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NHL Power Rankings

NHL Power Rankings

NHL Power Rankings
by Joe Paciella

The Washington Capitals have been a big mover recently. Coming off a huge win at Philly, the Caps surged to the top of the Southeast Division and sit atop a heap of sub-par NHL teams. However you slice it though, it would get them in the playoffs. Let's take a look at the rest…

1. Detroit Red Wings (86 pts.)
- Could the Patriot's loss to the Giants have any impact on the mental preparation of this Detroit team come playoff time? For a team that has led the league in points for the regular season five times since the '94-95 season, they only took home a Cup in one of those seasons. Maybe this is the wakeup call they needed.

2. Ottawa Senators (70 pts.)
- What's going on with the Sens? Apparently, it's scoring. In their last 10 wins, they are averaging over 4.5 goals per game. However, they are averaging just a shade over a goal and a half per game in their last eight losses.

3. Dallas Stars (71 pts.) - Why is Dallas climbing up the standings? Look no further than the league's top penalty kill, as the Stars have only given up 10 power play goals since late December.

4. Philadelphia Flyers (65 pts.) - Things have been going well for the Flyers recently. They have only lost four times in regulation since the New Year, and have been scoring a ton. Since Jan. 1. Philly has tallied at least three goals in all but two games.

5. Montreal Canadians (67 pts.) - Don't look now, but the Canadians are challenging the Senators for the top spot in the East. A lead that once looked insurmountable is now being surmounted. After giving up two third-period goals to Ottawa on Tuesday, Montreal held on for the big win. Saturday's game in the capital of Canada will be even bigger.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (65 pts.) - Pittsburgh has been holding its own without their injured star, Sidney Crosby. They are 4-2-2 (before Thursday) so far without their top center, who is still actually ranked 11th in points.

7. San Jose Sharks (65 pts.)
- Thus far, San Jose has the fewest regulation road losses in the league this year. The Sharks will need this road toughness in the second half of February, though, as they embark on an eight-game stretch outside of the Pacific time zone.

8. Anaheim Ducks (65 pts.)
- The Ducks won eight of nine and everyone thought they were starting to turn it around, but then they lost six in a row and now are faced with the possibility of going to Dallas, or even worse Detroit for an opening round playoff matchup. I guess that's why they are -1285 on the money line this season.

9. Minnesota Wild (64 pts.) - The Wild have done well to hold onto the top spot in the Northwest Division, with only three regulation losses in their last 10 games. They also don't have to worry about the Minnesota curse of losing a big name (i.e. Randy Moss, Johan Santana or Kevin Garnett), since they don't have one.

10. New Jersey Devils (64 pts.) - New Jersey is 30-20-4, but they have done it with only one winning streak of more than three games the whole season. This means that their losing streaks are also not long ones, and they could be a tough out in the playoffs.

11. Nashville Predators (62 pts.) - The good news for the Predators? They are in second place in their division. The bad? They are chasing Detroit. More good news is that they are currently in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. More bad news is that they have six teams chasing them within seven points.

12. Boston Bruins (59 pts.) - Boston had a good month of January, going 8-3-1, but dropped the first two of February. At their current pace, they should be able to make the playoffs, mostly due to the quality of the teams that are chasing them. Buffalo or the second place team from the Southeast are the only squads that they need to worry about overtaking that No. 8 and final spot from them.

13. Colorado Avalanche (63 pts.) - Colorado needs some positive thinking at this point. They could sit there look at the fact that just two points separate them from missing the playoffs, or they can get some positive energy going and focus on the fact that they are just one point out of the three seed in the West.

14. New York Rangers (60 pts.) - Aside from the bad loss to Los Angeles, the Rangers are looking better in February. They have wins at Philadelphia, New Jersey and Montreal and have won five of their last eight. And even though they are in fourth in the Atlantic Division, they are only five points behind leader Philly and Pittsburgh and four behind Jersey.

15. Calgary Flames (62 pts.)
- At first glance, Calgary looks like a team that you can make some cash on, since they have the 12th overall offense in the league and can beat some good teams. But don't get burnt by these Flames…upon further review, they are -1343 on the money line this season.

16. Washington Capitals (57 pts.) - With Sid the Kid sidelined for a while, Alexander Ovechkin is stepping into the limelight. He currently leads the NHL in points and goals, and has 18 points over his last 10 games. No wonder the Caps are charging hard for a playoff berth, and now actually lead the Southeast.

17. Phoenix Coyotes (60 pts.) - Phoenix is one of the more surprising teams this year. Currently, they are just two points out of the final playoff spot, and their mid-season move after a sluggish start has them a favorite of the betting world. They were +841 on the money line this season before dropping one to Columbus.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets (59 pts.)
- Columbus will play nine of their next 12 on the road. This is a problem for the Blue Jackets, since they have the second fewest wins away from home in the conference.

19. Vancouver Canucks (61 pts.) - It looks as if the season may be unraveling for Vancouver. They have only won two games in their last 10, and have fallen into fourth place in the Northwest Division. In a divisional race that is that close, cold snaps such as this one could be something they cannot recover from.

20. Buffalo Sabres (57 pts.) - I recently wrote the Sabres off, but they are not going down without a fight. They have a total of 11 points in their last six games, and are trying to sneak into the playoffs over the Bruins.

21. Carolina Hurricanes (56 pts.) - Does anyone want to win the Southeast? It doesn't seem as if Carolina does. The Canes were lucky to get some points during a rather soft spot in their schedule, but they face some tough opponents in February, including two against division rival Washington.

22. Florida Panthers (55 pts.) - It says something about the depth (or lack there of) of the Southeast Division that Florida is only two points out of the top spot. They are just one good week and a solid finish away from getting in as the No. 3 seed. But if they do, they will get smoked in the first round, much like Atlanta did last year against the Rangers.

23. Edmonton Oilers (55 pts.) - Edmonton is far from the best defensive team in the league, and with only two players in the top 50 point scorers in the league (Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky), they have found it tough to make any sort of playoff push.

24. Atlanta Thrashers (56 pts.) - One would think that after suffering a five-game losing streak and only having 56 points at this juncture in the season, a team could pretty much start making plans for an early April vacation. That is usually the case, but not in the crazy Southeast Division, where Atlanta, even though they have only won three of their last 10, sit just two points out of the top spot in the division.

25. Chicago Blackhawks (53 pts.) - Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin just won his first game since the day after Christmas. In that losing streak, he gave up almost four goals per game.

26. New York Islanders (54 pts.) - The Islanders have been pretty bad as of late, dropping eight of their last nine. At one time, this team was a short winning streak away from challenging for the top spot in the Atlantic. Now, their one short losing streak away from challenging Tampa Bay for the fewest points in the East.

27. St. Louis Blues (55 pts.) - Why is St. Louis near the bottom of the West? Well, they have the fewest goals for in their conference for starters, and their leading scorer, Paul Kariya, is tied for 42nd on the league's scoring list.

28. Toronto Maple Leafs (53 pts.) - The Leafs have 29 points at home, as compared to 24 on the road. Six out of their next seven are in Toronto. They have a chance here, but will need to win just about all of them to make a post-all star break charge.

29. Tampa Bay Lightning (51 pts.) - The Lightning's next four opponents: Atlanta, Montreal, Philly and Washington. They are a combined 38-21-11 against teams from the Southeast. Tampa Bay is the division's worst team, and to top it off they are -1421 on the moneyline this season. Here are four no-brainer wagers.

30. Los Angeles Kings (42 pts.) - At least this city still has the Lakers.

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