Thursday, March 6, 2008

Power Rankings! Stretch Run Edition

1) When we last did these it was at the All star break a month ago. It seems longer with all the recent changes. As always we will order each team according to its current 'Power' standing using its over all record and highly factoring in its recent month trend to get there. Last months placement is in parentheses

1 Anaheim Duck-(7)The defending champs have been looking like the team to beat. With the roster finally set with the addition of Selanne(Who didn't seem to lose a step) the Ducks look very much the power house team they were last season. If they can remain healthy they will be our playoff favourites. Right now they are our top seed in this poll!

2 San Jose Shark-(3) Move up 1 slot.If not for the Ducks much improved play they'd be on top. The addition of Campbell seems to have been the missing link the franchise has needed. Cheechoo seems reborn the second half, and with Nabby providing top notch tending, they are most definitely a Cup threat

3 Dallas Star-(10) Back to the top slot in their incredibly competitive division. The addition of Brad Richards has paid immediate dividends. If Modano, Turco and friends can maintain their nice even distribution of road and home records, they can not be discounted as a Cup candidate. Certainly we're sure Marty would like to shake the whispers that he's not a good/clutch playoff goalie

4 NJ Devils-(9) Marty not only deserved his All-star starting selection he should now be getting Hart attention. Along with Zac Parise, Brodeur has helped move the Devils into contention not only for the Atlantic, but also for the East itself, playing almost all their games, in the top in all goalie categories and second only to Nabokov in wins. If the Devils win the Eastern Conference he will be our choice as Vezina AND Hart!

5 Calgary Flame-(8) In a virtual tie for the division with the Wild. The Flames continue to play well both at home and away from the Saddledome. Jerome Iginla continues to have a solid season, leading the way. Meanwhile Dion Phaneuf with his big extension in pocket, continues to play well at both ends, and it appear that Miikka Kiprusoff who by his standards was having an ordinary season, is playing better as of late. As always, can Iron Mike Keenan stop himself from causing team turmoil, especially when it comes to his goalies?

6 Montreal Canadians(4)- Moving down 2 slots. Only because of the better play of the other teams in the poll, not because the Habs have played any less impressively the past month. Although their trade of previous starting goalie Huet for a late 2nd rounder was a bit of a surprise, the team hasn't missed a beat with Price. Alexei Kovalev is quietly having one of his best seasons. They have even been winning at the Bell Centre, where they had issues earlier this season. Successful teams need to win at home.

7 Pittsburgh Penguins- (6) As we prophetically wrote last time, the injury to Crosby will force others to step up their game. We didn't realize how right we'd be, with the emergence of Evgeny Malkin to prominence. He has taken the Pens on his back and pulled them right into the top spot in the East. His name is now being spoken along with Alex Ovechkin as a Hart candidate. No way does he get to this point if Sid is playing. Now that Crosby is back and the newly acquired Marian Hossa is set to play, it will be interesting how the Pens do. Additionally M-A Fleury has made a very nice return giving the Pens 2 quality starters to choose from. A very dangerous team!

8 NY Rangers (20)- The boys from Manhatten have not lost in regulation in a couple of weeks. Surging them in our poll 12 slots as they battle both for a playoff berth as well as the possibility of the division itself. The team made only tweaks at the deadline, not upsetting the line as is. The play of youngsters Callahan, Girardi, Dawes have impressed, but the play of Marc Staal has been a big story. Getting increasing quality ice time from Tom Renney as the season has progressed, he appears to be every bit as good as advertised. The Rangers have a rock on the backline to build from.

9 Ottawa Senators (5)- At first it was injuries that hurt the sens, but as of late its been inconsistent play which has plagued the boys from Kanata the last few weeks. Knocking them out of the top spot in the East and out of division lead (by the slimmest of margins) It cost them their coach's job, though we don't blame Paddock for the poor play and mediocre goaltending. The team thus far has not responded to the coaching change. Why would they? The coach wasn't the issue. We no longer feel the sens are a legit Cup threat. They have solid scoring from 1 line, and good blueliners, but too many holes elsewhere(especially between the pipes!)

10 Boston Bruins- (12) The killer B's looked quite impressive the past few weeks. Losing their first regulation game(in fine fashion 10-2 to the caps) in 2 weeks. placing the Bruins right smack in the middle of the playoff picture. With Tim Thomas playing extraordinary, coupled with Norris calibre D from Big Z, and the wizardry of assist leader Marc Savard, the Bruins should stay in the race and not be a playoff pushover.

11 Carolina Hurricanes (22)- The boys from Tobacco Road have finally started playing like many expected all year. Staving off a furious run (so far) by the Caps to overtake them in the anemic SE division. Cam Ward, who until the last month or so has looked like a back up goalie, has been playing lights out and one of the primary reasons the team has only lost 2 of its last 10. Giving credit where its due, Sergei Samsonov given up for dead (by many including us) is playing like he should and helping to make up for the loss of team captain Rod Brind'amour.

12 Minnesota Wild-(11) The Wild basicly stay put from their previous position. They have played just a tad over .500 the past 2 weeks holding on to the top spot in the black and blue NW division. If the Slovak sniper, Marian Gaborik can stay healthy, and the Finnish Niklas Backstrom can continue to give the team quality net minding the Wild should stay competative with the Flames for the Smyth, oops the NW crown.

13 Colorado Avalanche(17)-Just when you think that the team has turned the corner something else seems to go wrong with this team. A week or so ago things looked so promising. The team had nearly all its injured back (Sakic, Smyth, Statsny, etc) then they unexpectedly signed Peter Forsberg, then add Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei at the trade deadline. Then boom, in one game the lose BOTH Marek Svatos and Ryan Smyth to season ending injuries. To their credit they remain in the playoff hunt, and still possess enough to make it, but their overall post season success potential has dropped.

14 Nashville Predator-(15) Continue to be the surprise of the season in our opinion. We didn't see this team as being a playoff team. Now, 2/3 into the season and the preds hold down the 8th spot in the West. We can't given enough credit to Barry Trotz, whom we have been critical in the past. David Legwand and Jason Arnott continue to pacing the team offensively and the no-name combo of Mason and Ellis have been very solid in goal.

15 Washington Capitals-(14) Since last month they have played a bit more then .500. and find themselves a mere 2 points from the 8th spot and 3 from the division lead. They STILL have not lost back to back games in regulation since Bruce Boudreau took over on Thanksgiving. To GMGM's credit he went out and adressed team needs on deadline day. Acquiring a younger starting goalie in Chris Huet, a reliable/vet forward who can win faceoffs in Fedorov, and an in your face aggitator in Cooke. All without giving up much of anything. The order remains tall, but any team that has the best player on the planet on its team (Alex Ovechkin leadng the league in goals and points) can't be written off.

16 Detroit Red Wing (1)-Wow, have the mighty fallen! Seems strange to not have the Wings in one of the top positions, but a series of injuries, inconsistent/lackadazacal play have pulled the Wings back to Earth. Thankfully for them they built up such an enormous lead that a month of poor play hasn't hurt them in the standings as of yet. They still maintain the top overall spot. With the return of many of the injured shortly we forsee Detroit back to their winning ways, but they will have to work hard to get back that winning swagger they had through the first half.

17 Philadelphia Flyers-(2) After a big surge up our poll last month that put them atop the Atlantic, injuries have caught up with the Broad Street bullies and now they cling to the 8th spot in the East. Marty Biron has played like the back up he's been all his career, while Nittymaki looks like he should be playing on the other side of the parking lot for the Phantoms. A healthy Flyer team should make the post season, but if the injuries continue and Biron can't handle the load/pressure of carrying a team Phillie may be on the outside looking in, come April.

18 Phoenix Coyote-(16) The Desert Dogs continue to play well, and stay in the playoff race. As of today they are a mere 3 points out of the 8th position. If they fail to make it, they have only themselves to blame as their sub .500 home record would be a huge reason why they wouldn't be playing beyond early April. Still, Wayne and his crew should be proud! Not only has the addition of Bryzgolov propelled the team, but captain Shane Doan is having an excellant season, and if Peter Mueller were playing in a big American or ANY Canadien market his name would be out front for the Calder. He's a future super-star in this league!

19 Chicago Black Hawk-(25) Just when we were about to write off the boys from Shy-town, they come back with a nice spurt to make a go of it. Four points may be a tall order, but don't tell that to the kids who have been playing thier hearts out. As we have written, the future looks bright with rising stars Towes and Kane, etc. Towes would have been a shoe-in as Calder if he'd stayed healthy. Kane remains in the top 3. They may not make it and just be spoilers down the stretch, but better look out next year!

20 Buffalo Sabres-(28) Just when we thought they were ready to step up, they fall back again. Overall the past month has been a good one in upstate NY, putting the Sabres back into playoff contention from obscurity. Tomas Vanek finally realized he's being paid 7+ million, so he might want to actually play like it. His emergence from a season long slumber coincided with the surge back to playoff contention. The loss of Campbell through trade and Tallinder from injury might hurt their chances

21 NY Islanders-(19) The boys from the Island drop down a couple of spots this time around. Have been quite the streaky team as of late. Losing several in a row, followed by a winning streak of 6, then another losing stretch. Winning enough to stay right there in the hunt for 8th. Surprisingly the team MVP, DiPietro has been quite ordinary his past dozen games or so. with a save % well below .900. If they are to have a shot at the post season he will have to resume his Vezina caliber play that he displayed earlier in the season when some even mentioned his name in early Hart discussions. Else, the Isles are toast.

22 Vancouver Canuck-(18) Perhaps we placed them a bit lower than they deserve. They have played pretty well as of late. A repeat as division winner isn't looking very likely right now, but they remain only 2 points from 8th spot and with Luongo in goal we wouldn't bet against Alain Vigneault's squad despite the addition of Matt Pettinger

23 Toronto Maple Leafs-(29) "Team-Turmoil." Drama surrounded them as the deadline loomed only to have all their players with no trade clauses invoke them and remain on the sinking ship. To their credit they have played quite well the past few weeks. Enough that some(until this week) thought that the Leaf had a playoff shot. Vesa Toskala has played well and appears to be solidly their goalie of the forseeable future. The next deadline for possible/attempted deals by Cliff Fletcher will be draft day. Also, if Matts Sundin does NOT resign with Toronto this summer it would make his decision to remain and not play in the post season for another team all the more inane, and we will lose significant respect for the super Swede!

24 Columbus Blue Jackets-(13) Time has run out on Cindarella. Despite a valient effort the Jackets didn't appear to be quite ready to compete for their first playoff spot. Its a shame too as their fan base, which had been one of the more loyal/patient despite the bungling of McClean in years past, is becoming a bit less patient/supportive(attendence-wise) slipping from 17th 2 seasons ago to 28th this year!

25 Edmonton Oiler-(21) The Oil remain competative and any team that believes that they are an easy mark for 2 points are very mistaken. Credit for a nice job by McTavish the past few months to keep the team working hard every night despite the fact that they suffered a series of significant injuries that snuffed out any chance at the post season. Even Dustin Penner has played better as of late giving Lowe hope that he spent wisely on the young power forward. Sill, if the Oil fall into the bottom 5 in the league it will hurt to see Brian Burke with their potential lottery pick this June!

26 St. Louis Blue-(23) Much like Columbus, were perhaps a bit ahead of themselves in thinking they were ready to compete with the big boys. Still many positives on this rebuilding season in the midwest. The past few weeks haven't been too good, but like Edmonton, there won't be any easy games to be won against the Blues down the stretch.

27 Florida Panthers-(27) This team should be better! Ownership is getting inpatient and said that missing the playoffs is unacceptable. We agree. Jack Martin is toast in our opinion. The revolving GM door is about to swing once again in south Fla. Hopefully this next time they'll pick someone who is competant. We like the nucleus of forwards and defense they have assembled. With proper coaching/roster tinkering this team SHOULD contend very soon!

28 Atlanta Thrashers-(26) Seem no longer interested. Are playing out the string. If we were in need of 2 points this is the team we'd want to play right now. Since the Hossa trade they have completely stopped playing. Like his counterpart in Florida, Don Waddell should be canned the day the season mercifully ends. They do have some really good players, but need new direction in the front office if this team is to survive in Hot-lanta.

29 Los Angeles King-(30) Was it a coincidence that the Kings played MUCH better after Robert (don't call me Beretta)Blake got injured? We don't believe so. He did other teams a favor when he refused to waive his no trade clause as we believe his days of being an impact(positively) player are over. He probably should retire. As for the rest of the team, we love their nucleus of forwards. If they could fine themselves a good starting goalie like Phoenix did, this team could be the surrpise of 2008-2009!

30 TB Lightning- (24) The Lighting have competely quit on coach Tortorella. After the Vaclav Propal fiasco of 2 weeks ago where they publicly had it out(forcing his trade to Philly) the Lightning have stopped caring it seems. Much like Atlanta, we'd want to play TB if we desperatly needed to win a game right now. Its LONG past time John Tortorella is fired. Jay Feaster may be making himself vulnerable with his stubbornness about letting the former Cup winning coach go. However as MANY, including us as early as October, have said, coaches such as John are successful in one place only a short time, then the players begin to tune out the bullshit. Its time for Torts to move his show to another town. We have no doubt he'll find work quickly, and the Lightning instantly will be better for it.


Pucks on Broadway said...

I hear ya Faux: MORE DAVE! I see you like the Rangers down the stretch. What do you think about the divisional games to end the season?


1) Wow, what a schedule to finish things off. It won't be easy. Outside of a Florida vacation next weekend, it will be a tough road ahead!
2) However these will be the same teams they'll have to beat come playoff time, so better to be battle tested now, then later!
3) Looking forward to seeing DMB! Very tough to get away these days, but may try to make it to his first show in Pitt(Great venue) in May.

The Co-Pilot said...

Man ya bout read my mind about Blakie. I think he should become an assistant coach next year. The kids look up to him I heard.
I hope what ya wrote about next year comes true. We need it man!

Mad Monk said...

After witnessing last night's horrendous display at the hands of the hated tropical cyclones i have come to the conclusion that this team needs a complete make over.
It should start with the coach who took over and did little better than his predesessor.
Any wonder why we have trouble keeping fans?

Antzmarching said...

Ok Faux 2, I have some criticisms of this list... Firstly, Atlanta should be number 30... They clearly have thrown in the towel on this campaign - what a pathetic bunch of so-called professionals they have over there... They still have enough talent to compete each night, but I suppose its easier to simply roll over... Waddell is a moron as well...

Secondly, I feel as though the Isles, a team I have been UNDERestimating all year, deserve more credit than this... While I continue to believe they have NO good players, there is a certain chemistry (probably brought forth by their great coach)... In watching many of their games, I see a very hard working group, that gets results through tenacity and persistence... Hey Sauce, your boys will not make the playoffs, but they aren't finishing 15th either... Nolan for Adams!

Third - Rangers are too high here, FR2... C'mon... 8th??? There are five teams behind them that would wipe them out tonight if they played...

You nailed the top spot, though... The Duck will be tough to beat...


1) We'll let FR2 answer for themselves if they choose, but here goes: Atlanta has definitely seemed to have done what many thought the maple Leafs would do; Stop playing after the trade deadline. Blame management!
2) The isles are about where they should be. The teams above them are either IN the top 16 or 2 points or less out of it. Can't have everyone tied for 16th. Agree that their sum is FAR greater than their parts! Kudos to Nolan!
3) Five teams that would 'wipe the Rangers'? Detroit maybe at full strength. Ottawa is NOT the same team its been in the past. The others would be competitive games we feel. hey, its al open to interpretation. FR2 did a good job we believe

Mr. Spock said...

It may be illogical to say based on how we have done lately but I think the Sens have turned the corner. The last 2 games against some of the best have brought out a better effort. I think the next 2 road games and then once we get back home we'll run off a nice win streak and get back on top.

Dr. George Varga said...

You got our issues pegged Faux. I was so elated last week only to feel equally deflated when I saw those 2 poor boys get carted off the ice. I think we are still a team that shouldn't be assumed to be dead and buried. We may have some fight in us yet. Look out Big bad west, the Avs are back!

Antzmarching said...

Hey Pucks, your taste in hockey teams is questionable, but you are a genius in the music realm... There should always be MORE DAVE!!! I may be going to the Molson Amphi in Toronto and the Gorge - can't wait!!!

Antzmarching said...

Faux, what I am saying is, I do not think the Rangers would beat Ottawa, Detroit, Minnesota, Colorado, or Carolina if the playoffs started tomorrow... That's my opinion, AND I picked the Rangers to play for the Cup during the preseason...

Off the Post said...

I guess we don't like success up here. We have looked like a different hockey team since we got destroyed in washington last week. To get whacked by Toronto at home shows there's a problem. I don't think we're going to go far into the playoffs if we get in. I'm not certain of even that now.

La Grenouille said...

I was not very happy when we deal Huet. I can not say this is now a bad move. We have still won ever with price playing in there. If he is good enough to win then I guess I can be OK with one of my favourite player being traded from us

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