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NHL Power 5: April 22
- Updated: April 23, 2013
The season is almost over. It’s been one heck of a 48-game sprint to the playoffs. As of today five East and four West teams have locked up playoff spots with a couple more births could be locked up tonight. One interesting race will be the bottom of the West between Detroit, Columbus, Dallas and Minnesota. Two will make the playoffs and two will be watching the playoffs from the couch. Dallas sits three points behind Columbus and Minnesota, with their last two games being against the Blue Jackets and Red Wings respectively. If Detroit misses the playoffs, it will snap the longest current playoff streak in all North American professional sports at 21 years.
1. Pittsburgh (LW: 1)- If you were to tell me the Penguins would lose only two games since last February with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin injured during those stretches, I would have called you crazy. But that’s what occurred. So far they have turned out to be the trade deadline winners as they have the best talent and depth up and down the lineup. Look for those two, as well as Paul Martin and James Neal to return to the lineup in time for the playoffs.
2. Chicago (LW: 2)- The Blackhawks remained No. 2 this week due to their loss last night against Vancouver. The only thing they are in danger of losing is the Presidents Trophy to Pittsburgh. Another question to pose is how significant the injury to Ray Emery will affect the team. Emery has been a solid compliment to Corey Crawford and if he’s out for a while it could prove costly in later rounds.
3. Washington (LW: 3)- If there’s a team that could have used a preseason, it’s the Capitals. After starting 2-8-1, they are 23-10-1 since. That’s a turnaround. Alex Ovechkin is the first player to reach the 30-goal mark and could very well win the Rocket Richard Trophy. He’s also making a good campaign for the Hart Trophy. As of today they are the only team in the division to make the playoffs, with the Jets one point behind. So there’s still a lot to play for in the next week with games against Winnipeg, Ottawa and Boston.
4. New York Islanders (LW: 5)- It wasn’t a one-and-done appearance for the Islanders in the Power 5. They are on the verge of making the playoffs for the second time since the 2005 lockout, and they sure earned it by earning 19 of a possible 20 points this month. They haven’t lost to a team not named Washington or Pittsburgh since March 21, a span of 15 games. They end the season with road games in Carolina, Philadelphia, and Buffalo.
5. New York Rangers (LW: NR)- Just like the Islanders, the Rangers are playing for their playoff lives. They currently sit in seventh place and riding a three-game winning streak. Of teams around them in the playoff chase, they have the easiest remaining schedule with games against Florida, Carolina and New Jersey. All three of those teams will be sitting at home this postseason. If past results indicate anything, in the last five days they scored six on Florida and four on New Jersey.