NHL: The Weekend Update: The Home Stretch

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By: Rossy Pasternak

Here on SportsNak, we will be doing weekly updated power rankings, with features about three teams each week. The stretch run is upon us, with most teams having only 15-20 games remaining. The playoffs are fast approaching, and teams are looking to make their final push, either for a playoff spot, or for the #1 overall pick. These rankings are not only based on the standings, but also the level of team play. All stats are taken from ESPN.go.com. (GD stands for goal differential, the difference between goals scored and goals against)

The Bottom Feeders (30-21):

30. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-32-10, 52 pts, -37 GD)

29. Calgary Flames (26-34-4, 56 pts, -30 GD)

28. Winnipeg Jets (26-32-5, 57 pts, -26 GD)

27. Edmonton Oilers (25-35-7, 57 pts, -35 GD)

26. Vancouver Canucks (24-27-12, 60 pts, -29 GD)

25. Arizona Coyotes (27-31-6, 60 pts, -34 GD)

24. Buffalo Sabres (26-31-8, 60 pts, -21 GD)

23. Montreal Canadiens (30-29-6, 66 pts, -4 GD)

22. Ottawa Senators (30-28-7, 67 pts, -15 GD)

21. New Jersey Devils (31-28-7, 69 pts, -17 GD)

The Canadian Race for Auston Matthews

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Credit: Associated Press

All seven NHL teams find themselves in the bottom 10 of the standings, with Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg occupying the cellar. Auston Matthews, the two Finnish stars Laine and Puljujarvi, as well as Matthew Tkachuk, are the top prizes of the draft. For the Canadian teams, and hockey in Canada, this is a trying time. Canada is used to having great success in hockey, and is proud of producing the top players, generation after generation. With names like Orr, Gretzky, Crosby, and now McDavid, Canada is responsible for producing some of the best ever. Some of these Canadian teams are the most storied in the league, like the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, who have such prestigious histories. Now, instead of fighting for bragging rights and the Stanley Cup, they are fighting for the rights to draft the next great player. It has been 21 years since the last Canadian team has won a Stanley Cup. 21 years is a very long time. The top four players in this year’s draft are players who will most likely be able to help lead their teams to championships, as the to Fins’ took their World Junior team to the gold medal. For the sake of hockey in Canada, these teams have to improve fast, and that starts with the draft lottery – as long as the Oilers don’t win (again).

The Middle of the Pack (20-11):

20. Columbus Blue Jackets (27-30-8, 62 pts, -26 GD)

19.Carolina Hurricanes  (29-26-10, 68 pts, -16 GD)

18. Philadelphia Flyers (29-23-11, 69 pts, -15 GD)

17. Colorado Avalanche (33-29-4, 70 pts, -11 GD)

16. Detroit Red Wings (32-21-11, 75 pts, -5 GD)

15. Minnesota Wild (30-25-10, 70 pts, +9 GD)

14. Pittsburgh Penguins (33-22-8, 74 pts, +10 GD)

13. Nashville Predators (32-21-12, 76 pts, +10 GD)

12. Florida Panthers (36-20-8, 80 pts, +25 GD)

11.San Jose Sharks (35-22-6, 76 pts, +22 GD)

Sharks Struggle at Home

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Credit: EA Sports

The Sharks are following last season’s unfortunate and troubling trend of struggling at home this year. The Sharks sit under .500 at home once again this season, as they did last year. The Sharks being just an average team at home has contributed to their playoff disappointments in them past, and I think it could do them in once again. The Sharks are safe when it comes to their playoff spot, as they are 16 points ahead of Vancouver and Arizona, who are the only teams that could unseat them. San Jose will draw either Anaheim or Los Angeles in the first round, and these are two unbelievable home teams. Luckily for San Jose however, the Sharks are a great road team, with a record of 23-9-3 on the road. I don’t think the Sharks have the roster to win the Stanley Cup this season, even with the additions of Roman Polak, Nick Spaling and James Reimer. I do, however, think that if they can shore up their home struggles, they could threaten the Ducks and Kings to come out of the Pacific.

The Best of the Best (10-1):

10. New York Islanders (26-16-6, 58 pts, +14 GD)

9. Boston Bruins (27-18-5, 59 pts, +12 GD)

8. Los Angeles Kings (25-16-8, 58 pts, -2 GD)

7. New York Rangers (27-18-4, 58 pts, +13 GD)

6. St. Louis Blues (31-16-3, 65 pts, +20 GD)

5. Dallas Stars (32-14-5, 69 pts, +31 GD)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (29-16-8, 66 pts, +2 GD)

3. Chicago Blackhawks (30-15-5, 65 pts, +30 GD)

2. Anaheim Ducks (34-16-4, 72 pts, +26 GD)

1. Washington Capitals (35-9-4, 74 pts, +51 GD)

The Ducks are Back!

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Credit: Debora Robinson/Getty Images

The Ducks are back to being the Stanley Cup favourites that most experts pegged them as before the season. Since the trade of Carl Hagelin for David Perron, the Ducks have been surging. Of late, they have a 10-game win streak, and are continuing to dominate the NHL. Victims of a terrible start, the Ducks battled through coaching controversy, and a horrible start from captain Ryan Getzlaf, and still have a chance of winning the Pacific. If the Ducks pull this off and win their division, it would be a testament to their perseverance and determination. The Ducks have one of the deepest teams in the league, both on forward and defence. Actually, they may have the deepest defence-corps in the league. From the first pairing of Cam Fowler and Kevin Bieksa, to the press box with Simon Despres, all of the defenceman on the roster are capable of being trusted in the playoffs. The depth of this team, as well as the top-end talent they possess, is the reason that I have the Ducks as the Blackhawks biggest threat of representing the West in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals.

That concludes this week’s rankings. Check back next Saturday for the updated rankings and stories.

Do you agree, or disagree with our picks? Comment below!

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