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Tuesday, February 07, 2006 

NHL Power Rankings

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1 Carolina
It hurts to put Carolina number one, but there are a few facts that make it impossible not to. Not only do they hold both the best record in the league, and the best record since Christmas, but they also hold the best record of any team playing outside of their own division. So much for the argument that they only have the most points because they are in a weak division. This team is for real now.
2 Dallas
Dallas is tied with Carolina for the best record since Christmas, and are showing few signs of letting up. Turco hasn't put up stellar numbers this year, with a 2.49 GAA and a .898 save percentage, but has found his old form lately (15 goals against in 8 games) and should be his old self come playoff time.
3 Detroit
Detroit is by far the best Road team in the league, with a 18-5-3 record thus far. 18-8-2 at home isn't too shabby either. Although ranked behind Dallas right now, they are still my pick to come out of the West this year.
4 Buffalo
Although in a little tough in the Northeast, Buffalo holds the leagues second best record in playing outside of their division. A tough team to play on the road, and 7-2-1 in their last ten, the surprise Sabres should no longer be a surprise. Somehow they seem for real, although I still can't explain it. If Lindy isn't coach of the year then something will have gone horrible wrong in the voting.
5 Tampa Bay
The Bolts hold the best record in the league over the last 10 games, dropping only 1 over that stretch. They look to be catching their old form of late, and could be a scary opponent going into the playoffs, which even though only in the number 6 spot in the East right now, they are a lock to make at this point.
6 Ottawa
Although tied with Detroit and Dallas for the second best record in the league, the Sens have picked up most of their points at home and within their own division, not a great sign going into the playoffs. In fact, outside of the Northeast division, the Sens only have the 11th best record in the league. Sens fans, normally weary heading into playoff time, have a little more to worry about than they were bargaining for this year.
7 NY Rangers
55 games in and Jagr is still trying hard every game. I'm stunned. He has always been tough in the playoffs, so this number 3 seed might have a few rounds in them. I must admit, I never saw this coming.
8 Edmonton
Although only 13-10-3 at home, the Oilers have quietly developed into road warriors, second only to Detroit with a 17-8-4 road record. That kind of record is hard to argue with in a playoff team.
9 Vancouver
Still just waiting for Cloutier to make a comeback in time to lose in the first round.
10 Philadelphia
3-5-2 in their last ten, the Flyers are slumping of late, but it's hard to call a 31-15-9 team a disappointment. Still, there is no reason a team as talent-rich as the Flyers should be as low as tenth ranked. They should be able to pick up the pace again a little bit after the Olympic break.
11 New Jersey
Since Elias' return, the Devil's have been on fire. I have explained this enough over the past 6 weeks, I don't think I need to explain their 11-rank any further. Brodeur is hot, and the Devil's are looking decent heading into the playoffs.
12 Calgary
They may be in first in their division right now, but I really don't like this team. They have had more success against their own division than they have with others, and look mediocre at best on the road. They have a boring style of play, and I hope we don't have to suffer with them too long in the playoffs. If Kipper's on his game, though, it may be inevitable.
13 Minnesota
Although 7 points out of the playoffs right now, the Wild are 7-2-1 in last ten, and have the 6th best record outside of divisional play. Trading Dwayner for a top line player might be enough to squeak them into the playoffs, although it's a tough battle in the west, which may have gotten a little too far out of reach early on this season.
14 Columbus
Believe it or not, Columbus actually holds the second best record in the league since Christmas. Seriously. This is a much different team with Nash in the lineup and healthy. If only they could have had that luxury all year, they may be looking at a playoff spot. Nash played only 7 laboured games before Christmas, netting only 3 points. Since then he has 22 points in 20 games, and the Jackets are 13-6-1.
15 Nashville
This second place team isn't as good as it seems. They may have the 5th best record at the moment, but they, unlike the Hurricanes, are benefiting from playing in an easy division. They are 12th in non-divisional play, 12th on the road, 15th since Christmas and 17th in their last 10. They live and die by their goalie, who may not be as consistent as some people pretend. Expect a slight slide down the standings as the Northwest division comes on strong, but they will still be around to lose in the first round.
16 Boston
As the Leafs, Habs and Thrashers fall, the Bruins have no where to go but up. It's a wonder where they'd be now if they hadn't pulled the gun on the Thornton trade a little prematurely. The third straight Jim Carey has now appeared in Boston, but as always that's good enough for one year. The Bruins will slide into the playoffs as the others wilt away.
17 Anaheim
Anaheim's 7-3 run in their last ten has given them some space over the coyotes, wild and sharks as they try to hunt down a playoff spot. Minnesota should prove to be the toughest team to keep a leg up on in the end.
18 Colorado
This would be the second best team in 4 of the other divisions in the league. Unfortunately, the Av's are in the Northwest and will likely miss the playoffs for the first time in a while because of it. Makes up a little for all the easy years they had while the division struggled. The balance of power had to shift eventually. Svatos, however, gives the team some glimmer of hope for the future.
19 Los Angeles
Some might be surprised by such a low placing of a second place team. But the Kings have been slumping lately, and look less than mediocre on the road. They will have trouble fighting off Anaheim for a playoff spot, and probably won't in the end. But at least JR is still super-cool!
20 Phoenix
The Great One's coaching has somehow gotten this team a .500 record heading into the Olympics, but to expect the same by the end of the season is a little too much. It's still more than should have been expected from this bunch to begin with, and a lot of that has to do with Cujo's play early on.
21 NY Islanders
The Islanders might end off the year as a surprise number 8 seed in the East. Toronto, Montreal and Atlanta look to have given up on life, so it looks like at this point they'll try to battle it out with Boston in the end.
22 San Jose
disappointing on the road. disappointing outside their division. disappointing since Christmas. disappointing in the last 10. I wonder what word can be used to sum up the Sharks season so far?
23 Toronto
The Leaves have looked just awful lately, tied with Atlanta for the worst record over the last 10 games at 2-6-2. They have managed to hold onto the last playoff spot so far, but with Montreal, Boston, Atlanta, NYI and Florida all within 7 points, it won't last for long. Boston would be the heavy favourite right now to grab the last spot, if not just because the other 5 teams really aren't playing like they want it.
24 Florida
Florida. Luongo plays there. They are kind of in the league. M'eh.
25 Montreal
Ranked lower than a team described as kind of in the league. There was nothing keeping these guys from the playoffs this year but themselves. The same is actually true at this point. They just have to out-play Boston from here on in, you know? I mean really, just give it a little effort and bother to make it guys.
26 Atlanta
Fun team to watch. It's too bad games aren't scored based on fun. 10 points behind Tampa already in a division guaranteed to send only 2 teams. Maybe in a few years Carolina will fall apart, right? But I guess by then the Caps will have built something around Ovechkin. I really can't see any scenario where the Thrashers make the playoffs in the next 8 years.

AHL Power Rankings

As a side note, who wouldn't love to see a playoffs set up with these 4 teams? There would be a lot of fun to be had in that, not to mention free money for the league to earn. They may have to add two expansion teams and do a full consolation playoffs, but either way it's just money looking to be made. I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened in North American professional sports yet. I'd go to a round robin Capitals Penguins game any day, not to mention the finals. It might be worth some consideration in the league offices. Anyway, here are the bottom 4 rankings:

1 Washington
The Caps are 6-17-1 on the road, but their over .500 record at home, along with Ovechkins rookie of the year landslide, give them the lead in the battle of the 4 AHL teams in the league.
2 Chicago
Khabibust. Their only good defenseman to Edmonton for my mom. Bunch of guys playing you've never heard of. Good stuff.
3 St. Louis
If Tkachuk can get 3 points a game again like he did in November, these guys may give Chicago a run for their money. Recalling Lalime is a bad way to go about that, though.
4 Pittsburgh
Who else can retire? This is now a team of guys the guys you've never heard of have never heard of. Plus Crosby, Fleury and some hasbeens. Cory Cross is there now, even, in exchange for their second best defenseman.

Cory Cross. Wow.

PS - Sorry about the #23 ranking, mama. I know it'll hurt almost as much as your foot :p

Edmonton in the top 10. I Can Dig it. Fernado Pisani just gets things done.

Originator- www.forwardprogress.org

Yes Kent, it did hurt to see the "LEAVES" in the position you put them in. I have more faith in them than that;)
p.s. missed reading your blog yesterday

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