NHL Power Rankings
by Joe Paciella - 12/28/2007
Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek have been leading the charge in Detroit, as the Red Wings are steamrolling their way towards the Presidents' Trophy, while the Rangers are in a bit of a free-fall, and need to get things back on track. Check out how the rest of the NHL stacks up this week…
1. Detroit Red Wings (59 pts.) - No one has protected home ice quite like Detroit. This Red Wing unit has only lost three times in their 19 games at Joe Louis Arena. This does not bode well for the rest of the West come playoff time.
2. Ottawa Senators (54 pts.) - The Sens have picked up 20 points through their first 13 games of the month. They can continue their march towards the 1st seed in the East, as they take on Washington, Buffalo and Tampa Bay in their next five games.
3. Dallas Stars (48 pts.) - A recent surge by Dallas has them sitting atop the Pacific Division. They have only lost three times since the first of December, and have done this due to solid goaltending by Marty Turco. Although Turco has only faced over thirty shots twice in the month, he has put together a goals-against average under two in that period.
4. Colorado Avalanche (44 pts.) - Colorado has been very good of late, with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games. There is one glaring number that may haunt them, though, come playoff time: Although they are tied for 6th in the league in total goals for, they rank 23rd on the power play. Special teams can sometimes be the difference in playoff series, so they had better get this corrected.
5. Vancouver Canucks (46 pts.) - The Canucks have been a great team to go with this year if you were looking place a wager. Heading into Thursday night's matchup, they were +759 on the season, and they have beaten their next four opponents the last time they met. This may be a great opportunity to get back some of the cash you had to spend on holiday gifts.
6. Minnesota Wild (44 pts.) - The Wild are pretty good at home, with a 12-6 record there. But a very pedestrian mark of 9-8-2 on the road may hurt them if they can get into the playoffs, since they would surely be a lower seed playing away from home.
7. New Jersey Devils (43 pts.) - The Atlantic Division leading Devils are in that spot thanks in large part to veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur. In December, Brodeur has allowed just a shade over two goals per game en route to a 7-2-1 record in the month.
8. Anaheim Ducks (43 pts.) - Anaheim's charge to repeat as champions is not done yet. Winners of six of their last 10, the Ducks are just barely hanging around the final playoff spot.
9. San Jose Sharks (43 pts.) - You can't think of the 2007-08 San Jose Sharks without thinking about goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. He has not missed a start to date, and had been playing very well. However, after going 1-3-1 in a recent five game stretch over eight days, we may have an indicator that Nabokov may need some time off.
10. Calgary Flames (41 pts.) - The Flames have been just as hot as their name indicates. Over their last 11 games, they have 18 points and do not have a regulation loss in the month of December. In fact, they went 6-0 on a recent six-game road trip. If they can manage to get in the playoffs, the home team may be on upset alert with this road tested team.
11. Montreal Canadians (42 pts.) - Montreal will only travel outside of the Eastern Time Zone once through January. That's good, since they have a 18-11-5 record against the East. They could be poised for a charge.
12. Carolina Hurricanes (41 pts.) - No one draws more penalties than the Hurricanes. Playing a man up has helped them become the third most potent offense in the league and could be a key depending on what playoff matchups come their way.
13. Buffalo Sabres (39 pts.) - Buffalo has been red hot as of late, with a six-game winning streak coming to an end at the hands of Ottawa. Nonetheless, the Sabres are 8-4 in December and have gotten themselves right back in the thick of the playoff hunt.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins (40 pts.) - Sidney Crosby is doing his best to keep the Penguins in playoff contention. He is currently tied for 2nd in the league in scoring, and 2nd in assists. That means Crosby is getting others involved and preventing teams from shutting down the Pittsburgh offense by simply locking him down.
15. Chicago Blackhawks (40 pts.) - Chicago may have gotten things turned around recently. They stopped a 1-6 slide with a four-game winning streak; one of those wins came against Ottawa too.
16. Boston Bruins (40 pts.) - It is only late December, but the Bruins are looking as if they could be in the mix when playoff time nears. You could have gotten 50-1 odds on a pre-season bet for Boston to win the Stanley Cup. Odds right now are 15-1. Hmmm…
17. New York Rangers (40 pts.) - The Rangers can't wait for 2008. A terrible December continues, as the Blue Shirts have only won four games in the month. Their goals against average must improve if they are going to make a playoff run, as they have given up about 4.5 goals per loss this month.
18. Florida Panthers (39 pts.) - The Panthers are very slowly creeping up the standings and currently sit tied with Buffalo for the final playoff spot in the East. If they can keep up their solid defensive play, along with their very capable power play, this team could make the postseason.
19. New York Islanders (38 pts.) - I hope the Isles asked Santa for points this holiday season. They are last in the NHL in goals, and their points leader, Mike Comrie, sits tied for 63rd place on the league's scoring list.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (38 pts.) - Columbus has surprised some this year. Heading into the season, only Phoenix (+10500) was a bigger longshot than the Blue Jackets (+8500). But a solid record at home has them just a few points out of the final playoff spot. It also puts them +634 on the season if you took them on the money line.
21. Philadelphia Flyers (38 pts.) - Philly fans just can't catch a break. First their Phillies get swept by Colorado, then the Eagles miss the playoffs. The Flyers were supposed to contend for a Stanley Cup this year, but at this rate, they may miss the playoffs yet again. They have only won three games in their last 10, and are -619 on the money line for the season.
22. St. Louis Blues (39 pts.) - With only four wins thus far in the month, St. Louis is finding it hard to gain ground in the Western Conference. Currently, they sit just two points out of the last playoff spot. They can't afford efforts like they had against Detroit, if they are to jump the quality teams ahead of them.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (38 pts.) - If you took Toronto straight up earlier this month, you probably made some cash as they won six of seven dating back to the last game in November. However, if you kept riding those Maple Leafs, then you probably got burnt. They have lost five of their last six since then, and have some tough opponents coming up.
24. Atlanta Thrashers (37 pts.) - If Atlanta could figure out how to stop the losing streaks, they may be able to get into the playoffs. They are currently tied with Florida in the 11th spot, but they are only six points behind New Jersey, who is in the 2nd spot. In a conference as bunched as this one, losing streaks cannot happen.
25. Phoenix Coyotes (35 pts.) - Don't look now, but Phoenix may be slowing waking up. They have won six out of their last 10 and sit just six points out of the final playoff spot. The bad news is that they really don't have enough scorers to make any real charge, as they rank almost dead last in the NHL in goals scored.
26. Nashville Predators (36 pts.) - Nashville hasn't done much in the month of December, as they began the month 5-8. Things may not get much better with San Jose and Dallas on the upcoming schedule.
27. Washington Capitals (33 pts.) - After firing Coach Glen Hanlon on Thanksgiving, Washington has gone 8-5-4 under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Until a couple of days ago, Boudreau was the interim coach. This commitment to the former Hershey Bears coach could be another step in the right direction for the Caps.
28. Edmonton Oilers (35 pts.) - Where does the league's worst power play reside? You guessed it. The Oilers have been having problems with the extra attacker all season, as only four players have multiple power play goals. They are in desperate need of a big time scorer, and it may have to wait until the off-season.
29. Tampa Bay Lightning (33 pts.) - Goaltender Johan Holmqvist needs to do a better job at keeping the puck out of the net. He ranks out of the top 35 in total goals against, goals against average and save percentage. If Tampa can't solve this problem, they won't have to worry about making travel plans in April.
30. Los Angeles Kings (26 pts.) - Los Angeles has only won four times since Thanksgiving and is currently suffering through an eight game losing streak. You may want to bet against them for the rest of the season, regardless who they play. Oh, and their next few games are against Colorado, Chicago and Calgary, who can play.