Where do teams stand in the NHL?
Whew – we have had a chance to catch our breath after a terrific 2015 NHL playoff run. It is a good time to reflect on the season as a whole and to determine which teams ended the season on top and will enter next season as a threat to do what Chicago just did – hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
NHL Lines & Matchup Insight
Obviously the Hawks reign supreme – they were absolutely remarkable up and down the lineup this past postseason. Will they be there at this time next year? Common sentiment is – No but as for now, there is absolutely nothing that can take the distinction of becoming a Cup Winner away.
It’s time to take a peek at where all of the NHL teams wound up on Dave B’s year end edition of the NHL Power Rankings.
1. Chicago Blackhawks – no question here. Chicago beat the best and became the best. From the goaltender to the defense to the forward depth there was no team that matched up with Chicago this year. They may lose some cogs in the offseason but there is no denying the Hawks #1 spot for the 2014-2015 season.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning– the Lightning may be the biggest story that came out of the 2015 playoffs – they will be a force to be reckoned with. It’s pretty hard to argue with a nucleus that includes Victor Hedman, Steve Stamkos and Ben Bishop! If Bishop hadn’t torn his groin and if Taylor Johnson hadn’t broken his wrist it may be Tampa that would have been on top of the heap!
3. Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks were unable to parlay Regular Season success into a Cup… again. But they did take the Hawks to seven games and could have won the West as easily as they lost. With the emergence of Frederik Andersen as their undisputed #1 keeper the Ducks are an easy #3 on the year-end Rankings.
4. New York Rangers – Despite making it to the Final Four the last two years the Rangers are still without a Cup. Still, they have put themselves in the elite category of teams. Henrik Lundqvist gets them there all by himself but an insane defensive corp. and an adequate offense keeps them there.
5. Montreal Canadiens – the Habs start the next tier of teams. The presence of Carey Price makes Montreal The Best of the Rest in my eyes – a good defense and a slightly underwhelming offense keep them out of the top of the top tier. Expect a few changes this offseason – by this time next year Montreal could realistically own the #1 spot.
6. Minnesota Wild – you gotta love the direction the Wild are going in – all those big money moves they made in seasons past just needed to have a goaltender as the exclamation point. Devan Dubnyk was that exclamation point. No team in the NHL was better in the second half of the season and although Minnesota was slightly disappointing during the playoffs they are a team to watch next year!
7. Washington Capitals – Coach Barry Trotz turned this team around! With a new-found defensive focus the Caps could be a serious threat. Washington still has the offensive firepower and some of the best special teams in the NHL – something that always comes in handy in the playoffs!
8. Nashville Predators – I put the Predators in the same league as the Wild – they should be a serious threat next year. With Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones and youngsters like Filip Forsberg on the roster Nashville is an intriguing team heading into the 2015-2016 season.
9. St. Louis Blues – What’s missing in St. Louis? On paper this team is built for success but they just can’t seem to get over the playoff hump. The Blues are a solid team but have proven completely untrustworthy once the postseason begins.
10. New York Islanders – It is amazing what the addition of Jaroslav Halak, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk did for this team. Defense was an issue for this team before last season – not anymore. With one of the best leaders in the game John Tavares and a very good offense the Isles are a deserving top 10 team.
11. Calgary Flames – How about dem Flames? They defied the odds all season long – every time we expected a drop-off this team found another gear. With a new-found sense of optimism and a stellar crop of young talent on the roster the Flames are formidable for sure. Imagine if Mark Giordano didn’t get injured last season!
12. Los Angeles Kings – The Kings deserve a mulligan for the 2014-2015 season. They still have Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson on the roster – good enough to contend.
I love the Kings as the biggest bounce-back team of 2015-2016.
13. Detroit Red Wings
14. Ottawa Senators
15. Pittsburgh Penguins
16. Vancouver Canucks
17. Winnipeg Jets
18. Boston Bruins
19. Dallas Stars
20. Florida Panthers
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Colorado Avalanche
23. Columbus Blue Jackets
24. New Jersey Devils
25. Philadelphia Flyers
26. Carolina Hurricanes
27. Toronto Maple
28. Edmonton Oilers
29. Arizona Coyotes
30. Buffalo Sabres
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