NHL Power Rankings (March 8 - March 21)
by Jason Schwartz - 03/23/2007
We are in for some exciting hockey down the stretch as plenty of playoff spots are up for grabs. There are five teams still vying for the postseason in the Eastern Conference. Right now the New York Rangers are the hottest of the bunch. The President's Trophy (for NHL's best record) is also up for grabs among four teams. Colorado has also put a scare into the Calgary Flames. Colorado has battled back to get within striking distance of Calgary for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The two teams play twice more before the season ends.
1. Detroit Red Wings 45-19-9 (1) - Swept the home-and -home series with Nashville. Pavel Datsyuk has done exceptionally well offensively since Detroit lost Henrik Zetterberg. Apparently, Todd Bertuzzi is ready to dress for the Wings next game, but who knows how effective he will be though?
2. Buffalo Sabres 47-19-7 (3) - Still some concern over their weak power play. As long as they keep scoring, though, I don't see it as an issue. The Sabres are the first team to hit the century mark in the standings this season.
3. Nashville Predators 47-21-6 (2) - Five road losses in a row, and they all came against teams that could possibly catch them in the standings. You can add another name to the injury list, by the way. Winger Martin Erat should be gone for the remainder of the regular season.
4. Vancouver Canucks 45-23-6 (6) - They continue to be the best team in the year 2007. Impressive back-to-back home wins over Detroit and Nashville.
5. Anaheim Ducks 43-18-12 (4) - Their recent eight-game homestand has gotten them back on track. The Ducks were 6-1-1 during their homestand, but losses against Columbus and Los Angeles still stand out.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins 41-22-10 (9) - The young guns have gotten within two points of New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. The most improved NHL team this season just keeps getting better by the week.
7. Dallas Stars 44-24-5 (8) - Mike Modano has not only been the team's best player as of late, he also cracked an impressive milestone. With his 503rd goal, Mike Modano broke the record for most career goals by and American-born player.
8. New Jersey Devils 43-22-8 (5) - Never could have imagined their home losing streak would reach five considering how great they have played at home over the past few years. Their latest home loss was a 7-2 blowout by Carolina. The Devils need Patrik Elias and John Madden back as soon as possible.
9. Minnesota Wild 43-24-7 (14) - A team that I once called one of the biggest homers early on, has become one of the ultimate road warriors. They are 15-3-2 on the road in the second half of the season. The Wild have also set a franchise record with their current seven-game winning streak and their franchise best 43rd win this season.
10. San Jose Sharks 45-25-4 (10) - Joe Thornton is playing his best hockey of the year, as no forward has been hotter as of late. Thornton has 10 points in his last four games.
11. Ottawa Senators 43-23-8 (7) - It looks like Ottawa will be stuck with a fourth or fifth seed in the playoffs as their recent shootout and overtime losses have distanced themselves from Buffalo in the race for the Northeast Division crown.
12. Atlanta Thrashers 39-25-10 (12) - Currently riding a seven-game home winning streak. Barring a total collapse, it looks like Atlanta will make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
13. New York Rangers 37-28-9 (17) - Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did a great job at holding the fort for the Rangers while their offense struggled. Now the Rangers have Shanahan back, and ultimately hold their own fate in making the playoffs as they are currently the No. 7 seed in the East.
14. Colorado Avalanche 38-29-6 (16) - The never-say-die Avalanche are 9-0-1 in their past 10 games and are only four points short of a playoff spot. Paul Stastny has done more than enough to help the cause, his NHL rookie record of 20-straight games with at least a point just recently ended.
15. Calgary Flames 38-25-10 (11) - Their road record continues to be the worst in the league. Five of their remaining eight games will be on the road as they try to cling on to the final playoff spot. Their last game of the season is ironically against the Colorado Avalanche. How fitting.
16. Tampa Bay Lightning 40-30-4 (13) - Goaltending is starting to become a problem again. This team is getting closer to securing a playoff spot, and they also still have a shot at winning the Southeastern Conference. They will need help from Atlanta's opponents, though.
17. Carolina Hurricanes 36-29-8 (18) - John Grahame has done a decent job since Cam Ward went down with a laceration on his leg. The Canes are struggling to distance themselves in the playoff race down the stretch. Luckily their remaining schedule is not a very tough one.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs 35-28-10 (21) - Will definitely have to earn their way into the playoffs after the 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal. They will not have any easy games down the stretch. I would be surprised if they play in the postseason.
19. New York Islanders 34-27-11 (15) - Mike Dunham was awful after Rick DiPietro went down in goal with an injury. He gave up 16 goals in three games, as the Isles came up empty on their four-game road trip. Now they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
20. Montreal Canadiens 37-31-6 (20) - Goaltender Jaroslav Halak has finally given Montreal the goaltending it has sorely missed. The rookie netminder played great in crucial wins over Toronto and Boston. Montreal still keeps its playoff hopes alive for the time being.
21. Florida Panthers 31-29-13 (24) - The Panthers continue to try and play spoiler. Their latest victims were the New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers. Captain Ollie Jokinen is heating up, he had a six-point game against the New York Islanders.
22. St. Louis Blues 30-30-12 (22) - The same old story; not much talent left but they continue to make life difficult for the opposition. Teams will have to continue to earn their two points against the Blues down the stretch.
23. Boston Bruins 34-33-5 (19) -They can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. The 7-0 beating they took from the New York Rangers should get them thinking about next season.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets 29-37-7 (25) - Lost all eight games against Nashville this season after a 2-1 loss. They have the worst divisional record this season in the Atlantic with an 8-14-4 record.
25. Los Angeles Kings 25-35-14 (29) - The Kings got swept this season by division rival Dallas after a recent 4-2 loss. At least they don't own the worst record in the Western Conference anymore.
26. Washington Capitals 26-35-13 (27) - They finally ended their nine-game losing skid after an impressive 5-1 win over Toronto. Alexander Semin has broken them right out of their slump with some superb performances during their last two home wins.
27. Chicago Blackhawks 27-37-9 (26) - Life continues to be miserable for the Blackhawks on defense, and Martin Havlat is not doing much on offense.
28. Edmonton Oilers 30-37-7 (23) - At this rate Edmonton will be the worst team in the power rankings by season's end. They have lost 12 in a row, and I am curious to see how this losing skid will end with all the constant injuries they are experiencing.
29. Phoenix Coyotes 28-41-4 (28) - Goaltending has been poor lately. This very young Coyotes' lineup just cannot come through in the close games. Shane Doan continues to play on with the same intensity, however.
30. Philadelphia Flyers 20-43-11 (30) - Martin Biron continues to prove he is a legitimate No. 1 goalie since he got traded to the Flyers. Although the flyers season has been dreadful, they feel some sense of gratitude by sweeping the season series with Atlanta this season.
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