NHL Power Rankings 2014: Updated Outlook Following Winter Olympics in Sochi

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NHL Power Rankings 2014: Updated Outlook Following Winter Olympics in Sochi
Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

After the conclusion of the men’s ice hockey tournament in the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, the focus has shifted to the power rankings heading into the final quarter of the NHL regular season.

Canada won the gold medal, Sweden took home the silver and Finland beat Team USA to finish third and earn the bronze medal.

Here is where every team stands after the Olympic break.

 

Matt Slocum/Associated Press
1. Anaheim Ducks (41-14-5)

Led by the elite play of Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller, the stellar play of Canadian forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and the MVP Olympic performance of Teemu Selanne, the league’s best team will continue its dominance in the second half of the season.

 

2. St. Louis Blues (39-12-6)

The St. Louis Blues don’t get the mainstream respect the team deserves, but with a strong defensive group in front of the elite tandem of goalies featuring Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, the franchise will be a serious postseason contender.

 

3. Chicago Blackhawks (35-11-14)

With top players having represented various countries all across the Olympic tournament—from Jonathan Toews on Team Canada to Patrick Kane on Team USA—the lofty expectations for the Chicago Blackhawks will result in a standout performance to close out the regular season.

 

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (40-15-3)

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby helped the Canadians win the gold medal once again, but his NHL franchise is more worried about a different type of hardware. It’s Stanley Cup or bust in Pittsburgh.

 

David J. Phillip/Associated Press
5. Boston Bruins (37-16-4)

Team Finland was able to take home the bronze medal thanks to the elite play of goaltender Tuukka Rask—he shut out Team USA in the team's final game. The Boston Bruins want the netminder to come back to the NHL with the same vigor he played with on the international level.

 

6. Colorado Avalanche (37-16-5)

The Colorado Avalanche sent several players to Sochi for the tournament, and the experience for the young group of stars will only help the franchise as it prepares for a deep playoff run in the Western Conference.

 

7. San Jose Sharks (37-16-6)

Led by a strong core of veterans like Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle, the San Jose Sharks will rely heavily on other top players like Joseph Pavelski to build off their pre-Olympic success and give the franchise the depth it needs.

 

Was Team USA's Olympic performance a disappointment?

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8. Tampa Bay Lightning (33-20-5)

The Tampa Bay Lighting have found success this season despite missing a top star like Steven Stamkos while he recovered from a leg injury. While missing the Olympics was a blow to Stamkos, the rest ensured the time to heal properly, and he should be ready to tear it up during the remainder of the season.

 

9. Montreal Canadiens (32-21-6)

While the Montreal Canadians lack elite depth at the forward positions, the stellar play of a strong defensive group in front of gold-medal-winning goaltender Carey Price will help the team be a serious postseason threat.

 

10. Los Angeles Kings (31-22-6)

The biggest flaw for the Los Angeles Kings is the inconsistency in the offensive zone. Despite the struggles, the play of Jonathan Quick in net and Drew Doughty on defense will keep the franchise in contention all season.

 

Len Redkoles/Getty Images
11. Philadelphia Flyers (30-23-6)

There were low expectations for the Philadelphia Flyers coming into the 2013-14 season, but with the majority of the roster—including Team Canada snub and captain Claude Giroux—well rested due to not playing overseas, this is a franchise that can make a big splash in the final quarter of the season.

 

12. New York Rangers (32-24-3)

The key to success for the New York Rangers starts and ends with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. While Team Sweden was forced to settle for the silver medal, the performance of the netminder was not the reason for the loss. New York will always be in contention with Lundqvist in net.

 

13. Toronto Maple Leafs (32-22-6)

Before the Olympic break, the Toronto Maple Leafs were considered one of the dark-horse contenders for a deep postseason run. After watching the success of forwards Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk for Team USA, though, the Maple Leafs could be the real deal.

 

14. Minnesota Wild (31-21-7)

The Minnesota Wild are dealing with goalie Josh Harding’s battle with multiple sclerosis, and how the franchise handles the trade deadline will determine whether the team has the depth and talent to make a playoff run.

 

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15. Carolina Hurricanes (26-22-9)

The Carolina Hurricanes have struggled all season to find consistency at both ends of the ice, and the franchise’s hope is that the rest from the Olympic break will give the team a boast heading into the remainder of the season.

 

16. Vancouver Canucks (27-24-9)

The hope for the Vancouver Canucks is to have captain Henrik Sedin back in the lineup after missing the Sochi Games with a rib injury. If the team can stay healthy, Vancouver will be dangerous in the postseason.

 

17. Ottawa Senators (26-22-11)

While Team Sweden was unable to win the gold medal, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was one of the best players in the tournament and looks to be in elite shape as he returns to the NHL.

 

Do you think Sweden would have beaten Canada with its full arsenal of weapons?

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18. Columbus Blue Jackets (29-24-5)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a very strong team led by an elite goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky, but offensive inconsistencies have doomed their playoff chances. If the team can find a rhythm for the remainder of the season, Columbus could sneak into the playoffs.

 

19. Phoenix Coyotes (27-21-10)

After a solid first half of the season, the Phoenix Coyotes are in a position to sneak in the back door for a postseason berth with a strong performance. If the Coyotes falter at all, though, the team will once again be on the outside looking in.

 

20. Detroit Red Wings (26-20-12)

If the Detroit Red Wings don’t make the postseason, there will be shock waves sent through the entire league. As unheard of as the scenario has become with Detroit being a perennial Stanley Cup contender, the loss of forward Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the season will doom its chances.

 

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21. Winnipeg Jets (28-26-6)

Despite likely missing the playoffs once again, the Winnipeg Jets, led by Olympic goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, should make an admirable final push and prove that the franchise is slowly moving in the right direction.

 

22. New Jersey Devils (24-22-13)

Watching Ilya Kovalchuk perform well for Team Russia in the Olympic tournament had to sting for the New Jersey Devils, and the franchise will once again struggle in the final quarter of the season.

 

23. Dallas Stars (27-21-10)

The Dallas Stars knew how much talent forward Jamie Benn had when the franchise drafted him, but after stealing the show at the Olympics for Team Canada, the best-kept secret in the NHL is officially out.

 

24. Washington Capitals (27-23-9)

The lack of success for Team Russia was due in part to the lackluster play of star Alex Ovechkin. If the Washington Capitals want to make a late-season run at a postseason berth, Ovechkin must play with more heart than he showcased at the Olympics.

 

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25. Nashville Predators (25-24-10)

Defender Shea Weber proved to be one of the keys to Team Canada’s gold-medal run in Sochi, and his return to the Nashville Predators has expectations for the remainder of the season growing. Whether the team can provide the offensive support the star player needs is another story, though.

 

26. New York Islanders (22-30-8)

The New York Islanders were likely not going to make the postseason anyway, but the injury to star forward John Tavares (torn MCL) has ended all remaining hope. Maybe next year.

 

27. Calgary Flames (22-29-7)

The rebuilding process continues in Calgary, and the Olympic break probably ended up being a blessing for the team. With the young core of players getting time to acclimate to the league and prepare for the rest of the schedule, the Flames should make strides.

 

28. Florida Panthers (22-29-7)

In one of the cruelest twists of fate, the already struggling Florida Panthers have been dealt a devastating blow. Both Olympic representatives—center Aleksander Barkov and right winger Tomas Kopeckywere injured during the Games. The final portion of the season is going to be painful for Florida.

 

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29. Edmonton Oilers (20-33-7)

It may sound like a broken record, but the Edmonton Oilers have plenty of young players ready to blossom into top NHL stars. As it is every year, however, the franchise lacks the kind of veteran presence that can help bring the team to the next level.

 

30. Buffalo Sabres (15-34-8)

The Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the NHL right now, and if the team starts dealing players with expiring contracts at the trade deadline, the possible loss of Team USA goaltender Ryan Miller would make the team even worse.

 

All stats via NHL.com.

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