1. Washington Capitals (45-13-9)
I have these guys at the No. 1 spot because I like teams that can score and score often. No other team has scored more than the Capitals. At this point, Alex Ovechkin is still my favorite to win the Hart Trophy.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (44-17-5)
My money is still on the Blackhawks to win the West. Great goaltending, great offense, great coaching. But the Sharks are a close second in all of those categories.
3. San Jose Sharks (42-14-9)
It is fair to say that the only legit team the Sharks have left on their schedule is the Vancouver Canucks…that’s sad isn’t it?
4. Vancouver Canucks (41-23-3)
Despite the slip-up against the Blackhawks, the Canucks have played pretty well since the break. But I still have the ‘Hawks and Sharks as my top favorites in the West.
5. Los Angeles Kings (39-22-5)
Ever since the Olympic break, the Kings have been terribly inconsistent. They blowout the Stars and Blue Jackets, but lose to the Predators, Canadiens, and Blackhawks. If this keeps happening, they won’t see home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
6. Philadelphia Flyers (35-26-4)
As you can see, I think this team is a lot better than its record indicates.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (40-22-4)
Matt Cooke should have been suspended for his hit on Marc Savard. How he didn’t is beyond me. That’s ridiculous.
8. Colorado Avalanche (39-23-3)
What a story Matt Duchene has been. He’s playing for his favorite NHL team, they are doing a lot better than people expected, and he’s the favorite to win the Calder Trophy this year.
9. New Jersey Devils (39-23-3)
The Devils continue to slowly slide down the standings in the East. They are 5-8-2 since Jan. 26.
10. Buffalo Sabres (36-20-9)
I wonder who’s going to end the season with a better record: Buffalo or New Jersey. If the Sabres play like they have been over the past three games, I have my money on them.
11. Phoenix Coyotes (40-22-5)
This team better pack well for the rest of the regular season. Eleven of the team’s last 16 games are away from the desert.
12. Calgary Flames (33-24-9)
I still believe the Flames won’t get too far in the playoffs (if they make it) if they can’t get their offense going.
13. Nashville Predators (36-25-5)
Time to go and play the teams in California. I will honestly be surprised if they end up with two wins in the road trip.
14. Ottawa Senators (37-25-5)
As long as they play like the Senators of late-January, they won’t have much to worry about come playoff time.
16. Detroit Red Wings (31-23-12)
I’m beginning to wonder if Chris Osgood will be in Detroit next year.
17. Montreal Canadiens (33-29-6)
Ever since March, the Canadiens have played very well. But I still don’t believe they will get far in the playoffs if they make it.
18. St. Louis Blues (30-26-9)
I’m not too alarmed over the 7-3 loss to the Avalanche because I still think this team could play consistently leading into the playoffs like they have been. As long as Chris Mason plays well, the Blues really don’t have much to worry about.
19. Boston Bruins (29-24-12)
Let’s go see if the Bruins have learned how to put pucks in the net...nope, not yet.
20. Minnesota Wild (31-28-6)
Niklas Backstrom was exactly right when he said that his team wasn’t thinking about playoff hockey when his team only fired off 11 shots against the Panthers on Tuesday night. It’s safe to say that the Wild will not make the playoffs.
21. New York Rangers (29-29-9)
This team just needs to figure themselves out, find ways to win games, and play better offensively. Otherwise, they won’t make the playoffs.
22. Atlanta Thrashers (28-27-10)
I’m still trying to figure out why the Thrashers brought in Chris Chelios. If the only reason Chelios wants to play is because he wants to play until he’s 50, then he needs to just go.
23. Florida Panthers (27-28-10)
They’ve been playing well recently but they still need a little bit more offense if they want to grab enough points to make the playoffs.
24. Carolina Hurricanes (27-31-8)
The team that has been the butt of everybody’s NHL jokes for the first four months of the season is now the hottest team in the league. They are the only team that’s won at least eight of its last ten games. But I’m still not too confident that they can make the playoffs.
25. Anaheim Ducks (30-28-8)
The defense and goaltending stinks and they are running out of chances to make the playoffs. The 5-2 loss to the pathetic Blue Jackets is just another opportunity that was slipped away.
26. Dallas Stars (29-25-12)
So who thinks Marty Turco is going to be in Dallas next year?
27. Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11)
I’m starting to wonder if Vincent Lacavalier is going to be in Tampa next year or if the “Vinny to Montreal” rumors are going to surface again.
28. New York Islanders (26-32-8)
This is a “depleted squad” according to coach Scott Gordon. He’s exactly right too. No offense, no goaltending, no defense.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12)
Even though the defense and goaltending as a whole is terrible this season, I still have to give props to Jonas Gustavsson for continuing to play with his heart ailment.
30. Edmonton Oilers (21-39-6)
This team stinks. Plain and simple. I feel so bad for Pat Quinn.
Carter’s NHL Award Races
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
1. Alex Ovechkin (LW, Capitals)
2. Henrik Sedin (C, Canucks)
3. Sidney Crosby (C, Penguins)
4. Ryan Miller (G, Sabres)
5. Nicklas Backstrom (C, Capitals)
6. Martin St. Louis (RW, Lightning)
7. Steven Stamkos (C, Lightning)
8. Evgeni Nabokov (G, Sharks)
9. Joe Thornton (C, Sharks)
10. Miikka Kiprusoff (G, Flames)
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman)
1. Mike Green (Capitals)
2. Duncan Keith (Blackhawks)
3. Drew Doughty (Kings)
4. Chris Pronger (Flyers)
5. Dan Boyle (Sharks)
Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender)
1. Ryan Miller (Sabres)
2. Evgeni Nabokov (Sharks)
3. Miikka Kiprusoff (Flames)
4. Ilya Bryzgalov (Coyotes)
5. Tomas Vokoun (Panthers)
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
1. Matt Duchene (Avalanche)
2. John Tavares (Islanders)
3. Niclas Bergfors (Thrashers)
4. James van Riemsdyk (Flyers)
5. T.J. Galiardi (Avalanche)
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year)
1. Bruce Boudreau (Capitals)
2. Joel Quenneville (Blackhawks)
3. Todd McLellan (Sharks)
4. Alain Vigneault (Canucks)
5. Dave Tippett (Coyotes)