There were long stretches during the 2023-24 NHL season when it looked like both Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins would miss the postseason for the second straight year. The last time the Caps and Pens missed back-to-back playoffs, neither The Great Eight nor Sid The Kid had anything to do with professional hockey.

But with under two weeks left in the campaign, it's almost certain that one of the two Metropolitan Division rivals will be on the outside looking in when the season wraps up on April 18. And the two clubs are going in completely different directions down the stretch. Ovechkin and his Capitals have lost six games in a row for the first time this year to fall out of a berth, watching as the postseason hopes slowly slip away. Crosby, on the other hand, is trying to will the Penguins into a playoff spot, helping the squad win six of their last seven.

With five games left in each of their seasons, Crosby and Ovechkin's squads are tied at 36-30-11. Almost poetic. Although both are outside the playoff picture — as of Monday, at least — just one point separates them from the Detroit Red Wings, who precariously occupy the Eastern Conference's final wild card berth.

So, the question must be asked: will it be Crosby or Ovechkin missing the playoffs for the second year in a row? Or, will both franchise's miss out yet again? With the Flyers and Islanders also hanging around, and only two spots, it's going to be a photo finish in the East for the second straight season. And that's just what hockey fans are looking for — unless you cheer for one of those teams, of course.

For the second-last time until the postseason, ClutchPoints is here to continue making sense of the chaos that is the final few weeks of the season. Spoiler is being played, teams are being mathematically eliminated, and we're one step closer to knowing the 16-team field that will do battle beginning on April 20. Here's the latest edition of the NHL Power Rankings after another thrilling seven days of hockey.

Previous 2023-24 NHL Power Rankings: Week 25 | Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3Week 2 | Week 1

1. New York Rangers (no change)

Let the show go on in The Big Apple. The Rangers want their first President's Trophy since 2015, and they will not be denied down the stretch. New York lost just four games in the month of March, and have only one L in April. That's eight wins in nine tries dating back to March 21, and a three-point lead on the Bruins and Stars for the No. 1 spot in league standings. The Rangers' top players were invisible against the Devils in Round 1 last year, but Artemi Panarin has led a resurgence in NYC. The franchise record for wins in a season is 53, and the 2023-24 Rangers just tied it. At 53-21-4 with four games left, one of these nights at Madison Square Garden could be historic. With the Flyers, Islanders and Senators making the trip over the next week, it seems inevitable that this version of the Rangers will be the best iteration in franchise history. But does this core have what it takes to bring Lord Stanley to New York for the first time since Mark Messier did it in 1994? We're getting close to finding out.

2. Dallas Stars (+1)

The heater will just not stop in Texas, and I'm not talking about the weather. Emerging as the best team in the Western Conference from a stacked field in 2023-24, the Stars have won nine of 10 and are more well-positioned than any team to win both the division and conference. Despite a puzzling 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Hawks in Week 25, the Stars haven't lost again since mid-March, and probably only need to win two of their last four to solidify their No. 1 seeding. If they run the table, they'll have a chance to pass the Rangers in the President's Trophy race. That's not going to happen the way New York is playing, but still a hugely, hugely successful season for the franchise. After reaching the Western Conference Final in 2023, it's Stanley Cup or bust for the Stars in 2024. Can they bring a championship to Texas for the first time since 1999?

3. Colorado Avalanche (-1)

 Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) shoots on the Minnesota Wild in the first period at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche had a chance to remain ahead of the Stars in the NHL Power Rankings for at least one more week, but they squandered it at the same time they squandered their chance to win the division. Dallas beat Colorado 7-4 in the final game of Week 25, and it's now the Stars who seem poised to win the dogfight that is the 2023-24 Central Division. It'll now almost surely be Colorado vs. Winnipeg in the first-round, which isn't a terrible matchup. The Avs were the heavy favorites against the Kraken in Round 1 last year, and we all know how that turned out. But first, it'll be Avalanche-Jets on Saturday afternoon for a huge postseason primer. Mikko Rantanen's health remains a key factor after he was injured on a hit by Mattias Ekholm, but the hope in Denver is that he'll be ready before the playoffs.

4. Carolina Hurricanes (no change)

Despite a few blemishes, the Hurricanes have been lights out since the beginning of March. The Jake Guentzel experiment is paying huge dividends, and Frederik Andersen is looking like a star between the pipes. Add those key factors to an already well-above-average roster and you have one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. The Canes have won five of seven to solidify No. 2 in the Metro, but they'll spend the rest of their regular-season away from PNC Arena. Carolina will head through Boston, St. Louis, Chicago and Columbus before returning to Raleigh for Round 1, Game 1. After getting to the ECF in 2023, nothing less than a trip to the Stanley Cup Final will be acceptable in Raleigh this time around.

5. Boston Bruins (+1)

There's the elite Bruins team we were once used to seeing. It's back into the NHL Power Rankings top-five in Beantown after Boston won all three of its games in Week 25. Make that eight wins in 11 tries for Brad Marchand's club, and back to the top of the Atlantic Division. Now just three points back of the Rangers with four games to go, there's still a chance the Bruins can win back-to-back President's Trophies for the first time since the Canucks did it back in 2011-12. It's unlikely, but what is likely is Boston winning the division yet again. What it probably means is a Round 1 matchup against either the Lightning or the Leafs. Either one will be terrific.

6. Vancouver Canucks (-1)

The Canucks are one of the best defensive teams in the National Hockey League, but they did not look it in Week 25. Not at all. Casey DeSmith had his worst week since Thatcher Demko went down with injury, getting buried for six goals in matching 6-3 defeats at the hands of the Golden Knights and Kings. Vancouver was able to salvage a victory, a 2-1 win over Arizona with Arturs Silovs between the pipes. The Canucks are looking like they're ready for the regular-season to end, although the Pacific Division is still up in the air. The lead on Edmonton is just three points, and the two teams will meet again in the last contest of Week 26. It's going to be a difficult first-round matchup for Vancouver either way, but they have the horses to make a run in the Western Conference. That's especially true if Demko can find his bubble form when he returns to the lineup, which could come as soon as this week.

7. Florida Panthers (no change)

After losing to the Bruins twice in the last two weeks, it's pretty certain that the Panthers will not be winning the Atlantic Division. Instead, they'll finish second, unless they're somehow able to make up the five points separating them from Boston — with only four games left. It's going to be either Florida-Toronto or Florida-Tampa Bay, and both promise to be phenomenal Round 1 matchups. The Cats are still struggling to get healthy, with Matthew Tkachuk sitting out once in Week 25 and Aaron Ekblad out of the lineup again. The latter's ailment is concerning, and his availability for the beginning of the postseason is up in the air. It doesn't help that it's now five losses in seven tries for a Florida team that is just treading water — and lucky to not be bumped down the NHL Power Rankings — ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

8. Edmonton Oilers (no change)

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Oilers usurp the Canucks in the final days of the regular-season? After slowly closing the gap in the Pacific Division throughout the 2023-24 campaign, Edmonton is now just three points back of Vancouver — with a game in hand. The loser (that finishes No. 2) will play either the Kings or Golden Knights, while the winner will likely take on the top wild card seed. The Oil have made things close after winning five of seven, including back-to-back victories over the Avalanche and Flames over the weekend. With six games left in the regular-season — and the Canucks on tap next Sunday — Connor McDavid and co. control their own destiny.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning (+2)

What a powerhouse the Bolts are rounding into down the stretch. All of a sudden, this is looking like one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference, especially with the wealth of experience on the roster. Nikita Kucherov will at least be a finalist for the Hart Trophy, and his ridiculous 136 points leads the league as of April 8. And Andrei Vasilevskiy has been lights out over his last 10, looking back to peak pre-playoff form ahead of another potentially deep run. Those are the two main reasons why the Lightning have won 10 of 13 since March 10. Whether or not they can catch Toronto for No. 3 in the Atlantic Division, they look like the better team right now. It's back into the NHL Power Rankings top-10 for a team no one wants to play in Round 1.

10. Nashville Predators (-1)

The Predators have started to fall back to earth in April, losing twice in four tries since the calendar flipped. That's part of a larger stretch that's seen the team lose four of six to fall to 45-29-4. With the Jets now six points ahead in the Central Division's No. 3 spot, it's almost certain Nashville will begin the postseason as one of the two Western Conference wild card teams. And after missing the playoffs altogether last year, they will absolutely take it. It's a very difficult conference, and not many expected Smashville would be hanging around right until the end. That's a testament to an underrated roster, and it'll be interesting to see if the Predators can pull off an upset in Round 1.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs (-1)

The Leafs are playing solid hockey as the season winds down, but after losing to the Lightning in Week 25, it only made sense that the NHL Power Rankings would reflect the move. Although Toronto still occupies No. 3 in the Atlantic Division — Tampa Bay is four points back — it's the Florida franchise that jumps into the top-10. Still, the Leafs have won four of five and seven of nine to improve to 44-23-9; another great regular-season in the Six. But with the Panthers the likely first-round opponent, things are only going to get harder from here. For hockey fans, a Toronto-Florida rematch will be electric, and the two clubs play one more time before the regular-season wraps up.

12. Winnipeg Jets (no change)

The Jets did not let things go completely off the rails. Instead, they followed up a ghastly six-game losing skid by racking off three straight victories in Week 25. Winnipeg got the better of Los Angeles, Calgary and Minnesota, improving to 47-24-6 and holding onto their slot in the NHL Power Rankings despite similar surges from the Knights and Kings. For the Jets, it's the perfect time to get cooking again, with five games left in the regular-season — and one each against the Predators, Stars and Avalanche. Those will be massive playoff tuneup games, and it'll be intriguing to see if Winnipeg can get out of the first-round this year, especially if they play one of those clubs.

13. Vegas Golden Knights (no change)

 San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl speaks to the media during NHL All-Star Thursday at Scotiabank Arena.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Knights are doing exactly what they did ahead of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: win a lot of games. And we all know what happened in the postseason. But after nearly falling out of a spot in the dance in 2024, Vegas has turned it on as of late, winning six of eight and continuing to challenge the Kings for the Pacific Division's final guaranteed postseason berth. It'll either be that or one of the Western Conference's two wild card spots, one which will be occupied by the Predators. The Knights are looking ready for another run, knocking off two top teams in the Canucks and Jets and riding the hot hand of Logan Thompson. Tomas Hertl could be back in the lineup on Monday for a rematch with Vancouver, which should be a monumental boost for this offense ahead of another potentially deep run.

14. Los Angeles Kings (no change)

The Golden Knights and Kings are on very similar trajectories ahead of the postseason. Both teams are winning games, and have made the playoffs the last couple of seasons. For Los Angeles, it's been back-to-back exits at the hands of the Oilers, and they'll be looking for better fortune in 2024. The roster looks great lately, giving up just six goals in three consecutive wins over the Kraken, Sharks and Canucks in Week 25. It's not quite enough for a bump up the NHL Power Rankings, but the Kings are playoff bound and look poised to be a very difficult Round 1 opponent.

15. St. Louis Blues (+1)

Steady as she goes for the Blues, which is not what fans of this team need to hear right now. St. Louis needed a late-season surge to try and usurp the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they've played .500 hockey in April instead. It's now five points back of the Golden Knights with just five games to go, and Vegas has two games in hand. It's not looking good in Missouri. There was a time when it looked like the Blues would not be denied a postseason berth, but despite remaining in the top-15 of the NHL Power Rankings, it's probably not going to be top-16 in league standings when all is said and done. Even if they win out, it would require a terrible ending from one of the Knights or Predators. More likely, it'll be back-to-back seasons without playoff hockey for the 2019 champs.

16. New York Islanders (+5)

There's life in Long Island, yet. It looked like the Islanders might be done after losing six games in a row in the middle of March, but they've bounced back spectacularly. Patrick Roy's club has won four in a row and six of eight to vault into the No. 3 spot in the Metropolitan Division, taking over a spot that the Flyers had been warming for long stretches of the campaign. It now belongs to New York — at least for now — as the Isles enjoy a two-point lead over each of Philly, Pittsburgh and Washington. That's going to be an insane photo finish, and whoever gets the spot will almost certainly be staring down a powerhouse Hurricanes team in Round 1.

17. Minnesota Wild (no change)

Welcome back to the show, Jesper Wallstedt. The 21-year-old recorded his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Hawks on Sunday, making 24 saves in the win. Unfortunately, it's been under .500 hockey in the State of Hockey since the end of March, all but snuffing out the last rays of playoff hope in Minnesota. Before beating Chicago commandingly, Minny lost to Colorado and Winnipeg, falling to 37-30-10 and nine points back of the Golden Knights for the Western Conference's final spot. It's a disappointing ending to what has been an up-and-down campaign in Saint Paul. Look for the Wild to be mathematically eliminated this week, although Kirill Kaprizov did everything he could to keep his team afloat — including scoring 40 goals for the third straight time.

18. Pittsburgh Penguins (+7)

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins won 5-4.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Is this real life for Sidney Crosby and his Penguins? I said a couple of weeks ago that No. 87 could will this team into the postseason, and that's exactly what's happening. Make that six wins in seven tries, and remarkably, life in Pennsylvania. The Pens were actually in a playoff spot last week, but have fallen to just one point out after the Red Wings beat the Sabres on Sunday. Still, Pittsburgh has five very winnable games left, and capturing all of them will probably be enough to get them in. Even triumphing in four could be enough. Obviously, that's much easier said than done. But what a seriously impressive turnaround for this team over the last couple of weeks. If the Penguins end up getting in, Sid the Kid deserves serious Hart Trophy consideration.

19. Washington Capitals (-4)

The Capitals were back in a playoff spot. They had won six of seven games. Alex Ovechkin was scoring again. All signs pointed to playoff hockey returning to the nation's capital after a rare miss. But fast forward 10 days and the Caps have somehow lost six games in a row for the first time this year — at the most crucial time of the season. Even with three non-playoff rosters lined up against them, Washington was unable to find a win. And because of it, a playoff berth is slipping away. The Caps are still just a point back of the Red Wings for the final wild card berth — and a spot ahead of them in the NHL Power Rankings — but the Penguins, Islanders and Flyers are all right there. It's going to be a frantic race to the finish, and this roster is not positioning itself well at all. Can they get back in the win column in their biggest game of the year against Detroit on Tuesday?

20. Detroit Red Wings (-2)

Despite losing five of their last seven games, the Red Wings control their own destiny with five left in the regular-season. After beating Tampa Bay last Tuesday and Buffalo on Sunday, Detroit is 38-31-8 and in control of the final wild card berth in the Eastern Conference. A point ahead of each of the Penguins, Capitals and Flyers, it's win and you're in in Motown. And with Washington and Pittsburgh on the other side of the rink in an absolutely critical Week 26, let's see if there's still some Showtime left in Michigan.

21. Philadelphia Flyers (-2)

Where did everything go wrong for the Flyers in 2024? Make that seven losses in a row for a team that is not looking at all like a playoff contender anymore. Philly is now completely out of both No. 3 in the Metropolitan Division as well as one of the precious wild card berths in the Eastern Conference. Just like that, the chances of the Flyers getting into the dance are hanging on a razor's edge. And it's not looking good. Philadelphia is competing with Pittsburgh, Washington and Detroit, and they look like the worst of the four as of late. With only four games left, John Tortorella's club will likely have to win all four and get some help. The way things have gone lately, that would take a miracle. It'll still be a very successful season in Pennsylvania, but it's shaping up to be a brutal ending.

22. New Jersey Devils (-2)

The Devils were hanging on the playoff precipice at the end of March, and after four defeats in five tries, the dream is dead in Newark. It's been a hugely disappointing season in New Jersey, especially after a very similar roster finished third in league standings in 2023 before upsetting the Rangers in Round 1. Dougie Hamilton's absence has loomed large all year, as has the lack of NHL-caliber goaltending. Are Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen going to be the two starters come October? That's just one of many storylines ahead of a stressful upcoming offseason in New Jersey.

23. Calgary Flames (-1)

Calgary Flames defenseman MacKenzie Weegar (52) celebrates his first period goal with Calgary Flames left wing Andrei Kuzmenko (96) against the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Did Calgary win the trade that sent Elias Lindholm to Vancouver? Right now, it's looking like it. Andrei Kuzmenko, who was shipped from British Columbia to Alberta, has been a lone bright spot on the Flames lately. He's scored four goals and nine points over his last five, although four of them were defeats for the middling franchise. The Flames have won just once since March 16, which has them under .500 at 34-37-5. Now officially eliminated, it'll be back-to-back playoff misses after the roster won the Pacific Division in 2022.

24. Buffalo Sabres (no change)

It took way, way too long, but Tage Thompson finally remembered that he's a superstar in this league. After scoring four goals against the Devils a few weeks back, the hulking American put up another three goals and six points over his next three — two of them wins. The Sabres are still just five points back of the final wild card berth in the Eastern Conference, but with just four games left in their regular-season, the dream is all-but-over in Western New York. The longest current playoff drought in the NHL continues for a team that hasn't seen late-April puck since 2011.

25. Ottawa Senators (-2)

After an uncharacteristic five-game heater, the Senators came back to earth with three consecutive defeats to open Week 25. Ottawa scored just five goals over the trio of losses, falling to Minnesota, Florida and New Jersey, respectively. They got back on track by handing the fast-fading Capitals their seventh straight L on Sunday. The firing of two of the organization's head scouts isn't exactly encouraging, but what has been in Canada's capital this season? It's been one problem after another, and the least the franchise can hope for is less drama in 2024-25.

26. Arizona Coyotes (+1)

The big news out of Arizona last week was the team's declaration to try to win a land auction that could allow the club to remain in the Phoenix area. Many hockey fans still think of the squad as the Phoenix Coyotes, and it looks like a resolution could be coming after years of uncertainty surrounding their arena situation. On the ice, the Yotes won two of three games in Week 25, losing 2-1 to Vancouver before beating Vegas and San Jose — and scoring 12 goals in the process. Four of Arizona's final five contests are on the road, starting with a trip to Seattle on Wednesday.

27. Seattle Kraken (+1)

After being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Kraken have turned on the jets, winning four of their last six games. It doesn't matter, but it looks a ton of a lot better than it did when Seattle lost eight games in a row between March 9-25. It was a hugely disappointing season for a team that came within one win of the Western Conference Final in 2023, but there's hope that the Kraken can battle for a playoff berth again in 2025. Seattle will welcome Arizona and San Jose to Climate Pledge Arena before heading out on a campaign-ending four-game road trip starting on Saturday.

28. Montreal Canadiens (-2)

Martin St. Louis is back behind the bench in Montreal after taking some time off to deal with a family matter. But his return hasn't kickstarted the Habs, who have lost three of four since March 30 to remain second-last place in the Atlantic Division. That's after back-to-back-to-back losses at the hands of the Lightning (7-4), Leafs (4-2) and Rangers (5-2) in Week 25, respectively. The Canadiens will head on the road for three of their final five, but will welcome the Flyers to the Bell Centre first as they look to dash Philly's quickly-fading playoff hopes.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (no change)

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Malcolm Subban (32) comes off the ice after the warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Subban got into his first game as a member of the Blue Jackets on Sunday, and although it came in a losing effort against the Hurricanes, it was the most positive thing to come out of Ohio in Week 25. The 30-year-old has bounced around the minor leagues for years, but looked solid on Sunday, making 32 saves on 35 shots in a 3-0 loss to a potent Carolina team. Otherwise, it was a .500 week for Columbus, who remain locked into No. 29 in both league standings and the NHL Power Rankings heading into their final four contests of the campaign. Three of them will be on the road, in Tampa Bay, Florida and Nashville this week.

30. Chicago Blackhawks (no change)

The Hawks continue to play surprisingly good hockey down the stretch, and I briefly considered if they were finally deserving of a top-29 slot in the NHL Power Rankings in Week 25. But with the Blue Jackets a full 13 points ahead with five games left, it didn't quite make sense to make the change. Still, Chicago is building some great momentum for next season, proving late that they can hang around with some of the league's better teams — in a vacuum. That was on display in a very impressive 3-2 win over the powerhouse Stars, as well as in a 5-1 shellacking of the fading Flyers a few nights before. Despite a shutout loss in Minnesota to end the week, it was another reasonable seven days in the Windy City. And Connor Bedard is still the Calder Trophy frontrunner.

31. Anaheim Ducks (no change)

The Ducks won their first game since March 22 last week, so obviously, they won't be making up any ground in the NHL Power Rankings. Anaheim is just going to be happy when 2023-24 comes to a merciful close. After snapping a five-game losing skid in that one —  a 5-3 victory over Calgary — it looks like the Ducks are ready to start another skid. Following losses to the Kraken and Blues in Week 25, will the Ducks win any of their last four contests? We aren't holding our breath to find out.

32. San Jose Sharks (no change)

For the second straight week, the Sharks won a hockey game. How about that. They're not going anywhere in the NHL Power Rankings — and won't be for the rest of the season — but it was a nice overtime victory over the Blues nonetheless. The youth is starting to show itself in San Jose, most notably former No. 7 overall pick William Eklund, who scored all three of his team's goals in the 3-2 triumph. It was sandwiched between losses to the Kings and Coyotes, which all-but-ensured this club will have the best chance to pick No. 1 overall when the NHL Draft rolls around in June. With an egregious 18-51-8 record, they should be picking first.