NHL Power Rankings: Tampa Enters New Era, Pacific Division Goes to the Playoffs

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent IFebruary 7, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Tampa Enters New Era, Pacific Division Goes to the Playoffs

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    Tampa Bay is entering a new era.

    There are plans for a $35 million renovation to the Ice Palace, and the team will wear new uniforms next year.

    The Canucks are the best team in hockey. They're top-five in all four major categories.

    Last week featured a goalie fight between Brent Johnson (Penguins) and Rick DiPietro (Islanders).

    Unfortunately, it had nothing on Roy-Osgood.

    If the playoffs started today, all five teams from the Pacific Division would be in the postseason.

    The bottom four seeds are all teams from the West Coast.

    A February 1 contest between the Blues and Avalanche was canceled due to a snowstorm.

    Calgary and Minnesota are surging in the Northwest.

    Time will tell if they are playoff teams or a flash in the pan.

30. Edmonton Oilers

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    Last week: 28

    Record: 15-29-8 (38 pts)

    Edmonton is dead last in the league in goals against, power play and penalty kill.

    They have dropped four straight since beating Phoenix on January 25.

29. Ottawa Senators

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    Last week: 26

    Record: 17-28-8 (42 pts)

    The Sens have dropped nine straight.

    They have not received a point since losing to Buffalo in OT on January 25.

28. New York Islanders

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    Last week: 29

    Record: 17-28-7 (41 pts)

    The Isles have won two of their last three.

    Rick DiPietro got in a goalie fight against Pittsburgh—a decision he probably regrets...

27. New Jersey Devils

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    Last week: 30

    Record: 19-30-4 (42 pts)

    With all the offensive talent in New Jersey, the Devils should not be dead last in goals per game.

    However, they've won three of four, so something is going right for this troubled franchise.

26. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Last week: 25

    Record: 21-26-5 (47 pts)

    The Leafs did not capitalize on their surge in early January.

    However, they picked up two wins before losing in Buffalo.

25. Buffalo Sabres

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    Last week: 21

    Record: 24-22-5 (53 pts)

    The Sabres have the 10th-best power play and are third in their division, but they have a long way to catch the Canadiens and Bruins.

    They've won three of their last four.

24. St. Louis Blues

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    Last week: 20

    Record: 23-20-8 (54 pts)

    St. Louis' once-promising season has gone sour.

    This team needs to get hot now if they want to make the playoffs.

23. Florida Panthers

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    Last week: 23

    Record: 23-23-6 (52 pts)

    The Panthers have the fifth-best penalty kill in the league but are unable to win on a regular basis.

    After playing six straight games on the road, they return to Sunrise for five contests.

22. Colorado Avalanche

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    Last week: 14

    Record: 25-21-6 (56 pts)

    The Avs need to fix their porous defense.

    They have the fifth-best offense and seventh-best power play.

    However, they are second to last in defense—giving up 3.3 goals per game.

    As a result, they have dropped three straight home contests to Phoenix, Minnesota and Anaheim.

21. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Last week: 27

    Record: 25-22-5 (55 pts)

    The Jackets blanked the Wings in Detroit and appear to be headed in the right direction.

    However, they have work to do if they want to make the playoffs this season.

20. Atlanta Thrashers

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    Last week: 22

    Record: 24-21-10 (58 pts)

    The Thrashers and Hurricanes are tied for third in the Southeast.

    However, the 'Canes got the best of the Thrash in their latest contest—a 4-3 OT loss in Raleigh.

19. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Last week: 17

    Record: 26-21-6 (58 pts)

    The Hurricanes have rallied in the second half of the season.

    Carolina has the eighth-best offense in the league but have slumped lately.

    They were blanked by Toronto before their overtime win against Atlanta.

18. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Last week: 11

    Record: 27-21-4 (58 pts)

    The Blackhawks have the league's fourth-best offense, best power play and a plus-20 point differential.

    However, they've dropped three of their last four and are currently out of the playoff picture.

17. Calgary Flames

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    Last week: 24

    Record: 26-21-7 (59 pts)

    Calgary won six straight before losing to LA in OT.

    Mikka Kiprusoff's play has been key to their recent success.

    After giving up four goals in a 7-4 win over Dallas, the goaltender has kept opponents to three goals or less in six straight contests—including the team's 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings.

16. Minnesota Wild

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    Last week: 19

    Record: 27-20-5 (59 pts)

    Even with their impotent offense, Minnesota has managed to tow in six of their last eight.

    During that time, Niklas Backstrom has done his fair share of work.

    He's blanked three teams in his last eight games.

15. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Last week: 18

    Record: 26-19-9 (61 pts)

    The Desert Dogs remain in the hunt but appear to be slipping.

    They blew a three-goal lead to San Jose and lost 6-0 to Vancouver before blanking Minnesota.

14. New York Rangers

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    Last week: 9

    Record: 29-22-4 (62 pts)

    The Rangers have been playing some stingy D lately.

    New York is seventh in goals against and eighth on the power play.

    However, the team needs some offense to get out of their current four-game rut.

13. Anaheim Ducks

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    Last week: 16

    Record: 29-21-4 (62 pts)

    Give the Ducks credit.

    They have the third-best power play in the league and their superstars show up every day.

    Corey Perry had the only three goals in a contest against Colorado,

    Former Calgary Flame Curtis McElhinney got the shutout.

12. Dallas Stars

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    Last week: 8

    Record: 30-18-5 (65 pts)

    Dallas' grip on the Pacific is slipping.

    The Stars have lost three straight and are only three points ahead of the Sharks for the division lead.

11. Nashville Predators

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    Last week: 10

    Record: 28-18-7 (63 pts)

    Fourth in goals against, third in penalty kill, the Preds continue to lock down on the team's toughest offenses.

    They blanked the Wings in Tennessee to curtail a four-game losing streak on Saturday.

10. Los Angeles Kings

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    Last week: 15

    Record: 29-22-2 (60 pts)

    The Kings are last in their division but still have a hold on a playoff spot.

    They have won five of their last six contests.

    However, they only play five games in SoCal in February, starting on the 24th.

9. Montreal Canadiens

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    Last week: 12

    Record: 30-19-5 (65 pts)

    The Habs continue to play conservative hockey and currently hold on to a playoff spot in the East.

    Hockey aficionados in Montreal need not worry. This is a team that is built to win in the postseason, regardless of where they are seeded.

8. Detroit Red Wings

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    Last week: 3

    Record: 31-15-6 (68 pts)

    The Wings were blanked by two division opponents, Columbus and Nashville, and only have five points on the Preds for the Central Division lead.

    Things could get interesting in that division down the stretch.

7. San Jose Sharks

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    Last week: 13

    Record: 28-19-6 (62 pts)

    The Sharks have returned to form and now are one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

    They've won seven of their last eight.

    Unfortunately, they only have two more home games left in February. They'll have to keep winning on the road.

6. Washington Capitals

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    Last week: 7

    Record: 29-15-10 (68 pts)

    Losing Mike Green is going to hurt the Caps as they vie with the Lighting for the division title.

    Fortunately, the team was able to blank Pittsburgh without their superstar defenseman.

5. Boston Bruins

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    Last week: 5

    Record: 30-16-7 (67 pts)

    Everything except the power play is clicking for the B's.

    They're sixth in offense, first in defense and fifth on the penalty kill.

    They had won three straight before being blanked by the red-hot Sharks.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Last week: 4

    Record: 34-16-4 (72 pts)

    The Penguins had their five-game win streak snapped in Washington on Sunday.

    Even with the loss, the Pens remain one of the hottest teams in hockey, even without Sidney Crosby.

3. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Last week: 1

    Record: 35-13-5 (75 pts)

    The Flyers have the league's best offense and a top-10 defense but need to improve their special teams.

    However, a 4-0 loss in Tampa may indicate something about how the East will shake out.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Last week: 6

    Record: 33-16-5 (71 pts)

    By committing $35 million in renovations to the St. Pete Times Forum and announcing a uniform change midseason, the Lighting are sending a clear message:

    They're serious about winning.

    For information on arena renovations: http://lightning.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=551400&navid=DL|TBL|home

    The new jerseys can be seen here: http://lightning.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=551150&navid=DL|TBL|home

1. Vancouver Canucks

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    Last week: 2

    Record: 34-10-9 (77 pts)

    No question, the Canucks are the best team in hockey right now.

    They're top-five in all categories:

    Offense - second

    Defense - third

    Power play - second

    Penalty kill - fourth