By Jon Rosen
1. Bruins 49-29 -4 --
Itll be an interesting second go-around for Tyler Seguin, who is averaging over six minutes of ice time more this season than he averaged last spring. The sophomore racked up 19 points over the final five weeks of the season.
2. Canucks 51-22 -9 --
The Canucks finished the year 8-1 and captured the Presidents Trophy but dont enter the playoffs as our favorites. Theyll look to improve on a 4-for-43 power-play performance down the stretch against one of the leagues stingier penalty kills in Los Angeles.
3. Rangers 51-24 -7 --
Marian Gaborik played in all 82 games for the first time in his career and finished with 41 goals to lead a balanced New York attack. Derek Stepans leg injury off the hit from Brooks Orpik isnt supposed to be serious.
4. Blues 49-22 -11 --
With a surplus of available forwards, Ken Hitchcock has decisions to make. Will rookie Jaden Schwartz remain in the lineup? Who starts in net for Game 1, Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak? The Blues are looking to bounce back from a sleepy home stretch to the regular season.
5. Penguins 51-25 -6 1
Though his Ferris State Bulldogs lost in the NCAA Championship, Chris Kunitz can take solace in an 82-game season in which he set personal highs with 26 goals and 61 points.
6. Flyers 47-26 -9 -1
Forget about the bad blood. How many goals will be scored in Phillys first-round series with Pittsburgh? James Neal and Scott Hartnell are first and second in power-play goals, Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux are Hart candidates, and Sidney Crosby is healthy. Theres some tough sleddin ahead for Ilya Bryzgalov
7. Devils 48-28 -6 2
David Clarkson (30 goals) joined Zach Parise (31) and Ilya Kovalchuk (37) as 30-goal scorers as part of an underrated Devils offense. Adam Larsson, just 19, held up with over 20 minutes of ice time in his 18-point, 65-game season.
8. Predators 48-26 -8 2
Judgment Day is nigh for Nashville as Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and the peaking Preds will be looking for something to show for their recent success before free agency clouds matters. They split their six games with Detroit.
9. Red Wings 48-28 -6 -1
Darren Helm is expected back early in the Nashville series, providing a boost of speed to a unit that has killed off 25 consecutive penalties.
10. Blackhawks 45-26 -11 -3
Corey Crawford finished 8-1-2 with a .921 save percentage after March 1 as the team closed out the regular season on an 11-2-4 run. Theyll have their hands full traveling into the desert for the first round.
11. Coyotes 42-27 -13 3
Before this year, Phoenix and Winnipeg had combined for zero division titles and five second-place finishes in 31 seasons. The Coyotes are yet to win a playoff series and are 0-3 in Game 7s in their existence.
12. Sharks 43-29 -10 1
No team will benefit more from the reset to a 0-0 record than San Jose. The Sharks have finished in first or second place for 10 of their last 11 seasons.
13. Kings 40-27 -15 -1
For the second straight season, the Kings had home-ice advantage in their sights and failed to capitalize. By blowing two two-goal leads against San Jose, theyre faced with a much more difficult first-round matchup against Vancouver. Jeff Carter should be ready to rejoin Mike Richards and Dwight King on the second line for Wednesdays opener.
14. Capitals 42-32 -8 3
Will the Caps benefit from the pressure-free status as a playoff underdog? Tomas Vokoun nearly knocked the Red Wings out of the playoffs as a Predator in 2004, and hes going to have to be sharp again.
15. Senators 41-31 -10 -4
The Senators will be hungry for validation on their upwards trend under Paul MacLean, though theyll be heavy underdogs to the Rangers after falling into eighth place. Erik Karlsson may win the Norris Trophy, though its New Yorks stable of defensemen that will keep Ottawa from scoring consistently in the first round.
16. Panthers 38-26 -18 --
With Phoenixs success, lets not forget that Florida is celebrating its first division title while looking to emerge from a long playoff winter. The Panthers have a playoff record of 1-8 since their Year of the Rat run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.
17. Stars 42-35 -5 -2
There are some terrific pieces in Dallas, but will the new ownership group shell out money to surround Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro with top-notch talent? The 2012-13 season is a contract year for Kari Lehtonen.
18. Sabres 39-32 -11 --
After playing themselves back into playoff contention, a 1-3-1 finish to the season kept Buffalo out of the playoffs for the sixth time in the last 10 seasons. Ryan Miller posted nearly identical numbers to his underwhelming 2010-11 campaign.
19. Avalanche 41-35 -6 --
Their improvement didnt result in a playoff spot, though theres plenty of optimism in Denver where the Avalanche will be favorites to join the postseason dance party next year. Matt Duchene never got comfortable while battling injuries in the second half, finishing with four points and a minus-four rating in his final 21 games.
20. Lightning 38-36 -8 2
Get this organization some goaltending immediately. Steve Yzermans first priority will be finding not just another option in net, but a reliable, full-time starter. The Bolts will have resources to add pieces from their AHL team in Norfolk, which enters the new week on a 25-game winning streak.
21. Flames 37-29 -16 --
Its tough to pinpoint what Calgarys roster will look like when training camps open. Maxed out and owing four players at least 5.8 million next year, theyll need to cut costs and will be pressured to trade Jarome Iginla, who enters a contract year. Would anyone take Jay Bouwmeester at a 6.7 million hit for two more years?
22. Jets 37-35 -10 -2
The honeymoons over. Its time to surround Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane with a fresh crop of young forwards, and were excited to see Mark Scheifele next season. With 246 goals allowed, rebuilding the defense remains a high priority as well.
23. Hurricanes 33-33 -16 2
Defenseman Justin Faulk improved as the season progressed and finished with eight goals and 22 points in 66 games while playing most of the season as a 19-year-old. The Canes have 10 forwards under contract for next season as part of a middle-of-the-pack offense.
24. Ducks 34-36 -12 -1
The Ducks will clear almost 9 million of cap space when Jason Blake, Saku Koivu, Niklas Hagman and George Parros become free agents, though all eyes will be on soon-to-be 42-year-old Teemu Selanne, who led the team with 66 points and will make a decision on whether hell return for a 20th season in the summer.
25. Wild 35-36 -11 -1
Jason Zucker showed flashes of competence, and Minnesota will welcome any type of skill it can find. Expect the Wild to be among the finalists for Ryan Suters services in free agency.
26. Maple Leafs 35-37 -10 --
Randy Carlyle is breaking down the Leafs before he builds them back up again, though until the team finds a quality goaltender it will remain in the playoff wilderness. Toronto lost 22 of its final 29 games.
27. Oilers 32-40 -10 --
Edmontons turnaround isnt progressing as quickly as Pittsburghs rebound last decade. The Oilers finished 21 points out of a playoff spot despite the incubation of playing within the friendly confines of the occasionally competitive Northwest Division.
28. Canadiens 31-35 -16 2
The Habs owe roughly 30.6 million over the next two seasons to Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque, who combined for 15 goals in 2011-12.
29. Blue Jackets 29-46 -7 --
Considering Columbus turnaround after trading Jeff Carter, were actually kind of hoping Rick Nash decides to stick things out. Jack Johnson recorded 12 points and a plus-four rating in 20 games after the trade, while Columbus ended the year with an 11-8 March and April.
30. Islanders 34-37 -11 -2
Stories of Pat LaFontaine being retributively blacklisted make up another sad chapter of what has become a 20-year ongoing puzzle at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders have long passed the LA Clippers in futility and fractured ownership.