NHL Power Rankings
by Joe Paciella - 02/22/2008
In this week's NHL power rankings, Detroit wobbles, Ottawa skids, Philly crashes and the Isles surge. Let's take a look at the rest of the league…
1. Detroit Red Wings (89 pts.) - Even with a rocky stretch for Detroit, and Dallas winning just about every game they play, it still seems like a safe bet that the Red Wings will be the No. 1 seed in the West come playoff time. Those losses to Los Angeles and Columbus during that six-game slide may have some people backing off of their Stanley Cup futures bets for this club.
2. Dallas Stars (79 pts.) - Could this Stars team actually end up having the best season of any professional sports franchise in the city this year? Thanks to Mike Ribeiro and his stellar shooting percentage (27.9 percent), Dallas is the second highest scoring team in the conference.
3. New Jersey Devils (75 pts.) - It's looking like the Devils are settling in for a race down to the wire for home ice in the Eastern Conference with Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Montreal. New Jersey has the hard road to travel, though; with 21 games remaining, 10 of them are against teams from the tough Atlantic Division.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (75 pts.) - Evgeni Malkin has shot up the League's point scorer's list to the top spot, and as a result the Penguins are actually fighting for the lead in the East. Not many would have thought that was possible after Sidney Crosby went down with an ankle injury.
5. Montreal Canadians (75 pts.) - A sweep of a home-and-home with Philly and a comeback for the ages over the Rangers has gotten Montreal into a great spot in the playoff race. They have three more meetings with Ottawa, which could end up deciding home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
6. Anaheim Ducks (75 pts.) - The Ducks turned around a road trip that was starting to look bleak, closing it out with five-straight wins. This showed toughness, and could be a confidence builder with the playoffs approaching.
7. Ottawa Senators (76 pts.) - The once mighty Senators are now looking dangerously close to losing home ice in the Eastern Conference and potentially dropping all the way down the fifth or even sixth seed.
8. Minnesota Wild (73 pts.) - The Northwest Division is better than the Southeast, but not by much. Minnesota has recently been doing just enough to stay on top of Vancouver and Calgary, and thus would be the No. 3 seed if the playoffs started today.
9. Nashville Predators (72 pts.) - The Predators have been mounting somewhat of a charge in the month of February. They are 6-2-3 in the month and right now sit in the sixth spot of the Western Conference. A six-game road trip in early March with games against Dallas and Detroit will be good tests to see if this offensive-minded team is for real.
10. San Jose Sharks (72 pts.) - San Jose needed to finish up their February homestand in strong fashion. Instead, they lost their last two in the Shark Tank, and aren't finding it any easier on the East Coast.
11. Calgary Flames (70 pts.) - Jarome Iginla (tied for 4th in overall in scoring) is doing just about all he can to keep his Flames in playoff contention, but they will need more from the defensemen and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, as they are currently tied for 10th worst in goals against.
12. Buffalo Sabres (68 pts.) - There's only one team in the East that doesn't have double-digit losses at home this year. That team is, surprisingly enough, Buffalo. This is especially important for the Sabres since they finish up the season with 13 out of their last 21 at home.
13. New York Rangers (68 pts.) - The Blue Shirts missed a golden opportunity to put away a Montreal team that is now just one point behind Ottawa for the lead in the East, as they squandered a 5-0 lead beginning in the second period of Tuesday's game. That loss was not a good sign for a defensive-minded team, such as these Rangers.
14. Vancouver Canucks (70 pts.) - Goaltender Roberto Luongo has not recorded a shutout since Jan. 3, yet he still ranks 4th overall in that category in the league. He did his best work fairly early on in the season, and it's showing as the Canucks find themselves almost out of a playoff spot.
15. Boston Bruins (68 pts.) - Goaltender Tim Thomas is trying to keep hope alive for Boston fans. His .923 save percentage ranks him second in the league, and he's currently 14th in goals against average. We all know what a hot goaltender can do, but these Bruins will need more scoring if they want to advance in the playoffs.
16. New York Islanders (67 pts.) - Don't let a six-game winning streak fool you. Even though the Isles are only one point out of the final playoff spot it doesn't qualify them as a team that you can make some money on. They are a dismal -1189 on the money line this year.
17. Carolina Hurricanes (67 pts.) - Even though the Hurricanes have a slim lead in the Southeast, their success or failure will most likely come down to the final eight games of the season. All of those matchups will be against divisional foes.
18. Phoenix Coyotes (66 pts.) - Can it really be? Are these the same Coyotes that most people picked to finish by the bottom of the Western Conference? They could make the postseason, but with a possible playoff matchup against Detroit, the dream will most likely end there.
19. St. Louis Blues (65 pts.) - The Blues just won't give up this season. They have won four of their last six and sit just five points out of their last playoff spot. St. Louis has been pretty good at home, with a record of 18-10-5 on the year, but they spend most of the month of March living out of a suitcase, and this is what could finally end their playoff hopes.
20. Atlanta Thrashers (62 pts.) - The Southeast Division is starting to resemble the NBA's Eastern Conference. They sit in 12th place, but if they beat Carolina, who is only five points ahead for the division, they would get the No. 3 seed. Crazy.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets (65 pts.) - The Blue Jackets are finding it very tough to score, as they rank at the very bottom of the league in goals for. In fact, in their last 11 losses, they have only averaged about a goal and a half per game.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (66 pts.) - Philly has hit a cold snap in their season, losers of nine in a row and as a result have taken a giant fall in the power rankings. And now, with the news of Peter Forsberg not likely to play for the Flyers this year, a once-promising season is now showing signs of many other disappointing ones for the people of Philadelphia.
23. Colorado Avalanche (66 pts.) - How can a team score nine goals in two wins, then five goals in five losses? Well, start by scoring a power play goal when you need to. The Avs went 0-22 with the man advantage in the five games they dropped.
24. Washington Capitals (63 pts.) - It's not just Alexander Ovechkin that's keeping the Capitals in the playoff hunt. Center Nicklas Backstrom is showing he can help out, as he is second in points for all NHL rookies.
25. Chicago Blackhawks (62 pts.) - Chicago's power play has been horrendous in the month of February. Out of 42 chances, they've only had four goals.
26. Florida Panthers (61 pts.) - Richard Zednik is out of the hospital, and that's the biggest and most important story around the Panthers this week and possibly this year.
27. Edmonton Oilers (59 pts.) - Edmonton can officially be written off from playoff contention in 2008. They are 11 points back of the last spot, and with many games still left against tough Northwest Divisional teams, they won't be able to make up that much ground.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (59 pts.) - Toronto's penalty kill is near the bottom of the league, which is in turn why their total goals against are near the bottom of the league, which in turn is why they are near the bottom of the league.
29. Tampa Bay Lightning (57 pts.) - The only suspense left in Tampa Bay's season is if Vincent Lecavalier will win the scoring title. The eight-year vet is currently in 3rd place, just five points behind Evgeni Malkin for first.
30. Los Angeles Kings (55 pts.) - The Kings have given up fewer than three goals only three times in February. Despite that fact, they still have been able to pick up 10 points in the month thus far.