The balance of power still sits in the Western Conference as the Pacific and Central each have three teams in the top 8. If this was NCAA Football, those division commissioners would branch off and form their own Cup Championship Series.
My power rankings use a model based on underlying statistics and their predictive ability. The rankings were built on points earned, special teams, even strength play and goaltending, so they were constantly in flux. I'm still playing around with the model, and I've added opponents remaining this season. I've also updated the special teams evaluation so it's shots-based, not solely conversion based. Here is my best effort at predicting the standings and playoff pairings at the end of the season.
- The Sharks have Dan Boyle back and continue their dominance at the top.
- The bottom three remain the worst in the league and it doesn't look like that will change soon. However, big news for fans of the bottom three, the #Oilers play both the Panthers and Sabres on their upcoming road trip, so exciting last place hockey, huh?
- Carolina is falling apart and it's not all injuries. The Staals need to be better.
- The Rangers are finally home and it's having an impact. Now, if they can just avoid the West...
The rankings predict the following playoff matchups, and those Western Conference series look like wars:
|Western Conference||Eastern Conference|
|Pacific Division||Atlantic Division|
|1||San Jose Sharks||9||Boston Bruins|
|8||Los Angeles Kings||18||Ottawa Senators|
|6||Vancouver Canucks||10||Detroit Red Wings|
|7||Anaheim Ducks||13||Montreal Canadiens|
|Central Division||Metro Division|
|2||Chicago Blackhawks||5||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|12||Colorado Avalanche||19||Washington Capitals|
|3||Minnesota Wild||15||New Jersey Devils|
|4||St. Louis Blues||16||New York Rangers|