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Power Rankings - March 31

Alex Ovechkin has been at the center of everything the Capitals have done this season. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin has been at the center of everything the Capitals have done this season. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Give the Washington Capitals props.

While they may not make the playoffs, you have to admire their late-season push to get there.

The Caps have won eight of their past 10 games, including their past four in a row.

Were it not for an awful start that ultimately cost Glen Hanlon his coaching job, the Caps would be in the playoffs with breathing room to spare.

One thing is certain, if the Capitals fail to make it, their young players will have gained some very valuable experience that will serve them well in the future.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
San Jose Sharks
1
48-21-10
8-0-2
With eight goals in his past five games, Joe Thornton is serving notice he’s ready to rock and roll in the playoffs.
2
Detroit Red Wings
2
52-20-7
7-2-1
If you thought Detroit lives and dies on the offense of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, think again. Johan Franzen has been hot as a pistol, scoring14 goals and 18 points in his past 13 games.
3
Pittsburgh Penguins
5
46-26-7
8-2-0
Don’t want to sound alarm bells too early, but should the Penguins be concerned Sidney Crosby has scored in just one of his past seven games?
4
Anaheim Ducks
3
45-27-8
7-2-1
With just one goal in 12 games, Todd Bertuzzi has not been the consistent scorer the Ducks were hoping he’d be when they signed him as a free agent.
5
Montreal Canadiens
4
44-25-10
6-3-1
A 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday put a halt to the Canadiens’ four-game winning streak. That said, the Habs were without injured Saku Koivu and defenseman Mark Streit.
6
Minnesota Wild
12
43-28-9
6-2-2
Marian Gaborik scored two goals, including the overtime winner, to lead the Wild past Colorado 3-2 Sunday.
7
New Jersey Devils
6
43-28-7
4-5-1
With five losses in their past 10 games, the once hot Devils are suddenly having a heck of a time getting wins. Defenseman Johnny Oduya had his first two-goal game in a 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.
8
Ottawa Senators
9
42-29-8
5-4-1
Four losses in five games have the Senators wondering if they’ll ever be able to recover the magic. This team is playing with zero passion now and looks like it will be prime for a first-round upset.
9
New York Rangers
7
40-27-11
5-3-2
The Rangers looked absolutely listless in dropping a 3-1 decision to the Penguins Sunday. Only goalie Henrik Lundqvist kept it from being a slaughter.
10
Dallas Stars
11
43-29-7
2-6-2
Another team that looks prime to go out in the first round, the Stars have just two regulation wins in their past 10 starts.
11
Carolina Hurricanes
8
42-31-6
7-2-1
Can you imagine how good these guys would be if they had their No. 2 (Ray Whitney) and No. 3 (Rod Brind’Amour) scorers in the lineup?
12
Philadelphia Flyers
14
40-28-11
5-2-3
Leader Mike Richards has points in six straight games. And although he has 71 points, Daniel Briere’s minus-23 is shockingly bad.
13
Boston Bruins
17
40-28-11
4-3-3
If the Bruins make the playoffs, and it’s a good bet they will, much of the credit goes to monster-sized defenseman Zdeno Chara, who has been spectacular down the stretch. He’ll get plenty of Norris Trophy consideration.
14
Colorado Avalanche
16
42-31-7
5-4-1
After registering six assists in two games, Peter Forsberg missed Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Wild because of a groin injury.
15
Washington Capitals
15
40-31-8
8-2-0
After putting up two goals and five points in two games, rookie Nicklas Backstrom was held off the scoresheet in his past two outings.
16
Calgary Flames
10
40-29-10
4-6-0
A lack of discipline could be the undoing of this group of Anaheim Ducks wannabes. The Flames are talented, no question, but they undermine their ability by taking too many penalties.
17
Vancouver Canucks
13
39-30-10
4-6-0
Trevor Linden popped a pair of goals to lead the Canucks past the troubled Flames Sunday.
18
Edmonton Oilers
18
40-34-6
6-3-1
Ales Hemsky hasn’t scored a goal in seven games, but he has put up nine assists in that span, including two three-assist games.
19
Buffalo Sabres
22
37-30-12
5-3-2
Derek Roy is on a tear with four goals and 16 points in his past nine games. This guy should be made the permanent captain of the Sabres.
20
Nashville Predators
21
39-31-9
4-5-1
After back-to-back shutout wins over the Blue Jackets, the Predators got a little taste of their own medicine, losing 1-0 to the Red Wings.
21
Florida Panthers
19
36-34-9
6-3-1
Losses to Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Washington put Florida’s slim playoff hopes on the backburner.
22
Toronto Maple Leafs
20
36-33-10
6-4-0
Jiri Tlusty has given the Maple Leafs hope for the future. He scored twice in a 4-2 win over Montreal Saturday, as did rookie defenseman Anton Stralman.
23
Chicago Blackhawks
23
38-33-8
5-4-1
Rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews get a lot of press for the upstart Hawks, but Jason Williams with 13 goals and 34 points in 40 games has been pretty good, too.
24
Phoenix Coyotes
24
37-36-6
3-6-1
The Coyotes were outscored 7-1 in back-to-back losses to Los Angeles and San Jose.
25
Columbus Blue Jackets
25
34-33-12
4-5-1
Five losses in six games have the Blue Jackets once again hoping next season will be a better one.
26
New York Islanders
26
34-37-8
2-7-1
Rookie Kyle Okposo has looked very good in his first six NHL games, scoring a goal and adding three assists.
27
Tampa Bay Lightning
28
31-38-9
5-4-1
Jeff Halpern is making Lightning GM Jay Feaster look like a genius with nine goals and 17 points in 15 games since joining Tampa Bay after a trade with Dallas.
28
St. Louis Blues
27
31-35-12
2-6-2
Three goals in his past two games give Brad Boyes a whopping 41 on the season. This could earn him Lady Byng consideration.
29
Atlanta Thrashers
30
32-39-8
2-7-1
This team, with the exception of Ilya Kovalchuk, stopped being interesting two months ago.
30
Los Angeles Kings
29
31-41-7
4-4-2
Erik Ersberg earned his second shutout in his 11th big-league start, beating Phoenix 4-0 March 27.

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 on Mondays. Changes in rankings reflect each team’s play from the previous seven days.

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