With only sixteen games apiece left, the playoffs are in view. My colleague Timo Seppa gave you the high-level view of the playoff chase; now the power rankings will give you the low-level view. Twelve of the playoff spots are spoken for: the last two spots in the East will likely go to Boston and Montreal, with Atlanta, New York, Tampa Bay and Florida being the dark horses. In the West Nashville should be the seventh seed with Detroit or Calgary as eighth, although St. Louis and Dallas still have an outside chance. The impressive run by the Capitals over the last two months has catapulted Washington into the number one spot in the power rankings and has made them the overwhelming favorites for the Cup, with their odds of hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup pegged at 37%. But, as they say, thatís why they play the games.
Given the proximity of the playoffs, Iíve included each teamís odds of winning each round.
Here are the power rankings, up to and including games on Tuesday, March 9th:
O rat: Offensive rating. The typical number of goals you would score against an average team. Higher is better.
D rat: Defensive rating. The typical number of goals an average team would score on you. Lower is better.
T rat: Total rating. O rat Ė D rat. Your typical margin of victory against an average team. Higher is better.
Schd: Schedule difficulty (the average T rat of your opponents). Higher means harder.
PPts: Predicted number of points at the end of the year. The standard deviation is about 14 at this point in the schedule.
PO: Odds of making the playoffs, in percentage.
CS: Odds of making the Conference Semi-Final, in percentage.
CF: Odds of making the Conference Final, in percentage.
F: Odds of making the Stanley Cup Final, in percentage.
Cup: Odds of winning the Stanley Cup, in percentage.
Rank Team O rat D rat T rat Schd PPts PO CS CF F Cup
1 Washington Capitals 3.67 2.70 0.97 -0.07 119 100 82 66 52 37
Comment: Barring a collapse, this Capitals team will go down as one of the ten best offensive teams in history. Yes, you read that correctly. At this point, the Capitals have nothing left to prove in the regular season, having run away with the Eastern Conference. A rematch with the Penguins in the Conference Final would be hockey nirvana.
2 Vancouver Canucks 3.05 2.58 0.47 0.00 104 99 64 37 21 10
Comment: A month ago, I predicted that the Canucks would be fine on their road trip. Nine games in, they're 6-4 and still on top of the Northwest.
3 San Jose Sharks 2.90 2.46 0.44 -0.04 114 100 66 41 23 11
Comment: Niclas Wallin was a good pickup for a team that's had defensive depth problems since having to trade Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich for cap reasons. If Evgeni Nabokov can maintain his regular-season form, the Sharks may exorcise their monsters. No tapes of the Canada-Russia game are allowed within fifty miles of San Jose.
4 Chicago Blackhawks 3.00 2.58 0.43 -0.06 111 100 65 39 21 10
Comment: Shocker! GVT says the Blackhaws' weakness is goaltending. Aren't you glad you have your stats guru here to give you the insight you can't find anywhere else?
5 Los Angeles Kings 2.83 2.58 0.25 -0.02 102 96 52 25 12 5
Comment: While everyone knew the Kings had potential, nobody, including Puck Prospectus, had them at 6th overall this season. The Kings have good offense, very good team defense and decent goaltending, and their best players are twenty-two or younger.
6 Philadelphia Flyers 2.81 2.58 0.23 -0.04 94 92 50 24 10 5
Comment: From October to December the Flyers were outscored by 4 goals. Since then, they've outscored their opposition by 27 goals and are locked into a playoff spot. The goaltending, as usual, is a question mark, but it wouldn't be Philly if it wasn't.
7 Colorado Avalanche 2.75 2.59 0.16 -0.06 98 86 38 17 7 3
Comment: I still worry about a team whose formula for success is to marry the league's second-best shooting percentage (10.6%) and it's third-best save percentage (92.0%) with the second-worst shot differential (-314, ahead of only Florida). The trade of Wojtek Wolski is also questionable.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins 2.89 2.81 0.08 -0.04 102 100 54 26 9 4
Comment: Sidney Crosby has been excellent, the team defense and goaltending have been questionable, and their deadline activity was, as usual, brilliant. Yes, depite being 8th in the rankings, everyone, myself included, feels the Penguins are at least co-favorites to emerge from the East.
9 Buffalo Sabres 2.54 2.50 0.05 0.01 99 99 52 25 8 3
Comment: Ryan Miller has continued a Sabres tradition dating back to Dominik Hasek: take an average team and make them look brilliant. He'd better be up to it, because without him the Sabres are barely a playoff team, even in the East.
10 Detroit Red Wings 2.59 2.56 0.03 0.07 92 53 19 7 3 1
Comment: 53% chance to make the playoffs. That's about as bubble as you can get, although the Wings are clearly better than the lineup they've dressed for most of the season. In a stunning turnaround, their weakness this season has been offense, especially at 5-on-5.
11 Calgary Flames 2.48 2.46 0.02 -0.05 92 42 15 6 2 1
Comment: The Flames have scored the 3rd-fewest goals in the NHL, which really tells you all you need to know about their season. They only had a 25% chance of making the playoffs a week ago, but their three game winning streak has brought them back into the picture.
12 Phoenix Coyotes 2.52 2.51 0.01 -0.04 99 95 38 14 6 6
Comment: The Coyotes have three players to thank for their excellent season: goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, forward Radim Vrbata, who has excelled against tough competition, and defensemen Keith Yandle, who has helped to drive scoring chances at even-strength and on the power-play.
13 New Jersey Devils 2.51 2.50 0.01 0.02 100 99 50 22 7 3
Comment: The Devils have been poor since trading for Kovalchuk, going 3-5-1, but their season-long problem has been offense so having Kovalchulk in the lineup can only help. Martin Brodeur hasn't had anything to prove in a long time, so this could be extra motivation for him as well.
14 Carolina Hurricanes 2.76 2.76 0.00 -0.03 79 10 3 1 1 0
Comment: What a turnaround! At Christmas the Hurricanes were dead last in the NHL, not able to win a game and headed for the lottery. In 2010 they've outscored their opponents by 29 goals, and would be a top-5 NHL team if the season had started January 1st. They can be proud of themselves heading into next season.
15 New York Rangers 2.49 2.51 -0.02 0.00 84 28 10 3 1 1
Comment: As mismanaged as the Rangers have been, do you believe they've made the playoffs for four seasons in a row? This should be known as the "Lundqvist effect", but this team is still in danger of missing the playoffs because of a lackluster offense outside of Marian Gaborik, which has imperiled the Rangers' playoff chances.
16 Nashville Predators 2.67 2.70 -0.03 0.02 94 70 25 9 3 1
Comment: Even on a team as strong as team Canada, Shea Weber was the #2 defenseman. If RFA offer sheets weren't unthinkable, he would be a prime candidate for one next season.
17 St. Louis Blues 2.61 2.64 -0.03 0.04 88 21 7 2 1 0
Comment: Another team that has snapped out of its funk too late. On December 20th the Blues were 29th in the NHL in goals-per-game, ahead only of the anemic Montreal Canadiens. Since then they've been above-average and a playoff-caliber team, but it's probably too late to salvage the year. Still, 21% isn't unthinkable.
18 Montreal Canadiens 2.56 2.62 -0.05 0.03 88 61 22 7 3 1
Comment: You have to wonder how much the Canadiens could have gotten for Jaroslav Halak at the trade deadline, but for the record I think they did the right thing. They're still in the middle of the race and Halak has been their best player this season.
19 Minnesota Wild 2.66 2.72 -0.06 -0.01 86 12 4 1 1 0
Comment: Last year, Minnesota was the best team to miss the playoffs, and they'll be among the best to miss the postseason this year as well, as their early season hole will be too deep to dig out from in the strong West.
20 Ottawa Senators 2.59 2.67 -0.08 -0.04 94 93 40 15 5 2
Comment: Possibly the worst team in this year's playoffs, the Senators have to overcome sub-par offense and goaltending. Jason Spezza's return to form will help the former, while newly acquired Andy Sutton may help cut down on the peril Ottawa's goaltenders face.
21 Boston Bruins 2.42 2.51 -0.09 -0.03 88 55 20 6 2 1
Comment: Avalanche fans, take note. This is what happens when a team builds its success on an unsustainably high shooting percentage. Last year the Bruins were first in the NHL with a 10.9% shooting percentage, which made them second in goals. This season they're thirtieth at 7.5%.
22 Florida Panthers 2.50 2.60 -0.10 0.00 82 17 5 2 1 0
Comment: The Panthers aren't quite out of the playoff race, but their three best players this season, after goaltender Tomas Vokoun, have been Jordan Leopold, Dennis Seidenberg and Dominic Moore, so I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
23 Tampa Bay Lightning 2.62 2.82 -0.20 0.01 82 20 6 2 1 0
Comment: Did you know Steven Stamkos already has 40 goals? Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have kept the Lightning alive in the chase, although they have very little room for maneuver.
24 Anaheim Ducks 2.68 2.90 -0.22 0.05 84 7 2 1 0 0
Comment: Long-term, no team had a better trade deadline than the Ducks. Visnovsky for Whitney is an upgrade for marginally more money and getting rid of Vesa Toskala's contract is brilliant. The Ducks have rebuilt their team in a hurry and should be in good shape for next year.
25 Atlanta Thrashers 2.72 2.96 -0.24 0.00 83 25 7 2 1 0
Comment: I think it would be awesome if the Thrashers made the playoffs, doubly awesome if they grab the 7th seed and the Devils win the Atlantic division for a 1st-round matchup, and triply awesome if they won. None of the three is likely to happen, however.
26 Dallas Stars 2.65 2.90 -0.25 0.06 87 19 5 1 0 0
Comment: A sad end to the Marty Turco era in Dallas, as Turco never lived up to his 4-year, $23 million dollar contract, and Mike Modano may be gone soon as well.
27 Columbus Blue Jackets 2.55 2.83 -0.28 0.07 78 0 0 0 0 0
Comment: Yes, the Jackets got pretty horrendous goaltending from both Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon, but this team was weak enough that even Vladislav Tretiak might not have saved them.
28 Toronto Maple Leafs 2.56 2.97 -0.41 0.06 70 0 0 0 0 0
Comment: Much like the Montreal Canadiens this season, the Maple Leafs have so many new parts that it's hard to know how good they are or will be. For the most part Brian Burke's recent moves have seemed reasonable, but trading away three early draft picks for Phil Kessel was unwise given that the Leafs this season were a 7th or 8th seed at best.
29 New York Islanders 2.49 2.94 -0.45 0.02 75 1 0 0 0 0
Comment: It's actually only been three years since the Islanders made the playoffs, but it's been several lean years since Mike Milbury emptied the cupboard. As Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los Angeles have proven, being last for several years is a good way to get really good.
30 Edmonton Oilers 2.44 3.07 -0.64 0.04 62 0 0 0 0 0
Comment: The season can't end soon enough for the Oilers who, like the Islanders, can only take solace in the prospects of better years ahead.
Tom Awad is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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