Henrik Lundqvist is says he starting to feel like his old self again and the results are bearing that out. He’s won three straight for the Rangers, who find themselves with a chance to win their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1994, and we all know how that season turned out.
With the Cam Talbot Show closing after a surprisingly long ans successful run on Broadway, Henrik Lundqvist has proved he’s ready to take over for the understudy and see the Rangers through what they hope will be their second consecutive long playoff run.
After struggling in his first game back with the Rangers, ‘King Henrik’ has allowed just five goals on 98 shots over the Rangers past three games, all of them wins. That helped the Rangers climb back into first place overall in the NHL standings and back to No. 1 in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)
1. N.Y RANGERS (5): The Rangers have killed 38 of 40 shorthanded situations in the past 14 games and Rick Nash, who is a regular on the second penalty kill for the Rangers, hasn’t been on the ice for a power-play goal against since Feb. 19. Coming up: Play the hottest team in the league tonight when they host Columbus, then two of three on the road to finish the season.
2. ST. LOUIS (9): The Blues 2-1 win over Chicago Sunday night represented the first time the Blues have defeated the Blackhawks in regulation time in Chicago since 2010. Coming up: Finish the season with three at home against Central Division foes Winnipeg, Chicago and Minnesota.
3. BOSTON (14): Both the Bruins and Milan Lucic have been energized by the line of Ryan Spooner between David Pastrnak and Lucic. It’s a wonder why coach Claude Julien insists on breaking them up every once in a while. Coming up: Three on the road against Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay.
4. COLUMBUS (15): Congratulations, Columbus, this is your Stanley Cup in 2015. The Blue Jackets have won nine in a row and 13 of their past 14. Coming up: The winning streak goes on the line tonight when they visit the Rangers, then finish the season with two of their final three games on home ice.
5. ANAHEIM (1): How can a team with so much talent and firepower have such a limp power play? The Ducks are 25th in the league with the man advantage and are on a 1-for-19 clip over their past nine games. Coming up: Home to Dallas Wednesday night, then finish the season in Arizona.
6. MONTREAL (3): If Max Pacioretty is out for any significant length of time, a team with such hallow scoring depth will be challenged to create offense even more at a time of year when goals are at a premium. Coming up: Home to Detroit Friday night then finish the season on the road in Toronto.
7. TAMPA BAY (8): The Lightning finished a five-game, nine-day road trip Saturday night, but will enjoy the comforts of home for a while. Their last two games are at the Amalie Arena and they have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Coming up: Home to New Jersey and Boston.
8. LOS ANGELES (19): The Kings are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but does anyone else get the feeling they’re just playing us all for fools? Coming up: Three games on the road through western Canada, then close the season at home against San Jose.
9. NASHVILLE (4): After spending nine games on the injury list, James Neal took his place back on the top line with Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg and scored in a 4-3 overtime loss to Dallas Saturday. Coming up: In Colorado and Dallas, with a home game against Minnesota jammed in between.
10. CHICAGO (7): The Blackhawks will play either Nashville or St. Louis in the first round. Either way, it will be required playoff viewing. Coming up: Home to Minnesota, then finish the season on the road in St. Louis and Colorado.
11. MINNESOTA (2): The Wild continues to shuffle bodies to deal with injuries. Captain Mikko Koivu is out with a scratched cornea, but Matt Cooke (expected back Tuesday night) and Jason Zucker (Thursday) are on the cusp of returning. Coming up: Home to Winnipeg tonight, then three tough road games against divisional foes Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis.
12. WASHINGTON (11): With his 23rd straight start, Braden Holtby broke the franchise record for consecutive starts by a goaltender in Sunday’s 2-1 win in Detroit. Coming up: With home-ice advantage in the first round on the line, they finish the season with home games against Boston and the Rangers.
13. N.Y. ISLANDERS (10): With points in each of their past three games, the Islanders saw their magic number to clinch a playoff spot reduced to one. Coming up: Road games in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, then the last-ever regular season game at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday against Columbus.
14. CALGARY (16): The Flames won their 22nd road game of the season Saturday night in Edmonton, which matched the franchise mark set by the 1988-89 Stanley Cup-winning team. Coming up: Home to Arizona and Los Angeles and a chance to break the franchise record Saturday afternoon in Winnipeg.
15. OTTAWA (18): After a month of enormous games, the Senators suddenly find themselves in the biggest game of the season Tuesday night when they host the…Pittsburgh Penguins? Who knew? Coming up: After the Pittsburgh game, two on the road against the Rangers and Philadelphia.
16. WINNIPEG (17): Four games remaining and all the Jets have to do is be better in those games than the defending Stanley Cup champions are in their final four. No sweat, right? Coming up: On road to Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado before finishing the season at home to Calgary.
17. VANCOUVER (12): Goalie Ryan Miller practiced with his teammates Saturday for the first time since injuring his medial collateral ligament Feb. 22, which means the Canucks have three games to decide if he’ll be ready for the playoffs. Coming up: All three final games at home against Los Angeles, Arizona and Edmonton.
18. DETROIT (13): Thanks to a stretch in which they’ve won just two of their past eight games, the Red Wings suddenly find themselves in a battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Coming up: Home to Carolina Tuesday, then on the road in Montreal and Carolina.
19. PITTSBURGH (6): The Penguins are in the middle of a free-fall that could end up costing them a playoff spot. They’ve given up at least four goals in each of their past four losses and been outscored 18-7. Coming up: In Ottawa Tuesday night for what is suddenly an enormous game, then home to the Islanders and in Buffalo to finish the season.
20. SAN JOSE (24): After collecting nine of a possible 10 points to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Sharks saw them all but evaporate in a 5-3 loss to Arizona Saturday. Coming up: At home to Dallas tonight, then finish the season in Edmonton and Los Angeles.
21. DALLAS (20): The Stars kept their razor-thin playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 overtime win over Nashville Saturday, putting off the inevitable that could come as early as tonight. Coming up: On the road in San Jose tonight and Arizona Wednesday before closing the season at home against Nashville.
22. COLORADO (22): Even if the Avalanche runs the table this week, it will finish this season with 22 fewer points than it did in 2013-14. Coming up: Three home games against Central Division opponents Nashville, Winnipeg and Chicago.
23. FLORIDA (21): The Panthers made their yearly ritual official with a 4-0 loss in Tampa Saturday, marking the 17th time in the team’s 21 seasons that it has missed the playoffs. Coming up: Home to Boston and New Jersey, but the Panthers have been outscored 8-1 in their past two at home.
24. PHILADELPHIA (25): The Flyers finish the season with three games at home, meaning they clinched their worst road record (10-20-11) since 1971-72 with a 3-2 shootout loss in Carolina Saturday. Coming up: Home to the Islanders, Carolina and Ottawa.
25. CAROLINA (26): The Hurricanes gave up six 5-on-5 goals in a 6-1 loss to Florida last week. One of the biggest reasons for their poor showing this season is they’ve been outscored 160-121 in 5-on-5 play. Coming up: On the road in Buffalo, Detroit and Philadelphia before closing the season at home to Detroit.
26. TORONTO (27): The Leafs are approaching the final seven games of the season as a playoff series and could take it in six with a win over Columbus Thursday night. Hooray for them. Coming up: After visiting Columbus, they finish the season Saturday night at home to Montreal.
27. NEW JERSEY (28): As if this season hasn’t gone badly enough, the Devils suffered their worst loss to the Rangers since 1996 when they lost 6-1 at Madison Square Garden Saturday night. Coming up: They get a chance to redeem themselves when they host the Rangers Tuesday night, then finish the season in Florida and Tampa.
28. ARIZONA (29): Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has been the lone bright spot in the Coyotes lineup this season, tied the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman with his 23rd in a 5-3 win over San Jose Sunday. Coming up: In Calgary and Vancouver before closing the season at home against Anaheim.
29. BUFFALO (30): The Sabres could wrap up 30th place overall with a loss on home ice to Carolina tonight. Sabres fans, please cheer accordingly. Coming up: After tonight’s game, in Columbus before finishing the season against Pittsburgh.
30. EDMONTON (23): After a nice little late-season run with three wins to close March, the Oilers promptly went out and were outscored 17-3 in three consecutive losses. Coming up: Home to Los Angeles and San Jose, then close the season in Vancouver.