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NHL Power Rankings 12/14

NHL Power Rankings 12/14

NHL Power Rankings
by Joe Paciella

The biggest push up the rankings this week was from the San Jose Sharks, led by ironman goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. The 32-year-old vet has started every game this season, and has the Sharks trying to cut into Detroit's lead for home ice advantage in the playoffs. New Jersey has also been red hot as of late, and as a result are positioning themselves for a division title. Here's a look at the rest of the league…

1. Detroit Red Wings (47 pts.) - The league's best team just keeps rolling along, winning nine of their last 12. They have only lost once in the month of December, due in large part to winger Henrik Zetterberg and his 10 points in the month. If they keep this up, they may clinch a playoff berth by mid-January.

2. Ottawa Senators (43 pts.)
- Ottawa stopped a seven-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak, which they are still in the midst of. Letting up an average of 4.14 regulation goals per game over that seven-game slide was a major factor in their mid-season crash. They seem to have things going in the right direction now, though.

3. San Jose Sharks (38 pts.) - Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has not missed a start this season, and is leading the NHL in wins with 17. He is also has four shutouts to his credit, which ranks him 3rd overall amongst NHL goaltenders. He is a huge reason for the move San Jose made in this week's NHL power rankings. The Sharks will need him to continue this solid play as the season goes on if they are to be considered serious Stanley Cup contenders.

4. New Jersey Devils (37 pts.) - New Jersey is the league's hottest team, winning nine straight before road losses to the Rangers (in overtime) and Washington. They got back on track though with a road win at Boston.

5. Boston Bruins (37 pts.) - Goaltender Tim Thomas has vaulted the Bruins up in the power rankings, thanks to a league-leading .936 save percentage. And really, who didn't see this coming? I mean, with the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics, the city of Boston has a chance for a clean sweep in pro sports.

6. Dallas Stars (38 pts.) - Sergei Zubov, the league's highest scoring defenseman is also only one point shy of the team lead with 30. Zubov is not only helping light the lamp on offense, but his veteran experience is helping the Stars keep the pucks out of their own net. Currently, they rank 11th in the league in goals against per game at 2.56.

7. Vancouver Canucks (37 pts.) - A 9-2-2 November has Vancouver sitting in the third spot in the Western Conference. Goaltender Roberto Luongo also added an exclamation point to the last few games of the month by stopping all 79 shots he faced en-route to three straight shutouts.

8. New York Rangers (35 pts.) - New York is in danger of slipping from the top of the Eastern Conference with only two wins in the month of December thus far. They have allowed almost five goals per game in losses this month, and are coming off a bad overtime loss to the hapless Caps. A few days off and a home game against Phoenix on Sunday is just what the Blue Shirts need.

9. Colorado Avalanche (35 pts.) - The Avs have mustered 12 home wins this season, which is only second to Detroit in that category. So why are they not in the top five of the power rankings? Because of their play on the road: they are 5-10-1 away from home, and have given up 42 goals in their 10 losses.

10. Montreal Canadians (35 pts.)
- Montreal has hit a little skid as of late (3-5-2 in their last 10), but still find themselves in decent position for the postseason. They have an upcoming six-game road trip, but the opponents are questionable for the most part, and they have done well on the road so far this year, going 10-5-1.

11. Carolina Hurricanes (35 pts.) - Going 2-3 on a recent tough five-game road trip was enough for Carolina to hold onto their top spot in the Southeast Division. The Canes may need to, since that division may only get one representative in the postseason the way things are looking now.

12. Philadelphia Flyers (34 pts.) - Philly is 6-3-1 against the Atlantic this season, which is pretty good considering the strength of that division. They will, however, only play one more divisional game before the New Year.

13. Pittsburgh Penguins (32 pts.) - Pittsburgh has been coming on as of late, but a devastating injury to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury could set the Pens back a bit. The shortest amount of time Fleury could be off the ice with an ankle injury would be about six weeks, but could take as long as two months. Fleury had won his last four decisions, and posted a goals against average of 1.0 in those four games.

14. St. Louis Blues (34 pts.) - St. Louis' defense, along with a good home record 10-4-1 has gotten them into a tie for second place in the Central Division. It may be difficult to catch Detroit, though, for the division title, so it's looking like a fourth seed in April may be the best that the Blues can do.

15. Anaheim Ducks (34 pts.) - The Ducks are showing why it's so hard to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Earlier in the season, they had difficulty putting together a sizeable winning streak, and it cost them in the standings. Just recently, though, they have won three out of their last five and could be mounting a charge.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets (34 pts.) - Columbus has had one four-game winning streak and one two-game winning streak this season. All other winning streaks have been of one game. One game winning streaks will not get it done in the NHL.

17. Toronto Maple Leafs (32 pts.) - Toronto is just hovering around that last playoff spot in the East, as they continue to struggle with a lackluster power play (14.2 percent). They have played well on the road this season, and with a seven game road trip coming up, this may be a good opportunity to place a couple of wagers.

18. Minnesota Wild (34 pts.) - The Wild have been awful for hockey bettors playing with the spread - they are 11-19 ATS this year and 3-10 ATS in their last 10. They should not be trusted with any of your money until they show that they can cover a little better than that.

19. Chicago Blackhawks (32 pts.) - Leading the league in short-handed goals is both a blessing and a curse. What it means is that while the Blackhawks can score when killing a penalty (10 short-handed goals on the season), they are also taking too many penalties to give them that opportunity (currently tied for 9th in most times short handed).

20. Buffalo Sabres (29 pts.) - Buffalo has done well of late against the Eastern Conference, winning seven of their last eight games against them. If they can continue this trend, they could get themselves into the playoffs and possibly make a run.

21. Calgary Flames (33 pts.) - It may be a good idea to start checking the schedule to see when the Flames are playing at home. They are currently in the midst of a six-game road trip, but beginning on Dec. 21, Calgary will play 14 out of 21 at the Saddledome where they are only 5-13 ATS this year. Obviously you'd want to take whoever comes out of the visitor's dressing room.

22. Florida Panthers (30 pts.) - Florida has established themselves as a team that should not be looked at as a serious playoff contender, but should definitely be considered when placing bets.

23. New York Islanders (32 pts.) - New York is a much better team at home (10-5-1) than on the road (5-8-1). Consider that when placing your wagers.

24. Edmonton Oilers (32 pts.) - The Oilers will have to improve on their 4-10-1 mark against teams in their own division if they are to make a playoff push. Too bad they didn't play in the Pacific Division, where they hold a 6-1-1 record against those squads.

25. Tampa Bay Lightning (31 pts.) - Tampa Bay has been just as good at home (11 wins) as they have been bad on the road (12 overall losses). The good news for the Lightning is that five of their next seven games will be at the St. Pete Times Forum.

26. Nashville Predators (30 pts.) - A six-game losing streak in October and team ownership talks have really put the Predators at a disadvantage. Having said that, they are only four points out of a playoff spot, and with the ownership deal complete, they can now focus all their attention to playing.

27. Atlanta Thrashers (29 pts.) - Ilya Kovalchuk, the NHL's leading goal scorer, has accounted for 24 of the 83 goals Atlanta has scored this year. That's about 29 percent, and that's pretty good.

28. Washington Capitals (26 pts.)
- Alexander Ovechkin is putting this club on his back and trying to pull them up from the cellar. The Caps have won four of their last five, but with four tough conference games and another against Detroit coming up, they will need an entire team effort to get some victories.

29. Phoenix Coyotes (26 pts.)
- Coyotes winger and points leader Shane Doan is one point ahead of Jaromir Jagr, which is usually a good thing. This year, however, it isn't. Doan has only 23 points, and that puts him tied for 70th place on the league's scoring list. There's no surprise that with this kind of output from their scoring leader, Phoenix as a team sits almost dead last in goals scored and is quickly slipping away from the playoffs.

30. Los Angeles Kings (26 pts.)
- Los Angeles needs to find someone to play defense. They have allowed an NHL-worst 107 goals this season, and things won't get any easier with the high-powered offenses of Colorado and Detroit on their upcoming schedule.

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