With the Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner, some of the teams at the top of the standings are hitting speed bumps on the way to the postseason.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who looked like world beaters for almost a month, dropped two straight games in regulation to the New York Islanders. The St. Louis Blues, in a heated battle for the Presidents' Trophy, were dominated at home by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Chicago Blackhawks, who were 6-1-1 in their previous eight games, lost at home in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild.
It's that time of year when the teams that have been mathematically eliminated can be dangerous to the teams at the top.
What has that done to this penultimate edition of the Super 16? Let's take a look:
If you have any problems, questions, anger or praise for this list, you can let me know on Twitter: @davelozo
|RANK ||TEAM (RECORD) ||LAST WK ||COMMENTARY |
|1 ||Vancouver (49-21-9) ||7 ||They are making a push for the Presidents' Trophy on the strength of a six-game winning streak in which Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider have made three starts apiece. |
|2 ||Philadelphia (46-24-9) ||3 ||In three games without Ilya Bryzgalov, backup Sergei Bobrovsky is 2-0-1 thanks to the Flyers scoring 16 goals. The Flyers are 4-1-0 against the Penguins this season. |
|3 ||N.Y. Rangers (50-22-7) ||5 || |
Sunday's one-goal loss to Boston short-circuited a four-game winning streak, but the Rangers appear to have found themselves after a month-long struggle.
|4 ||St. Louis (48-21-10) ||2 ||They were rolling along until this nine-game stretch that has seen the Blues lose six times. Jaroslav Halak is 1-2-2 in his last five starts. |
|5 ||Pittsburgh (48-25-6) ||1 ||After winning 11 straight, the Penguins suddenly look mortal again. They are 4-4-1 in their last nine and have allowed 29 goals in their last six games. |
|6 ||Boston (47-28-4) ||9 || |
The champs are looking like champs again. They're 6-1-1 in their past eight and Tim Thomas hasn’t allowed more than two goals in his last seven starts.
|7 ||Chicago (44-26-10) ||4 || |
The defense is again looking shaky. The Blackhawks have allowed 18 goals in their last five games after allowing 18 in the eight games before that.
|8 ||Nashville (45-26-8) ||6 || |
There's something to be said for rallying from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game before losing 5-4, but the Predators are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.
|9 ||New Jersey (45-28-6) ||12 ||Martin Brodeur is starting to round into form as the postseason approaches. He's won his last three starts and has a .938 save percentage in that time. |
|10 ||Ottawa (41-28-10) ||15 ||Be honest -- you thought the Senators would eventually fade, right? Instead, they are in the postseason and finishing strong. They won't be a walkover in the playoffs. |
|11 ||Los Angeles (39-27-13) ||11 ||They completed a four-game road trip 2-1-1 and have a home date with Edmonton before a home-and-home with San Jose to end the season. Beating the Oilers would lessen the pressure on those Sharks games. |
|12 ||Detroit (47-27-5) ||14 ||They're slowly finding their game, but they haven't beaten a team that's above .500 since Feb. 19. The Wings are 0-6-3 in their last nine games against teams with winning records. |
|13 ||Phoenix (39-27-13) ||NR ||Goaltender Mike Smith has seven shutouts this season. He had eight in his previous five seasons and 11 in his career before joining the Coyotes last summer. |
|14 ||Buffalo (38-31-10) ||10 ||Things were looking pretty good after they beat the Caps 5-1 on Monday, but two straight losses have the Sabres on the ropes entering the final week. |
|15 ||Washington (40-31-8) ||NR || |
Nicklas Backstrom is back, and the Caps are 8-3-2 in their last 14 games. It's a cliché, sure, but they will be a dangerous lower seed should they reach the postseason.
|16 ||San Jose (40-29-10) ||16 ||The Sharks can virtually assure themselves a playoff spot with a regulation win in Dallas on Tuesday. However, a regulation loss would be a stiff blow to their postseason aspirations. Ah, life in the Pacific Division. |
Author: Dave Lozo | NHL.com Staff Writer