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Helene Elliott’s NHL rankings

Through Monday’s games

Rank Team Record (Last week’s rank)

1. Washington 52-15-12 Capitals clinch Presidents’ Trophy, set franchise records for wins and road wins — 23. (1)

2. San Jose 48-20-11 Joe Thornton returned from a lower-body injury Sunday and was reunited with Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau in overtime loss to Colorado. (3)

3. Chicago 49-22-7 Blackhawks clinched the Central Division title Sunday. The last time they won their division Patrick Kane was 4. He’s now 21. (8)

4. Phoenix 48-25-6 Coyotes set a franchise record with their 28th home win. They’re still the season’s best story. (2)

5. Nashville 46-28-6 Predators have won seven of 10 and clinched a playoff berth in style, with an overtime win at Detroit. (4)

6. Detroit 41-24-14 Red Wings’ loss at Philadelphia on Sunday was their first regulation loss in 13 games. They still clinched a playoff spot when Calgary lost. (5)

7. Buffalo 43-25-10 Back-to-back losses at Toronto and Montreal leave the Sabres a little shaky down the stretch. (7)

8. Pittsburgh 45-26-7 Penguins will play the last two regular-season games at the Igloo this week. And they’ll get some playoff games in before they close the old barn. (9)

9. Kings 44-27-7 They’ve earned their first playoff berth since 2002, but they’re not as sharp as they will need to be if they want to last more than six or seven games. (12)

10. New Jersey 45-26-7 Ilya Kovalchuk will visit Atlanta on Tuesday for the first time since he was traded. He started slow with the Devils but reached 40 goals last week. (10)

11. Vancouver 48-27-4 Canucks and Roberto Luongo look shaky against the Kings and the Wild but still win Northwest title. (6)

12. Ottawa 43-31-5 Defenseman Filip Kuba’s injured back might keep him out the rest of the season. (13)

13. Colorado 42-29-7 Overtime victory over Sharks on Sunday halts the Avalanche’s dizzying slide. But the team is hardly out of the woods yet. (11)

14. Calgary 40-30-9 If the Flames miss the playoffs — and it looks as if they will — they’ll be one of the biggest flops this season. (17)

15. Ducks 38-31-9 Their 7-2-1 push has kept them alive. If they hadn’t flopped at home in the early going they’d be in a playoff position. (21)

16. St. Louis 39-31-9 Beating Columbus on Monday kept the Blues’ faint playoff hopes alive. (16)

17. Montreal 39-32-8 Goaltender Jaroslav Halak continues to shine, with consecutive shutouts of the Flyers and Sabres. (15)

18. Boston 36-30-13 The Bruins are being undermined by their offense, which has produced a league-low 195 goals. (14)

19. Philadelphia 39-34-6 The Flyers interrupted their self-immolation to beat the Red Wings on Sunday. But they might have to win out to be sure of a playoff spot. (18)

20. N.Y. Rangers 36-32-10 A 5-0-1 run has the Rangers challenging the Flyers and Bruins for an East playoff spot. (23)

21. Dallas 35-30-14 Stars haven’t won three straight games at any point this season. Amazing, and not in a good way. (20)

22. Atlanta 34-32-13 Thrashers can still grab last East playoff spot, though they’ve faltered lately. (19)

23. Minnesota 37-36-7 Wild took too long to adjust to new Coach Todd Richards. They have some nice pieces that don’t yet add up to a formidable whole. (22)

24. Toronto 29-36-14 The Maple Leafs have made some real progress, but their defense underperformed. (24)

25. N.Y. Islanders 33-35-10 They stayed on the edge of the East playoff race longer than expected. (28)

26. Columbus 32-34-14 Blue Jackets took a step back this season after making the playoffs in 2008-09. Next season could be crucial for their future on and off the ice. (25)

27. Carolina 33-36-10 The Hurricanes’ talent seems better than their results this season. (26)

28. Florida 31-35-12 Nice try. Goaltending wasn’t bad, but the offense let the Panthers down big time. (27)

29. Tampa Bay 31-35-12 The team’s collapse is complete. The question is whether it’ll try to trade Vincent Lecavalier over the summer. (29)

30. Edmonton 25-46-8 Is it over yet? Actually, the Oilers’ season ended months ago. (30)


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