NHL Power Rankings: Lightning strikes, Flames burn out

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 24: Ondrej Palat
NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 24: Ondrej Palat /
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The end of the 2017-18 NHL regular season is rapidly approaching, and the teams on the edge of the playoffs are stepping up their game.

The Super 16 is starting to take shape in the NHL, and soon enough there won’t be any more room for teams hoping to claw their way into the club.

It was a wild week in the league, one that saw the St. Louis Blues bump the Anaheim Ducks out of the Western Conference wild-card spot and the expansion Vegas Golden Knights top 100 points in their inaugural season.

Let’s take a look at this week’s biggest risers and fallers.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 24: Peter Holland
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 24: Peter Holland /

31. Buffalo Sabres (-1)

Nothing has gone right for the Buffalo Sabres this year. They had a terrible start to their season and never could get back on the right track. The fans are tired of the poor on-ice product, and things need to turn around fast. The only good thing about this season is it became clear what the Sabres need to do moving forward. They need to address their speed and depth in their bottom two forward lines. There is no consistent threat of offense on the bottom two lines. The Buffalo Sabres also have questions on their blue line. Brendan Guhle looks like the real deal and will likely be on the opening day lineup next year, but the bottom half of the defense is wide open.

In the Buffalo Sabres’ last five games they have only scored five goals. In the modern NHL, that is not enough to win hockey games. The Sabres started their week with a home shutout loss to the Nashville Predators. They followed that up with a 4-1 loss against the Arizona Coyotes in a battle for last place. Then they were shut out once again, this time by the Montreal Canadiens. The next night. they were able to pick up one goal in a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers. The Sabres bounced back and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto 3-2. The best news for Sabres fans is the season is almost over. There are only six remaining games and, as a bonus, star prospect Casey Mittelstadt has agreed to a three-year contract and joined the team for the remaining games.