and Tampa Bay on Saturday. Both will be crucial to hold off the Senators.
16. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 13; 42-25-13, 97 points) – The Wings have won only six of their last 18, but need just a point to clinch a playoff spot.
17. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 8; 42-26-12, 96 points) – The Pens are on the verge of disaster. We knew they can’t beat the Flyers, but they can’t beat anyone else right now, either. They have 15 regulation wins in their last 47 games and blew a 3-0 lead against Ottawa on Tuesday that would have clinched a playoff spot and significantly damaged the Sens’ hopes. Pittsburgh owns a one-point lead on Ottawa with two games left. They do, however, have the tie-breaker.
18. Dallas Stars (LW: 20; 40-31-10, 90 points) – Since the trade deadline (March 3), the Stars have the best Corsi percentage in close situations (57.1 percent) and are 13-5. Dallas’ playoff dreams are now dead, but the Stars are giving a lot of reasons for optimism for next season. Forward Jamie Benn has nine points in four games in April and is tied with John Tavares and Sidney Crosby for the most points in the league (83).
19. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 16; 39-26-15, 93 points) – Holy moly, this might not actually happen. After a brutal 4-2 loss in Edmonton on Tuesday, the Kings are three points back of Winnipeg and two behind Calgary. They have the tie-breaker over Winnipeg and play Calgary on Thursday. If Los Angeles misses the playoffs, they’ll be the first defending Cup champion to miss since Carolina in 2006-07.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 22; 40-35-5, 85 points) – Columbus, ravaged by injuries for much of the season, is showing what might have been with its recent play. The Blue Jackets won nine straight before losing to the Rangers in overtime on Monday. They did rebound with a shutout against the Leafs on Wednesday.
21. Florida Panthers (LW: 21; 36-29-15, 87 points) – Sounds as if the NHL’s active folk hero, 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr, will be returning to the Panthers next year. For a guy who burned some bridges earlier in his career, Jagr has an approval rating that feels perfect right now.
22. San Jose Sharks (LW: 19; 39-32-9, 87 points) – The Sharks are officially out of the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03. That became official Monday, but any remaining hope was destroyed by a loss in Arizona on Saturday.
23. Flyers (LW: 24; 33-29-18, 84 points) – Judging a goalie by wins is asinine. If Mike Milbury wants to argue that Steve Mason is “run of the mill” because of his career numbers, that’s fine. But to have the third-best save percentage (.928) of goalies with at least 25 games behind this tire fire of a defense core is quite an achievement. Further, Mason trails only Montreal’s Carey Price by a hundredth of a point for the best even-strength save percentage of qualified netminders. Mason has seen at least 35 shots four times in his last five games, winning four with a .953 save percentage. He has been one of the league’s best, and he’s finishing his breakout season well. Despite a disappointing season for the Flyers, for once, they can at least go forward with a franchise goalie in the fold.
24. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 23; 37-31-12, 86 points) – The Avs fired only 10 shots against the Kings on Saturday. How bad is that? Only the Sabres have produced that pathetic of an attack in a game this year.
25. New Jersey Devils (LW: 25; 32-35-13, 77 points) – The Devils have gone nine games without a regulation/overtime win.
26. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 26; 29-40-11, 69 points) – The Canes have won only five times in 19 games since the start of March.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 27; 30-44-7, 67 points) – Toronto hasn’t beaten a team from outside its division since topping the Flyers on Feb. 26. Thank God the Leafs have only one game left because I’m running out of ways to contextualize how awful they are.
28. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 28; 24-43-13, 61 points) – After giving up eight goals in a loss in Los Angeles last Thursday, the Oilers rebounded by beating the Kings at home and possibly killing their playoff chances. Edmonton has two games left, but the Oilers just won their Cup.
29. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 29; 24-48-8, 56 points) – “I don’t think [tanking] is something I would ever accept under any circumstance,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said in this amazing story from Nov. 28. “Tanking is not in [Coyotes coach Dave Tippett’s] DNA, it’s not in my DNA, it’s not in ownership’s DNA, and it’s not in the players’ DNA. … Just the idea destroys the whole credibility of an organization.” Yeah, about that…
30. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 30; 23-49-8, 54 points) – Hey, remember that footnote on the Avs up there? (I’ll give you a second; you probably skipped them). Yeah, the Sabres were actually held to 10 shots twice this year, and once against the Maple Leafs. Buffalo’s historically bad season has two games remaining, and the Sabres have to lose only one more to guarantee themselves Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.