NHL Power Rankings (February 23 - March 7)

NHL Power Rankings (February 23 - March 7)

NHL Power Rankings (February 23 - March 7)
by Jason Schwartz - 03/09/2007

No significant changes in the power ranking in this edition. There was lots of action at the trade deadline; the Islanders and Pittsburgh seemed to have gained the most this year. Only time will tell if these deals were worth it in the end. Most of the big trades involved players that were rented out because they are soon to become unrestricted free agents. The race for the Presidents Trophy for best NHL record is really close; Detroit, Anaheim Nashville and Buffalo all have a legitimate shot at winning it. The race for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs is turning into a six-team battle. Apparently the New York Islanders have strengthened their position the most in the playoff race, but I am not sure that they are a shoe-in just yet to make it.

1. Detroit Red Wings 42-16-9 (1) - Detroit seems to be loaded with injuries as of late, the most serious being Henrik Zetterberg. He should be out for another two weeks. Let's see if Detroit can manage to hang on to the No. 1 spot. Hopefully, the newly acquired Todd Bertuzzi will return soon.

2. Nashville Predators 44-18-6 (2) - Ended a pretty decent road trip with a 3-0-2 record. Unfortunately, the shootout losses were against the teams that are chasing them, Detroit and Anaheim.

3. Buffalo Sabres 44-17-5 (3) - Despite their injury troubles, their offense continues to roll along. The minor leaguers they called up have really stepped up and everyone is chipping in.

4. Anaheim Ducks 40-17-11 (5) - The Ducks have finally gotten back on track, it seems, with points in six straight games. Unfortunately, they recently received news that one of their best players, Chris Pronger, will be out with another foot injury.

5. New Jersey 40-19-8 (4) - New Jersey is in a bit of a slump lately. They have lost consecutive games for the first time since January, and have lost three straight at home. They have to cut down on the turnovers and get back to their game.

6. Vancouver Canucks 39-22-5 (8) - They have won eight out of their last 10 but they only hold a two-point lead in the Northwest Division. The addition of center Bryan Smolinski and defenseman Brent Sopel at the trade deadline should help them out a bit offensively.

7. Ottawa Senators 38-23-6 (6) - Have blown third-period leads in three straight games and the most crucial one was in their last game. They blew a 4-1 lead to Pittsburgh to lose their third-straight game.

8. Dallas Stars 38-22-5 (7) - Dallas' offense is a pretty big problem right now as they have seven goals in their last five games. Mike Modano needs to step up and help out in the scoring department.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins 36-21-9 (9) - The Penguins continue to play in close games as they have played in five straight games decided by one goal. Although Sidney Crosby has struggled a bit during game time, he has been the closer come shootout time. The Penguins have won their last seven games that have gone beyond regulation time.

10. San Jose Sharks 40-25-2 (10) - They may have won the Bill Guerin sweepstakes, but they still are struggling back home at the Shark Tank. They have only won one out of their last seven at home. Guerin has not produced a single point since being traded to San Jose.

11. Calgary Flames 36-21-9 (12) - If you can believe it, the Flames just won consecutive road games for the first time this season. The wins were against easy teams though; let's see how they do against Nashville and Dallas.

12. Atlanta Thrashers 35-23-10 (14) - The pickup of Keith Tkachuk adds a great compliment to Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk. He is physical, and he should definitely help their power play. Goaltender Khari Lehtonen has looked really sharp as of late.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning 38-27-4 (11) - They have not played well at all defensively on their current road trip. Their 5-1 loss to Vancouver was one of the worst games I have seen them play this season.

14. Minnesota Wild 36-24-7 (13) - Their great shootout record could not help them against Calgary and Vancouver as they lost both of those divisional games in shootout losses. They remain in third place in the Northwest, but goaltender Manny Fernandez is finally back from injury.

15. New York Islanders 33-23-10 (16) - They made the most noise on trade deadline day. Their biggest trade was picking up Ryan Smyth. Smyth will be a real pain in the butt for opposing goalies as he makes his living setting up in front of opposing goalies and picking up garbage goals. The Islanders have proven they are really serious about making the playoffs this season.

16. Colorado Avalanche 34-29-5 (18) - Just when it looked like Colorado was out of the playoffs, they reel off five straight wins. They are now six points out of the playoffs and Petr Budaj has been fantastic in goal, as the team has tightened up on defense lately.

17. New York Rangers 32-27-7 (22) - Outplayed pretty much all of their opponents during their homestand, but they also blew a bunch of leads on silly turnovers. Their offense continues to miss golden opportunities to put the puck in the net. They are still definitely in the thick of things in the East though.

18. Carolina Hurricanes 33-28-7 (15) - This team is not playing anywhere near the level of last season. I am still waiting for Eric Staal to step up and get on a hot streak as Carolina needs to play some consistent hockey and start proving that last season was no fluke.

19. Boston Bruins 32-29-5 (21) - the Bruins added a couple of defensemen at the trade deadline. Aaron Ward was one of those guys; he should provide them with much needed leadership. Bad news for the Bruins though; leading goal scorer Glen Murray is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

20. Montreal Canadiens 33-29-6 (17) - The ship continues to sink in Montreal as they have lost four of their last five. They are currently out of the playoffs by a point. Goaltender David Aebischer has to start putting together a better performance with Cristobal Huet out for the regular season.

21. Toronto Maple Leafs 32-26-9 (19) - They picked up a good second line centerman in Yanic Perreault at the deadline, plus Darcy Tucker is back in the lineup. Unfortunately, offensive defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be out for at least a month after taking a controversial head shot from New Jersey's Cam Janssen.

22. St .Louis Blues 28-28-10 (20) - As expected, the Blues traded their top veterans. They got even weaker after they learned goaltender Manny Legace will be out the remainder of the season. I would be very surprised if the Blues finished the season with a record of .500 or better.

23. Edmonton Oilers 30-31-6 (23) - The biggest shocker of the trade deadline was the trade of the team's heart and soul, Ryan Smyth. Since that trade, the Oilers have not played with much energy. They have currently lost five straight games (four at home).

24. Florida Panthers 27-27-13 (26) - As expected, Florida is playing the spoiler role. Despite trading away Todd Bertuzzi and Gary Roberts, the team does not seem to be affected. Their playoff hopes are not completely dead yet, they are only six points out.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets 27-33-7 (29) - Have had a couple of impressive road performances, most notably a 3-2 shootout win over Dallas. Rick Nash has been playing exceptionally well the last few games.

26. Chicago Blackhawks 25-33-9 (24) - The loss of centerman Bryan Smolinski makes them even weaker on offense. Martin Havlat has cooled down the last couple of games (one goal in his last seven games) despite Chicago winning two straight at home.

27. Washington Capitals 24-31-12 (27) - They continue to struggle in the second half of the season. The trade of first line forward Dainius Zubrus will only weaken the Caps' offense. They have one win in their last 11 games.

28. Phoenix Coyotes 27-36-3 (25) - The Coyotes cleaned house with their forwards at the trade deadline, and will probably struggle the rest of the season. They will have lots of minor leaguers in their lineup trying to prove themselves.

29. Los Angeles Kings 22-34-11 (28) - The Kings traded away their fearless Captain Mattias Norstrom at the deadline, making their defensive unit even weaker. This team will have to rely on their offense the rest of the way to get wins, even with Anze Kopitar currently injured.

30. Philadelphia Flyers 18-37-11 (30) - The Flyers finally picked up a decent starting goaltender by acquiring Martin Biron. They have actually been playing decently lately, and even got their first win of the season over New Jersey. This team is not exactly an automatic victory as of late when betting against them.

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