Updated: April 13, 2015, 1:45 PM ET

Season finale!


By Scott Burnside (posted April 13, 2015)

And so we come to the end. Or is it the beginning? For the Power Rankings, it's the end. For the meat of the season, the part that separates the winners from everyone else, things are just beginning. But for a moment, let us reflect on the regular season that was and how we got to where we are today. You'll find that the top 16 teams are playoff teams. Live with it. Until next fall, then, the final Power Rankings.

Rk(LW)TeamRec
1
NY Rangers
53-22-7
It is interesting that although the Rangers are the regular-season champions, earning their first Presidents' Trophy since 1994 (the last time they won a Stanley Cup), there isn't widespread support for them as a potential Cup winner. Still, this is one of the most complete teams in the tournament.
2
Anaheim
51-24-7
Not much support, either, for the top team in the West. A young goaltending tandem will have to carry the freight, but on paper, the three-time Pacific champs look like they're a better version of last season's squad, finishing 5-2 in their last seven.
3
St. Louis
51-24-7
The Blues chased the Ducks to the wire but will settle for the top seed in the Central. They're getting healthy at just the right time, with Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko rejoining the lineup, but they've got their hands full with the Wild, who are once again a wild-card entry.
4
Montreal
50-22-10
The Habs, who won three straight to close out the season and secure the Atlantic crown, will draw the inspirational Senators in the first round. Will Max Pacioretty join his teammates? Huge loss if he can't. And we salute the all-world performance of Carey Price during this regular season. We foresee plenty of hardware in his future.
5
Tampa Bay
50-24-8
Team ESPN.com's consensus East champions! The Bolts are getting healthy at the right time, especially along the blue line, and have a good first-round draw in the Wings. Ben Bishop finally gets his NHL playoff chance after setting a franchise record for wins.
6
Washington
45-26-11
The Capitals earned home-ice advantage in the first round thanks to a flub by the Islanders, but this does appear to be a different team than previous playoff incarnations. Is there a danger of fatigue being an issue for goalie Braden Holtby? The Caps would love to play long enough to find out.
7
Minnesota
46-28-8
The Wild had the best winning percentage over the last half of the regular season. Thank Devan Dubnyk for that. But they did struggle down the stretch, winning two of six in April, and one has to wonder about gas left in the tank. Tough, tough opponent in the first round in the Blues.
8
Ottawa
43-26-13
Oh my, what a finish, what a story for the Senators and their Hamburglaring goalie, Andrew Hammond, and Mark Stone, who might have scored his way to the Calder Trophy as top rookie. What do they do for an encore? Well, they'd like to start by knocking off the Habs.
9
Winnipeg
43-26-13
The Jets finished strong in spite of the suspension to Dustin Byfuglien, and many folks expect their battle with the Ducks to be a toss-up. My Jack Adams ballot for coach of the year (if I had one) has Paul Maurice on it.
10
Calgary
45-30-7
My Jack Adams ballot (if I had one) also has Bob Hartley on it. Gutsy finish for the Flames, who knocked the defending champ Kings out of the playoffs with a big win late last week, and now draw old Smythe Division foe Vancouver in the first round.
11
Vancouver
48-29-5
The Canucks gained home-ice advantage in the first round somewhat under the radar, in spite of winning three straight to close things out in Willie Desjardins' rookie season as head coach. Also under the radar: the Sedins, who combined for 149 points.
12
Chicago
48-28-6
Oddly enough, the ESPN.com consensus pick to win the Cup enters the postseason having lost four in a row. Corey Crawford has been unbelievable, but the offense has been AWOL. Patrick Kane can't return soon enough.
13
NY Islanders
47-28-7
The Islanders gave away home-ice advantage in the waning seconds of Game 82 against Columbus, and now we'll see if that hurts them against the big, talented Capitals. Jaroslav Halak has to be better or this will be over in a hurry.
14
Detroit
43-25-14
The Red Wings drifted into the playoffs for the 24th straight year. The feeling is that with no clear-cut starter in net and the durability of stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in question, they will drift out just as seamlessly.
15
Nashville
47-25-10
The Predators have home-ice advantage against the Blackhawks. The bad part is it won't matter where they play unless they play better than they have down the stretch. The Preds are winless in six heading into the playoffs and inspire little confidence that they can raise their level to where it needs to be.
16
Pittsburgh
43-27-12
Speaking of a crisis of confidence, the banged-up Penguins snuck into the second wild-card spot on the final night of the season with a win over the lowly Sabres. But with just four wins in their last 15 games, it's hard to imagine they will make much noise against the Rangers.
17
Columbus
42-35-5
What a great finish by a Blue Jackets team that could have mailed in the last third of the season, but was instead a giant killer, going 12-0-1 in their last 13 games. If there are hockey gods, they will send the No. 1 pick to the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
18
Dallas
41-31-10
Good on coach Lindy Ruff for keeping Tyler Seguin out of the lineup for the Stars' final game after he was late for a meeting. And good on captain Jamie Benn, who surged to his first Art Ross Trophy as the top point-getter in the regular season. Next season can't come soon enough for the boys in Dallas.
19
Colorado
39-31-12
And good on Patrick Roy's squad for finishing with a three-game win streak. They, like the Stars, are already looking forward to next season and a trip back to relevance in the league's toughest division.
20
Los Angeles
40-27-15
Hard to imagine a playoff spring without the big boys from Los Angeles in the mix, but too much hockey, some questionable coaching decisions (why was Martin Jones in goal against the Oilers with a playoff berth on the line in the final week of the season?) and just time caught up with the Kings. They'll be back. Bank on it.
21
Boston
41-27-14
A little of the same for the Bruins, who couldn't find the necessary level of emotion (or finish) to get back into the playoffs after seven straight appearances. Shocking, yes, but a function of time and injuries. Will ownership take a big-picture view of the work done by GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien? Not sure that's going to happen.
22
Florida
38-29-15
The Panthers helped destroy the Bruins' playoff hopes and then re-signed Jaromir Jagr for another tour of duty with the emerging young squad from South Florida. Better times ahead?
23
San Jose
40-33-9
The bloodletting has begun in other cities, so how long until it happens in San Jose, where the Sharks are not part of the mix for the first time in 11 years? But everything is OK; just ask GM Doug Wilson.
24
Philadelphia
33-31-18
The Flyers had such a dispassionate closing few weeks, it's hard to imagine Craig Berube returns as head coach. Not that a new bench boss will fix the many ills that afflict this franchise. Kudos to Steve Mason for a terrific season that was lost in all the losing.
25
Carolina
30-41-11
The Hurricanes still seem a long way from anywhere. But I do like the job that Bill Peters is doing, trying to change the culture, and I hope he gets a chance to see the project through to its completion.
26
New Jersey
32-36-14
What a mess, as the Devils won once in their last 11 games. The poorly constructed squad squandered a fine season by netminder Cory Schneider and Mike Cammalleri. They have a promising young blue line, but this is a team still twisting in the wind.
27
Edmonton
24-44-8
Another offseason of wondering and hoping the Oil get it right this time around. Do they make another coaching change? Will there be a new GM? What promising new prospect will join the Island of Misfit Toys?
28
Toronto
30-44-8
Give president Brendan Shanahan credit: He didn't let anyone twist in the wind, firing coach Peter Horachek, GM Dave Nonis and some of the team's scouting staff a day after the regular season ended. If only it was that simple to fix the Leafs after one of the most embarrassing seasons on record.
29
Arizona
24-50-8
The Coyotes gave it their best shot to finish last, winning just three times in their last 17 games, but still ended up 29th. You have to feel for Dave Tippett, one of the best coaches in the game, for having to put up with that all season.
30
Buffalo
23-51-8
Actually, give this group credit. The Sabres played hard until the end. But this was a team that was designed to fail, and they did so mightily. They'll end up with either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. And they'll have a new coach to replace Ted Nolan, who was fired on Sunday. Now we'll see how easy it is to turn the switch from failing as an end goal to actually winning games.

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