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Power Rankings: Rinne’s run helps Predators reign supreme once again

The Nashville Predators have continued their stretch of dominance thanks in large part to the play of Pekka Rinne. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames have plummeted down the Power Rankings.

With the league’s 31 GMs wrapping up three days of meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., today, they might have wanted to wrap up some other business while they were there. For the sake of efficiency, they probably could have just held their Vezina Trophy vote right there and then so the engraver could get an early start putting Pekka Rinne’s name on it.

He has been that good all year, while other contenders such as Frederik Andersen and Andrei Vasilevskiy have flagged. Rinne’s shutout over the Buffalo Sabres Monday night was his 11th straight win and his 40th victory of the season, making him just the seventh goaltender in NHL history to hit the 40-win mark in three different seasons. He leads the NHL in virtually every category and is a big reason why the Predators sit first overall in the standings. To the surprise of no one, they’re also first – again – in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Nashville Predators (1)
2. Columbus Blue Jackets (4)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
4. Winnipeg Jets (9)
5. Boston Bruins (2)
6. Washington Capitals (6)
7. San Jose Sharks (11)
8. Colorado Avalanche (7)
9. Vegas Golden Knights (3)
10. Anaheim Ducks (20)

The win over Buffalo also marked the 15th consecutive game the Predators have earned at least a point, another franchise record. Fourteen of those are wins…Artemi Panarin of the Blue Jackets has two hat tricks this season, with both coming against the Rangers…Lightning rookie Anthony Cirelli is really looking like a player, isn’t he?…Hey Patrik Laine, either learn how to block shots properly or get the hell out of the way…Within 48 hours, Bruins rookie Ryan Donato played his last game for Harvard, signed an NHL contract and had three points in his NHL debut…Washington backup goalie Philipp Grubauer is having a career season and No. 1 man Brayden Holtby is having his worst. That is a sub-optimal situation for the Capitals…Eric Fehr has three goals this season and they’ve all come in San Jose’s past four games…Nathan MacKinnon will win the Hart Trophy if Colorado makes the playoffs. He has a 13-game point streak going…Regardless of what team you support, cross your fingers and hope Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t have another concussion. He doesn’t deserve that…The Ducks begin a four-game road trip through Canada tonight that could go a long way toward dictating whether or not they make the playoffs.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Florida Panthers (15)
12. Toronto Maple Leafs (10)
13. Los Angeles Kings (17)
14. Pittsburgh Penguins (8)
15. Minnesota Wild (13)
16. St. Louis Blues (14)
17. Arizona Coyotes (21)
18. New Jersey Devils (16)
19. Edmonton Oilers (26)
20. New York Rangers (23)

Good call by Florida coach Bob Boughner starting James Reimer against Ottawa. His 7-2 win over the Senators Tuesday night upped his career record against them to 13-5-2…The last time the Maple Leafs blew a three-goal lead and lost in regulation, the way they did to the Lightning Tuesday night, was Jan. 30, 2010 against Vancouver…Trevor Lewis missed the Kings’ 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg Tuesday night with an upper-body injury, but coach John Stevens said it’s not, “long- long-term.”…Matt Murray made 36 saves in his return to the Pittsburgh lineup from a concussion, but the Penguins still lost 4-1 to the lowly Islanders Tuesday night…The Wild had a chance to pick up six points in four days, but blew a last minute lead to Los Angeles Monday night and lost in overtime…Vladimir Tarasenko hasn’t played for the Blues since taking a hit to the head since Saturday. As all NHL teams do with all head injuries, the Blues are being coy…Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game-winner Monday night against Calgary was the 100th goal of his career…The Devils will conclude their longest road trip this season Thursday night against Pittsburgh. Things started out great with three wins over very good teams, then they lost the next two…The Oilers have been dismal, but they’ve scored six goals five times this season, seven twice and eight once…Rangers Hall of Fame-bound goalie Henrik Lundqvist has won just seven games in 2018 and only one in March.

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VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. New York Islanders (25)
22. Philadelphia Flyers (19)
23. Dallas Stars (18)
24. Buffalo Sabres (28)
25. Calgary Flames (12)
26. Carolina Hurricanes (29)
27. Detroit Red Wings (30)
28. Ottawa Senators (22)
29. Montreal Canadiens (27)
30. Chicago Blackhawks (24)
31. Vancouver Canucks (31)

While we’re doing lots of trophy engraving here, let’s make sure the engraver of the Calder Trophy knows there’s only one ‘t’ in Mathew Barzal’s name…In his first game back in Detroit after his trade deadline trade to the Flyers, goalie Petr Mrazek was yanked in the second period…There are bad road trips and there are road trips from hell. The Stars finished one of the latter when they lost 4-3 in Washington Tuesday night…Prized prospect Casey Mittlestadt’s University of Minnesota team had its season end this past weekend, but still no word on whether he’ll sign a contract and join the Sabres for the end of the season. The Sabres are hopelessly out of the playoffs, but their Rochester farm team has a firm grip on an American League post-season spot…Congratulations to Matt Stajan of the Flames, one of the true good guys in the game, who will play his 1,000th NHL game tonight…The Hurricanes made their search for a GM very public, then made it very public that they now want their search to not be so public. Not a great start for new owner Tom Dundon…Prior to their shootout win over Philadelphia Tuesday night, the Red Wings hadn’t experienced that winning feeling since prior to the trade deadline…Organizers of the #MelnykOut movement have rented four billboards in Ottawa…The Canadiens were officially eliminated from the playoffs with their 2-0 loss to Florida Monday night, the second straight game they’d been shut out…The Blackhawks were officially eliminated from the playoffs one night later with a 5-1 loss to Colorado…The case for Brock Boeser winning rookie of the year? The Canucks are 0-7-0 since losing him to a season-ending back injury.

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