The 14th and final regular-season installment of theScore's NHL Power Rankings was put together by hockey editors Josh Gold-Smith, Craig Hagerman, and Cory Wilkins.
1. Nashville Predators (53-18-11) ▲
There's no beating around it - the Predators are the team to beat going into the postseason. They are the Presidents' Trophy winner and a reigning Stanley Cup finalist.
They're also built to contend once again. Anything short of another Cup Final appearance is sure to be a disappointment. - Hagerman
2. Winnipeg Jets (52-20-10)
The Jets are entering the playoffs after going 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, including five straight victories. Their top six is arguably the best in the league and they're also relatively healthy, even without Dmitry Kulikov.
If anyone in the West can give the Preds a scare, it's the Jets. - Hagerman
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (54-23-5) ▼
With losses in five of their last eight games to close out the season, the Lightning aren't entering the playoffs with an overly hot hand. That being said, you can't discount their body of work all season.
Specifically, they scored 19 more goals than the next closest team, and have the best goal differential in the league. - Hagerman
4. Boston Bruins (50-20-12) ▼
From Jan. 1 on, only the Predators had a better record than the Bruins.
The club has been dominant, and even in the face of numerous injuries, it always finds ways to win games. Now, with a healthy lineup, a lethal top line that's intact, and incredible resiliency that keeps them in every game, the Bruins could be the scariest team in the East. - Hagerman
5. Vegas Golden Knights (51-24-7) ▲
This is the most successful expansion team in league history.
The Golden Knights had a season to remember, and while they stumbled in the final week - especially in their 7-1 loss to Calgary - they've been mighty consistent, especially on home ice. - Hagerman
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (49-26-7) ▼
Statistically, the Maple Leafs had the best season in franchise history.
Toronto set a club record for home wins and points in a single season, while Frederik Andersen established the team's single-season wins record among goalies. Heading into the playoffs, the power play is rolling and Auston Matthews has points in nine straight games since his return from injury. - Hagerman
7. Washington Capitals (49-26-7) ▲
The Capitals closed out the regular season with an impressive 8-2-0 record over their final 10 games.
Meanwhile, Alexander Ovechkin finished just one shy of his eighth 50-goal campaign, and John Carlson had a career year by leading all defensemen with 68 points. However, those personal achievements will mean very little if the Capitals once again choke in the playoffs. - Hagerman
With the best power play in the league, three players with 89 or more points, and experience on their side, it's hard to bet against them. - Hagerman
9. Anaheim Ducks (44-25-13) ▲
An incredible 8-1-1 record down the stretch helped the Ducks sneak into second place in the Pacific Division, giving them home-ice advantage in the first round.
If you're betting on the hot hand coming into the postseason, keep an eye on this team. - Hagerman
10. San Jose Sharks (45-27-10) ▼
After making a surge in the previous edition of these rankings, the Sharks have fallen back back down to earth.
The team has won just five of its last 10 games, and that slide cost it home ice in the first round. Meanwhile, with Joe Thorntonnot expected to return for the start of the playoffs, the club will have to continue playing without arguably its most experienced leader. - Hagerman
11. Los Angeles Kings (45-29-8) ▲
The Kings finished the regular season by going 4-1-1, and while they didn't secure one of the Pacific Division's top three playoff spots, they have the edge in terms of postseason experience over the Golden Knights in Round 1. - Gold-Smith
12. Minnesota Wild (45-26-11) ▼
The Wild wrapped up their slate with a less-than-ideal mini-road swing in California, falling to the Ducks and Kings on back-to-back nights before doubling up the Sharks on Saturday. They'll face the white-hot Jets in the opening round of the playoffs, and they won't be favored. - Gold-Smith
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (45-30-7)
The Blue Jackets went five straight games without losing in regulation until the Predators beat them 4-2 on Saturday night, but Columbus' top-10 defense will now be put to the test by the Capitals' top-10 offense. - Gold-Smith
14. New Jersey Devils (44-29-9) ▲
New Jersey won seven of its last 10 down the stretch and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since its Stanley Cup Final run in 2012. Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Co. have the Devils headed in the right direction, regardless of how their first-round series goes. - Gold-Smith
15. Philadelphia Flyers (42-26-14)
The Flyers ride into the postseason on a high, having won four of their last five and two straight - including a blowout, playoff-berth-clinching win over the New York Rangers. That sends them into a highly anticipated intrastate series against the rival Penguins with some momentum. - Gold-Smith
16. Colorado Avalanche (43-30-9) ▼
The Avalanche punctuated their remarkable turnaround with a win over the Blues on Saturday night that knocked St. Louis out and gave Colorado a playoff spot, a year after the team finished with the worst record of the salary-cap era. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are really fun to watch, and they could give the Predators a headache or two. - Gold-Smith
17. Florida Panthers (44-30-8) ▲
The Panthers reeled off five straight victories to close their season and prevented the Bruins from clinching the Atlantic Division title in the finale Sunday. That's little consolation for a club that will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin Wednesday night. - Gold-Smith
18. St. Louis Blues (44-32-6) ▼
All the Blues had to do to make the playoffs was earn a point against the Avalanche on Saturday night, so that loss is going to sting for a while. St. Louis deserves credit for getting back in the race after a pre-deadline tailspin forced the Paul Stastny trade, but it doesn't much matter now. - Gold-Smith
19. Dallas Stars (42-32-8)
An eight-game losing skid in March stuck a fork in the Stars, who had high hopes for the season with the additions of Alexander Radulov and Ben Bishop, among others. John Klingberg took a significant step forward, but the team as a whole still has plenty of room for growth. - Gold-Smith
20. Carolina Hurricanes (36-25-11) ▲
Defeating the Lightning in overtime Saturday night was a nice way to end another discouraging campaign in Carolina, but the Hurricanes missed the playoffs yet again and won only two of their final seven contests. - Gold-Smith
21. Calgary Flames (37-35-10) ▼
A disappointing season is made even worse when you consider the Flames moved an eventual lottery pick for defenseman Travis Hamonic. A second straight underwhelming year could also be bad news for head coach Glen Gulutzan. - Wilkins
22. New York Islanders (35-27-10) ▲
The only thing that matters in Brooklyn right now is the immediate future of John Tavares. The Islanders' captain will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and a departure would be devastating for the franchise. - Wilkins
23. Edmonton Oilers (36-40-6) ▼
Imagine having Connor McDavid in your lineup and still missing the playoffs by nearly 20 points. The big concern in the Alberta capital is wondering whether last year's playoff team was a fluke and if this season's edition is closer to reality. - Wilkins
24. Chicago Blackhawks (33-39-10)
The Blackhawks' days of chasing Cups are over, but the usual duo will be tasked with bringing the team back to contention; general manager Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville will both return next season. - Wilkins
25. Vancouver Canucks (31-40-11) ▲
The Sedins are done, but the next wave is on the way in Vancouver, with Brock Boeser, who scored 29 goals as a rookie, Swedish recruit Elias Pettersson, and 2018 Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Gaudette in the fold. Lottery luck could also see the Canucks add to their budding prospect pool. - Wilkins
26. New York Rangers (34-39-9) ▼
The shake-up continued in Manhattan on Saturday with the dismissal of coach Alain Vigneault, whose exit followed the deadline departures of franchise mainstays Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, and J.T. Miller. Next up: Will the Rangers' rebuild successfully avoid the temptations of free agency this offseason? - Wilkins
27. Arizona Coyotes (29-41-12) ▲
After posting a winning record once the calendar flipped to 2018, brighter days are ahead in the desert. Look for another busy offseason, as GM John Chayka has hinted that significant moves are to come. - Wilkins
28. Detroit Red Wings (30-39-13) ▼
If it wasn't evident already, the rebuild is on in Hockeytown, with the Red Wings deciding that GM Ken Holland is the right man to steer the franchise through that process. Obtaining three picks for Tomas Tatar at the trade deadline made for a strong start. - Wilkins
29. Montreal Canadiens (29-40-13) ▼
This Canadiens' offseason plan looks a lot like last summer's agenda - upgrade up the middle. The experiment of Jonathan Drouin as a center failed, which means the addition of a top pivot must be the main priority for returning GM Marc Bergevin. - Wilkins
30. Ottawa Senators (28-43-11) ▼
Putting protections on the first-rounder involved in the Matt Duchene deal proved to be a wise move by GM Pierre Dorion, as the Senators hold the second-best odds entering the draft lottery. Ottawa can defer its 2019 first-round pick to the Avalanche. - Wilkins
31. Buffalo Sabres (25-45-12)
There's Jack Eichel, and there's more hope on the way in former first-rounders Alex Nylander and Casey Mittelstadt. Still, the Sabres' lack of depth was exposed this season. A full year at the helm for Jason Botterill should give the rookie GM plenty of ideas on where his squad needs help. - Wilkins
Part of the reason for that common comparison is the Vancouver Canucks rookie's stellar mane.
It's not so much the length but the volume that gives Boeser his tremendous flow, and more importantly, the 21-year-old will be in the Calder Trophy conversation despite suffering a season-ending injury in early March.
The Calder favorite's flow might not be the cleanest-looking of the bunch, but it is impressive in its own right.
Barzal, who's running away from the field in the rookie points race, doesn't have the hair volume that his first-year counterpart possesses, but he does appear to have the edge when it comes to length.
Sure, the New York Islanders phenom may not best Boeser in a flow-off, but he should take home the rookie hardware at the NHL Awards in June.
Nylander's play speaks for itself, but the young Toronto Maple Leafs forward's flow only makes him more likable.
The above photo doesn't even fully do it justice (unlike the one on his NHL.com player page), but there's no denying Nylander's hair is among the league's best.
The 13th installment of theScore's NHL Power Rankings was put together by editors Ian McLaren, Cory Wilkins, and Craig Hagerman.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (51-20-4)
This squad has been cruising all season, and tops the NHL in goal differential (+59). Expectations are high, and one gets the sense they'll strike hottest once the postseason rolls around. - McLaren
2. Winnipeg Jets (46-19-10)
The Jets aren't resting on their laurels as the season winds down, as evidenced by a recent fight during practice and a current five-game win streak. Patrik Laine staying in the lineup after a foot injury scare sent history's biggest sigh of relief into the atmosphere. - McLaren
3. Boston Bruins (47-17-10)
Boston keeps rolling despite a host of injuries, and there's still a very real chance the Bruins can leapfrog the Lightning atop the Eastern Conference standings. For now, the priority is getting healthy, and getting Patrice Bergeron back is a huge first step. - McLaren
4. Nashville Predators (48-16-11)
Nashville already boasts a deep and talented roster, and the Predators appear set to add top prospect Eeli Tolvanen for the stretch run. A shootout loss to Winnipeg on Sunday, however, was their third straight game without a win. - McLaren
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (45-23-7)
Toronto's in the midst of one of the most successful regular seasons in franchise history, and will be rewarded with a playoff path that involves matchups with Tampa Bay and Boston (likely without home-ice advantage). Chances are these young guns are up to the task. - McLaren
6. Vegas Golden Knights (47-21-7)
Vegas reached 100 points and is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. There's not much more to be said about the Golden Knights' inaugural season, but the history books will be even more kind to them if it translates into a playoff run. - McLaren
7. San Jose Sharks (43-23-9) ▲
San Jose is the hottest team in the league, and the acquisition of Evander Kane is paying off. Joe Thornton doesn't seem close to returning, though, and Logan Couture appears to have suffered an injury Saturday. Without those two, the Sharks have far less bite, but for now, they're swimming pretty. - McLaren
8. Washington Capitals (44-24-7) ▲
Alex Ovechkin is scoring, Nicklas Backstrom is dishing, and the Capitals are back atop the Metropolitan Division. A refreshed and healthy Braden Holtby is needed for them to go any further in the playoffs this year. - McLaren
9. Minnesota Wild (42-24-9) ▼
Coming off a big win over Nashville, the Wild are flying under the radar out West, while Eric Staal is playing some of the best hockey of his career. - McLaren
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (43-27-6) ▼
This team can never be counted out, and will only get stronger as the quest for Lord Stanley's mug approaches. - McLaren
11. Colorado Avalanche (41-26-8) ▲
Three more wins will see the Avs double last year's abysmal 48-point finish, with center Nathan MacKinnon producing at a clip that should make him a strong Hart Trophy candidate. To say it's been a turnaround year in Denver would be an understatement. - Wilkins
12. St. Louis Blues (42-28-5) ▲
For the second consecutive year, St. Louis sold off a key player and pending unrestricted free agent at the trade deadline. This time it was Paul Stastny, but his departure hasn't halted the streaking Blues. - Wilkins
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (42-29-5) ▲
The 10-game win streak was snapped, but that string of victories is likely enough for the Blue Jackets to hold on to their playoff hopes. Deadline addition Thomas Vanek has been a surprising success since arriving in Columbus. - Wilkins
14. Anaheim Ducks (39-24-13) ▼
The Ducks didn't play Saturday, but that didn't stop them from sliding to the second wild card, then out of the playoffs, then up to the third spot in the Pacific. Expect more of the same in Anaheim as the Ducks close out their regular season schedule. - Wilkins
15. Philadelphia Flyers (38-25-13) ▼
The bloom has come off new goaltender Petr Mrazek, who put up a strong showing through his early goings in Philadelphia but now owns just five wins and an ugly .886 save percentage across 13 appearances. - Wilkins
16. New Jersey Devils (39-28-8)
With star netminder Cory Schneider struggling, other Devils have stepped up, including Nico Hischier, who put up four goals in his last six outings. That stretch included New Jersey's third win over the Lightning. - Wilkins
17. Los Angeles Kings (41-28-7) ▲
For a team in the thick of the playoff race, the Kings certainly aren't making things easy on themselves, as they've picked up just three wins in their past seven contests. Los Angeles will need to up its game over its final six outings. - Wilkins
18. Florida Panthers (38-28-7) ▼
The Panthers still hold games in hand in the Eastern Conference's wild-card race, but they haven't done themselves any favors. Losses to basement clubs like Buffalo, Edmonton, and Ottawa (twice) could come back to bite them. - Wilkins
19. Dallas Stars (38-30-8) ▼
The Stars' "road trip from hell" is over, and apparently just in the nick of time. After dropping six straight away from home, it's now all about picking up points, but that may be difficult for Dallas with starter Ben Bishop back on the shelf. - Wilkins
20. Calgary Flames (35-31-10) ▼
Imagine trading a lottery pick (and more) for Travis Hamonic and then missing the playoffs. That's the reality the Flames face as they sit nine points back of a postseason berth. - Wilkins
21. Carolina Hurricanes (33-31-11)
The chase is all but over in Carolina, with the Hurricanes sitting nine points out of the playoff picture. The offseason overhaul now begins, with new owner Thomas Dundon concluding his search for a new GM. - Wilkins
22. Edmonton Oilers (34-36-6)
The Oilers have been the talk of the league recently. Scratch that. Connor McDavid has been the talk of the league. Elsewhere, Edmonton's mediocre play has continued. - Hagerman
23. New York Rangers (33-34-8)
The Rangers continue to play .500 hockey down the stretch. They could benefit from losing a couple more games, though. That could very well happen, as the team will dress a less experienced lineup going forward, with star rookies Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil set to get some valuable playing time. - Hagerman
24. Chicago Blackhawks (31-36-9)
Two. That's the number of teams the Blackhawks have a better record than in the Western Conference after dropping six straight games. GM Stan Bowman will have lots of work to do in the offseason. - Hagerman
25. New York Islanders (31-34-10)
A team that sat on the edge of a playoff spot for much of the season has plummeted in recent weeks. Now 14 points out of the final wild-card spot in the East, it will be interesting to see how the John Tavares saga concludes. - Hagerman
26. Detroit Red Wings (27-37-11)
With one win in their last 10 games, the Red Wings are two points away from sitting second-last in the East. Of course, with eight draft picks in the first four rounds, their late-season slump is likely for the best. - Hagerman
27. Montreal Canadiens (27-37-12)
Carey Price is back and healthy, but he has allowed 11 goals in the two games since his return. He and Montreal need a reset, and perhaps a legit No. 1 center come next season. - Hagerman
28. Arizona Coyotes (25-39-11)
The Coyotes have gone 5-5-0 in their last 10, but their hot play of late has taken them out of the best lottery position. They're still in the league basement, but should be careful they don't play themselves out of it in the final weeks. - Hagerman
29. Ottawa Senators (26-37-11)
The Senators just allowed 18 goals during their three-game homestand. That about sums up their season. It's been bad on the ice and off, and luckily the sweet release of golf season isn't much further. - Hagerman
30. Vancouver Canucks (27-40-9)
The Canucks have scored just 17 goals in 10 games since rookie phenom Brock Boeser went down with an injury. They're putting up decent efforts nightly, but the results aren't there. To be honest, it's the best-case scenario for a rebuilding club. - Hagerman
31. Buffalo Sabres (23-40-12)
Much like the Canadiens with Price, the Sabres got their top star in Jack Eichel back from injury but have little to show for it. The 21-year-old has one assist in five games since his return and the team has lost four straight. Makes you wonder if it was worth bringing him back in the first place. - Hagerman