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Latest NHL Eastern Conference Power Rankings

Andrew H. SmithContributor IIIFebruary 13, 2013

Latest NHL Eastern Conference Power Rankings

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    With the NHL regular season already one-quarter over, it appears that the true powerhouses in the Eastern Conference are finally starting to emerge from their lockout hibernation. 

    Twelve of the 15 teams in the conference played Tuesday night, with the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens both highlighting the action by grabbing 4-3 shootout victories. 

    Where do these teams stack up against the field in the latest power rankings? Which teams are streaking and which teams are struggling? Read on to find out!

    Note: Team and player statistics are from NHL.com and are accurate as of February 13, 2013.

15. New York Islanders

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    Record: 4-7-1

    After a decent start to begin the season, the New York Islanders have lost five games in a row.

    The Islanders rank in the top 10 in goals per game, power play and penalty kill, but have been undone by allowing 3.6 goals per game.

    New York finishes this week by playing two must-win games against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

14. Florida Panthers

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    Record: 4-6-2

    The Panthers do not resemble the same team that won the Southeast Division and reached the playoffs last season. 

    Florida's problems are simple: they do not score many goals (2.4), and they give up a bunch of goals (3.8). That is a recipe for disaster. The Panthers also have a below average penalty kill which is ranked 27th in the NHL.

13. Washington Capitals

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    Record: 4-8-1

    Washington has barely looked recognizable this season, but the Caps finished off a home-and-home sweep against the Florida Panthers last night. Alex Ovechkin scored a goal and got into a fight, which could signal a possible turnaround for both his season and Washington's.  

    However, the only wins this season for the Capitals have come against non-playoff teams in the Sabres, Flyers and Panthers. Washington needs to start gaining points against the upper-echelon teams in the conference to gain ground in the standings. 

12. Buffalo Sabres

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    Record: 5-8-1

    Buffalo became much tougher in the offseason by acquiring Steve Ott and John Scott, but that has not translated into wins for the Sabres so far. The Sabres rank near the bottom of the NHL in goals against (3.4) and power play (13.5 percent).

    One bright spot for the Sabres has been the play of Tomas Vanek. He currently leads the NHL with 23 points and 11 goals. 

    The schedule does not get any easier for Buffalo, as they host the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins to finish the week.

11. Winnipeg Jets

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    Record: 5-6-1

    Although Winnipeg has a losing record, they hold third place in the Southeast Division. The Jets had a three-game winning streak a few weeks ago, but have lost five of their last seven.

    The adjustments for Winnipeg need to come on the defensive end. The Jets rank 25th in goals against at 3.3 and have the league's worst penalty kill (67.5 percent).

    On offense, Winnipeg needs production from Evander Kane. Kane had a 30-goal season last year, but has just three goals through 12 games this season.

10. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Record: 6-7-1

    It has been a rocky start to the season so far for the Broadway Bullies. Philadelphia ranks in the bottom half of the NHL in goals per game, goals against, power play and penalty kill. 

    Although the Flyers started the season at 2-6-0, they have won four of their past six games, and have grabbed points in all five of those six contests.

    Philadelphia travels to the Newark to face the division-leading New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

9. Ottawa Senators

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    Record: 7-4-2

    The Senators have lost four of their last six games. Over that span, their offense has gone cold with just nine goals. Ottawa also needs to find a way to manufacture more offense without the services of Jason Spezza.

    Luckily for the Senators, they have the best goals against in the NHL at 1.7. Special teams are also a strength for the team, as Ottawa has the league's third-ranked penalty kill (90.2 percent).

8. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Record: 6-5-1

    After a blazing start to the season in which the Lightning scored 37 goals in their first seven games, Tampa Bay has now lost five in a row. This past week, the Lightning endured losses to current playoff teams in the Devils, Rangers and Canadiens. 

    During Tampa's losing streak, Steven Stamkos has recorded just three points. The Lightning need more production from their alternate captain to re-discover their winning formula. 

7. Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 7-4-1

    Montreal fell down to earth this past week, losing three games to division rivals, including a 6-0 beatdown by the Toronto Maple Leafs during Hockey Night in Canada. Of course, the main story from that game was the alleged "bite incident" that occurred between Max Pacioretty and Mikhail Grabovski. 

    The Canadiens nearly gave away last night's game to the Lightning as well. Montreal squandered a 3-0 lead in the third period, but hung on to win 4-3 in a shootout. 

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Record: 8-5-0

    Pittsburgh is obviously of the most talented teams in the NHL, and their stars are finding a rhythm after a slow 3-3-0 start. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz have all exceeded 10 points.  

    The Penguins recently won five games in a row, but were swept in a home-and-home this past weekend by the Devils. Still, Pittsburgh ranks in the top 10 in goals per game, goals against, and power play. Expect the Penguins to challenge for a top seed in the Eastern Conference as the season progresses.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Record: 8-5-0

    Coming in at No. 5 are the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have won four games in a row, outscoring opponents 16-6 over that span.

    The only negative news for the Leafs is that they will be without the services of starting goaltender James Reimer for at least one week. Reimer suffered a knee strain against Philadelphia last weekend.

    Earlier losses to the Bruins, Rangers and Hurricanes suggest that Toronto is not quite an elite team in the Eastern Conference yet, but their stock is rising.

4. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Record: 7-4-1

    The Hurricanes lead the Southeast Division and have won four of their past five games, including a gritty 4-2 win Tuesday night in New Jersey. Eric and Jordan Staal have combined for 27 points already.

    Although Carolina averages 3.1 goals per game, there is plenty for this team to improve upon. The Hurricanes rank in the bottom third of the NHL in goals against, power play, and penalty kill. 

3. New York Rangers

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    Record: 7-5-0

    After a slow start to the season, the Rangers appear to have found their rhythm and are winners of three straight and six of their last eight.

    New York has one of the best defensive cores in the NHL, and Henrik Lundqvist remains an elite goaltender. Offseason acquisition Rick Nash leads the team with 10 points and provides the Rangers with an x-factor that the team has lacked in previous years. 

2. New Jersey Devils

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    Record: 8-2-3

    Before last night's loss to the Hurricanes, the Devils went on an impressive five-game winning streak. They defeated the Rangers, Lightning, and Penguins twice and won every game by two or more goals. 

    New Jersey allows just 2.1 goals per game, which is the fifth-best mark in the NHL. The Devils have only given up three or more goals this season on three occasions which is a testament to their defensive structure and the goal-tending of Martin Brodeur. 

1. Boston Bruins

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    Record: 8-1-2

    Although the Bruins lost in a 4-3 shootout to the Rangers, their collective body of work places them at the top spot in the rankings.

    Boston only has one regulation loss on the season, and they have defeated quality opponents in the Devils, Hurricanes, and Maple Leafs. 

    A concern for the Bruins remains their power play. Although Boston excels at grinding out victories, they have the third-worst power play in the NHL at 9.3 percent.

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