NHL Power Rankings 2016: East Playoff Race Going Down To The Wire

The NHL’s Western Conference playoff race is over, with seeding the only outcome to sort out there. The Eastern Conference race, though, still is undecided with Sunday’s regular-season finale approaching.

The Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings all have a chance to make the playoffs. Boston and Detroit could clinch a berth by finishing third in the Atlantic or in the second and final wild-card spot, while Philly only can make it through that wild-card slot.

Here’s a look at each of these teams’ remaining schedule. Regulation and overtime wins (ROW) is the first tiebreaker.

Detroit Red Wings: 79 GP, 91 PTS, 38 ROW
April 6 vs. PHI, April 7 at BOS, April 9 at NYR

Boston Bruins: 80 GP, 91 PTS, 37 ROW
April 7 vs. DET, April 9 vs. OTT

Philadelphia Flyers: 78 GP, 91 PTS, 36 ROW
April 6 at DET, April 7 vs. TOR, April 9 vs. PIT, April 10 at NYI

Here are my final NHL power rankings of the regular season. All records are current entering Wednesday.

1. Washington Capitals (55-17-7, Last week: 1): Capitals goalie Braden Holtby is one win away from tying Martin Brodeur’s single-season record. He has two more games to break that mark.

2. Dallas Stars (48-23-9, Last week: 3): The Stars and Blues are tied for the best record in the West with two games remaining apiece. Dallas has an easier schedule with matchups against Colorado and Nashville, compared to St. Louis’ difficult road of Chicago and Washington.

3. St. Louis Blues (48-23-9, Last week: 4): The Blues must do everything possible to win the Central and avoid another first-round series with their nemesis, the rival Chicago Blackhawks. That’s an unfavorable matchup for St. Louis.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (47-25-8, Last week: 5): The Penguins overcame a 3-0 deficit Tuesday night to beat the Senators for their ninth win in the last 10 games and seventh victory in a row.

5. Anaheim Ducks (44-24-11, Last week: 6): The Ducks have tied the rival Kings for first place in the Pacific Division by securing points from eight of their last 10 games. The Ducks have a game in hand, though, and will visit the Kings on Thursday night.

6. Chicago Blackhawks (47-26-7, Last week: 7): Patrick Kane became the league’s first 100-point scorer with a hat trick and an assist Sunday against the Bruins. He’s the clear Hart Trophy favorite.

7. Los Angeles Kings (47-28-5, Last week: 2): L.A. has just four wins in its last 10 games, but a matchup Thursday versus the Ducks could give the Kings first place in the Pacific.

8. New York Rangers (45-26-9, Last week: 8): The Rangers must win their final two games to hold off the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Isles are two points behind their rivals, but they also have a game in hand.

9. New York Islanders (44-26-9, Last week: 13): The Islanders clinched a playoff berth for the third time in the last four seasons Tuesday with an overtime victory over the Capitals.

10. San Jose Sharks (45-29-6, Last week: 9): Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is having a remarkable season, and he should be rewarded as a Norris Trophy finalist. He’s tallied 74 points in 80 games, making him one of two defensemen to rank in the top 10 in scoring overall.

11. Florida Panthers (46-25-9, Last week: 12): The Panthers clinched the Atlantic Division title for the second time in team history and have won four consecutive games.

12. Tampa Bay Lightning (45-30-5, Last week: 10): The Lightning have lost their best player, Steven Stamkos, for one to three months after blood clot surgery. That came shortly after they lost No. 2 defenseman Anton Stralman with a fractured leg. It’s been a rough two weeks for Tampa Bay.

13. Nashville Predators (40-26-14, Last week: 11): The Predators have clinched the first wild-card spot, assuring they will play the winner of the Pacific in Round 1.

14. Detroit Red Wings (40-28-11, Last week: 16): If the Red Wings make the playoffs, it’s possible they could be the only team with a negative goal differential. They’re currently at minus-12 with three games remaining.

15. Minnesota Wild (38-32-11, Last week: 17): Minnesota’s current four-game skid could’ve been catastrophic if not for Colorado — the only threat to the Wild’s chances of clinching a wild-card spot — also going through a four-game skid.

16. Philadelphia Flyers (39-26-13, Last week: 14): The Flyers making the playoffs could vault first-year head coach Dave Hakstol to the top of the Jack Adams Award rankings. He’s done a tremendous job in Philly.

17. Boston Bruins (41-30-9, Last week: 15): The Bruins have the third-worst shooting percentage and a minus-2 goal differential at 5-on-5 since March 1. That must change if Boston is going to score enough goals to make the playoffs.

18. Colorado Avalanche (39-37-4, Last week: 18): Colorado has been the worst puck possession team in the league all season and still ranks at the bottom with a 44.1 Corsi percentage at 5-on-5. Head coach Patrick Roy must change his system to give the Avs a better chance of making the playoffs from the league’s toughest division.

19. New Jersey Devils (37-35-8, Last week: 19): If the Devils add some scoring in the offseason, they would have a great chance to earn a playoff spot in 2016-17. New Jersey was a solid defensive team, ranking eighth in goals against average and ninth in penalty killing, and it already has an elite goalie in Cory Schneider.

20. Carolina Hurricanes (35-29-16, Last week: 20): The Hurricanes played better than anyone expected this season and have a very bright future. Part of the reason has been the play of defenseman Noah Hanifin, the No. 5 pick from last year’s draft. The former Boston College star scored the shootout winner Tuesday night against his hometown Bruins.

21. Ottawa Senators (36-35-9, Last week: 22): The Senators could play the role of spoiler Saturday when they travel to TD Garden to take on the Bruins.

By the way, Sens captain Erik Karlsson is having an incredible season and probably will win the Norris Trophy.

22. Montreal Canadiens (36-38-6, Last week: 23): It’s going to be a very interesting summer in Montreal after the team was completely unable to overcome the loss of reigning league MVP and No. 1 goalie Carey Price.

23. Buffalo Sabres (34-35-11, Last week: 24): Buffalo is 6-2-2 in its last 10 games, and rookie center Jack Eichel continues to impress. He ranks second among first-year players in goals (24) and scoring (54 points).

24. Arizona Coyotes (35-38-7, Last week: 21): The Coyotes are headed for the lottery again, but rookie forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, who rank third and sixth in scoring among first-year players, respectively, represent a right future in Arizona.

25. Winnipeg Jets (33-39-8, Last week: 27): The Jets must make systematical and/or roster changes to fix power play and penalty kill units that have ranked in the bottom five of the league throughout this season.

26. Calgary Flames (33-40-7, Last week: 25): The Flames have given up the most goals and own the worst penalty in the league. That’s a recipe for finishing in the draft lottery.

27. Vancouver Canucks (30-36-13, Last week: 28): The Canucks’ final two games will have huge implications on the final draft lottery odds because those matchups are against the Oilers and Flames.

28. Columbus Blue Jackets (31-40-8, Last week: 26): A 3-7-0 record in their last 10 games has dropped the Blue Jackets to 28th in the overall standings, which actually is good for Columbus because its lottery odds have increased as a result.

29. Edmonton Oilers (30-43-7, Last week: 30): The Oilers have lost three in a row and as of Wednesday have the best chance to win the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

30. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-40-11, Last week: 29): Maybe trading James Reimer wasn’t such a good idea for Toronto.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Jan 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. The Burins defeated the Flyers, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images

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