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Top of the class

Alex Ovechkin accepts the Presidents' Trophy from deputy commissioner Bill Daly. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin accepts the Presidents' Trophy from deputy commissioner Bill Daly. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

One Capital achievement down, one to go.

Washington was the best team in the regular season, which won’t amount to a Capitol Hill of beans if Alex Ovechkin and Co., can’t parlay that into some playoff success.

The Caps haven’t been past Round 2 in Ovie’s first two post-season forays and the time is now for that to change.

Taking one last look at the regular season schedule, Washington was clearly the class of the field in a season that yielded its share of surprises. How many people had Buffalo winning the Northeast? Phoenix and Colorado in the playoffs? Yeah, right. Most thought Columbus and St. Louis were teams on the rise, not ones that would be feeling blue by early April.

The 82-game dress rehearsal is over; let’s see what surprises the second-season has in store.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Washington Capitals
1
54-15-13
6-1-3
Have to like Round 1 draw because Habs won't do much to wear down anybody
2
San Jose Sharks
2
51-20-11
8-1-1
Another team that has to like its first round matchup; especially after facing a vicious No. 8 Ducks team last time
3
Chicago Blackhawks
5
52-22-8
6-3-1
Last year they were the darlings of the playoffs, but there are big expectations this time
4
Vancouver Canucks
4
49-28-5
5-4-1
Henrik got it done in the regular season, winning the Art Ross. Now he and his bro have to show for the big games
5
Detroit Red Wings
6
44-24-14
8-1-1
It wouldn't be the post-season if there weren't questions about Detroit's goaltending; this time they surround rookie Jimmy Howard
6
Phoenix Coyotes
7
50-25-7
5-3-2
Does the magic end against the rolling Red Wings?
7
New Jersey Devils
11
48-27-7
5-2-3
Haven't been past Round 2 since winning the Cup in 2003
8
Nashville Predators
3
47-29-6
6-3-1
Looks like leading goal-scorer Patric Hornqvist will be ready for Game 1 after missing the last game of the year with an upper-body injury
9
Pittsburgh Penguins
8
47-28-7
5-4-1
No team has successfully defended the Cup since Detroit in 1998
10
Buffalo Sabres
10
45-27-10
5-5-0
Thomas Vanek comes back on fire after a groin injury, closing the season with five goals in two contests
11
Los Angeles Kings
12
46-27-9
4-3-3
Jonathan Quick needs to get things turned around fast for the Kings to hang with Vancouver
12
Ottawa Senators
9
44-32-6
7-2-1
Brian Elliott isn't just new to the NHL playoffs; this is his first post-season foray as a pro, period.
13
Philadelphia Flyers
18
41-35-6
4-5-1
Found a way to get in; can they get the goaltending to move on?
14
Boston Bruins
14
39-30-13
6-3-1
League's lowest-scoring team will find it tough scaring up goals against Ryan Miller
15
Colorado Avalanche
16
43-30-9
3-5-2
Just making the second season has to be viewed as a success
16
Montreal Canadiens
13
39-33-10
3-4-3
Just like last year, Canadiens barely scrape in and will be bounced out with no trouble
17
Anaheim Ducks
19
39-32-11
5-2-3
Maybe we haven't seen the last of Teemu Selanne after all?
18
St. Louis Blues
21
40-32-10
6-3-1
With the exception of Alex Steen, every important St. Louis forward delivered less offense than anticipated
19
Calgary Flames
17
40-32-10
4-5-1
A modest Jarome Iginla trade proposal.
20
New York Rangers
15
38-33-11
7-1-2
Coach John Tortorella won't explain why Marian Gaborik wasn't one of his three selections in the shootout for the playoffs
21
Dallas Stars
22
37-31-14
6-4-0
Safe to say Year 1 under GM Joe Nieuwendyk and coach Marc Crawford didn't go according to plan
22
Carolina Hurricanes
23
35-37-10
5-3-2
Things are looking up for next year; Canes have some good young players and went 25-14-3 after Jan. 1
23
Atlanta Thrashers
20
35-34-13
3-5-2
I guess it's appropriate Evander Kane was named after Evander Holyfield
24
Minnesota Wild
27
38-36-8
3-5-2
See Stars, insert Chuck Fletcher for GM and Todd Richards for coach
25
New York Islanders
24
34-37-11
5-4-1
A lottery win would be massive for a team that still needs some major building blocks
26
Tampa Bay Lightning
29
34-36-12
6-4-0
Steven Stamkos' Rocket Richard-sharing season is all the more remarkable given the state of this team
27
Florida Panthers
28
32-37-13
2-6-2
Nine seasons and counting without a playoff game
28
Columbus Blue Jackets
25
32-35-15
3-4-3
Shortcomings this season go beyond a sophomore jinx for Steve Mason
29
Toronto Maple Leafs
26
30-38-14
4-4-2
For all that talk of a strong finish, Leafs won just two of their last seven
30
Edmonton Oilers
30
27-47-8
4-5-1
Taylor or Tyler?

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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