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Super 16 sizes up contenders' postseason pushes

Monday, 04.15.2013 / 9:36 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Super 16 sizes up contenders' postseason pushes
NHL.com's Super 16 rankings size up contenders' postseason pushes.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner, and the races are getting tighter and more heated with less than two weeks remaining on the schedule.

It's no different in the Super 16 power rankings, as the Chicago Blackhawks again reign supreme but positioning throughout is tightly contested. Outside of the slumping Minnesota Wild falling out completely this week -- they have lost three in a row and six of seven -- there's not much movement in the rankings.

How is each team shaping up with 13 days left in the regular season? Let's take a look:

RANK TEAM
LAST WEEK COMMENTARY
1 1 Chicago Blackhawks: It's the time of year when people like to discuss potential lower-seeded teams the top teams want to avoid in the postseason. Winners of five straight, the Blackhawks appear to be a nightmare matchup for whichever club finishes eighth in the Western Conference.
2 3 Pittsburgh Penguins: Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins look locked into the No. 1 seed. Injuries to their top players could make them vulnerable, although they have won four in a row without Sidney Crosby.
3 2
Montreal Canadiens: To call Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs a hiccup for the Canadiens would be like calling severe bronchitis a mild cough. Even still, Montreal is in the driver's seat for the Northeast and No. 2 seed in the East.
4 4 Vancouver Canucks: A once-tight race in the Northwest now has the Canucks five points ahead of the Wild, who are in the midst of a vicious tailspin. Ryan Kesler has a goal and three assists in his three games back from a foot injury.
5 5 Los Angeles Kings: The best the Kings can hope for at this point is fourth in the West. They beat the Pacific-leading Anaheim Ducks in regulation Saturday, but are still seven points back. The Kings can solidify the No. 4 spot with a win in San Jose on Tuesday.
6 7
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs are too far back to catch the Boston Bruins and Canadiens. Overtaking one of them for the No. 4 seed could happen, but holding off the teams in pursuit should be their top priority.
7 6
Boston Bruins: With five of seven games remaining at home and Patrice Bergeron improving from his concussion, the Bruins could have the inside track on the Northeast. They have lost two straight, however, heading into a home date with the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
8 11
St. Louis Blues: The Blues' surge up the standings hit a wall in their past two games, losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Blackhawks. They have just one road game remaining, which makes a bid for home ice in the first round within grasp.
9 9 Anaheim Ducks: Their hot start will be what likely wins them the second seed in the West. They are 7-7-2 since opening 20-3-3 and with four of their final six on the road, they are vulnerable. That was evidenced with a 4-1 home loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
10 10 San Jose Sharks: The Sharks hold a mere four-point edge on the No. 9 spot in the West, so nothing can be taken for granted just yet. With two games left vs. the Kings, they can climb to fourth, but the hard chargers in spots 9-11 will push them.
11 12 Washington Capitals: The Caps must hold off the Winnipeg Jets for the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 seed in the East. Despite winning their seventh straight Saturday 6-5 in overtime vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, players weren't happy about squandering a 5-1 lead along the way.
12 13 Detroit Red Wings: They snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday to reclaim the No. 8 spot in the West. They head to Calgary and Vancouver in a restful upcoming week, but finish the season with four games in six nights.
13 14 New York Rangers: They are 5-1-1 in April and solidified their hold on a playoff spot thanks to Henrik Lundqvist stealing two points from the New York Islanders on Saturday. They won't face a top eight team in the East over their final seven games.
14 15 New York Islanders: Their playoff destiny will likely be decided over their final five games -- all on the road -- over an eight-day span. But they can't overlook the Florida Panthers at home Tuesday. If the Isles let those points get away, they could be in trouble.
15 16
Ottawa Senators: Just when things start getting dicey, they beat the Flyers and Devils on consecutive nights by a combined 5-1. They're not out of the woods yet, but they do have a home-heavy schedule the rest of the way.
16 NR Dallas Stars: Trade Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow and Derek Roy, and of course, the Stars now control their playoff destiny. Without goaltender Kari Lehtonen (groin), it's an even taller task, and the Stars close against all teams either in the top eight or still in the playoff fight.

Just Missed: Minnesota, Columbus, Winnipeg, Buffalo, Phoenix

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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential