NHL Power Rankings (January 26 - February 7)
by Jason Schwartz - 02/09/2007
The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to surprise the NHL, as they get closer and closer to cementing a spot for themselves in the playoffs. They have moved up four spots in the power rankings. Detroit, moving up four spots in this rankings, has also looked sharp as of late as they try to chase Nashville for the best record in the Western Conference. No team dropped more than the New York Rangers, as they moved down six spots. Anything less than a playoff spot is going to be a huge disappointment for them this season.
1. Nashville Predators 37-15-3 (1) - Won their biggest game of the week in a 3-0 win against Anaheim. Tomas Vokoun finally looks to be coming back to form in net since returning from injury. Nashville has lost three straight on the road in which they faced Colorado, Phoenix and Pittsburgh.
2. Detroit Red Wings 35-14-6 (6) - Detroit has done a great job of battling back when they look down and out. Henrik Zetterberg has been on fire, 12 points in his last five games, including three game-winning goals. The Wings find themselves only one point behind Nashville as they have won five straight games and 11 straight games at home.
3. Buffalo Sabres 37-15-4 (2) - Have lost games with the lead going into the third period in three out of their last seven games. They were, however, able to pick up big wins over Atlanta and Ottawa (A team in which they have lost four straight to this season).
4. New Jersey Devils 33-15-6 (5) - Brodeur has been great this season but as of late Jamie Langenbrunner has been the Devils best player. Langenbrunner has eight points in his last four games, and he was a +6 during those games. The Devils as a team have earned points in 10 out of their last 11 games the Devils look like they are on their way to another Atlantic Division title.
5. Anaheim Ducks 33-14-8 (4) - They are finally healthy again, J.S. Giguere is back in goal, and defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Chris Pronger are back in the lineup. The Ducks now have to try and get back to No. 1 in the Western Conference, while also trying to fend off San Jose in the Pacific Division.
6. San Jose Sharks 35-19-1 (3) - Lost three key games at home after the break, two losses to Dallas, plus a loss to Anaheim. Both teams they are going to be fighting within the Pacific Division. The Sharks did start their eight-game road trip on the right note, as they beat Anaheim 3-2. It will be interesting to see how they do in Nashville on Feb. 14.
7. Vancouver Canucks 30-21-4 (7) - they are doing well against the strong teams in the West lately, but for some reason they are having trouble picking up wins against the weaker teams. The Canucks lost home games to Chicago, Los Angeles and Columbus. With every point so critical in the Northwest Division, they have to get the win and the two points against these types of hockey clubs.
8. Ottawa Senators 30-22-3 (8) - Top centerman Jason Spezza has returned to the lineup, as the Senators need all the help they can get if they want a good spot in the playoffs. Back-to-back losses against rivals Toronto and Buffalo had to be tough to swallow as they continue to have trouble winning games decided by one goal (they are the fourth worst team in the league in that category).
9. Dallas Stars 32-20-2 (11) - They are slowly getting healthier. Mike Modano returned recently. They continue to put in a good effort every game despite their injury troubles. The two wins against San Jose will give them more momentum. A big test is coming for Dallas during their current five-game homestand, as they will face San Jose, Detroit and Anaheim.
10. Calgary Flames 29-17-7 (12) - General Manager Darryl Sutter made a smart move by picking up centerman Craig Conroy from Los Angeles recently. Conroy was Jarome Iginla's linemate for three seasons in Calgary, and was also key part to the Flames Cup run in 2004. Conroy scored two goals in his first game back with the Flames. I would be very surprised if Calgary could beat both Buffalo and Detroit during their upcoming road trip.
11. Atlanta Thrashers 29-18-9 (10) - Ilya Kovalchuk has been nothing short of spectacular since the All-Star break, but the rest of the team has not looked too good. Atlanta continues to blow leads night after night, not to mention they lost two straight home games to Philadelphia since the All-Star break. The Thrashers could be in jeopardy of blowing their lead in the Southeast Division very soon as Tampa Bay is on their heels.
12. Montreal Canadiens 29-20-6 (9) - Have not been playing too good as of late, their special teams have not been stellar and they are not a great team at even strength. Goaltender Cristobal Huet has had a bit of a rough time in net since the All-Star break as David Aebischer has started the last two games. If they could sweep the home-and-home series coming up with the Ottawa Senators, it would definitely get them going in the right direction.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins 27-17-9 (17) - No team has been as hot as Pittsburgh lately as they have points in their last 11 games. The Penguins even managed to win their first game of the season in which Sidney Crosby was held off the scoresheet. Lots of players are stepping up for Pittsburgh now and there is a good chance you will see them playing in the post season.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning 30-23-2 (16) - I kept saying all the Lighting needed was some decent goaltending, and they are getting it consistently from Johan Holmqvist. Tampa Bay is on a roll now. They have won a franchise record seven straight on the road, and have became a dangerous shootout team as they are now 7-1 in those situations.
15. Minnesota Wild 29-22-4 (15) - Niklas Backstrom has done an adequate job in goal with Manny Fernandez out with an injury. Since Marion Gaborik has returned to the lineup they are now 8-4-2. More importantly they are playing some good hockey on the road since he returned. They may only hold the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, but they are only three points out of first place in their division.
16. Carolina Hurricanes 27-22-7 (13) - It has been tough for the Hurricanes since the All-Star break. They lost three straight games at home, all against teams that were chasing them for that final playoff spot. They did get defenseman Frantisek Kaberle back in the lineup last game though, he was their top offensive defenseman from last season and had to sit out 55 games. Kaberle made a quick impact in his return with the game-winning goal in a victory over Montreal. Hopefully he can help get the Hurricanes' power play going.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs 27-21-6 (21) - Even with key injuries to some of their top forwards, the Leafs have managed to win five straight games. Lots of recognition goes to goaltender Andrew Raycroft, who went from zero to hero in less than two weeks. His save percentage is .959 since the All-Star break, and he was named the First Star of the NHL in the first week back since the break.
18. New York Islanders 26-21-7 (19) - The Islanders have looked good since the All-Star break, gaining points in seven straight games. The Islanders are only two points out of the playoffs right now as Rick DiPietro is looking solid in goal once again. It must be nice for the Islanders to see Miroslav Satan finally picking up his slack in the goal scoring department as of late.
19. Colorado Avalanche 26-23-4 (18) - It has been pretty disappointing for Colorado since the All-Star break. They lost three key games at home against teams they were fighting for to make the playoffs (Phoenix, Minnesota and Edmonton). Maybe the return of top defenseman John-Michael Liles can help spark the team, as Joe Sakic cannot get this team into the playoffs by himself.
20. New York Rangers 25-24-5 (14) - This team continues to disappoint. As much as I hate to point fingers, one has to be pointed at Jaromir Jagr, he is nowhere near the level he played at last season, he has been help setup scoring chances but he has not done much in terms of putting the puck in the net himself lately (only four goals in his last 18 games). The Rangers have now lost four straight games, all of them by a one goal margin. If they do not win soon they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
21. Edmonton Oilers 26-24-4 (20) - The first line is doing a great job of providing for the Oilers. However they can't get a consistent performance from the team overall and they can't get a win streak going. Edmonton's continues to struggle against Vancouver this season in the battle of the Northwest Division -- they are winless in five of the seven games between the two. It is pretty safe to say that Edmonton will not be winning the Northwest Division this season, but they can still sneak in to get that final playoff spot like they did last season. They are soon going to embark on a critical seven-game road trip.
22. Boston Bruins 24-24-4 (24) - The Bruins took some tough beatings after the All-Star break; they got outscored 19-4 in their first four games back from the break. The Bruins have rebounded lately with a couple of road wins in overtime. Defenseman Zdeno Chara has shown great leadership by helping end the Bruins seven-game winless streak on the road, he had four points and an overtime winner in the Bruins past two wins.
23. Phoenix Coyotes 25-28-2 (22) - The Coyotes were able to pick up a couple of impressive come-from-behind wins, but they could not win their most important game of the week, as they lost 1-0 to Minnesota, a team they are trying to catch for the final playoff spot. As of late goaltender Curtis Joseph has done everything to keep their playoff hopes somewhat alive. Their schedule only gets harder in the upcoming weeks.
24. St. Louis Blues 21-25-8 (23) - The Blues continue to win as long as they have solid defense. They will not be a part of the playoffs, and soon might be trading some of their top offensive players. Until that happens though, the Blues should not be underestimated.
25. Washington Capitals 22-25-8 (25) - After going on a 12-game point streak, Ovechkin is now scoreless in three straight games. Alexander Semin has been a bit quiet as of late as well. The Capitals did pickup their first shootout win of the season however in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders. They are now 1-6 in shootouts.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets 21-28-5 (27) - Columbus was looking good at home after the All-Star break. However, talk of them possibly making a late playoff run ended after they lost they lost a key game to Phoenix at home, 3-0. The offense has not been too good since the break, as they have barely been averaging two goals a game in their last seven games. But then again, they are possibly the worst offensive team in the league.
27. Chicago Blackhawks 21-26-7 (28) - It was nice to see them finally snap their 10-game losing streak. Since then Martin Havlat has been great and the team has won three of four on their current seven-game road trip. This team gets very streaky.
28. Florida Panthers 20-24-11 (26) -An embarrassing 7-0 to Los Angeles at home, plus a 5-4 overtime loss to Colorado in which they blew a one-goal lead in the final minute of play. Those two games all but end the playoff hopes of Florida; the question is will they want to deal away Olli Jokinen?
29. Los Angeles Kings 18-30-8 (29) - The Kings are starting to deal players away as they realize that this season is starting to become a wash. They traded the always controversial Sean Avery and Craig Conroy. They did pickup veteran goaltender Sean Burke off waivers. He has given them some very good starts in goal, something they are not used to at all this season.
30. Philadelphia Flyers 13-33-7 (30) - Well even though this season was over in November, Philadelphia is not packing it in so quickly. They are playing more competitive as of late, but the only question on people's minds are whether the Flyers are going to trade Peter Forsberg. Apparently the team still wants to re-sign him despite all his injury problems.
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