NHL Power Rankings: Bruins, Flames, Sharks all on the move in the top five
As the playoffs creep closer, a half-dozen teams fight to finish No. 2 behind Tampa Bay
So much movement with so little time left.
That's the story of the latest NHL Power Rankings, which arrive just weeks ahead of the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and feature yet another significant shuffling of the top five -- er, the top four behind this season's longstanding front-runner, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
No one is catching Tampa (and no one's been able to for a long, long time), but that doesn't mean the contenders right behind the Lightning are done climbing the standings. As we sit in mid-March, in fact, you might be able to make the case for at least a half-dozen teams as the No. 2 to Tampa. No joke.
The Nashville Predators loaded up on big-name depth at the trade deadline but have slipped of late, following a sweep of the Minnesota Wild with two straight losses, one of which came to the lowly Anaheim Ducks. The Winnipeg Jets also look a little too uneasy against the NHL's top competition. But take your pick of the Jets, the Preds, the Boston Bruins, the Calgary Flames, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals, and you might have yourself a Cup candidate. That's not even mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins, who've turned things on at just the right time, and the Vegas Golden Knights, who suddenly look like their 2017-18 selves following the addition of Mark Stone.
The Sharks are on the rise, as are the Penguins, in this week's rankings. Still, it's a choose-your-own-adventure when it comes to the top 10. Outside of the Lightning, there's a whole lot of promise to be found.
Check out this week's entire rundown right here:
|1||Lightning||This is just getting nutty. They beat up on everyone. It'll be the upset of a lifetime if they don't make the Finals.||--||56-13|
|2||Sharks||Goodness. Their ceiling is insane, and that's saying something considering the Lightning are around.||3||43-22|
|3||Bruins||So what that they've lost two straight? They've been capable of Grade-A hockey while banged up and without their top scorer.||1||43-20|
|4||Flames||We might already be seeing the effects of their so-so goaltending. Can their scoring save them?||--||44-21|
|5||Capitals||If anyone can go off and upset one of these top dogs, it's got to be them, right? They've got the grit, offense and experience.||3||42-23|
|6||Maple Leafs||They're better than No. 6, but this top five is absolutely lethal. They badly need supreme goalie play.||3||43-24|
|7||Penguins||Never doubt them! Never! Somehow, they are still so far from what they should be, yet they're turning it on at the right time.||4||39-24|
|8||Islanders||Don't tell us their playoff run is about to be overshadowed by more relocation talks.||1||42-23|
|9||Hurricanes||Yes, they got walloped by the Jets. But they've rarely allowed a misstep to throw them off course.||1||39-25|
|10||Predators||Guess a division sweep of the Wild didn't guarantee a turnaround. Still, their depth is something to behold.||4||41-27|
|11||Jets||We just don't like them against elite competition. And that's a major problem for the playoffs.||2||43-25|
|12||Golden Knights||They have the potential to go a lot higher as the season wraps up. Marc-Andre Fleury and the Mark Stone-infused defense are in top form.||--||41-27|
|13||Blue Jackets||They'll get in. But they almost have to duplicate their 7-4 win against Boston over and over again to justify their second-half stock-up.||--||40-28|
|14||Blues||Better that Jordan Binnington take his lumps now. They need him on his game when it counts.||1||37-27|
|15||Canadiens||The momentum just hasn't returned, even with Carey Price's record-setting journey. They look like a relatively easy out in the playoffs.||1||37-28|
|16||Stars||Ben Bishop has reminded everyone that he is still good. This team worries us down the stretch, however.||1||37-29|
|17||Flyers||Wow, are they on the brink here? Can Carter Hart send them into overdrive again?||1||35-29|
|18||Coyotes||Maybe this is all a mirage and we'll forget about it once the playoffs roll around, but right now, they're playing like a team that's hungry.||1||36-31|
|19||Wild||The consistency just isn't there. But when they're on, they can go up against the best.||1||34-30|
|20||Avalanche||They are 2-13-4 when Nathan MacKinnon doesn't score. Yikes.||2||31-29|
|21||Panthers||Keep playing Sam Montembeault. It's a win-win. Aim for the postseason, yet prepare for the future.||--||32-28|
|22||Oilers||What can you do but laugh? Why could they not have figured this out sooner?||--||32-33|
|23||Blackhawks||We're not buying into the playoff hopes, but at least they've hit their offensive stride a bit.||3||32-30|
|24||Rangers||A 2-3-5 stretch is the definition of unfortunate, but they still seem more competent than their roster suggests they should be.||--||28-31|
|25||Sabres||Is Phil Housley one of the biggest problems here? We may find out soon.||2||31-32|
|26||Canucks||Quinn Hughes gives them yet another promising prospect. But they've got holes to plug this offseason.||1||31-32|
|27||Ducks||Wonder if Bob Murray's figured out all that needs to be redone from behind the bench. Because there's a lot to do.||3||30-35|
|28||Kings||So much for that mid-season revival, right?||1||25-39|
|29||Devils||What a spectacularly horrendous way to go out. It's not just that they're losing. It's how they're doing it.||2||27-37|
|30||Red Wings||It's like they're trying to give the Senators competition for No. 31.||2||25-37|
|31||Senators||We all knew this was coming after the deadline, but... yep, it's still pretty darn bad.||--||25-41|
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