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NHL Barometer: NHL Playoff Ranks

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

Here are the 2013 playoff rankings, based on a final four of Pittsburgh-Washington and Chicago-San Jose, with a Finals of Pittsburgh-Chicago and Stanley Cup champ of Pittsburgh. In this strike-shortened season, each conference only played games against one another, so the Finals will match teams that have not played against each other all season.

Rankings are based on games played and expected points per game, PPP, +/- and PIMs by skaters and wins/shutouts by goalies. If your quarters, semis and finals differ, adjust rankings accordingly.

First, the lead-in to the rankings.

Quarterfinals

EAST:

Pittsburgh defeats Islanders - 6 games

Pittsburgh boasts impressive depth up front, which enabled them to overcome several injuries to still finish first in the Eastern Conference. Last year, Pittsburgh expected to contend for the title, but poor play from their blue line and Marc-Andre Fleury cost them in their loss to Philadelphia. This year, Paul Martin has likely been their best d-man and he just returned from his thumb injury Saturday, which helps the Penguins' back line. The Islanders rode the coattails of John Tavares, who posted a Hart Trophy caliber season, and Evgeni Nabokov along with a solid year from Matt Moulson and late production from Josh Bailey. With Sidney Crosby (jaw, check status) expected to be back and lots of depth up front, unless the Islanders get a David Volek-esque miracle, I don't see them beating Pittsburgh.

Ottawa defeats Montreal - 6 games

The Senators beat Boston in the final game of the season to earn the seventh seed and avoid a first round match up with the Penguins while also giving Montreal the two-seed. At one point, the Canadiens and Penguins were battling for the top seed in the conference, but the Canadiens have really struggled lately and were lucky to win the Northeast division. That poor play, coupled with the return of Erik Karlsson, make this an intriguing series. Add in the performance by Craig Anderson last year in the first round against the Rangers and the recent struggles of Carey Price gives Ottawa a small edge in net and makes them my choice, even though Jason Spezza (back) isn't close to returning).

Washington defeats Rangers - 7 games

The Capitals and Rangers meet for the second straight year, third time in four and fourth time in seventh years. Last year, the Rangers prevailed in a tight-fought, seven-game series. This year, both teams come in on a roll, with Washington 15-2-2 and 13-1-1 recently while the Rangers have gone 10-3-1 to earn a playoff spot. The Capitals' hot streak coincided with Alexander Ovechkin going on a tear while Mike Green has looked like the Green of old lately. Braden Holtby enters the playoffs winning eight of nine in April and he was a stalwart against the Rangers last spring. New York's fortunes turned with the team bringing back Mats Zuccarello along with the acquisitions of Ryane Clowe, Derick Brassard and John Moore, which also served to jump-start Brad Richards' game. Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan lead the Rangers' offense and of course, Henrik Lundqvist is the team's most valuable player. The series may come down to if Clowe, Derek Dorsett and especially Marc Staal returning from injury. If Staal comes back and is a reasonable facsimile of his early-season self, the Rangers will win in six; if not, the Caps have a slight edge.

Toronto defeats Boston - 7 games

Northeast Division and Original Six rivals meet. Toronto seemingly came out of nowhere while Boston was expected to fight for the conference title. A 4-2 loss to Ottawa and 3-5-2 final 10 games cost the Bruins the division and second seed in the East. Phil Kessel versus Dougie Hamilton, assuming he is not a healthy scratch, and Tyler Seguin as well as Zdeno Chara versus Dion Phaneuf, are just two of the story lines in the series. Tuukka Rask and James Reimer have been very up-and-down lately, though both have excelled in their first full year as starters. Toronto has more weapons up front while Boston has more playoff experience, though their big stars have also been so-so lately. Look for Nazem Kadri to get the game-winner in Game 7.

NOTE: In Scenario B, Pitt, Boston. Rangers and Ottawa advance, making it Pitt-Ott, Boston-Rangers in conference semis, with change to finals and Cup finals projections.

WEST

Chicago defeats Minnesota- 5 games

Too strong, Too deep. Too good. Chicago seemingly has it all, with the only possible weak link between the pipes, though the combination of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery led the Blackhawks to the best mark in league. The Blackhawks have excellent depth up front and on the blue line, which will be enough to overwhelm the Wild. Minnesota added Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this offseason, and then were bolstered by a solid year by Niklas Backstrom between the pipes and addition of Jason Pominville (possible concussion, check status) at the deadline.
 
Detroit defeats Anaheim - 7 games

As of a week ago, Detroit was just about on the outside looking in, but a late run - including four straight wins to end the season - gets them the seventh seed. Like Chicago, Anaheim has rotated goalies, with Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller taking the lead at various times during the year. Now, it's Hiller who is hot, so look for him to open between the pipes. The Ducks boast firepower up front with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, coupled with support from Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan, with their biggest surprise, aside from Fasth, coming from Francois Beauchemin. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall, all of who keyed the late-season run, lead the Red Wings. Look for Jimmy Howard to justify his big new deal and carry Detroit past Anaheim into the semi-finals.

San Jose defeats Vancouver - 6 games

Both the Sharks and Canucks enter the playoffs struggling a bit. Like several teams in the West, Vancouver rode a goalie platoon into the postseason, with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider splitting the netminding duties, with Schneider getting the edge in games. Schnieder is nursing an injury and will cede the start in Game 1 to Luongo. Vey quietly, Antti Niemi has had a stellar season, posting a 2.16 GAA, .924 SV% and 24 wins. The Sharks are still led by Joe Thornton, but Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and the recently resurgent Joe Pavelski ably support him. Niemi outplays the Canucks-duo to lead SJ forward.

Los Angeles defeats St. Louis - 7 games

Last year, LA wrote the hot netminding of Jonathan Quick and production from several forwards, including Jeff Carter, to a surprising Cup win. This year, Quick has struggled at times but he seems to have rounded into post-season form lately. Carter somehow scored 26 goals while Anze Kopitar built on last year's playoff success with 42 points. LA had Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin step up on the blue line, outplaying Drew Doughty. St. Louis battled through injuries and ineffectiveness between the pipes, riding Brian Elliott to the playoffs when Jaroslav Halak went down with a groin injury. Elliott will open the playoffs as the starter. The Blues may have the best defense with Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester as their big three, Chris Stewart has a big series but LA has too much firepower and wins a low-scoring Game 7.

NOTE: in Scenario B, Chicago, Detroit, Vancouver and St. Louis win, creating Chi-Det and Van-St. L semi-final matchups and change in the conference finals projections.

Conference Semifinals

Pittsburgh defeats Ottawa - 5 games

Pittsburgh is just too deep and too good for the Senators, whose magical run ends here. The Mark Cooke-Erik Karlsson match-ups create some intrigue, but the wave-upon-wave of Pittsburgh talent up front makes the difference.

Washington defeats Toronto - 6 games

In a series that will be closer than expected, the Washington second line, led by Mike Ribeiro outplays the Maple Leafs second line. Brooks Laich returns from injury to bolster the Capitals' depth, while John Carlson puts his name firmly in the list of up-and-coming young defensemen. JVR and Joffey Lupul have big series, but the Maple Leafs get overwhelmed as Martin Erat scores some big goals for the Caps.

NOTE: In Scenario B, Pitt beats Ottawa while NY just gets by Boston in a war, making the conference finals Pitt-NY.

Chicago defeats Detroit - 7 games

Two Original Six and Division Rivals meet for the right to go to the Western Conference Finals. The names are huge, Kane, Toews, Hossa, Seabrook and Keith against Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Kronwall. Howard stands on his head in the series and the Red Wings get big goals from Damien Brunner. Emery has to rescue Crawford and Chicago during the series and the Blackhawks have just enough to get by Detroit.

San Jose defeats Los Angeles - 7 games

Last year's Cup winner against a perpetual playoff disappointment. This year, the worm turns as San Jose ride a hot Niemi past Quick and the Kings. Thornton answers the bell, while the shift of Brent Burns from D to F pays huge dividends in the series.

NOTE: in Scenario B, Chicago beats Detroit and St. Louis beat Vancouver, making it Chi-St. L in finals.

Conference Finals

Pittsburgh defeats Washington - 6 games

Similar to the other series that Pittsburgh played, the wave upon wave of forwards they can throw out you is staggering. In this series, it's Jussi Jokinen and Jarome Iginla who come to the fore while Douglas Murray helps slow down Ovi enough for Pitt to advance.

Chicago defeats San Jose - 6 games

The Blackhawks depth up front and on defense is the key to their win. Niemi puts up a valiant battle, support by Couture and T.J. Gallardi but it's players like Brandon Saad, Viktor Stalberg and Niklas Hjalmarsson who are the difference in the series. The Blackhawks advance to second Stanley Cup Finals in four years.

NOTE: in Scenario B, New York beats Pitt in seven games while Chicago beats St. Louis, despite the efforts of Jaroslav Halak and David Backes.

Stanley Cup Finals

Pittsburgh defeats Chicago - 7 games

The Stanley Cup heads back to Pittsburgh in a classic series. The Stars produce but it's Brenden Morrow who is the hero in Game 7. Sidney Crosby outduels Fleury and Toews to win the Conn Smythe.

Note - in Scenario B with New York-Chicago, take Chicago in six games with Jonathan Toews barely outpacing Henrik Lundqvist as Conn Smythe winner.

Now that you've read the scenarios, here are the player rankings:

Centers

RK Player POS Team
1 S.Crosby C PIT
2 E.Malkin C PIT
3 J.Toews C CHI
4 N.Backstrom C WSH
5 J.Thornton C SJ
6 M.Ribeiro C WSH
7 A.Kopitar C LA
8 P.Datsyuk C DET
9 P.Marleau C SJ
10 N.Kadri C TOR
11 M.Richards C LA
12 T.Bozak C TOR
13 J.Pavelski C SJ
14 R.Getzlaf C ANA
15 H.Sedin C VAN
16 J.Tavares C NYI
17 D.Stepan C NYR
18 B.Richards C NYR
19 D.Bolland C CHI
20 P.Bergeron C BOS
21 K.Turris C OTT
22 A.Steen C STL
23 R.Kesler C VAN
24 D.Roy C VAN
25 B.Sutter C PIT
26 M.Koivu C MIN
27 D.Krejci C BOS
28 T.Seguin C BOS
29 M.Perreault C WSH
30 D.Backes C STL
31 P.Berglund C STL
32 D.Brassard C NYR
33 M.Grabovski C TOR
34 S.Koivu C ANA
35 J.Stoll C LA
36 T.Plekanec C MON
37 A.Cogliano C ANA
38 D.Desharnais C MON
39 A.Galchenyuk C MON
40 M.Cullen C MIN
41 F.Nielsen C NYI
42 M.Handzus C CHI
43 S.Gomez C SJ
44 N.Bonino C ANA
45 J.Andersson C DET
46 K. Brodziak C MIN
47 C.Emmerton C DET
48 M.Lombardi C ANA
49 B.Boyle C NYR
50 J.Beagle C WSH
51 P.Regin C OTT
52 J.Pageau C OTT
53 J.Vitale C PIT
54 C.Kelly C BOS
55 C.Fraser C LA
56 D.Steckel C ANA
57 M.Reasoner C NYI
58 S.Da Costa C OTT
59 D.Helm C DET
60 T.Kennedy C SJ
61 P.Holland C ANA
62 C.Porter C STL
63 J.Schroeder C VAN
64 J.Halpern C MON
65 A.Lee C NYI
66 M. Cullen C MIN
67 J.Spezza C OTT


Wings

RK Player POS Team
1 P.Kane W CHI
2 A.Ovechkin W WSH
3 J.Neal W PIT
4 M.Hossa W CHI
5 C.Kunitz W PIT
6 P.Dupuis W PIT
7 L.Couture W SJ
8 P.Sharp W CHI
9 J.Iginla W PIT
10 R.Nash W NYR
11 J.Carter W LA
12 P.Kessel W TOR
13 H.Zetterberg W DET
14 D.Brown W LA
15 T.Brouwer W WSH
16 J.van Riemsdyk W TOR
17 J.Franzen W DET
18 D.Sedin W VAN
19 J.Lupul W TOR
20 R.Callahan W NYR
21 Z.Parise W MIN
22 C.Perry W ANA
23 J.Williams W LA
24 V.Filppula W DET
25 B.Saad W CHI
26 C.Conacher W OTT
27 C.Stewart W STL
28 B.Marchand W BOS
29 M.Johansson W WAS
30 J.Jagr W BOS
31 C.MacArthur W TOR
32 D.Brunner W DET
33 J.Jokinen W PIT
34 M.Moulson W NYI
35 D.Alfredsson W OTT
36 V.Stalberg W CHI
37 R.Torres W SJ
38 B.Morrow W PIT
39 J.Ward W WSH
40 T.Galiardi W SJ
41 T.Selanne W ANA
42 D.Penner W LA
43 B.Bickell W CHI
44 M.Michalek W OTT
45 M.Erat W PIT
46 J.Silfverberg W OTT
47 M.Zibanejad W OTT
48 D.Setoguchi W MIN
49 G.Latendresse W OTT
50 M.Havlat W SJ
51 M.Pacioretty W MON
52 M.Ryder W MON
53 A.Shaw W CHI
54 B.Ryan W ANA
55 A.McDonald W STL
56 J.Pominville W MIN
57 M.Frolik W CHI
58 E.Fehr W WSH
59 M.Frattin W TOR
60 N.Kulemin W TOR
61 C.Greening W OTT
62 T.Lewis W LA
63 J.Chimera W WSH
64 T.Bertuzzi W DET
65 T.Wingels W SJ
66 B.Bennett W PIT
67 M.Zuccarello W NYR
68 K.Palmieri W ANA
69 D.Perron W STL
70 M.Lucic W BOS
71 M.Cooke W PIT
72 N.Horton W BOS
73 M.Samuelsson W DET
74 V.Tarasenko W STL
75 A.Burrows W VAN
76 J.Hansen W VAN
77 M.Raymond W VAN
78 B.Gallagher W MON
79 B.Gionta W MON
80 R.Bourque W MON
81 B.Boyes W NYI
82 R.Clowe W NYR
83 J.McClement W TOR
84 C.Neil W OTT
85 D.Cleary W DET
86 J.Abdelkader W DET
87 G.Nyquist W DET
88 T.Toffoli W LA
89 M.Kruger W CHI
90 D.Carcillo W CHI
91 T.Kennedy W PIT
92 A.Burish W SJ
93 R.Peverley W BOS
94 V.Sobotka W STL
95 L.Eller W MON
96 J.Schwartz W STL
97 R.Dvorak W ANA
98 P.Bouchard W MIN
99 C.Cizikas W NYI
100 J.Bailey W NYI
101 K.Okposo W NYI
102 C.Clutterbuck W MIN
103 K.Clifford W LA
104 C. Coyle W MIN
105 L.Komarov W TOR
106 Z.Smith W OTT
107 D.King W LA
108 W.Wolski W WSH
109 B.Laich W WSH
110 E.Condra W OTT
111 J.Tootoo W DET
112 J.Sheppard W SJ
113 D.Winnik W ANA
114 M.Beleskey W ANA
115 D.Paille W BOS
116 C.Higgins W VAN
117 G.Campbell W BOS
118 Z.Kassian W VAN
119 B.Prust W MON
120 M.Grabner W NYI
121 C.McDonald W NYI
122 J.Joensuu W NYI
123 C.Hagelin W NYR
124 C.Adams W PIT
125 M.Hendricks W WSH
126 A.Desjardins W SJ
127 P.Eaves W DET
128 B.Richardson W LA
129 D.Jeffrey W PIT
130 E.Etem W ANA
131 M.Lapierre W VAN
132 T.Moen W MON
133 J.Caron W BOS
134 J.Nolan W LA
135 S.Thornton W BOS
136 K.Aucoin W NYI
137 M.Martin W NYI
138 D.Ullstrom W NYI
139 T.Pyatt W NYR
140 D.Dorsett W NYR
141 J.Miller W NYR
142 C.Kreider W NYR
143 J.O'Brien W OTT
144 D.Dziurzynski W OTT
145 A.Cracknell W STL
146 F.McLaren W TOR
147 D.Weise W VAN
148 C.Armstrong W MON
149 T.Oshie W STL
150 C.Bourque W BOS
151 K.Daugavins W BOS
152 A.Ebbett W VAN
153 D.Booth W VAN
154 G.Dumont W MON
155 D.Miller W DET
156 P.Maroon W ANA
157 R.Spooner W BOS
158 J.Hayes W CHI
159 J.Morin W CHI
160 T.Tatar W DET
161 A.Asham W NYR
162 D.Heatley W MIN


Defensemen

RK Player POS Team
1 K.Letang D PIT
2 M.Green D WSH
3 D.Keith D CHI
4 B.Seabrook D CHI
5 E.Karlsson D OTT
6 J.Carlson D WSH
7 B.Burns D SJ
8 D.Boyle D SJ
9 N.Leddy D CHI
10 P.Martin D PIT
11 N.Kronwall D DET
12 D.Phaneuf D TOR
13 S.Voynov D LA
14 D.Doughty D LA
15 K.Shattenkirk D STL
16 P.Subban D MON
17 R.Suter D MIN
18 S.Gonchar D OTT
19 Z.Chara D BOS
20 A.Edler D VAN
21 C.Franson D TOR
22 J.Muzzin D LA
23 A.Markov D MON
24 A.Pietrangelo D STL
25 F.Beauchemin D ANA
26 L.Visnovsky D NYI
27 J.Oduya D CHI
28 D.Girardi D NYR
29 J.Bouwmeester D STL
30 M.Streit D NYI
31 R.McDonagh D NYR
32 M.Del Zotto D NYR
33 M.Niskanen D PIT
34 M.Irwin D SJ
35 J.Liles D TOR
36 J.Gardiner D TOR
37 P.Wiercioch D OTT
38 J.Cowen D OTT
39 J.Ericsson D DET
40 C.Gunnarsson D TOR
41 N.Hjalmarsson D CHI
42 S.Despres D PIT
43 R.Bortuzzo D PIT
44 S.Oleksy D WSH
45 S.Souray D ANA
46 D.Hamhuis D VAN
47 J.Garrison D VAN
48 J.Hillen D WSH
49 J.Kindl D DET
50 B.Smith D DET
51 R.Scuderi D LA
52 B.Orpik D PIT
53 C.Phillips D OTT
54 A.Benoit D OTT
55 M.Rozsival D CHI
56 D.Orlov D WSH
57 C.Fowler D ANA
58 A.Ference D BOS
59 D.Hamilton D BOS
60 D.Seidenberg D BOS
61 K.Bieksa D VAN
62 J.Boychuk D BOS
63 J.Spurgeon D MIN
64 T.Hamonic D NYI
65 A.Martinez D LA
66 D.Engelland D PIT
67 D.Murray D PIT
68 J.Erskine D WSH
69 T.Kundratek D WSH
70 K.Alzner D WSH
71 D.DeKeyser D DET
72 M.Vlasic D SJ
73 B.Stuart D SJ
74 J.Braun D SJ
75 J.Demers D SJ
76 I.White D DET
77 K.Quincey D DET
78 C.Colaiacovo D DET
79 M.Tennyson D SJ
80 M.Bartkowski D BOS
81 B.Jackman D STL
82 B.Lovejoy D ANA
83 L.Sbisa D ANA
84 R.Diaz D MON
85 T.Lydman D ANA
86 A.McQuaid D BOS
87 R.Regehr D LA
88 K.Russell D STL
89 J.Gorges D MON
90 D.Drewiske D MON
91 N.Beaulieu D MON
92 B.Allen D ANA
93 A.MacDonald D NYI
94 M.Staal D NYR
95 A.Stralman D NYR
96 J.Moore D NYR
97 M.Methot D OTT
98 E.Gryba D OTT
99 J.Leopold D STL
100 R.Polak D STL
101 M.Fraser D TOR
102 R.O'Byrne D TOR
103 K.Ballard D VAN
104 F.Bouillon D MON
105 K.Ellerby D LA
106 M.Kostka D TOR
107 B.Lashoff D DET
108 W.Redden D BOS
109 C.Tanev D VAN
110 C.Barker D VAN
111 T.Kaberle D MON
112 S.Vatanen D ANA
113 T.Krug D BOS
114 A.Emelin D MON
115 T.Hickey D NYI
116 B.Strait D NYI
117 S.Eminger D NYR


Goalies

RK Player POS Team
1 Corey Crawford G CHI
2 Marc-Andre Fleury G PIT
3 Antti Niemi G SJ
4 Braden Holtby G WSH
5 Ray Emery G CHI
6 Craig Anderson G OTT
7 James Reimer G TOR
8 Jimmy Howard G DET
9 Jonathan Quick G LA
10 Tomas Vokoun G PIT
11 Jonathan Bernier G LA
12 Tuukka Rask G BOS
13 Henrik Lundqvist G NYR
14 Corey Schneider G VAN
15 Jonas Hiller G ANA
16 N.Backstrom G MIN
17 Carey Price G MON
18 Evgeni Nabokov G NYI
19 Michal Neuvirth G WSH
20 Jaroslav Halak G STL
21 Viktor Fasth G ANA
22 Roberto Luongo G VAN
23 Robin Lehner G OTT
24 Ben Scrivens G TOR
25 Thomas Greiss G SJ
26 Brian Elliott G STL
27 Jonas Gustavsson G DET
28 Anton Khudobin G BOS
29 Jake Allen G STL
30 Martin Biron G NYR
31 Kevin Poulin G NYI
32 Josh Harding G MIN