Who's ready for some postseason hockey?

We sure are -- not only because the Stanley Cup playoffs mark a thrilling culmination to the NHL's 2017-18 campaign but because we can only nitpick the league's crowded crop of top-tier contenders so many times.

As the regular season winds to a close, there's little doubt that last year's Western Conference champion Nashville Predators are set to repeat their title and take the Presidents' Trophy in the process, so they're clearly the No. 1 squad in our latest edition of NHL Power Rankings. And behind the Preds, who are every bit as dangerous as their underdog selves of 2016-17, the Boston Bruins simply cannot be ignored as the Bruce Cassidy-fueled machine they are -- a group that has fended off the injury bug like no other and thoroughly outdone the rest of the Eastern Conference when it comes to stalling pucks outside the net.

Still, you know you're dealing with too much top-of-the-line talent when you're dropping the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a team that seemingly had the Presidents' Trophy on lock for months and has outscored everyone in the NHL -- all the way to fifth in the league-wide pecking order. The competition, however, is so steep, what with the Winnipeg Jets surging and the Vegas Golden Knights carrying added scoring momentum into the playoffs, that it's anyone's guess as to how the best of the best will sort themselves out in the playoffs.

Here, we at least take a final regular-season stab at identifying how those contenders stack up:

Biggest Movers
3 Red Wings
4 Blues
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Predators They're playoff ready. We shouldn't take them for granted just because they've been No. 1 for a bit, either. The depth and goaltending are elite. -- 31-23-2
2 Bruins How they've continued to dominate despite unusually ravaging injury woes is not a mystery. Resiliency has been a staple of Bruce Cassidy's hot tenure. 1 33-16-7
3 Jets Seriously, this is the year all the casual fans are going to learn who Patrik Laine is. This team gets up for its big matchups. 1 30-23-3
4 Golden Knights Erik who? William Karlsson is owning his last name as of late, and Vegas was doing just fine when it built a reputation as merely a balanced, not superstar-led, attack. 1 40-14-2
5 Lightning No, they haven't crumbled a la the 2016-17 Wild. But their playoff competition suddenly looks a whole lot more serious. 3 36-17-3
6 Maple Leafs Anyone who takes them on early in the playoffs should be ready for a serious firefight. -- 35-14-7
7 Capitals Somehow, the year they aren't favored to do anything, they feel like a lock to get back to the second round. 1 36-15-5
8 Sharks What a story it would be for Joe Thornton to hop back aboard for a juiced-up playoff run. 1 21-28-7
9 Penguins They've been lurking in the shadows leading up to the playoffs. They'll make it tough on anyone they play. 1 37-16-3
10 Wild Losing 4-1 to the atrociously slumping Stars is right in their late-season wheelhouse. And yet they have the firepower to play spoiler in the West. 1 35-16-5
11 Ducks We're starting to see their grittiest efforts at the right time. Can they stay stable in net long enough to make a run? 1 17-30-9
12 Avalanche They're ranked higher than they would be in the postseason, but that's because they've defied expectations on the back of Nathan MacKinnon. 1 39-13-4
13 Blue Jackets Seth Jones is playing like that dude, but the jury is still out on whether they have what it takes to out-duel the elites. 1 18-26-12
14 Flyers If you want hot and cold, you have both with these streakers. If Petr Mrazek and Co. are on, they're a juicy upset candidate. 1 25-23-8
15 Devils No matter how this season ends, the Devils are in such a better place than they were just a year ago. 1 19-30-7
16 Kings Don't be fooled by their nice numbers. This team hasn't taken the next big step since starting the season super hot. 1 21-28-7
17 Blues Another wannabe in the West. Their talent is tantalizing, but they laid a big egg this week and wouldn't stand much of a chance deep in the postseason. 4 27-20-9
18 Panthers Next season, baby. Next season. -- 37-14-5
19 Stars Oh this is a tragedy. They were guns blazing vs. the Wild, but their collapse has been even more horrific than Minnesota's from a season ago. -- 23-19-14
20 Hurricanes Next year they can try to go for a whole decade of non-playoff contention. 2 36-12-8
21 Rangers The coaching decision countdown continues. -- 27-23-6
22 Flames Their victory over Edmonton wasn't so much Calgary turning it on as much as it was the Oilers doing 2017-18 Oilers things. 1 26-27-3
23 Oilers Ouch. Their playoff dreams have been dead for a while, but going out so ruggedly isn't pretty, either. 3 35-19-2
24 Blackhawks Who pegged this as a season they would go scoreless against the Avs in late March ... and watch the Avs hunt for the playoffs? -- 24-25-7
25 Red Wings There's still life! Now get that life some relief this offseason. 3 19-27-10
26 Islanders Speaking of the offseason, who knows if the Islanders even want to start that undertaking anytime soon? 1 32-17-7
27 Canucks Their four-game win streak is the best active run in the league. -- 23-29-4
28 Coyotes In their past four games, they've beaten the Lightning, Golden Knights and Blues. That's almost as good as sniffing the playoffs. 2 24-26-6
29 Canadiens The goal differential speaks for itself. And speaks nothing but bad stuff. 3 24-21-11
30 Senators Maybe Erik Karlsson is wrapping up his Ottawa career. And maybe he won't be so sad about it down the road. 1 23-28-5
31 Sabres Not even wins over Nashville and Tampa Bay can save them from their horrendous numbers. -- 15-34-7