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|Power Rankings: Hail to the Caps|
|Written by J.P. Hoornstra|
|Monday, 28 December 2009 03:13|
HPT Power rankings (Week 13): :
A confession: sometimes we have to use our imagination with these things (Who is better: Nashville at 22-13-3 or Los Angeles at 22-13-3?). Other times, it seems the teams just sort themselves out.
Like this week. A trio of tough eastern squads sit at the top — the Caps, Pens and Devils. Then Washington beats Jersey on Saturday. Jersey beats Pittsburgh on Monday. The result? A new number one for the first time in five weeks.
1. Washington Capitals (24-8-6): They lead the league in goals scored (139). Their netminder (Semyon Varlamov) could be the starter for the Russian Olympic team. Throw in a 4-1 win over Martin Brodeur and the Devils on Saturday, and the Capitals are hands-down playing the best hockey in the league.
2. New Jersey Devils (26-9-1): Brodeur couldn’t just shut out anybody to grab the all-time record on Monday — he had to blank Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company. We get it. You’re the best.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-1): A big week for Malkin: He broke out of his slump with a hat trick Wednesday. Three days later, he was named to the Russian Olympic team.
4. San Jose Sharks (23-8-7): You can’t understate back-to-back wins on the road at Dallas and Chicago on Monday and Tuesday. The Sharks are back.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (26-9-3): Three months into the season, the guard has officially changed in the Central Division. The Red Wings looked like they had no business being in the building Wednesday in a 3-0 ‘Hawks win at The Joe.
6. Colorado Avalanche (22-12-6): There are still some growing pains to iron out here, as evidenced by their 4-2 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday — a game the Avs led 2-0 with less than 8 minutes to play.
7. Phoenix Coyotes (24-13-2): Santa hooked up a 3-2 win over the Kings on Saturday, after which the ‘Yotes looked like they had won the lottery. And rightfully so — these two teams could be battling for second (or, possibly, first) in the Pacific all season.
8. Buffalo Sabres (23-11-4): Back-to-back losses, to Washington and Ottawa, sandwiched the Christmas break. They’ve still got a five-point lead on Boston in the Northeast.
9. Nashville Predators (22-14-3): The Preds seem to be coming back to earth, losing to Vancouver, Chicago and Chicago again this week to halt a four-game losing streak.
10. Los Angeles Kings (22-13-3): On the same day top-line left wing Ryan Smyth returned from his upper-body ailment (Saturday), right wing Justin Williams broke his leg. How will this latest injury affect the power play, not to mention center Anze Kopitar?
11. Vancouver Canucks (23-16-0): Liking life with both Sedins, the ‘Nucks are 8-4 in December and took over second place in the Northwest with a 5-1 win Sunday night against Calgary.
12. Calgary Flames (20-12-5): They extended their losing streak to three games Sunday night against the Canucks. RW David Moss (no points in his last 10 games) needs to pick up some of the slack.
13. Detroit Red Wings (19-14-5): Valtteri Filppula has returned from IR and Ville Leino could use his old linemate back. The rookie hasn’t posted an assist in two weeks, and hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 11.
14. Boston Bruins (19-11-7): The Winter Classic is Friday. It’s going to be at Fenway Park. In case you haven’t heard.
15. Dallas Stars (16-11-11): The Stars are struggling on the road, and would love nothing more than to climb back into the West’s top eight during a three-game homestand this week.
16. Ottawa Senators (19-15-4): This is what we call a “Classic .500 Team.” It would almost be better if the Sens knew they would be sellers at the trade dealine (and if Jonathan Cheechoo wasn’t owed $3.5 million the next two seasons).
17. Minnesota Wild (19-16-3): Season-ticket holders would think they’ve got a contender on their hands if they never watched a road game: The Wild are 12-4-1 at home; 7-12-2 away.
18. Montreal Canadiens (19-18-3): Don’t look now, but the Habs are riding a four-game heater. “Quatre, les Canadiens!” isn’t the same as “toujours,” but it’ll do for now.
19. Atlanta Thrashers (18-15-4): Taking second place in the Southeast Division is like being the runner-up in a foursome with Tiger Woods — a relatively easy task, but someone’s got to do it.
20. New York Rangers (18-16-4): Nice to see Sean Avery get into a fight Saturday, but it seems like the Islanders just have the Blueshirts’ number this year.
21. Florida Panthers (16-16-7): Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton (40 games, 37 points each) are turning heads, but the Panthers are still losing. They get three days’ rest at home to figure things out.
22. St. Louis Blues (17-15-5): Is anyone else weirded out that Alex Pietrangelo is on the Blues’ active roster, but simultaneously competing in the WJCs? The 19-year-old defenseman probably isn’t complaining about getting ice time.
23. Anaheim Ducks (15-16-7): Without Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Joffrey Lupul, the roster is very, very thin. Getzlaf’s skate blade opened a cut in his own leg Saturday, but he might not have to sit out a game.
24. Tampa Bay Lightning (14-15-9): Steven Stamkos has 21 goals already — good enough for this team, but maybe not for Team Canada. Just as impressive, his 18.4 shooting percentage is second among all Lightning.
25. New York Islanders (15-17-7): Good news: Doug Weight and Rick DiPietro were both seen practicing this week. Bad news, from the obscure stat department: Richard Park and Brendan Witt are a combined minus-38, the lowest of any two teammates.
26. Philadelphia Flyers (17-18-2): Yes, they’ve won three straight, but the Flyers won’t get to play the Lightning, Hurricanes and Islanders every day. Maybe they could use some fresh Fenway air.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (14-18-7): Cue up Tom Petty’s “Freefallin” in the locker room. The losing streak is up to nine, with the Red Wings coming to town Monday.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (13-17-9): Later on, when the Leafs compile their 2009-10 season highlights, Sunday’s 4-3 win in Pittsburgh will occupy much of the 60-second film.
29. Edmonton Oilers (15-19-4): We’re not sure exactly when the wheels fell off here but, since fooling everyone with five straight wins, the Oilers have an equally perplexing six-game losing skid. Monday’s 7-2 loss to St. Louis might have been the beginning of the end.
30. Carolina Hurricanes (9-22-7): By putting three centers (Eric Staal, Jussi Jokinen and Matt Cullen) on the same line Saturday, the ‘Canes rallied for three goals against the Flyers to force a shootout. Does that constitute a pulse?
|Last Updated on Monday, 28 December 2009 09:52|