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|Power Rankings: Caps get a standing Ovechkin|
|Sunday, 22 November 2009 20:25|
HPT Power Rankings (Week 8)
Whenever Alex Ovechkin steps on the ice, he is impossible to ignore. In this regard, rankings imitate life: The Capitals jumped over Jersey for No. 2 behind the Sharks this week, thanks to the return of the reigning leaue MVP. Ovechkin also has the Capitals back atop the Eastern Conference standings rather quickly. Could this be their year?
1. San Jose Sharks (16-5-4): The Sharks went 2-1-1 this week and continue to look like the best team in the league. Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, and Joe Thornton make up three of the league’s top five scorers.
2. Washington Capitals (13-5-5): The Caps took over first place in the Eastern Conference by beating the Rangers, losing to the Canadiens and dropping a shootout thriller in Toronto. Alex Ovechkin returned to score two more goals, and is tied for second in the league in that category (with 16) despite missing six games.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (15-8-0): The Pens are back atop the Atlantic Division and are starting to get healthy. Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik returned this week, but Alex Goligoski is now out on a blue line that’s been banged up all year. A three-game road trip started slowly with a loss to Ottawa (6-2) and a narrow 3-2 win in Atlanta.
4. Chicago Blackhawks (14-5-2): Coming into Sunday’s matchup in Vancouver, the Blackhawks are filthy rich with momentum: The team’s won six straight, Marian Hossa has begun practicing, and Cristobal Huet (2.16 GAA) is playing much better in goal. At this rate the ’Hawks will be scary come playoff time.
5. New Jersey Devils (14-6-1): Injuries are finally catching up to the Devils, who went winless against Dallas, Nashville and Philadelphia. Dainius Zubrus (fractured patella) is the newest Devil on the shelf, he’ll miss another four to six weeks following surgery Friday.
6. Colorado Avalanche (13-7-3): Gravity eventually pulls every avalanche down: The Avs went 1-2 this week and are 3-6-1 in their last 10. Rookie Matt Duchene and veteran Marek Svatos are sporting minus-8 and minus-11 ratings, respectively.
7. Calgary Flames (13-6-2): An embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks punctuated a stretch that hasn’t seen the Flames win back-to-back games since Nov. 7-10. Thanks to a hat trick in Los Angeles, Jarome Iginla passed Rene Bourque for the team lead in points. The Flames close out November with five games in nine days.
8. Los Angeles Kings (13-9-2): The Kings (1-2 for the week) took a step backward. So did their power play, which allowed an unsightly short-handed goal Saturday to Calgary, and will need serious help with Ryan Smyth out for up to a month with an upper-body injury.
9. Philadelphia Flyers (12-7-1): After defeating the rival Devils and the LA Kings, the Flyers finished out the week with tough losses to San Jose (6-3) and Phoenix (3-1). Besides the injured Simon Gagne, the Flyers remain one of the healthiest teams in the league and have to take advantage of that while other teams are mending.
10. Buffalo Sabres (12-6-2): After a perfect 3-0 week, the Sabres fell a bit this week with an 0-2-1 record including losses to the Panthers, Bruins, and Sens. Ryan Miller can only do so much: Buffalo still does not have a player in double-digit goals yet.
11. Columbus Blue Jackets (12-6-3): The Blue Jackets are sitting in second place, three points back of Chicago, in the Central Division. In their past 10 games Columbus has just one regulation loss, but a tough road trip continues against the Rangers, Canadiens and Sens. As usual, Rick Nash is leading the way with 25 points in 21 games.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (13-9-1): The Coyotes went 2-1-1 this week and remain in third place in the Pacific. Most games have been close for the desert dogs. As other teams get healthy, the Coyotes might find themselves left behind.
13. Detroit Red Wings (11-6-4): The Wings went 1-1-1 this week. Of more concern, their leading blueline scorer, Niklas Kronwall, was on the receiving end of a dirty play Saturday by Montreal’s George Laraque. What appeared to be a knee-on-knee hit knocked Kronwall out of the game, and he’s expected to miss at least four weeks.
14. Dallas Stars (10-6-6): An impressive 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday concluded a 2-1 week. Stephane Robidas had a goal and two assists in the win. The win also came without suspended forward James Neal, who has one more game to serve after his dirty hit in a loss against the Blue Jackets.
15. Ottawa Senators (11-6-3): The Capitals, Devils, Blue Jackets, and Bruins present a tough week for the Sens, who are riding a three-game winning streak. Jason Spezza (one goal) is looking to improve his goal total.
16. Nashville Predators (12-8-1): The Preds went 3-0 this week and have won five games in a row — including head-turning victories over the Sharks and Devils. Suddenly, they’re one point out of eighth place in the Western Conference.
17. New York Islanders (8-8-7): Losses this week to the Blues and Wild (ouch!) left the Isles tied with the Rangers for fourth place in the Atlantic. Reports indicate that Rick DiPietro is inching closer to a possible return, which includes changing his goaltending style to better suit his abilities. Go for it Rick — so far your appearances are limited to “Hockey is for Everyone” ads, running around with little kids in your arms.
18. New York Rangers (11-10-1): Free-agent pickups Vinny Prospal, Marian Gaborik and Ales Kotalik are playing much better than expected, but the team can’t muster enough offense to consistently win games. As a result, they’re 3-7 in their last 10.
19. Vancouver Canucks (12-10-0): The Canucks won their only game this week, a 5-2 rout of Colorado. The light week was good news for an injury riddled lineup; Daniel Sedin is on his way back, which should infuse some much-needed goal scoring.
20. Atlanta Thrashers (10-7-2): The Thrashers are playing .500 hockey lately and can’t seem to get over the hump to become a powerful team in the East. The Sabres must be wondering what happened to Max Afinogenov (20 points in 19 games). Did he play himself out of Buffalo on purpose?
21. Boston Bruins (10-8-4): Patrice Bergeron leads the team with 14 points, the fewest for any team’s leading scorer. Tim Thomas is also having a shaky year as his backup, Tukka Rask, is putting up better numbers. The Bruins will play four games this week.
22. Florida Panthers (10-9-2): The Panthers went 2-0-1 this week as their play has improved vastly. Although the Cats sit in 13th place in the East, they’ve won five of their last six to pull only point shy of a playoff spot.
23. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-5-7): The Bolts went 1-1-1 this week. Steven Stamkos turned heads again with an unbelievable highlight-reel goal in Thursday’s loss to the Ducks. Tampa still has not lost in regulation on home ice despite four extra-time losses.
24. Montreal Canadiens (11-11-1): Scott Gomez missed Saturday’s game, making Glen Metropolit the team’s number-one center by default. Thanks mostly to injuries, the forward lines are never the same for more than a period or two, sapping momentum from a potentially powerful team.
25. Edmonton Oilers (9-11-3): The Oilers are not in good shape, averaging a little more than four goals against in the four games this week. A tough and busy week awaits, with games against the Coyotes, Kings, Sharks, and Canucks.
26. Minnesota Wild (8-12-2): Minnesota started its four-game homestand by splitting a pair of 3-2 games, a loss to Phoenix and a win over the Islanders. Boston comes to town before a home and home with the Avs on the weekend. Martin Havlat (eight points in 19 games) has been a disappointment.
27. Anaheim Ducks (7-11-3): The Ducks are 1-4-1 in the last two weeks and they are not playing good hockey. Jean-Sebastien Giguere has yet to regain his No. 1 spot, and could be the first to go if GM Bob Murray follows through on his threat of a roster shake-up.
28. St. Louis Blues (8-8-4): Trying to remain competitive in a very tough Central Division, the Blues put together back-to-back wins over Phoenix and the Islanders. David Perron’s highlight-reel goal against the Islanders was just part of a streak of six goals in his last six games.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (5-12-5): The ’Canes pulled themselves out of the 30 spot by winning three of their last four. With an injury-depleted lineup, this doesn’t look to last. Ray Whitney leads the team with 15 points.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (4-11-6): The Leafs went 1-1-1 this week and fell back to the bottom of the rankings. A 2-1 win over the Caps ended a four-game losing streak. When a defenseman, Tomas Kaberle, leads the team in points and only has two goals, that’s ugly. Phil Kessel has eight points in nine games.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 December 2009 16:26|