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NHL Power Rankings – March 14th

The Panthers remain on top of the league in the latest edition of our NHL Power Rankings.

1 – Florida Panthers (45-17-4)

With an overall record of 45-17-4 as of March 14th, the Panthers are now the favorites to win the Presidents’ Trophy. Their aspirations will be for much more than that, though, and I think another run to the Cup Finals is very realistic for this team. There aren’t many teams in the league that are tougher to play against than Florida, and now that they’ve got the playoff experience, they’ll be very dangerous. The one thing working against the Panthers, though, is that they won’t be underrated by anyone. Last year, they certainly snuck up on teams after barely getting into the postseason, but no one will be overlooking the Eastern Conference’s top dogs. 

2 – Colorado Avalanche (42-20-5)

Colorado is starting to heat up and the league should be taking notice. As of March 14th, they’ve won seven of their last eight games and five straight, including last night’s fantastic comeback win in Vancouver. Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen are the hottest duo in the league right now as well, collecting a combined 44 points in their last 11 contests. If the Avs can take the Central division, they should be considered the most dangerous team in the West. Not only do they know how to win in the postseason, they also won’t have to play Dallas or Winnipeg in the first round. Watch out for the Avs.

3 – Vancouver Canucks (42-17-8)

It’s easy to be a little skeptical of Vancouver’s playoff chances this season, but they’ve hung around at the top for long enough to earn respect around the league. They’ve also got seven home games in a row coming up, and only two of those games are against teams currently in a playoff spot. If they can grab at least ten points in this stretch, they’ll be very tough to catch at the top of the Pacific. After that, they just have to hope they don’t end up going against the Golden Knights in the first round. A team that finishes at the top of the division does NOT deserve that matchup.

4 – New York Rangers (43-18-4)

As of March 14th, the Rangers have a six-point cushion at the top of the Metropolitan division and a record of 14-2-1 in their last seventeen games. Like the Avalanche and Panthers, they seem to be getting hot once again at the right time, and that has started with Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin has been the hottest goalie in the league for the last month, and if he can continue riding this wave into playoffs, New York will be tough to beat. In his last eight starts, he’s given up more than one goal just twice. The Rangers are 6-1-1 in those games. 

5 – Dallas Stars (41-19-5)

The Jets are third place in the Central on March 14th, but they’ve still got two games in hand on Colorado and three on Dallas. The race for the division should be a tight one throughout, but with upcoming games against Anaheim and Columbus, they’ve got a great chance to retake the top spot. If Connor Hellebuyck can continue his great play, this Jets team has a chance in every game down the stretch. They also added a few solid pieces at the deadline, so it’s no wonder that many people are taking Winnipeg to go deep in the postseason. 

6 – Boston Bruins (38-14-15)

Boston was surprisingly quiet at the trade deadline last week, but they’re still in a great position in the standings. As of March 14th, the team is just three points behind Florida. Although winning the division would be best case scenario, a first round matchup with Toronto isn’t something that this team should be too worried about. The Maple Leafs have a ton of talent, but Boston has certainly had their number both recently and historically in the playoffs. With a little added toughness and playoff experience in Patrick Maroon, I think they match up well against Toronto. 

7 – Dallas Stars (40-18-9)

Like the Jets and the Avalanche, Dallas finds themselves right in the mix of a heated race for the Central Division title. The trade for Chris Tanev improved an already solid blueline, and at this point, it’s hard to find a hole in this roster. We’ve seen Jake Oettinger get red hot in the postseason. We’ve seen this team succeed in the postseason. It’s going to be a tough road back to the Cup Finals given how competitive the Western Conference is, but Dallas will be a problem for any team they go up against. 

8 – Edmonton Oilers (40-21-3)

There’s no doubt that when the Oilers are on their game, they’re one of the best teams in the NHL. After the well documented struggle to start the season, they’ve battled all the way back to a comfortable second place position in the Central. With Connor McDavid averaging two points a game since the All-Star break and Stuart Skinner really settling in as the starting goaltender, Edmonton will be yet another great team looking to go the distance in the West. Saturday night’s game against Colorado should be a great measuring stick to see exactly how this team shapes up with another top contender in the conference. 

9 – Carolina Hurricanes (39-20-6)

With trades for Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov at the deadline, the Canes have finally pushed their chips in. In previous years, management shied away from the big move before the playoff push, but with a few guys in the last year of their contracts, this seems to be the year to go all in. It’s not like they had to sell the future either, but it’s nice to see the commitment to making this year’s team as good as possible. As of March 14th, the Canes are six points behind New York after 65 games each. It won’t be easy to make those points up, but it’s certainly doable for a team as good as Carolina.

10 – Toronto Maple Leafs (37-19-8)

Finally, we’ve got the Maple Leafs. They’re pretty comfortable in the third position in the Atlantic Division, but unfortunately, that would give them a first round matchup with either Boston or Florida. At this point, they’re a team that everyone expects to be around for the postseason. It’s the success after the regular season that will decide whether this was a good season or not in Toronto. One player that is undoubtedly having a good campaign, though, is Auston Matthews. His goal-scoring dried up a little recently, but the Leafs’ star still has an outside shot at SEVENTY goals on the year.

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