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NHL Playoff Power Rankings: Road runs through Nashville

Hey everyone, we here at Puck Daddy are doing real power rankings for teams Nos. 1-31. Here they are, based on only how I am feeling about these teams, meaning you can’t tell me I’m wrong because these are my feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. Please enjoy the Power Feelings.

NR. Florida Panthers (LW: 19)

Yeah I know this is a playoffs-only power ranking for now but it’s very funny to me that Florida finished with more points than Colorado and didn’t make the playoffs. Good system.

16. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 17)

Really nice that these guys got into the playoffs so Nathan MacKinnon can (probably) win the Hart he deserves. He had a goal and an assist in a win-and-you’re in 5-2 victory, and then made Alex Pietrangelo have a conspiracy-theorist meltdown after the game. Pretty good work.

However, y’know, tough to see a way forward for this club, right? They gotta play the Preds, which swept Colorado 17-8 on aggregate in four games, without Erik Johnson or Semyon Varlamov. That series feels like a quick one!

15. New Jersey Devils (LW: 16)

I was looking through some reading material this week to prep for the playoffs and happened upon some stuff from when the Devils were mega-mega-mega-hot about how I was a biased hater for rating the Devils just 14th in the league when they should have objectively been in the top five or something like that.

Well, they finished 15th in the league in points, so if anything I was overrating them. I’m actually really smart once you get to know me. You can send apologies to my Venmo.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 6)

I have to say I was a little surprised to learn that the Blue Jackets only had the 14th-highest point total in the league this season, but then again they were awful for a good chunk of the season, so I guess I’m not that shocked, right?

Now that the special teams (seem to have) been sorted out, particularly shoring up the PK, and they’re making better roster decisions by telling Jack Johnson to stay in the press box, I have a lot of time for this team.

The problem, I guess, is that it was pretty obvious to everyone involved that they tanked their final game of the season to draw the Caps instead of the Pens. I think they could have won either series if things went well, and for the record I’m picking CBJ in seven as-is. But that’s one of those things where, if the Pens somehow lose to the Flyers (probably won’t happen) and the Caps club the Blue Jackets, they’re gonna look real dumb.

13. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 10)

The Giroux line can score on anyone but their depth is horrible and the Penguins are gonna go to town on them. I said Pens in seven when the bracket got finalized but I now that I think about it, this series is done in six, max.

12. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 12)

I’m not the world’s biggest Kings believer or anything here, but they should handle the Golden Knights pretty easily. A lot of this series probably revolves around how ready Jon Marchessault is to go, but the Kings can’t worry about that.

They’re perfectly good, they’re playing pretty well right now, and they’re playing a team that hasn’t really been that impressive down the stretch. This is gonna look, on paper, like an upset, but it won’t be.

11. San Jose Sharks (LW: 9)

What’s very interesting to me in this series against Anaheim is what happens with the goaltending.

Martin Jones started very hot but cooled down a lot recently. He’s only .908 since the start of March, and his season save percentage is therefore just .915, which is very very slightly above league-average. The Sharks probably need him to be a difference-maker (a revelatory thing to say about the playoffs, I know!) and I’m not sure he can be.

Obviously we know this team won’t have Joe Thornton to make things happen, but Evander Kane will probably be back. I like the Sharks here.

10. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 7)

Long road back for these guys after starting out so horribly. They still don’t have a lot of believability in that defense, of course, but their forward group should bully whatever Philly can throw over the boards, both offensively and defensively.

Let’s put it this way: The Flyers have a better defense, but not by as much as you might think, and the Penguins have such a better offense that I could really see this one getting over with in a hurry.

Then again, Matt Murray has been absolute garbage since coming back from injury, so……..

9. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 14)

I still can’t believe this team finished second in the division.

John Gibson may or may not be back for the start of the first round (probably will be but I guess we’re gonna have to pretend like it’s a big mystery) and Cam Fowler is just plain ol’ out.

Yikes, I don’t believe in Randy Carlyle this much, gang!

8. Minnesota Wild (LW: 13)

Here is why they’re getting rid of the current playoff format soon: Teams like Minnesota, who finished top-8 in the entire league and cleared 100 points and are very good? They gotta go play the second-best team in the league for Rivalry reasons.

These guys are gonna get smoked by Winnipeg and it’s not their fault! Meanwhile there’s a 10 vs. 13 matchup in the East between Pittsburgh and Philly but we love THAT part of the rivalry thing, huh? Like, it’s all well and good and exciting, I guess, but Minnesota’s not the only one like this. Toronto (the No. 7 team in the league) has to play Boston (No. 5) which is also insanely unfair.

Especially because the likely winners of both this series and the Boston/Toronto one will then have to play a team that finished top-three in the second round. It’s so stupid.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 8)

It really sucks for the Leafs, man. They’re a good team, fun to watch, likable, all that stuff. And Boston is probably the worst imaginable matchup for them in this postseason. Playing them in the first round seems, to me, very unfair.

6. Washington Capitals (LW: 5)

On Sunday night I was in a diner with a friend of mine and he was asking me about how the Frozen Four ended. The guy behind the counter got very excited at this because he doesn’t get to talk about hockey at work very often, and he was like, “I hope Ovechkin can win a Cup. Just so he gets that off his back.”

I agree that I want these things for Alex Ovechkin! However, I cannot believe in my heart that they will happen for him. I wish I could believe in these guys but they’re in the middle of a full-on goaltending controversy and Sergei Bobrovsky is exactly the kind of goalie that puts up a .962 against the Caps every year.

It’s no fun but that’s life!

5. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 11)

Ahhh, I’m not really sure about this one, folks.

In his last nine games, Marc-Andre Fleury is a very ordinary 4-4-1 with a .913 save percentage. They played mostly borderline playoff teams (New Jersey and Colorado) and four non-playoff teams (Calgary twice, Vancouver, and Arizona).

Anyway, gimme the Kings in six.

4. Boston Bruins (LW: 1)

I know the Bruins really backed into the No. 2 seed in the East, with only one win in their last five games.

Am I worried about it? Yes!

Just kidding, I’m not worried about it. I mean, it’s a point of concern, but these guys didn’t hit a wall after Game 77. Would be nice to get some of those injured players back, too, but one day at a time, baby!

3. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 4)

I know all these freaks from New Jersey — who should really be in the freaking magazine Weird New Jersey if you ask me!!! — are gonna say, “Uhhh ya know what ahhhh actually uhhhhh the Devils SWEPT Tampa this season so they should absolutely be the favorite in this series and if you don’t agree you’re clearly biased.”

Yeah sorry seven games in a row is different than three games over the course of six months. Pretty wacky concept.

2. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 3)

I know I was complaining earlier about how it’s not fair that Minnesota has to play these guys in the first round — and it’s NOT fair! — but it’s also not really fair to the Jets that they, the second-best team in the league this season, have to play the eighth-best right away.

God, can we just get a freakin’ 1-versus-16 format going? This is so dumb.

1. Nashville Predators (LW: 2)

I already said everything I have to say about the Predators.

Read What We Learned. I’m not your damn dad! And if I was you’d be like, “Man my dad knows a lot about hockey! Way more than anyone else’s dad!”

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)