16. Winnipeg Jets (18)
My confidence level in the Jets is still low, and I don’t believe that they would be a competitive playoff team. With that said, the fact that they’re still clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference is key at this stage of the season, so they move up on this list.
15. Florida Panthers (14)
The Panthers are also still holding onto a wild card position. The Cats were a perfect 3-0 last week, but with the Penguins and Islanders also winning games, they didn’t gain much ground. They have critical tests now awaiting them in the NHL’s final week.
14. New York Islanders (15)
The Islanders picked up two convincing wins at the end of last week and are currently tied with the Panthers, one point ahead of the Penguins. This team is built for the postseason, and it is one week away from punching its ticket and competing for the Stanley Cup.
13. Tampa Bay Lightning (11)
When it comes to playoff experience, few teams compare to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unfortunately, an ugly 0-3 record last week is not what the Bolts were looking for right before the playoffs began. They’re tumbling down this list as a result.