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Power Rankings - The final countdown

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom poses with the Presidents' Trophy. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom poses with the Presidents' Trophy. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Now that was a great regular season!

Fans of the National Hockey League were treated to playoff races that went down to the wire; Alex Ovechkin played with heart and likely earned himself a Hart, while even an old dude like Jeremy Roenick proved he had something left in the tank when just about everybody was convinced he was running on fumes.

This year’s playoffs have a lot to live up to if they hope to match the regular season.

Here's the last edition of The Hockey News Power Rankings for the '07-08 campaign.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Detroit Red Wings
2
54-21-7
7-2-1
We’re not saying the Red Wings are going to win the Stanley Cup, but winning the President’s Trophy and capping the year with two wins in a row is impressive. Wonder if the Wings’ goaltending can hold up through four rounds?
2
San Jose Sharks
1
49-23-10
7-2-1
Forget the two losses the Sharks finished with. They are the favorites of many heading into the playoffs and if Joe Thornton’s tuning of Steve Ott in Game 82 is any indication, the big guy means business this year.
3
Montreal Canadiens
5
47-25-10
8-1-1
Watching Alexei Kovalev perform this season was a sight to behold. Never in his career did he appear to be more engaged and the fact the Habs planted the ‘C’ on his jersey while captain Saku Koivu was injured tells you all you need to know about his leadership.
4
Anaheim Ducks
4
47-27-8
8-2-0
We really haven’t had much of a chance to see the Ducks play together as a complete unit this season, but when they have been healthy and not suspended, they look very much like a team that can repeat as Stanley Cup champs. Scoring is a concern, but Anaheim has the best defense in hockey.
5
Pittsburgh Penguins
3
47-27-8
6-3-1
Crosby was great. Malkin was great. But the real big news for the Penguins was that Marc-Andre Fleury emerged as a dependable stopper. That needed to happen for the Pens to be a legitimate playoff threat.
6
Minnesota Wild
6
44-28-10
6-2-2
There really is no such thing as a dark horse team in the West, but the Wild might come closest to matching that description. With their size, speed and attention to detail thanks to coach Jacques Lemaire, they promise to give the Avalanche a really tough first round series.
7
Washington Capitals
15
43-31-8
9-1-0
Full credit to GM George McPhee for three superb acquisitions at the trade deadline: Goalie Cristobal Huet (concluded the season with nine straight wins), veteran center Sergei Fedorov and rugged winger Matt Cooke. The Caps became the first team to go from 14th in their conference at the midpoint of the season to the playoffs.
8
New York Rangers
9
42-27-13
5-1-4
This is a team that gelled down the stretch and could make some noise in the playoffs. Chris Drury is firing on all cylinders, while Jaromir Jagr started playing with more enthusiasm. The X-factor is goalie Henrik Lundqvist who can steal games.
9
Philadelphia Flyers
12
42-29-11
7-2-1
Hard to get a read on these guys who were dynamite at the start of the year, but went into the dumper when hit by the injury bug. The key for the Flyers, like so many teams, is their goaltending. Martin Biron looked very solid late in the year.
10
New Jersey Devils
7
46-29-7
4-5-1
Not crazy about the way the Devils played down the stretch, but beating the Rangers, albeit in a shootout, in Game 82 gives them hope heading into their first round subway series. Besides, any team that has Martin Brodeur in net always has a chance to win.
11
Colorado Avalanche
14
44-31-7
5-4-1
Giving credit where credit is due, goaltender Jose Theodore looked like the real deal as the Avs piled up wins late in the season. If the team’s aging veterans stay healthy, who knows how far this club can go?
12
Nashville Predators
20
41-32-9
6-3-1
If Barry Trotz is not named coach of the year, an investigation should be held. He lost five of his best players in a fire sale and scoring ace Steve Sullivan missed the year with an injury. Still, Trotz guided the Predators into the playoffs. That trumps anything Guy Carbonneau or Mike Babcock did.
13
Dallas Stars
10
45-30-7
3-5-2
Finishing 3-5-2 is no way to enter the playoffs. The Stars dominated Anaheim in the regular season, winning five of eight meetings, but they are moving in the wrong direction and are the underdogs in the first round.
14
Calgary Flames
16
42-30-10
5-5-0
The Flames need to quickly figure out how to translate their excellence on paper onto the ice. Jarome Iginla hit the 50-goal plateau for the second time in his career and established a career high with 98 points.
15
Boston Bruins
13
41-29-2
4-2-4
This was a very good season for the Bruins. Too bad about the opening matchup with Montreal. The Canadiens dominated Boston in the regular season and will knock them out in the first round. That said, Boston is moving in the right direction.
16
Ottawa Senators
8
43-31-8
3-6-1
The trade with Carolina didn’t work, the goaltending is unreliable and the defense is weak. Other than that, the Sens should have a dandy time trying to beat Pittsburgh in the first round.
17
Carolina Hurricanes
11
43-33-6
5-4-1
The injury to leader Rod Brind’Amour proved too costly for the Hurricanes to overcome. Great season for Eric Staal, but we’re starting to wonder about Cam Ward. Can he really carry a team?
18
Edmonton Oilers
18
41-35-6
6-3-1
Pretty much everyone agrees the Oilers enjoyed a successful season given the number of injuries to key veterans. Edmonton boasts plenty of good young talent. A word of advice, though. Take some of those 15 shootout wins and turn them into regulation victories next season. If they had done that this year, they likely would have made the playoffs.
19
Chicago Blackhawks
23
40-34-8
6-3-1
The Blackhawks are back! That is not only good news for hockey fans in Chicago; it is good news for the NHL. The league is a better place when this Original Six team is good. Look for youngster Jonathan Toews to be named captain next season. He is a natural leader in the mold of Steve Yzerman.
20
Buffalo Sabres
19
39-31-12
6-3-1
This is Derek Roy’s team and he deserves to be named captain. Enough of this minor peewee crap of rotating captains. Hard to say what we can expect from the Sabres moving forward. The one thing we do know is they won’t pay to keep their stars. That is not a good thing and certainly isn’t fair to coach Lindy Ruff and GM Darcy Regier.
21
Florida Panthers
21
38-35-9
5-4-1
The Panthers made another late charge. Big deal. Expect changes within the organization during the off-season. While there are a few players who played to potential (Tomas Vokoun, Jay Bouwmeester and David Booth among them), there are too many softies on this team to be considered a serious threat to move up next season.
22
Vancouver Canucks
17
39-33-10
3-7-0
Roberto Luongo’s poor play down the stretch was more a reflection of a lack of support than anything else. Dave Nonis must get this team some scoring help or next season will be even worse.
23
Toronto Maple Leafs
22
36-35-11
4-5-1
People are suggesting the new GM must tear this team down. Tear what down? The patients run the asylum here and until that changes, the Leafs will continue to lose. Some of the kids – Jiri Tlusty, Anton Stralman and Matt Stajan – did show promise for the future.
24
Phoenix Coyotes
24
38-37-7
2-6-2
The Coyotes made huge strides this season and that’ll put more pressure on them to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 next year. That said, Wayne Gretzky has his team moving in the right direction and the addition of Kyle Turris full-time for next season should help.
25
St. Louis Blues
28
33-36-13
4-4-2
The good news is Brad Boyes lit it up this season. The bad news is Paul Kariya disappeared. President John Davidson has done a nice job reshaping this team, but three straight seasons out of the playoffs will not sit well with the big guy. Watch for the Blues to be active in the off-season.
26
Los Angeles Kings
30
32-43-7
4-5-1
Dean Lombardi has done a nice job accumulating good young talent and will add to his team’s arsenal this June with a lottery pick. But it is imperative the Kings get off to a good start next year or he’ll feel the heat since he hasn’t made the playoffs in his first two seasons at the helm.
27
New York Islanders
26
35-38-9
3-5-2
We can sit here all day and say what a nifty job Garth Snow has done as GM and how coach Ted Nolan continues to make chicken salad out of chicken doo-doo, but at the end of the day the Islanders remain a pretender and not a contender. The honeymoon period for these two guys is over and it’s time for the Isles to take a step forward.
28
Tampa Bay Lightning
27
31-42-9
2-7-1
Jeff Halpern was a wonderful addition at the trade deadline. The question is: did GM Jay Feaster make a mistake hitching his wagon to Dan Boyle as the Lightning’s marquee defenseman? Guess we’ll have six years to see about that one.
29
Columbus Blue Jackets
25
34-36-12
2-7-1
Pascal Leclaire enjoyed a breakout season and Rick Nash did his part in terms of scoring and developing into a more competent two-way forward, but it wasn’t enough to get the Blue Jackets to the dance. Make it seven years, no playoffs. Sadly, it’s hard to imagine them making it next season.
30
Atlanta Thrashers
29
34-40-8
3-7-0
The sooner the Thrashers understand Ilya Kovalchuk will never lead them to the promised land by himself, the better off they’ll be. The Thrashers clearly missed Scott Mellanby’s leadership this season and must make a concerted effort to get somebody of his ilk in the dressing room next season.

The Hockey News 1-30 rankings of the NHL's teams will return next season. Changes in rankings reflect each team’s play from the previous seven days.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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