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NHL Power Rankings – March 28th

The Rangers are the new top dogs in our NHL Power Rankings.

With just a few weeks remaining in the NHL season, it’s time for another edition of our NHL Power Rankings with relevant stats and numbers up to March 28th. In today’s article, we’ve also included one important player for each team that will need to be on their game for postseason success.

1 – New York Rangers (48-20-4)

As the first team to clinch a spot in the postseason, it’s only right that the Rangers are at the top of our latest Power Rankings. New York has looked like one of the league’s best teams for a while now and since the All-Star break, they’re 18-4-1. Artemi Panarin has been on fire recently and has 14 points in his last six games, but in our opinion, New York’s most important player for the playoffs is Igor Shesterkin. If this Rangers team can get the best out of Igor, they’re going to be VERY tough to beat in a seven-game series. Shesterkin has been a little shaky this year, but he showed how good he can be in February. He was a perfect 7-0-0 in the month with an SVP of .953 and GAA of 1.72. 

2 – Colorado Avalanche (46-21-5)

With a 9-1-0 record in their last ten games, the Avalanche have been flexing their muscles recently. Nathan Mackinnon continues to score at an otherworldly pace, while Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen round out arguably the league’s best big three. As of March 28th, the team sits just two points behind Dallas for the lead in the Central with a game in hand. If Colorado can get the Conference’s top seed, their home ice advantage will be a big one. No team is better at home than the Avs, and no player is better at home than Mackinnon. Clearly, he’s Colorado’s most important player for this upcoming run. His skill, intensity, and willingness to do anything to win make him a player that no opposing team wants to run into at this time of year.

3 – Dallas Stars (45-19-9)

Like the Avs, the Stars have been red hot in the race for the Central division recently. Even without remarkable play from Jake Oettinger, the team is 10-2-0 in their last twelve games and will likely be battling Colorado for the division crown until the very end of the season. Jamie Benn, Wyatt Johnston and Jason Robertson have been particularly good in March, and the team needs that to continue for the rest of the season and into playoffs. 

This Dallas team has never been one to rely on just one or two guys, though, which makes them very dangerous in the postseason. It’s hard to pick out just one player who needs to be the difference maker for them come playoffs, but veteran Joe Pavelski is likely a guy who will fill those shoes. Although he’s still yet to win a Cup, the 39-year-old Pavelski has proven himself when the going gets tough. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll play a big role for the Stars again.

4 – Vancouver Canucks (45-19-8)

The Canucks were the surprise of the season this year, but no one’s going to be taking them lightly in the playoffs. After a difficult February, the team has bounced back in March with a record of 7-2-1 for the month. Despite a great second half push by the Oilers, Vancouver still holds an eight-point lead in the Pacific division as of March 28th. The roster is filled with talent, but it’s also filled with postseason inexperience. One of those players with minimal playoff experience is Elias Pettersson. When he’s at his best, he looks like one of the league’s best players. In the second half of the season, though, he’s been very inconsistent. If Vancouver wants to go on a deep run this year, they’ll need Pettersson to find his groove again in the playoffs. 

5 – Florida Panthers (46-21-5)

They’re currently on their worst six game stretch of the season, but the Florida Panthers are still just two points behind Boston with two games in hand for the lead in the Atlantic. Their schedule also lightens up over their last ten contests of the year, as only three teams currently in a playoff spot remain on the calendar. With a very possible top divisional seed coming, Florida must be considered one of the biggest threats in the East. They won’t be surprising anyone like last year, but their formula for winning games in the playoffs should remain the same. Matt Tkachuk is the lifeline of this team, and if he can go on a run like he did last season, the Panthers will be formidable. Like Mackinnon, Tkachuk’s mixture of toughness, intensity and skill make him the perfect playoff player. 

6 – Carolina Hurricanes (45-21-7)

Carolina’s deadline deals for Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov immediately made them a serious Cup contender. Like Dallas, this team isn’t full of players that will light up the scoresheet, but they’ve got a ton of guys that can get it done on any given night. With the additions of Guentzel and Kuznetsov, Carolina’s top three lines are all dangerous enough to make the difference in a postseason game or an entire series. At this time of year, though, success often comes down to goaltending. Frederik Andersen has been fantastic since his return from injury, and if he can stay hot in the postseason, it might finally be Carolina’s year to go the distance. They’ve been a very good team for a while now, but with a few contracts coming to an end, this may be the best shot they get for a while.

7 – Boston Bruins (42-17-15)

Many people may not be talking about Boston as a serious threat to come out of the East because of last year’s collapse, but this Bruins team is still a very good one. As of March 28th, they still hold the top spot in the Atlantic. Unfortunately, Boston’s remaining schedule is amongst the toughest in the league, and because of that, they may end up with a first round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. If that does happen, Brad Marchand will be in a great position to shine. Marchand does his damage both on and off the scoresheet, and the last thing Toronto will want to do is let him get under their skin. Even if they don’t meet the Leafs, though, expect Marchand to be in the middle of everything for the Bruins. 

8 – Nashville Predators (43-25-4)

With a current point streak of eighteen games, no team in the league is hotter than Nashville. Just a few weeks ago, they were battling for a playoff spot. Now, they’re safely in the West’s first Wild Card spot and only four points behind Winnipeg in the Central division race. Filip Forsberg has been great for the Preds and is now up to 40 goals on the season and 11 in his last ten games. Nashville’s most important player, however, is Roman Josi. The captain has put up a very quiet 73 points as of March 28th and has at least one point in each of his last seven games. If Nashville wants to continue this great run into the postseason, they’ll need Josi to be at his very best against some tough competition.

9 – Winnipeg Jets (44-22-6)

The last two weeks haven’t been great for Winnipeg and they’re sliding in the standings because of it. Of course, it’s not easy staying at the top of the league’s best division all year, but if they’re not careful, the Jets could find themselves in a Wild Card position heading into the postseason. With four straight losses, their tilt with the Vegas Golden Knights on March 28th is suddenly a very important one. Connor Hellebuyck will start in the game, and hopefully for the Jets, he can get back on track. Hellebuyck hasn’t been good in his last three starts, but as one of the best netminders in the league, Winnipeg will need him to find his game again in the playoffs and hopefully before. If he can’t, the Jets may not get very far when the postseason comes.

10 – Edmonton Oilers (43-23-4)

Finally, the Edmonton Oilers. At their best, this team is definitely a Cup contender. However, consistency has been a bit of an issue this year and a very competitive Western Conference won’t make their run an easy one. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will almost certainly be their usual dominant selves in the postseason, but if the Oilers want to go the distance, everyone else will have to step up as well. One of the players we’ll be watching to do that is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. After collecting a career-high 104 points last year, Edmonton’s longest tenured player has just 61 in 69 games this season. He also scored just one goal in twelve playoff games last year. RNH needs to be his very best this time around for the Oilers to have their best chance at fending off the competition on their way to the Cup.

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