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Monday, 25 March 2013 19:02

NHL Power Rankings

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[caption id="attachment_59150" align="alignnone" width="620"]The Minnesota Wild are streaking and are looking to earn a playoff berth. The Minnesota Wild are streaking and are looking to earn a playoff berth.[/caption]  It's time once again for NHL Power Rankings. Let's go!  1. Blackhawks: You thought these guys might get unseated this week, didn't you? Well, not so fast. The Hawks have to remain at the top. They've been the most consistent team in the league almost every week if not every game. Part of that success has to be attributed to their depth. Each line they have plays with a purpose. They lost their last game, but the Blackhawks are a team that hasn't lost much. Watch for them to tighten up in their next matchup. 2.Penguins: The Penguins have been playing solid hockey. The addition of Mark Eaton make me think that Ray Shero has a time machine and he's sent this team back to 2008 or 2009. That's not really the case. What Shero has done is added depth to the roster. He just traded for left wing Brenden Morrow of the Dallas Stars and defenseman Douglas Murray of the San Jose Sharks. The Penguins are taking a game at a time, but Shero is looking at the playoffs. 3. Ducks: The Ducks are getting more than just their top feathers wet right now. For some reason this team cannot handle the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings just finished up a season sweep of the Ducks yesterday. Aside from that matchup, the Ducks are still a tough team in the West. I'm sure they are glad that Detroit will be moving East next year. Watch for a nasty edge from this team in their next game. They need to get back in the air, so to speak. 4. Canadiens: The Habs are a very good team. Much like their Eastern Conference competitors, they haven't had many losses in a row. They have been resilient all season. I fully expect them to give the Bruins hell in their next matchup. Also, much like their top competition, they've managed to have a very good record over their last ten games. Watch for the Habs to try and get a hold of a few difference makers for the playoffs this week. 5. Bruins: The Bruins and Canadiens are nearly neck and neck right now in the Eastern Conference standings. They are definitely neck and neck in their division. The Bruins are going to be going full tilt in the trade market to try and acquire a bit of scoring and possibly some leadership. There is certainly no lack of either for the team, but they need more consistency on those areas. Peter Chiarelli and Ray Shero have been busy. Chiarelli just has yet to make a move. It'll happen soon. 6. Canucks: Similarly to the Ducks, the Canucks just can't seem to beat the Detroit Red Wings. Having said that, they have had no problem with anyone else recently. The Sedin brothers are starting to put it together and Mason Raymond looks more and more like a top free agent this summer. Don't lose sight of Corey Schneider's stellar play lately. Without that goaltending, this is a team that has some weaknesses. They will be a toss up at the trade deadline. 7. Senators: If I told you that the Senators would lose nearly every important player to their team and still be in the playoff hunt you'd call me a liar. I don't blame you for that, but I'd be right. The Senators aren't making it look easy but they are hanging tough. Every game they give up a ton of shots but Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop stop plenty of them. I don't know how much they are willing to spend in order to have a shot, but this team could really be a fringe playoff team. 8. Wild: The Wild are running---well---wild. They are on a five game winning streak and appear to have figured out some things. Earlier in the season they were struggling to score goals. Now, they have been doing a better job offensively as well as defensively. This is a playoff team right now. The question is, how far can they go? That remains to be seen. I do like their depth. Mike Rupp, Cal Clutterbuck. Matt Cullen and Deven Setoguchi are performing well. Look out for Minnesota. 9. Red Wings: This is a well coached team. This is a solid veteran team. You don't need their name to be next to the blurb to have any idea who I'm referring to. I'ts the Red Wings. They have started to pick up the pace. Scoring and solid defense are at times a bit spotty but Jimmy Howard has performed well without either. I'm not sure what the Red Wings will target at the deadline, but they don't need too much. Just watch them from now on. Don't take you eyes off them. 10. Maple Leafs: I'm waiting for this team to fall off. I'm waiting for them to lose hope. They are good, but not good enough. There are plenty of talented players on the Maple Leafs roster but they can go from the highest high to the lowest low in a matter of minutes during a game. I don't see them passing Boston or Montreal, but I can imagine them sliding into the playoffs. I could also see them being passed. 11. Devils: Martin Brodeur is amazing. He scored a goal this week. It wasn't spectacular but he was credited with it. With his help, the Devils may have a shot at the playoffs. A problem has arisen though. The Devils just lost Ilya Kovalchuk for the next few weeks. He hurt his shoulder in their last game. Fortunately for the Devils, if they can somehow get into the playoffs, he will be back in time for them. No easy task. New Jersey is no ordinary team either. 12. Blues: The Blues may want to put Alex Steen back on injured reserve. Since he has returned, he hasn't played poorly, but the team hasn't been the same. Despite that, the Blues are certainly making their mark in the Western Conference. I do feel they made a tremendous mistake though. They have been scratching their hottest goaltender, Jake Allen. I don't like the move. They need to move Brian Elliot, and they need to do it quickly. 13. Jets: The Jets need to keep their wits about them. The Capitals are trying to make a push. I don't know how successful that push could be, but they're trying. The Hurricanes are no slouch either. In fact, the Canes are their biggest competition. The Jets can do away with both over the next couple weeks though. They need to keep getting secondary scoring and stay consistent on their penalty kill. 14. Kings: I'm not sure what to make of the Kings right now. They look mediocre. I feel they losy something when they traded Simon Gagne to Philadelphia. Gagne wasn't the same player but his on ice demeanor may be missed. Something else that is missing is the dead cold play of Jonathan Quick. All season he has been an issue. He isn't the only problem but watch for Los Angeles to give Jonathan Bernier some more looks. 15. Stars: The Stars just moved their captain to Pittsburgh for highly touted defensive prospect Joe Morrow and a fifth round pick. The Stars haven't been playing too badly over their last slate of games, but the leadership factor may go down a bit now for them. The good news is that Joe Morrow is just about NHL ready. He has a cannon shot and is a power play quarterback. He is going to be a literal star in Dallas. Keep an eye on this team to possibly move Jaromir Jagr. Jamie Benn can't seem t keep linemates for some reason. 16. Rangers: The Rangers are on the outskirts of a playoff spot. Right now, they are in. That could change. There are plenty of teams that have been playing as well or better in the conference. Since they are where they are, there is speculation that coach John Tortorella could be fired this summer if they fail to get into the postseason. There is always a chance he could be fired if they get in and fail to advance as well. Watch for this team to try and fight for a spot. 17. Predators: Right now the Predators are probably buyers at the deadline. However, because there are a number of days until the actual deadline day, they could shy away from that. I don't see them doing much in the postseason if they get in. They lack a lot of different elements. Coaching isn't one of them. Scoring depth and goalie depth are. No team can manage to win when it counts without having some improvement in those areas. Watch for Nashville to put up or shutup. 18. Hurricanes: This season has been one of excitement for a lot of teams. For the Hurricanes it has been one of ups and downs. They play hard. They earn your respect. They don't win a lot of games. That is a problem. Yet, the Canes aren't out of any races. They can get into the playoffs. They just need to move now. The Jets are even keel and Washington is fighting windmills. Watch for Carolina to tweak their roster soon. They need to go all in. 19. Sharks: San Jose just traded one of it's most physical defenseman to the Penguins. That won't take much though from this team. They need more than anything to buckle down and rely on their base talent. It appears that major changes are coming for this team, but they don't have to be. With a few wins the Sharks could be back in the hunt. They have done plenty of winning earlier this year. Veteran players needs to step up to make a late push. 20. Blue Jackets: I don't know if the Blue Jackets can make the postseason. Years of failure have me almost completely assured they won't. I wouldn't mind seeing it though. They have played far better than their talent gets credit for. They sit afew spots away from legitimately making waves but don't count on them to let that keep them from trying. They may be one thing this year and that is buyers at the deadline. I'm not totally sold on that, but it could be possible. 21. Capitals: The Washinton Capitals are showing signs of a team that has dignity, if nothing else. They don't want to bow out this year without trying. As admirable as that is, they are also looking stupid doing it. They need a lot of work. The best way to remedy their problems is through the draft. They can't get high end talent without good seeding. That's a fact. They'll probably keep fighting at the risk of losing out on some very good prospects. 22. Sabres: This is a bad team. We can agree on that right? Despite being awful the Sabres do have a core of talent that can win soon. They need to figure out some coaching details and some front offcie foolishness has to stop. If the ownership has a brain it will fire their front office soon and wait to sell off certain pieces until the draft. Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek need to remain untouchable. This is a team out to mess up playoff seeding and play for pride. That's about it. 23. Islanders: Out of all the Atlantic Division teams, the Isles are the team that confuses me most. They have a wonderful array of young talent and despite not much goaltending still get chances to win games. The coaching is the problem. There is no sense of power from their bench boss. Because of that, the Islanders will most likely be picking near the top at the draft. Aside from that, they can hurt some teams shot at the playoffs along the way. 24. Coyotes: Phoenix has it's issues. Young talent is starting to show but they are going to probably end up moving some veteran talent in the next few days. The potential that once looked there for this team is not showing up right now. They've struggled recently and will most likely miss the playoffs. They can take some solace in their home record. It's good to see they have played well in front of their desert crowd. 25. Oilers: The Oilers are now where I anticipated they would be. This is a team that isn't built to win yet. They show flashes but ultimately, the playoffs are a mirage if anything at all. There is a need for shutdown defense on this team. Their goal differential is telling enough in that area. I don't think we will see much from this team at the trade deadline. Maybe they move an aging winger. That is not guaranteed. 26. Flames: Jarome Iginla just produced a list of teams he would waive his no trade clause for. Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles were the teams. The singular focus for General Manager Jay Feaster is making sure that he gets to one of those teams this week. He has to get it done. No excuses. There is a desire for him in all four places and the Flames aren't headed anywhere despite a valiant effort. Do your job Feaster. Help your team rebuild. 27. Flyers: It's a mess in Philadelphia. I don't truly know if their will be a coaching change or not. I doubt you can blame Peter Laviolette for not playing well defensively or for not being able to score. You could blame Paul Holmgren. He built the team. He doesn't play the games though. I expect to see the same familiar faces going forward. There may be a few changes for this team but they'll probably be minimal. 28. Lighting: I never thought I would have to say it. Guy Boucher was fired. The Lightning weren't going to fire General Manager Steve Yzerman though. They should have. Yzerman has been responsible for only a few changes while Boucher put a system in place that had the team in the postseason. They needed to be a more lockdown team and maybe add depth. Now, they will not make the postseason. Tough luck for Boucher. He won't be unemployed too long. 29. Avalanche: The young Avalanche will be better off next year. They need a lot of work to get into the playoffs next year. They'll start getting ready for draft day soon. Still, it's good to see some of the things their team did this season. They beat Chicago when almost no other team could. They brought back Ryan O'Reilly for the time being. They have some core strengths starting to show. Not all negatives for this team. 30. For the Panther, there isn't much to say. They are awful. I've made that comment about several teams this season, but they fit the bill more than any other. I don't want to hammer on them too much, but I'm pretty sure they forced Alex Kovalev to retire. He may have stuck around if they gave him a reason to. This is probably going to be the team with the biggest decision on draft day. Big, but not too tough. What'll it be Florida? Jones? MacKinnon? Drouin? Take your pick! That's all for now. Watch out for plenty of trade deadline moves to manifest themselves very, very soon! Enjoy the rest of the regular season. See you soon!