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Power Rankings: Jets look set to take off as the playoffs approach

The Jets have won three straight and are still in hunt for the Central Division crown, which puts Winnipeg at the top of the final in-season installment of the Power Rankings.

All right, we’re doing things a little differently this week. Since this is the last in-season installment of THN.com’s Power Rankings, we thought we’d group teams into first-round playoff winners, first-round playoff losers and non-playoff teams, which is why the San Jose Sharks, who have lost three in a row and normally would be outside of the top 10, finds itself in the top eight.

It’s also why a Winnipeg Jets team that hung on to beat the Montreal Canadiens in overtime Tuesday night for its third straight win playing with a glorified Manitoba Moose roster continues to find itself at No. 1.

As you can see, I’m calling for a couple of significant upsets in the first round. And remember, if I predict your team will lose in the first round it’s clearly because I hate your team. I also hate you and all your friends and relatives. Enjoy the playoffs.

CHASING THE CHALICE
1. Winnipeg Jets (1)
2. Boston Bruins (7)
3. New Jersey Devils (10)
4. Nashville Predators (5)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (11)
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (3)
7. Los Angeles Kings (15)
8. San Jose Sharks (4)

Has anyone noticed that Kyle Connor, who scored the overtime winner in the Jets victory over Montreal Tuesday night, leads all NHL rookies in goals with 30?…Just when Charlie McAvoy came back after missing 15 games, the Bruins learned they will be without Brandon Carlo through the playoffs with a fractured ankle…The Devils will make the playoffs. Taylor Hall will get my vote for the Hart Trophy. I’m pretty sure about that. Today anyway…After being held without a shot in his first two NHL games, Eeli Tolvanen had three in his third game for the Predators playing on a line with Nick Bonino and Viktor Arvidsson…Your Cy Young Award winner for 2017-18: James van Riemsdyk of the Leafs. With two games remaining, he’s 36-18…The Blue Jackets are 1-3 against Washington and 0-1-2 against Pittsburgh (going into a massive game tomorrow night). But I still like their chances in a best-of-seven against either of those teams… Anze Kopitar probably won’t win the Hart Trophy, but he’ll get serious consideration. As he should…It’s official. Evander Kane will finally play in the playoffs for the first time in his career. And he’ll be really, really good.

FIRST-ROUND FODDER
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (8)
10. Washington Capitals (6)
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (14)
12. Vegas Golden Knights (9)
13. Anaheim Ducks (18)
14. Philadelphia Flyers (17)
15. Colorado Avalanche (16)
16. Minnesota Wild (13)

Their win over Boston notwithstanding, it feels like the Lightning are regressing. That’s why we’re picking Toronto for the upset…I will continue to pick the Capitals to wildly underachieve in the playoffs until they prove me wrong. Fight me…The Penguins chances of going on a playoff run would be a lot better if Phil Kessel and Derick Brassard weren’t slowed by injuries…Why am I picking the Golden Knights to lose in the first round? Well, because they’ll face the Kings, who will drop into the first wildcard spot. And if there’s any team that can handle playing the Golden Knights in the first round, it’s the playoff-hardened Kings…The Ducks are much less without Cam Fowler in the lineup…The Flyers, this time with Petr Mrazek in net, will crash and burn because of their goaltending in the playoffs…With no goals in eight games, MVP candidate Nathan MacKinnon has suddenly gone cold for the Avalanche…No Ryan Suter, no hope for playoff success for the Wild.

READ ALSO:  Golden Knights’ goaltending selections leave questions about several intriguing netminders

BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR
17. Florida Panthers (12)
18. St. Louis Blues (2)
19. Vancouver Canucks (20)
20. Dallas Stars (19)
21. Arizona Coyotes (23)
22. Carolina Hurricanes (21)
23. New York Rangers (26)
24. New York Islanders (24)
25. Calgary Flames (30)
26. Detroit Red Wings (29)
27. Montreal Canadiens (25)
28. Chicago Blackhawks (27)
29. Buffalo Sabres (28)
30. Ottawa Senators (31)
31. Edmonton Oilers (22)

Anze Kopitar may win the Selke as consolation for not winning the Hart Trophy. That’s too bad because Aleksander Barkov of the Panthers would be a very worthy winner…When the Blues look back on their season, they’re going to wish they had showed up for that 6-0 loss Arizona put on them last week…The Sedins deserve every bit of love that’s going to be heaped upon them between now and the end of the season on Sunday…Clearly there is still something missing in Dallas. For a team this good, this well coached and this experienced play as putridly down the stretch in crucial games as it did indicates the Stars are still far from being a contender. GM Jim Nill is going to have to address this team’s lack of depth…I put zero – and I mean zero – stock in a team that gets hot after it’s eliminated and faces no pressure. So the Coyotes are going to have to start a season like this before I start believing in them…Word is that Hurricanes coach Bill Peters will coach Canada in the World Championship for the second time in three years. Great choice…Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said “next year will be about winning and nothing else.”…Everything John Tavares says between now and the summer will be parsed, so when he was talking about Islanders rookie Mathew Barzal and said, “I’m excited to finish the season with him and looking forward to the future,” a lot of people’s ears perked up…With their win over Edmonton Saturday night, the Flames managed to avoid losing eight straight in regulation for the first time in franchise history. So they’ve got that going for them…Henrik Zetterberg is dropping hints he’ll be back next season with the Red Wings. He’ll likely be joined by GM Ken Holland, who is expected to be back to usher the rebuild…The Canadiens have 10 picks in this year’s draft, including five in the first two rounds…Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews may be shut down for the rest of the season – he won’t play tonight against St. Louis – and if that happens, he’ll finish the season with the worst full-season offensive totals of his career…The Sabres are outraged that the NHL Department of Player Safety’s Wheel of Justice did not fall on supplementary discipline for Nashville’s Scott Hartnell after his predatory hit over the weekend left defenseman Victor Antipin with a concussion, a broken nose, missing teeth and facial lacerations. They should be…With Erik Karlsson shut down for the season, there is a possibility Mark Stone could be in the lineup when the Senators visit Buffalo tonight…The Oilers, a team that is supposedly playing for pride, was outshot 21-3 in the third period of their 3-0 loss to Minnesota Monday night.

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