NHL Power Rankings: Capitals back on top, Ducks shoot upward as the playoffs near

Guess who’s back?

The jury is still out on the Washington Capitals as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, but the NHL’s No. 1 team is back where the numbers say the Caps belong in this week’s power rankings.

With Alex Ovechkin securing another 30-goal season and lots of other pieces clicking, Washington has itself to thank for righting the ship right before the postseason. But slips by the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks, the latter of whom has encountered a severe goals shortage at the wrong time, certainly helped the Caps reclaim their league-leading status.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks are making sure no one forgets about them with a hot stretch that has them making a serious push in the tight Pacific Division.

Biggest Movers
6 Hurricanes
5 Panthers
1 Capitals Back on top. Maybe they just wanted to scare us before the playoffs with their hiccups, but a four-game win streak -- and big play from Alex Ovechkin and Kevin Shattenkirk -- has the Caps right where they need to be. -- 49-17
2 Penguins Sidney Crosby had both a fantastic and polarizing week for his highlight-reel goals and sneaky cheap shots. But what's new? Outside of a slip-up vs. the Islanders, they're still plowing teams offensively. 2 46-18
3 Blue Jackets The most unfortunate thing is that, after this great and underappreciated run, the Blue Jackets will be thrust into a dangerously seeded playoff bracket. 2 48-19
4 Blackhawks Losing 7-0 to the Panthers is never a good look. Don't be too fooled by their drop, though, because they're sitting pretty above the Wild in the Western Conference. 2 48-21
5 Rangers Henrik's back, and while the Rangers haven't exactly run away in the standings, N.Y. is scoring more than enough to leapfrog Minnesota in the league-wide picture. 1 46-26
6 Wild Just when you thought this once-heralded contender had recaptured its magic vs. San Jose? A dud vs. Vancouver. What do we do with this team, which clinched a postseason berth and still owns an incredible goal differential but is simply outdone game after game lately? 3 44-24
7 Canadiens Well, well, well. Perhaps the whole Claude Julien reunion was the right move, after all. It's still looking to be the case with the Habs knocking off Ottawa and venturing near 95-point territory. 1 42-24
8 Ducks The quack is back. Listen, we never doubted the Ducks, who are absolutely killer at home. But running through playoff contenders on their 7-2-1 stretch is convincing. 3 41-23
9 Oilers It's not just Connor McDavid who is lighting it up, but he's sure doing his part. Look out for Edmonton's offense in the postseason. -- 41-25
10 Sharks In the first four losses of a six-game victory drought, the Sharks mustered four goals. This just isn't the way you want to finish the year. 3 42-26
11 Flames It's not necessarily that the Flames have done a whole lot wrong. They're fresh off seven wins in a 10-game stretch. But they're stuck in a tight division against some rising teams. 2 43-29
12 Senators Blame Sidney Crosby for Marc Methot's notable absence. But blame the whole Senators team for struggling to eclipse .500 as of late. 2 41-25
13 Predators They've dipped in and out of the pool of "serious contenders," but a three-game stretch featuring a blowout of the Sharks has them squarely in the mix once again. 1 39-25
14 Blues Vladimir Tarasenko helped string together a couple of big ones for the Blues, who remain one of the hotter late-season teams on an 8-1-1 tear. 4 41-28
15 Maple Leafs Downers like their loss to Buffalo are probably inevitable, but as long as Auston Matthews and Co. keep pouring in the goals, this club can still threaten. 2 35-24
16 Bruins Oh. Oh no. If the Cassidy Train doesn't stay on track after Saturday's win vs. the Islanders, the sudden panic will be real -- if it isn't already -- in Boston. 4 39-30
17 Lightning They continue to fight through their health shortcomings. Will it be enough? It sure would be a fun story if so. 2 37-29
18 Islanders With 82 points entering the week, they're not completely out of the picture. But their inconsistency makes them a pretender more than anything. 3 35-28
19 Kings Too little, too late. Time to go out and play for L.A. pride. 2 35-32
20 Hurricanes Your annual Canes-are-rising-as-a-late-season-spoiler warning has arrived. Seriously, though, for a club still giving up lots of goals, they've strung together one heck of a streak. 6 33-27
21 Panthers Speaking of lots of goals, Florida did its best impression of a good team by hitting Chicago with seven. 5 33-31
22 Flyers Frantic on "D" and still sputtering, the Flyers are best served eyeing up next year's plans. 2 35-32
23 Sabres Without Kyle Okposo, the Sabres had quite a bit of trouble. A 5-2 win over Toronto, though, doesn't hurt in the standings. 1 32-32
24 Jets Grinding through a 4-5-1 stretch, they're looking forward to a resurgent Patrik Laine down the road. 1 34-35
25 Stars Stomping all over the Sharks helps erase memories of their horrendous play from a few weeks prior. 3 31-33
26 Red Wings Guess what? They still have yet to lose a single shootout. They're 8-0 in overtime on the year. 1 31-32
27 Canucks The fight continues to claim the third worst goal differential in the league. 2 30-36
28 Devils One of the Hurricanes' latest victims, they at least have Taylor Hall to call their own. For now. 4 27-35
29 Coyotes Another goals shortage for Arizona, which is at least somewhat close to .500 at home -- and that's a stretch. -- 27-40
30 Avalanche Another week, another anxious anticipation of the Avalanche getting -- or squandering -- a 10th road win of the year. -- 20-52
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