|Francona Wins Big in Return to Fenway||Connelly’s Top Ten: Rask Falls on Face||Bruins Lose 4-3 in OT as Rangers Fight to Stay Alive||For the Bulletin Board: Lundqvist’s “Lucky Bounces,” Savard’s “#ByeByeTorts”|
It’s almost playoff time, and two of our experts have ranked the end-of-season Power Rankings, along with choices for the biggest playoff upset. The Blackhawks are pushing, but the Capitals have finished #1 on our rankings for the fifth straight poll, and for the fourth straight time it has been unanimous.
Only the Kings have dropped from the rankings this week. Detroit took their place, jumping all the way up to #6 after vaulting up to the #5 seed out West. Despite doing exceptionally well, Phoenix has fallen in our rankings, due to the movements of other teams around them.
A first place vote earns a team 10 points, a second place vote earns 9, and so on. Ties are broken based on who received the most first place votes, then the most second, and so on. The second tiebreaker is based on rank in the previous power ranking, then the one before that, and so on.
|John||KC||SoB Composite||Last Time||Comments|
|#1||Washington Capitals||Washington Capitals||(2) Washington Capitals (20)||#1, even||KC – Interesting stat…the Caps have the best 5-on-5 goals for-against ratio in more than 12 years. Yep, they’re clearly the best.|
|#2||Chicago Blackhawks||Vancouver Canucks||Chicago Blackhawks (17)||#4, up 2||John – How great will the Blackhawks be this post-season? Especially if they can beat arch-rival Detroit Sunday to win the West.|
|#3||San Jose Sharks||Chicago Blackhawks||Vancouver Canucks (14)||#5, up 3||John – Yeah, they’re good, but that losing road record will be tough to work with in the playoffs.|
|#4||Phoenix Coyotes||Phoenix Coyotes||San Jose Sharks (14)||#3, down 1||John – Based on regular season series, the Shahks don’t expect to run into trouble until Chicago, and if they win then, Washington.|
|#5||Detroit Red Wings||San Jose Sharks||Phoenix Coyotes (14)||#2, down 5||KC – What an incredible run for such a sorry, hopeless franchise.|
|#6||Vancouver Canucks||Detroit Red Wings||Detroit Red Wings (11)||NR||KC – [The] Wings are 15-3-2 since the Olympic Break. Wow.|
|#7||New Jersey Devils||Nashville Predators||New Jersey Devils (6)||#9, up 2||KC – Will Kovalchuk make a difference in the playoffs?|
|#8||Pittsburgh Penguins||Pittsburgh Penguins||Pittsburgh Penguins (6)||#6, down 2||John – A tough loss in Atlanta Saturday gave the division to New Jersey. It shouldn’t mean much, except enjoy Washington in Round 2, suckers.|
|#9||Buffalo Sabres||New Jersey Devils||Nashville Predators (5)||#7, down 2||John – Nashville has a decent shot at beating Vancouver, but it only gets uglier from there.|
|#10||Nashville Predators||Los Angeles Kings||Buffallo Sabres (2)||#8, down 2||John – If Buffalo had only started Ryan Miller against the Bruins, they could’ve won, then had a chance to take the #2 seed by winning in New Jersey Sunday. Instead, they’ll have to win specifically in regulation to do it and avoid having to face the Bruins again in Round 1; Boston won the season series 4-2-0.|
|Others earning votes:||Los Angeles Kings (1)|
I just don’t see much potential for upsets, and this is the only one where I see a very good chance. (Maybe Vancouver can beat San Jose, if they finish #3 and #2 respectively, but that’s not as likely.) Detroit got hot to end the year, while Phoenix has pretty much been at their current level for a long time. The momentum favors Detroit, but we’ll see if they have any tricks left to beat Chicago.
Aside from the Capitals, the other division winners (Devils and Sabres) are very beatable in a seven-game, opening-round series. I can envision any of the bottom-tiered teams (Bruins, Canadiens, Flyers, Rangers) winning. Yes, even the Bruins. Teams with a strong defense and a hot goalie tend to advance in the playoffs, as long as they can score one or two goals per game. The Bruins have that, and with a little luck, they’ll be able to top the Sabres or Devils.
Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, NHL Playoffs, NHL Power Rankings, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals