1. Vegas Golden Knights (33-11-2)
Vegas is red hot right now and they became the first team in the NHL to officially clinch a playoff spot. This is remarkable for a club that has only existed for four seasons and has not been close to missing the playoffs yet.
Last Week’s Rank: 6
2. Colorado Avalanche (30-9-4)
The Avalanche have been off the last week due to a COVID shutdown, hopefully the week off doesn’t slow down their momentum.
Last Week’s Rank: 1
3. Carolina Hurricanes (30-10-5)
No team can easily switch between three goalies, but Carolina has that luxury. Whoever is in the net, the team always plays well in front of them and makes their life much easier.
Last Week’s Rank: 2
4. Florida Panthers (30-12-5)
Sam Bennet has had an immediate impact with the Panthers and is currently justifying the price the Panthers paid to get him. Whoever Florida draws in the first round is bound to be a great series.
Last Week’s Rank: 8
5. Washington Capitals (29-13-4)
Similar to Bennet, Anthony Mantha has had an immediate impact with the Capitals playing on a line with Backstrom and Oshie. The offensive firepower for this team is off the charts.
Last Week’s Rank: 4
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (30-14-2)
Tampa is not as dominant lately as they were in the beginning and middle of the season, but they are without their two best players. Once the team is fully healthy come the playoffs, they are the team to beat.
Last Week’s Rank: 5
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-13-5)
The Leafs have struggled as of late, dropping five straight games post deadline. The biggest question mark for this team is the goaltending and who should start Game 1 of the playoffs.
Last Week’s Rank: 3
8. Minnesota Wild (29-13-3)
The Wild are for real and have gelled together very nicely this year. Kaprizov is still producing at an elite level and their defense and goaltending are the main reasons for their success.
Last Week’s Rank: 11
9. Winnipeg Jets (27-15-3)
With Wheeler back in the fold and only a few points back of the Leafs for the top spot in the North, the next few games could determine the first round playoff series.
Last Week’s Rank: 7
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (29-14-3)
Another team that still needs to get fully healthy, the Penguins are showing they have what it takes to make another run. Their game against the Devils this past week was a complete barn burner.
Last Week’s Rank: 9
11. Boston Bruins (26-12-6)
The moves the Bruins made at the deadline seemed to have lit a fire under their offense, as it has picked up a lot. Brad Marchand is the unsung hero of this team this year.
Last Week’s Rank: 13
12. New York Islanders (29-13-4)
The Islanders are gearing up for another long playoff run. While they are not firing on all cylinders right now, Trotz knows how to get this team going in the playoffs.
Last Week’s Rank: 10
13. Edmonton Oilers (27-16-2)
While the Oilers are playoff locks, all eyes are now on Connor McDavid and the question if he can reach 100 points this season. With 77 points in 45 games, it is completely possible if he goes on a tear, which he has been on lately.
Last Week’s Rank: 12
14. New York Rangers (23-17-6)
The offense for this team is a big reason they are on their recent streak. It is a shame that this team is playing so well now when they had a terrible start. While they are technically not out of it yet, the signs are encouraging.
Last Week’s Rank: 15
15. Nashville Predators (25-21-2)
With their core players like Duchene and Ellis back healthy, the Predators are in the driver’s seats for the fourth playoff spot in the Central Division. Forsberg is due back soon and should provide another boost to their offense.
Last Week’s Rank: 14
16. Montréal Canadiens (20-15-9)
The Canadiens have not been overly impressive as of late, and with multiple chances to essentially end other team’s playoff hopes, they keep leaving the door open. The upcoming series against the Flames will be a massive one.
Last Week’s Rank: 17
17. St. Louis Blues (19-18-6)
With their games being affected by the Avalanches’ postponement, the Blues only played one game last week, and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot that frankly should have been a lock to start the year.
Last Week’s Rank: 16
18. Chicago Blackhawks (22-20-5)
With the Blackhawks being inconsistent as of late, it looks like the Predators will clinch the final playoff spot. The good news about this team is the health of Jonathan Toews, who should be returning next season.
Last Week’s Rank: 18
19. Dallas Stars (19-14-12)
Dallas has played much better as of late and are all of the sudden right there in the playoff race. Tyler Seguin is due back within the next week to boost an improbable playoff push.
Last Week’s Rank: 23
20. Philadelphia Flyers (20-18-7)
It looks like the Flyers season is over, and what an underwhelming one it was. With goalie Carter Hart out with a knee issue, there are some serious question marks about this team heading into the offseason.
Last Week’s Rank: 19
21. Vancouver Canucks (18-18-3)
The Canucks are finally back in action and what a way to return beating the Leafs in their two-game series. Somehow, someway, they have an outside shot of making the playoffs.
Last Week’s Rank: 24
22. Arizona Coyotes (20-22-5)
The Coyotes are still occupying the fourth playoff spot in the West, but they are losing their grip. Whether they make it or not, the team still has a lot of questions to answer about their roster construction.
Last Week’s Rank: 20
23. Calgary Flames (19-23-3)
Calgary’s season is on the line in the upcoming series against the Canadiens. Their inability to beat the Senators may have cost them any shot at the playoffs.
Last Week’s Rank: 21
24. San Jose Sharks (18-23-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 22
25. Los Angeles Kings (17-20-6)
Obviously the Kings are in full rebuild mode, but the play of Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty this season show they still have a lot left in the tank and could be great role models for their up and coming prospects.
Last Week’s Rank: 25
26. Ottawa Senators (16-26-4)
Ottawa has played spoiler all season long and can beat anyone on a given night if you let them. With almost all of their prospects playing right now, it’s a sneak peak of what the team can become in two years or so.
Last Week’s Rank: 29
27. Detroit Red Wings (16-25-7)
The Red Wings, like the Senators, are in rebuilding mode but they are still holding out their top prospects either to play them near the end of the season or at next training camp. Either way, fans should start to become hopeful soon.
Last Week’s Rank: 28
28. Buffalo Sabres (12-27-7)
Who would have thought the Sabres would not be last for the rest of the season in these rankings? Since they finally ended their historic losing streak, they have played much better as of late and are stealing points from the top teams in their division.
Last Week’s Rank: 31
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-24-9)
Columbus is a mess and their season cannot end soon enough. With by far the biggest offseason questions of any team, it remains a mystery as to what the plan is.
Last Week’s Rank: 26
30. New Jersey Devils (14-25-6)
While they are certainly a young team trying to learn the ways of the league, they are getting embarrassed on a nightly basis the past few weeks. At least captain Nico Hischier is finally healthy this year.
Last Week’s Rank: 27
31. Anaheim Ducks (14-26-7)
The Ducks now find themselves at the bottom of these rankings and will most likely remain there for the rest of the season. I understand they are in full tear down mode but is Dallas Eakins really the answer behind the bench?
Last Week’s Rank: 30