NHL Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 20 Poll

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterMarch 3, 2014

NHL Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 20 Poll

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    As wonderful as the Olympics were, the world went nearly three weeks without Bleacher Report's NHL power rankings, which was quite the tragedy.

    But the NHL is back, and so are the power rankings you crave.

    It was a short week with the NHL resuming play Tuesday with the first full slate of games Wednesday. Did anyone play well enough to make a big climb? Did anyone stumble out of the blocks to the point where they took a big drop?

    The St. Louis Blues were the top team in the pre-Olympic power rankings…are they still there now?

    Our panel is back again to rank the entire league from 1 to 30. Allan Mitchell, Lyle Richardson, Carol Schram, Rob Vollman, Adrian Dater and I voted this week. The criteria remain the same, and the vote will focus heavily on recent performance, with the overall NHL standings only serving as an anchor point for each team.

    Read on to see where every NHL team ranks, and please note the rankings are the result of the panel's voting, not one person's decision.

30-26: Edmonton Oilers-Calgary Flames

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    30. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 26.) The Oilers registered one goal in two games this week, both losses.

    29. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 27.) They went 1-2 last week but rallied Sunday to beat the Islanders 5-3.

    28. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 30.) The worst team in hockey comes out of the break and, of course, goes 3-0 in its first three games. They won the third one against the Sharks after trading Ryan Miller and Steve Ott right before the game. 

    27. New York Islanders (Last Week: 29.) They found a way to win their first game without John Tavares but were outscored 11-4 in two losses that followed.

    26. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 28.) Rookie Sean Monahan scored 100 percent of the team's goals in two games since the break. He had two in a 2-1 overtime win against the Oilers Saturday after no one scored two days earlier against the Kings.

25-21: Vancouver Canucks-Ottawa Senators

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    25. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 25.) They had a 1-1-1 start to the post-Olympic break schedule with backup goaltender Eddie Lack starting all three games. The Canucks scored four goals in those three contests.

    24. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 18.) They've lost all three games after the break in regulation and five in a row overall. It's suddenly getting to be desperate times in Carolina.

    23. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 24.) They rallied to beat the Lightning but followed that win with a tough loss to the Jets. If they're going to push for the playoffs, they need to get it going quickly. 

    22. Phoenix Coyotes (Last Week: 20.) The've lost four straight and collapsed at home against the Blues Sunday night, squandering a 2-0 lead in the third period in a 4-2 loss.

    21. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 17.) They responded very well to a 6-1 drubbing from the Red Wings by winning at BC Place in the Heritage Classic against the Canucks. Time is running out for Ottawa to make a postseason push.

20-16: New Jersey Devils-Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    20. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 22.) They mashed the Jackets and blitzed the Islanders but just weren't in the same class as the Sharks in a 4-2 loss Sunday. The Devils' next two games are against the Red Wings, who are three points up on New Jersey for the final wild-card spot in the East.

    19. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 19.) After being swamped in a 7-3 loss to the Sharks to start their post-Olympic schedule, they ripped off two big wins against the Rangers and Capitals. They're not far off from solidifying a playoff spot.

    18. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 21.) The break has done nothing to slow the red-hot Jets. They went 2-0 this week and are 11-3-1 under new coach Paul Maurice. The playoffs are within reach.

    17. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 23.) Their loss Sunday was an unmitigated disaster. They let a 4-2 lead dissipate in the final eight minutes before losing in overtime to the Flyers, a team the Caps are chasing for a playoff spot. The Caps won their first two games after the break, however.

    16. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 11.) They dropped both of their games last week but picked up two points by losing both after regulation. You just can't beat the NHL's points system.

15-11: Montreal Canadiens-Dallas Stars

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    Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

    15. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 16.) They picked up five of six points, going beyond regulation in all three of their games. Chasing down the Bruins seems like it will be difficult, but home ice in Round 1 is very attainable.

    14. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 14.) The Wild won four straight and both of their games last week. They're looking like a solid bet for a second straight trip to the playoffs.

    13. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 9.) They went 1-2 last week and avoided a three-game losing streak by beating the Panthers 6-3 Saturday.

    12. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 16.) They had two games last week against the Senators and Canadiens—two teams they are battling for playoff standing—and beat them both by a combined tally of 8-2. It will be interesting to see if they can keep this up without captain Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the regular season.

    11. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 10.) They earned a 4-1 win against Carolina before losing 4-2 versus the Lightning, both games occurring at home. They currently occupy the final wild-card spot in the West.

10. New York Rangers

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    Scott Levy/Getty Images

    Last Week: Eighth

    Recent Trend: After defeating the defending-champion Blackhawks out of the gate, they dropped two in a row to the Flyers and Bruins to end their week.

    Big Picture: They sit in third in the Metropolitan, but they have the Capitals just one point back. The Rangers' playoff position that was looking steady before the break is beginning to weaken.

    By the Numbers: Ryan Callahan played all 449 of his career games with the Rangers. It's possible that Sunday's game against the Bruins may have been his last one as the trade deadline looms.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14th

    Recent Trend: The Lightning are 1-2 out of the break in three road games against Western Conference teams. They went 2-4-0 in their final six games before the break and could use Steven Stamkos in the worst way.

    Big Picture: They're slipping a bit, but they are two points back of the Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic. Stamkos' return this week should help them steady the ship.

    By the Numbers: In 11 shorthanded situations since returning from the break, the Lightning allowed four power-play goals.

8. Colorado Avalanche

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    Last Week: Sixth

    Recent Trend: They followed a 6-4 loss to the Kings with a 4-2 victory against the Coyotes and a 6-3 win against the Lightning Sunday.

    Big Picture: They are nestled in third place in the Central, but second or even first place remains a possibility. They should finish no worse than third in the division.

    By the Numbers: The Avs allowed 172 shots over their past five games, an average of 34.4 per game.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Last Week: Fourth

    Recent Trend: Two games out of the Olympics and two losses in which they allowed 10 goals. The Penguins could be in trouble defensively with Kris Letang and Paul Martin missing for long periods of time.

    Big Picture: They will win the Atlantic even with a depleted lineup, but they could be in danger of relinquishing the overall lead in the East over the final six weeks.

    By the Numbers: Four of the Penguins' next five games are on the road, where they are 17-12-2.

6. Los Angeles Kings

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Last Week: 13th

    Recent Trend: They've won four in a row and three straight since returning from the Olympic respite. They scored six goals in a win against the Avalanche after scoring six total goals in their previous four games.

    Big Picture: They are still 10 points back of the Sharks for second place in the Pacific, so a playoff series that begins away from Staples Center appears likely.

    By the Numbers: In 16 of their 62 games this season, either the Kings or their opponent were shut out in that game.

5. St. Louis Blues

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week: First

    Recent Trend: They were handed pair of 1-0 losses coming out of the break and were held scoreless for two periods by the Coyotes Sunday. Fortunately for the Blues, they scored four times in the third period to win in Ryan Miller's debut.

    Big Picture: They are among the elite in the West and can still finish as high as first in the conference or third in their division. The West is about as tough as it gets.

    By the Numbers: The rest of the Blues' schedule this month is unforgiving. They play 14 games in 25 days, with eight of those contests taking place on the road.

4. Boston Bruins

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Last Week: Second

    Recent Trend: They went 1-1-1 last week but capped it with a 6-3 drubbing of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

    Big Picture: With the Penguins suffering a cornucopia of injuries, the door is open for the Bruins to make a run at the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

    By the Numbers: The Bruins allowed 42 shots to the Rangers Sunday, the second-highest total they allowed in a game this season. The most given up was 44 shots, also against the Rangers, when the teams met in November.

3. Anaheim Ducks

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Last Week: Fifth

    Recent Trend: Two games, two victories for the Ducks last week, including a tight 1-0 win against the Blues and a 5-2 blitzing of the Hurricanes Sunday.

    Big Picture: They're in the driver's seat for the Presidents' Trophy and home ice throughout the playoffs. There are a few teams nipping at their heels, but they look sharp in their first two games out of the break.

    By the Numbers: The Ducks are outscoring teams 143-99 at even strength this season, and their plus-44 margin is the best in the league.

2. San Jose Sharks

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Last Week: Seventh

    Recent Trend: They went 2-1 on a three-game road trip, the only loss coming against the Sabres on the night they dealt away Ryan Miller and Steve Ott. 

    Big Picture: The top spot in the Pacific isn't entirely out of reach, but the Sharks look secure in the second spot in the division. A first-round date with the Los Angeles Kings seems inevitable. 

    By the Numbers: The Sharks' power play is in a bit of funk, going 2-of-37 in San Jose's past 12 games.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Last Week: Third

    Recent Trend: They played just two games coming out of the break, losing a close one on the road to the Rangers 2-1 before taking care of the Penguins 5-1 at Soldier Field Saturday night.

    Big Picture: They're in the mix for the top spot in the West, but the Blues are pushing hard for first place in the Central Division.

    By the Numbers: The Blackhawks sent 10 players to the Sochi Olympics. It will be interesting to see how the team plays down the stretch after so many players didn't get a two-week rest.