Power Rankings: Capitals cruise toward playoffs, as Blackhawks slip, Blue Jackets climb

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With less than two weeks left in the regular season, it's make-or-break time for teams on the postseason bubble. We see a shift among the league's best again this week, as several contenders find their respective grooves just in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs -- while a few others are struggling at the worst possible time.

1. (Last week: 2) Washington Capitals, 49-17-8

Alex Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first 12 seasons. The league-leading Capitals will need a Herculean effort from their captain in the playoffs to end their postseason struggles.

2. (1) Chicago Blackhawks, 48-21-6

The last thing the Blackhawks need is to become complacent before the postseason. The Florida Panthers destroyed Chicago 7-0 on Saturday. We've seen in the past, however, that the Blackhawks are the type of team that can flip the switch when needed -- especially at this time of year.

3. (4) Columbus Blue Jackets, 48-19-7

Sergei Bobrovsky is the first goalie in franchise history to win 40 games in a season. He has been consistent the entire season -- and especially sharp of late. Bobrovsky, who has is 8-0-1 in March, including a 0.99 goals-against average, a .970 save percentage and four shutouts, will be the key to Columbus' Cup hopes.

4. (3) Pittsburgh Penguins, 46-18-11

Every team has dealt with a compressed schedule this season, and last week it was Pittsburgh's turn. The Penguins looked spent as they went 0-1-2 over four days. But they should be comfortable if they retain home-ice advantage for the playoffs. The Pens are 29-5-4 at PPG Paints Arena.

5. (5) Minnesota Wild, 44-24-7

The Wild clinched their fifth consecutive postseason berth and eighth in franchise history on Saturday when the Kings lost to the Rangers. But Minnesota fell again on Sunday, its eighth loss in nine games. Will the Wild's slide serve as a wake-up call before the playoffs?

6. (7) New York Rangers, 46-26-4

Rick Nash is starting to produce at the right time. The veteran winger has goals in four consecutive games, and the Rangers would welcome an offensive surge from him during their final push before the playoffs.

7. (8) Montreal Canadiens, 42-24-9

The Canadiens' depth on the ice and the veteran leadership in the dressing room are two reasons Montreal sits atop the Atlantic Division. Goalie Carey Price -- whose play over the past month has put him back into the Vezina Trophy discussion -- is heating up at the right time.

8. (9) Calgary Flames, 42-29-4

Speaking of timely goaltending, the Flames' Brian Elliott has gone 13-1-1 in his past 15 games. Overall, Calgary has gone 14-3-1 as it surges into the postseason and continues to pad its Western Conference wild-card lead.

9. (12) Anaheim Ducks, 41-23-11

The Ducks have gone 6-0-1 in their past seven to soar past the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division. Captain Ryan Getzlaf -- who had a season-high four assists on Sunday and leads the team with 66 points -- is a big reason behind the late charge.

10. (13) Edmonton Oilers, 41-25-9

The Oilers -- who could clinch their first playoff berth in 11 years on Tuesday against the Kings -- are on a roll, having gone 6-1-0 in their past seven. Connor McDavid has 13 points during that stretch, and linemate Leon Draisaitl reached the 70-point mark for the first time.

11. (6) San Jose Sharks, 42-26-7

The defending Western Conference champions are struggling at the most inopportune time, going on a six-game losing skid. And it doesn't get any easier for the Sharks, who face the Rangers, Oilers and Flames this week.

12. (10) Ottawa Senators, 41-25-8

Despite a frustrating 3-1 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday, the Senators still control their own playoff destiny. And this gritty, relentless team believes it has the potential for a deep postseason run.

13. (14) St. Louis Blues, 40-28-6

The Blues are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games, and both losses were by one goal. Points are crucial for St. Louis, which dropped back into the second Western Conference wild card after its OT loss to Calgary on Saturday, with only eight games remaining in the regular season.

14. (16) Toronto Maple Leafs, 35-24-15

This team will be so exciting to watch if it makes the playoffs. Rookie Auston Matthews scored his 34th goal of the season, tying him with Winnipeg Jets rookie Patrik Laine in goals and points (61) as the two battle for the Calder Trophy.

15. (15) Nashville Predators, 38-25-11

Home ice has been important for the Predators, who improved to 8-1-1 in their past 10 games at Bridgestone Arena. With a 7-2 win over the Sharks on Saturday, Nashville moved a point ahead of St. Louis for third place in the Central Division.

16. (11) Boston Bruins, 39-30-6

Goalie Tuukka Rask is a big reason the Bruins are holding on to a wild-card spot. So it doesn't bode well for Boston that he missed a recent game against the Islanders because of a lower-body injury. The good news? Backup Anton Khudobin is 5-0-0 in his last five decisions.

17. (19) New York Islanders, 35-27-12

Captain John Tavares is playing some of his best hockey as the Islanders have climbed from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings into the playoff race. Tavares has three goals and four assists in his past six games for the Isles, who are just two points behind Boston for the East's second wild card.

18. (17) Tampa Bay Lightning, 36-29-9

Tampa is 6-3-1 in its past 10 and has won two in a row to remain right on the Islanders' heels -- and three points back in the wild-card chase. The Lightning have struggled because of injuries to key players and are still waiting for the return of captain Steven Stamkos, who has missed four months since undergoing knee surgery.

19. (20) Winnipeg Jets, 34-35-7

It looks unlikely that the Jets will make the playoffs, but they are going out strong. Mathieu Perreault has four goals and six assists for 10 points in his past six games.

20. (21) Philadelphia Flyers, 35-32-8

The Flyers have had an up-and-down season, but are getting production throughout the lineup as they make a last-gasp attempt to sneak into the postseason. Philly is six points out of the final wild-card spot in the East and still has (faint) hope.

21. (23) Carolina Hurricanes, 33-27-13

The Hurricanes are making a late push to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09, going 7-0-3 over their past 10. Winger Jeff Skinner has seven goals and one assist in the past five games.

22. (18) Los Angeles Kings, 35-32-7

Just when you thought the Kings would finish strong and sneak into the playoffs, they hit a bit of a skid, going 4-5-1 over their past 10 games to fall nine points behind the Blues in the wild-card race.

23. (22) Florida Panthers, 33-30-11

The struggling Panthers have to like what they've seen from forward Jonathan Marchessault, who has 28 goals this season.

24. (25) Detroit Red Wings, 30-32-12

The Red Wings are going down with a fight. Sitting last in the Atlantic Division, they will miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, but they're still battling. The Wings are 4-1-1 in their past six games after posting just six wins over a 23-game stretch.

25. (24) Buffalo Sabres, 31-32-12

Center Jack Eichel is putting together impressive numbers. The second-year pro has 23 goals and 30 assists in 54 games.

26. (27) Dallas Stars, 31-33-11

Tyler Seguin has reached the 70-point plateau for the fourth consecutive season, with 25 goals and 45 assists. Dallas still needs to figure out its goaltending situation for the future.

27. (26) Vancouver Canucks, 30-36-9

One bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Canucks was a boost from rookie Brock Boeser, who scored the winning goal in his pro debut on Saturday against the Wild. The 20-year-old completed his collegiate career at the University of North Dakota on Friday.

28. (28) New Jersey Devils, 27-35-13

There haven't been too many bright spots for the Devils, but forward Blake Coleman, who played youth hockey in Dallas, scored his first NHL goal against the Stars on Sunday.

29. (29) Arizona Coyotes, 27-39-9

The Coyotes signed 18-year-old forward Clayton Keller to an entry-level contract on Sunday. Arizona's first-round pick (seventh overall) in last year's draft just completed his freshman season at Boston University. He scored 21 goals and had 24 assists in 31 games for the Terriers.

30. (30) Colorado Avalanche, 20-51-3

Hey, at least the Avalanche reached 20 wins this season.

31. (N/A) Vegas Golden Knights

GM George McPhee and his staff continue to prepare for the expansion draft.