NHL Power Rankings: Here come the Oilers!
April 3, 2017, 11:59 AM ET [112 Comments]
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In today's post, we share our thoughts on the current top-5 teams in the NHL taking into account record, underlying numbers, roster talent and more.
1. Washington Capitals (52-18-8)
I know the Caps haven't had the best luck come playoff time and always find a way to fall short but this team has to enter the playoffs as the favorites.
They have a ton of scoring depth, they're physical, they have a top-pairing caliber defender on each pairing and Braden Holtby is Braden Holtby. I just don't see any glaring weakness on this team.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (48-19-11)
The Pens are really beat up but they continue to win games and it sounds like Evgeni Malkin and/or Kris Letang aren't far off. If they're good to go on opening night of the playoffs, I think the sky is the limit for this Pens team.
3. Chicago Blackhawks (50-22-7)
Last year I wasn't high on the Blackhawks and picked against them in the opening round. I won't be doing that this year. Their stars are playing like stars and Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, etc. have really stepped up and given the team the depth contributions they need. This team is legit.
4. Anaheim Ducks (43-23-13)
They haven't lost in regulation over the last 10 games, are getting consistent scoring from the top-3 lines, the defense has been good (as always) and Jonathan Bernier was nothing short of spectacular in John Gibson's absence. The Ducks are going to be a pain in the ass to play in the playoffs.
5. Edmonton Oilers (44-25-9)
I'm not sold the depth will hold up against other top teams but Connor McDavid scares the crap out of me. He has been as good as anyone this season and has the ability to single-handedly win games. They're getting ridiculous production from the McDavid line and Cam Talbot has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this season. They're going to be a tough out in the playoffs.
1. Washington - the class of the NHL. A Plus 76 goal differential. The best defensive team in hockey. And they accomplished all that before they acquired Shattenkirk - who gives them the best top four in the NHL, maybe the best in the salary cap era.
2. Pittsburgh - The defending champs get #2 out of respect. They won the Cup, had a great year, and they still have maybe the best team on paper. The problem is their so banged up.
3. Edmonton - They are 9-1 in the last ten. Talbot is legit. McDavid/Draisaitl/Maroon is the best line in hockey. I called them to win the west. If the season was a month longer I'd probably have been right. Still baffles me that a lot of people picked them to miss the playoffs.
4. Chicago - This one is done begrudgingly, but the team is deep, they've won before and they won the West.
5. Toronto - I swear to god this isn't a homer pick or a troll pick. They have five first liners. An underrated D. A top 10 goalie. They are 7-2-1 in the last ten games. They can outskate any team in hockey. Auston Matthews is - at worst - the fifth best player in the entire NHL. They are reviled only by Pittsburgh for deepest group of forwards. Oh, and if they weren't 1-8 in the shootout, and hadn't lost 15 games after regulation, they'd lead the Atlantic.
NHL Power Rankings: Here comes the Oilers Edition
That's right, we're actually talking about the Oilers in a positive way. Not negative, not mocking and not sarcastic. It's been far too long for those in Edmonton.
#5 Blues. Left for dead and not really given a chance anymore the Blues are 7-1-2 with a big win over reeling Nashville.
#4 Leafs. There I did it. I gave them credit now they can burn out quick in first round but they are 7-2-1 in last 10 could hit 100 points. Could
#3 Ducks. Don't look now but the Ducks are starting to find some form. Even with some OT losses lately they are 7-0-3 and sliding nicely into playoff form
#2 Oilers. 9-1-0 in last 10 with wins over Anaheim and San Jose the Oilers then put the dagger through the Kings heart too. Oh what a time to be alive.
#1. Capitals. Remember when the Caps could not figure the game out for a bit. Losing and all that business? 2 wins over the Jackets, 2 wins over Wild and a win over Calgary help put you to 8-1-1 and tops in the league.
"Come at me bro" is what the Capitals are saying to the rest of the league now.