NHL Power Rankings: Predators finish regular season No. 1; Jets, Lightning rise in top five
The Presidents' Trophy-winning Preds enter the postseason as the best in the league
The time has finally come. After 82 games for all 31 NHL teams, the.
That means it's also time for one final regular-season edition of our NFL Power Rankings -- a culminating look at the teams from top to bottom as the postseason gets underway. And there's still quite a bit of movement among the league's best, with the Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning both moving up in the top five as they prepare to make serious runs at the Cup.
The Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators remain at No. 1 as the most dominant club entering the playoffs, but anyone in the top 10 has a reasonable argument to be considered among the Cup favorites, especially when the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves at No. 9 after two straight title victories.
|1||Predators||Somehow, after last year's playoff peak, they enter this postseason with even higher expectations.||--||53-18|
|2||Jets||Talk about coming in hot. Connor Hellebuyck is the man to watch.||1||52-20|
|3||Lightning||Let's not overthink this. Their top scorers are far and above the best of the league.||2||54-23|
|4||Bruins||Getting Rick Nash back for the playoffs would be a bonus. But Tuukka Raask and that defense are the real gems here.||2||50-20|
|5||Golden Knights||It's balance that'll allow them to advance. Their penalty kill, offensive depth and veteran net presence is no joke.||1||51-24|
|6||Maple Leafs||No one's set records like them. But they're going to need Auston Matthews and Co. to go above and beyond.||--||49-26|
|7||Capitals||Insert the annual, inevitable question: Is this the year they'll finally get over the hump?||--||49-26|
|8||Penguins||Keep this in mind: They are 30-9-2 at home. Oh, and they're still back-to-back champs.||1||47-29|
|9||Ducks||Yes, we're surprised. Unlike other slow starters, they've shifted into high gear. The goaltending has been superb.||2||44-25|
|10||Sharks||They made for a nice second-half story, especially with Evander Kane. But somehow momentum doesn't seem quite on their side.||2||45-27|
|11||Wild||They've got grit and experience, but the Jets are more explosive and will be an extremely tough out early on.||1||45-26|
|12||Flyers||They've come up big against their superiors this year, and there'll be extra fight vs. the Pens. But can their defense hold up?||2||42-26|
|13||Avalanche||What a feel-good entry into the playoffs. The pressure is off, because anything from here is just icing on a cake baked above expectations.||1||43-30|
|14||Blue Jackets||If Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and their big names come through, they've got a fighting chance to advance.||1||45-30|
|15||Devils||Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier should provide some flavor, but they're still at least a year away from making a real push.||--||44-29|
|16||Kings||Forget their goal differential. Any series win they get in the playoffs would be an upset.||--||45-29|
|17||Panthers||Now they've tasted what it's like to be close to contention. They'll be a breakout candidate in 2018-19.||1||44-30|
|18||Blues||Maybe Jake Allen's playoff mastery from a year ago wasn't as indicative as it seemed to be.||1||44-32|
|19||Stars||It's probably fair to wonder whether the current management is right for the job. This team has disappointed in back-to-back years.||--||42-32|
|20||Hurricanes||Another year, another finish right outside the playoff picture.||--||36-35|
|21||Flames||The season wasn't all it could've been, but at least they finished with a touching win in the wake of the Saskatchewan tragedy.||1||37-35|
|22||Oilers||Our final reminder that this team, with a still-surging Connor McDavid, was supposed to be a title contender.||1||36-40|
|23||Islanders||Maybe John Tavares wants to stick around, after all.||3||35-37|
|24||Blackhawks||Get a defenseman and some real Corey Crawford insurance, and this team should be right back in the mix.||--||33-39|
|25||Rangers||As Alain Vigneault departs, you can't help but wonder if Rangers Nation is exhaling.||4||34-39|
|26||Canucks||If they want to have any chance next year, they're going to need more from guys not named Brock Boeser.||1||31-40|
|27||Red Wings||This offseason is huge in terms of jump-starting the rebuild.||2||30-39|
|28||Coyotes||Considering the teams that finished below them, they actually made quite a jump from the 2016-17 season.||--||29-41|
|29||Canadiens||They better figure out what's up with Carey Price from a long-term perspective.||--||29-40|
|30||Senators||The award for biggest drop-off in a year's time goes right to Ottawa.||--||28-43|
|31||Sabres||The rebuild went backwards. And the finish wasn't promising at all.||--||25-45|
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