NHL Power Rankings
by Joe Paciella - 01/25/2008
As we hit the All-Star break, the Red Wings are still rolling, the Senators still top the East, and the Kings, well, they're not good. Here's how the rest of the NHL stands as we take a few days off to fire pucks at targets and skate in between parking cones…
1. Detroit Red Wings (78 pts.) - Wing's goaltender Chris Osgood has the fewest losses in the league (three) of any regular netminder. He's played 26 games this year and that's just one of the reasons why the Detroit machine is dominating.
2. Ottawa Senators (66 pts.) - Ottawa has looked almost bad as of late, dropping five out of their last seven. This could be due in large part to a power play that may have been confiscated while crossing the Canadian border. In their last six losses they have only mustered one power play goal in 17 chances.
3. San Jose Sharks (61 pts.) - Evgeni Nabokov has been playing well over the course of the season, as he leads the NHL in wins (27). However, the Shark's netminder has been peppered for an average of five goals over his last three losses, putting San Jose in a tie atop of the Pacific Division.
4. Montreal Canadians (60 pts.) - It may come as a surprise that the team that has compiled the most points on the road out of the Eastern Conference is, no, not the New York Giants…the Canadians have an impressive 17-7-3 mark away from home, and we know how a good road team can fare in the postseason in any sport (see above NFL team).
5. Philadelphia Flyers (59 pts.) - The Philadelphia power play is as hot as the gym where Rocky used to train. Since Dec. 1, they have only been blanked with the man advantage four times, and tallied more than one power play goal in 10 of the other 20 games.
6. Dallas Stars (61 pts.) - Fending off San Jose for the Pacific Division title is very important for Dallas for one big reason. By beating out the Sharks, they get the two or three seed (let's be serious, they won't catch Detroit). This means they wouldn't have to face the Red Wings until the Western Conference Finals. Right now, they have the same number of points, but the Sharks have four games at hand.
7. Anaheim Ducks (60 pts.) - This Ducks team (6-3-1 in their last 10) is starting to show why they were slotted as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup prior to the season. They're currently in fifth place in the Western Conference and only one point from tying Dallas and San Jose for the division lead and a No. 2 seed.
8. New Jersey Devils (59 pts.) - Defense is the name of the game in Jersey these days. Martin Brodeur is doing his part, tied for fifth in the league in goals-against average and tied for seventh in save percentage. As a result, the Devils are the staunchest defenders in the Eastern Conference, and we know how that plays out come playoff time.
9. Minnesota Wild (59 pts.) - A big road win at Colorado has vaulted the Wild into the Northwest Division lead for the moment. In this convoluted division race, good play every night is required.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (58 pts.) - The big news out of the Steel City this week is that Sid the Kid will miss significant time with a high ankle sprain. The prognosis is for Crosby to be out six to eight weeks, which means that center Evgeni Malkin will have to come up big if the Pens want to stay in the top half of the Eastern Conference.
11. Calgary Flames (58 pts.) - Jerome Iginla and his Calgary Flames are right on the heels of Minnesota and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. He will put that quest on the back burner for a weekend though, as he gets the nod to captain the West in the All-Star Game.
12. Colorado Avalanche (56 pts.) - The Avs sit in fourth place in the Northwest, but could just as easily be tied for the lead if they could have knocked off Minnesota. They play a fair amount of games on the road after the break, and will have to improve on their 9-12-3 road mark if they are to compete down the stretch.
13. Vancouver Canucks (57 pts.) - A recent rash of losses for the Canucks has dropped them into third place in the Northwest Division. They will have to win the close ones (their last nine have been decided by two goals or less, where they are 3-5-1) if they are going to mount a serious charge the rest of the way.
14. Boston Bruins (55 pts.) - Only nine goaltenders have made more saves this season than Tim Thomas, and no one has a better save percentage. The Bruin's netminder is keeping another Boston team in playoff contention, as they currently sit in the No. 7 spot in the East.
15. Nashville Predators (55 pts.) - The Predators have been slicing into the point deficit for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs due in large part to keeping the puck out of their own net. They have only given up more than three goals four times in their last 18 games and currently sit just one point out of the last spot.
16. Washington Capitals (51 pts.) - With the way Washington began the season no one would have thought that they could have made a playoff run. But here they are. They've only lost three times in the New Year and they're doing it in tight games. All but one have been decided by two goals or less in those 11 games.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets (56 pts.) - Oh to be a sports fan in the great state of Ohio, suffering with the Cavs, Indians, Browns, Buckeyes and now the Blue Jackets. For moments, this team looked like they could make a run at a postseason berth. But an upcoming tough stretch on the road may be what finally does in this team from the Buckeye state. They have just nine wins away from home this year.
18. Phoenix Coyotes (54 pts.) - The Coyotes are getting closer to that eighth and final playoff spot, but their next nine games are brutal. They play two each against Columbus and Nashville, two teams they are chasing and then others against Colorado, Calgary, Dallas (twice) and the mighty Red Wings. Have fun with that.
19. New York Rangers (54 pts.) - King Henrik is not looking like himself lately. In his defense, when he is on, he's on, ranking 2nd in the league with seven shutouts. However the other games, he's not so good. In January, his goals against average has ballooned up to 2.51, which won't get it done for a team that scores less than the San Francisco 49ers.
20. New York Islanders (54 pts.) - For all of the positive things being said about Rick DiPietro, one may think that he's leading the league in wins or goals against. Not even close. He's in the bottom half of the league in goals against and has only won three times in the month.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (52 pts.) - Carolina currently has 52 points this season and is leading the Southeast Division. They have to consider themselves fortunate though; if playoff berths were based on points alone, they would miss the postseason.
22. Edmonton Oilers (51 pts.) - Eight losses in October are still haunting this team. Winning even just three of those games would have given Edmonton another six points and put them right in playoff contention.
23. Florida Panthers (49 pts.) - The Panthers have only scored 12 power play goals since Dec. 1. Making teams pay when they take penalties is a factor that separates good teams from mediocre teams. Florida is a mediocre team at best.
24. St. Louis Blues (51 pts.) - Momentum is certainly not on the Blues side. They head into the break losers of seven in a row.
25. Atlanta Thrashers (50 pts.) - It's hard to believe that a team this far down in the power rankings is still competing for the Southeastern Division title, but they are. If the Thrashers are to do it, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa will need to get some help scoring. Between them, they have accounted for over 40 percent of the team's goals.
26. Chicago Blackhawks (50 pts.) - Chicago may have a glimmer of hope for the future. Their No. 1 pick (chosen first overall) Patrick Kane is not only leading all NHL rookies in scoring, but is also leading the team in the same category. Kane's youth means they can build around him later on; he can't legally have a beer until November of 2009.
27. Buffalo Sabres (48 pts.) - The Sabres can't buy a win. They have lost 12 out of their last 14, and have games coming up against Boston, New Jersey and Ottawa.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning (45 pts.) - Center Vincent Lecavalier is yet again the headline from this Tampa Bay squad. The NHL's second leading scorer will captain the Eastern Conference All-Star team when they take on the West in Atlanta on Jan. 27.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (48 pts.) - Their rehiring of GM Cliff Fletcher should put the Maple Leafs back into the last spot on the power rankings, but there is still a team in Los Angeles.
30. Los Angeles Kings (42 pts.) - Winning 20 games is great if you are a pitcher. It's also good if you're a hockey team and it's, say, December. Heading into the All-Star break just notching your 20th win is just awful.