NHL Power Rankings: Can Vancouver Canucks Hold on for a Second Straight Week?

Alan ZlotorzynskiCorrespondent IIIMarch 1, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Can Vancouver Canucks Hold on for a Second Straight Week?

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    Duncan and the Hawks invade the NHL BCS rankingsJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Welcome to the fourth installment of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) style NHL Power Rankings. Just a quick recap, this is a ranking system designed and based on a point system. There are six categories used to factor the points.

    Ranking eligibility requirements (like this is official) are, a team must either be one of the 16 best teams in the league or be playoff eligible in their conference. Please click on the link below if you need more details.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/607510-bcs-style-nhl-power-rankings-second-edition

    This week we have 18 teams that meet the criteria to be ranked. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome in for the first time (in this poll) the defending Stanley Cup Champions,the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago, or Chick-a-go in the words of Kelly Bundy, has impacted the poll quite a bit and not like a bad tooth.

    With Chicago's arrival, someone had to go. Lets everyone wave goodbye, at least temporarily—they do play in the West, to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were ranked No. 16 last week but do not be surprised to see them back in the rankings soon.

    Just seven points separate the number five seeded Blackhawks and the No.12 seeded Columbus Blue Jackets in the Western conference.

    The trade deadline has come and gone and many teams improved their Cup chances with additions to already stacked teams. Teams like Boston and Philadelphia made moves early last week before the deadline, while the Capitals, Canucks, and Kings improved their teams at the deadline.

    Whatever happens I can honestly say that it has been a long time since the NHL has been this much fun to watch. I find myself surfing the net for the TV feed on the late games and do not go to sleep until the games are finished. Yes, my wife still loves me------------I think.

    My apologies to those of you who emailed me wanting to know why these are late but the trade deadline took precedence in my writing.

    These stats are based on NHL games played through Monday February-28. So who will it be and where did the champs debut? So click on my friends to find out and as always please leave your hateful comments below. I will look forward to arguing with you.

No. 18- Carolina Hurricanes

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Last week rank- No.18

    Points- 102.5

    Eighth in the East, Third in the Southwest

    Here is a prediction; The Carolina Hurricanes will not make the playoffs. With a record of 3-4-3 in their last 10 games, they are still lucky to be in a playoff spot. While the Canes have nine points in their last ten games, the teams chasing them are not fairing much better. Over that same 10 game stretch, the ninth seeded Buffalo Sabres have just 12 points. The team to look out for could be the surging Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have recorded 14 points in 10 games, picking up five points on the Canes.

    The funny thing with the Canes is they can score with the best of any team ahead of them. They are fifth in the East in goals scored but a minus-nine in goal differential. Eric Staal has been out with injury but returns to the lineup tonight.

No.17 Calgary Flames: Flames GM Jay Feaster Stays Quiet, Is Calgary Good Enough?

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    Calgary GM Jay Feaster, shown here with TampaBrian Bahr/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No.15

    Points: 145 points

    Seventh in West, Second in Northwest

    Calgary drops but only because of Chicago’s arrival. The Flames continue to play good steady hockey. They are 6-2-2 in their last ten but they did show they are not yet up to par with the teams in the upper half of each conference. They lost to the Bruins and Sharks at home this past week.

    The Flames have 36 points since Jan 1, so Calgary GM Jay Feaster did not feel the need to wheel and deal before the trade deadline. Feaster did acquire veteran forward Freddy Modin, who won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay when Feaster was there, and claimed defenseman Brett Carson off waivers from Carolina.

No.16 Dallas Stars: Are Wholesale Changes Coming in Big D?

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    celebrations have been far and few betweenRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Last week rank: 17

    Points: 152.5

    Eighth in the West, Fourth in Pacific

    The Stars have won two in row, a feat they have not accomplished since winning five in a row Jan. 9 through Jan. 20. They are however just 3-6-1 in their last 10.

    The Alex Goligoski trade looked real good in a huge win for the struggling Stars on Saturday night. The former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman scored once and set up Loui Eriksson's game-winner on the power play with 3:42 left to give the Stars a much-needed victory over the Nashville Predators. The win was just their third in their last 12 games as Dallas is just 11-10-2 since the New Year.

    Helping to fade the dwindling Stars fate is that center Brad Richards remains out after suffering a concussion on Feb. 13 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Stars will need Richards to make the playoffs.

No.15 Phoenix Coyotes: Losing Streak Drops Coyotes

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Last week rank: 8

    Points: 180

    Fourth in West and Second in pacific.

    The Coyotes have lost three straight and been outscored 17-9 in the process. With the Western Conference being so tightly bunched losing one game can hurt you badly in the standings, much less three in a row. Prior to the three game losing streak, the Coyotes had won eight straight games.

    Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney announced yesterday that the Coyotes acquired defenseman Rostislav Klesla and forward Dane Byers from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto.

    Klesla, 28, has recorded 3-7-10 in 45 games this season for the Blue Jackets. He was fourth among Columbus defenseman in goals (3). In 515 career games, Klesla recorded (41-92-133). Additionally, Klesla (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) has appeared in four playoff games with the Blue Jackets, collecting an assist. Columbus drafted Klesla in the first round (fourth overall) in the 2000 Entry Draft.

    Phoenix plays four of their next five games at home beginning with a key pacific division show down with the struggling Dallas Stars tonight (Tuesday).


No.14 Montreal Canadiens: Habs Fading in Northeast Race

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    Kostitsyn scored the game winner on saturdayRichard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No.14

    Points: 205

    Sixth in East, Second in Northeast.

    The Canadians have picked a bad time to start slumping. The Bruins, winners of their last five games have begun the process of pulling away from Montreal. Yes, the lead is only six points but Montreal has won just two of their last six and is 3-5-2 in their last ten games.

    While the Bruins revamped their roster last week, Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier did not like the market at the trade deadline and decided to remain quiet, not making any major deals. The Habs have been hard at work tweaking their roster since dealing Ryan O’Byrne to Colorado in mid-November.  After adding James Wisniewski, Paul Mara, and Brent Sopel to the mix over the past two months, Montreal decided that was enough.

    The Canadians did make one small deal in acquiring goaltender Drew MacIntyre from the Atlanta Thrashers for Brett Festerling. MacIntyre is scheduled to join the Habs AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.

    Five of their next six games are on the road. While the Habs are the second best team in this poll with their winning percentage within their division, they have the third worst road record. Montreal is just 13-15-1 away from the Bell Centre this season.

No.13 Nashville Predators: Preds out of Playoff Hunt, for Now

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No.6

    Points: 220

    Tenth in the West, Third in the Central

    The Preds begin a crucial four game road trip tonight (Tuesday) in Edmonton. They are currently in tenth place and out of the playoff picture. While only two points behind the LA Kings, they are showing no signs of snapping out of a 15 game funk.

    During their road trip, they will also visit three teams ahead of them in the West, Vancouver, Calgary, and San Jose. Nashville must come away with points in at least two of those games to keep their confidence up heading down the stretch.

    The Preds are 5-8-2 over that span, averaging just 1.93 goals per game in the process. What seems to be puzzling is David Poile did not make a move to better his team offensively at the deadline. They did acquire Mike Fisher from Ottawa earlier in February but nothing else at the deadline. As a life-long Caps fan, I feel your pain with Poile Preds fans, I feel your pain.

No.12 Washington Capitals: Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde in Skates

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    New Caps Dennis WidemanGreg Fiume/Getty Images

    Last week ranK: 13

    Points: 232.5

    Fifth in East, Second in Southwest

    The Caps were shutout for the ninth time this season at home on Friday night by the New York Rangers. The Caps lost just 10 games all season at home last year. This season they have already been beat 12 times at the big phone-booth. In their last four games at home they have been outscored 13-1.

    Washington made two deals to address two needs, the power play, and playoff experience. The Caps acquired Dennis Wideman from Florida and veteran Jason Arnott from the New Devils at the deadline on Monday. They also picked up Marco Sturm from the waiver wire on Friday.

    Washington fans have all kinds of explanations on hand for the reasons the Caps are not the same team from last season. While most of them are probably accurate to a degree, the issue boils down to one thing, the power play. Ranked No. 1 last season the caps have plummeted to 25th this season.

    Wideman will help with that stat, Arnott will be a decent up-grade as a second line center, and his playoff experience will matter in DC come mid April. However, this is the Capitals and when you mention playoffs and Capitals in the same sentence it does not usually end well and I am not talking about the sentence.

No. 11 Minnesota Wild: Barely Hanging on

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No. 12

    Points: 255

    Ninth in West, Third in Northwest

    The Wild must play better than .500 hockey to survive in the "wild" west this season. They are 5-4-1 in their last ten and have dropped out of the top eight. Six of their next eight games are on the road where Minnesota is a good team.

    The Wild has not played outside the conference since that three-game Eastern sweep of New Jersey, Boston, and Pittsburgh from January 4 through January 8. However, Minnesota is just 5-6-1 against the East this season.

No. 10 Los Angeles Kings: Last Years Philadelphia Flyers?

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No.10

    Points: 285

    Sixth in the West, Third in Pacific

    The Kings made perhaps the biggest trade deadline deal in acquiring Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers. Penner can play left wing on the Kings' top line, alongside Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds.

    Penner could provide some momentum for an L.A. offense that is ranked 18th in the NHL (2.69 goals per game). Many are wondering if the price Kings GM Dean Lombardi paid to get Penner was too high. Lombardi  gave up a great defensive prospect in Colten Teubert, a 2011 first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in order to get a player who this season had 21 goals and 39 points on the Western Conference's worst team.

    Only time will tell and like the Capitals, the Kings must prove this trade’s worth in mid-April. The problem is, just like it is for most teams out west, they play in the West, so LA must get immediate return from Penner in order to make the playoffs.

    The Kings still play very stingy defensively so my money is that they will see mid-April. If Penner gets hot and Jonathan Quick catches fire, they may see mid May and early June as well.

No. 9 New York Rangers: Looking More and More Like Last Season All over Again

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No. 11

    Points: 292.5

    Seventh in East, Third in Atlantic

    When all was said and done and the NHL’s trading deadline had passed yesterday afternoon, the Rangers, despite making only one minor move on Monday, were more than pleased where their team stood.

    By holding on to their talented young NHL players, as well as their string of blue-chip prospects, the Rangers remained committed not only to their short-term success, but to their long-term vision, as well. They may end up sacrificing this season but not a bad decision.

    The Rangers are 4-6 in their last 10 games but move up two spots? Funny how a point system poll works  but the Blue-Shirts rank in or near the middle in just about every category. The only category they fail to measure up is winning percentage  and divisional record.

    I'm still not a believer and feel that backup goalie Marty Biron's injury will hurt the Rangers. Starter Henrik Lundqvist needs a rest every now and again and the Rangers just cannot afford to throw one away at this point, starting a minor league goalie for the sake of giving Lundqvist a rest.

    Do not be surprised if the Blue Shirts are home again in mid-April. 

No. 8 Tampa Bay Lightning: Flying Under the Radar the Bolts Are Set to Do Damage

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    The Bolts captain is hotJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No. 9

    Points: 295

    Second in East, First in Southwest.  

    The Lightning set a record last week becoming the first team in NHL history to end two eight game winning streaks consecutively. They stopped both the Phoenix Coyotes and the New Jersey Devils in their tracks.

    The Lightning finished their NHL record tying 12 game home stand with a record of 7-3-2. They then hit the road and beat the Rangers. Tampa proved last week that they could win playing high scoring hockey as they did in beating Phoenix, 8-3. They can win playing defensive hockey as they did in beating the Devils, 2-1, or they can even play bad on the road and win as they did in New York, again winning 2-1.

    Led by their captain Vincent Lecavalier, who has nine points in his last seven games, the Bolts seem to be hitting their stride at just the right time.

No. 7 Chicago Blackhawks: Welcome to the Dance Champs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Last week rank: NR

    Points: 327.5

    Fifth in West, Second in Central

    The biggest reason for the champions climb is the play of their captain. Jonathan Toews was named the NHL's first star for the month of February. Toews led all scorers in February with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) and posted a +13 rating as the Blackhawks (34-23-6) collected points in 10 of 13 games (8-3-2) and climbed to fifth place in the Western Conference.

    With a banged up defensive unit the Hawks made a deadline deal in acquiring defenseman Chris Campoli and a conditional seventh-round draft pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Ryan Potulny and a conditional second-round draft pick.

    Campoli, 26, has recorded three goals and 11 assists in 58 games with Ottawa this season. He ranks third on the club with 70 blocked shots and second among team blue liners with 73 hits

    Winners in six of their last seven games the Hawks seem to be settling into their role of defending champions the closer spring gets.

No.6 Pittsburgh Peguins

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Rank last week: 5

    Points: 327.5

    Fourth in East, Second in Atlantic

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost eight of their last 12 games and while they finally came to life offensively in a win in Toronto over the weekend, their struggles with the puck look likely to continue.No one knows when Sidney Crosby will return.

    The Pens have enough defensively to go deep in the playoffs but they will need to score more than the 2.18 goals per game they are averaging over their last 11.

    Due to a scheduling issue with the NHL the Penguins return to the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday to play the Toronto Maple Leafs; this after just playing their on Saturday night.

    The Penguins are in the midst of a five-game road stretch, the Penguins, who stopped a four-game losing streak, hadn't scored more than three goals in their previous 10 games before Saturday.

No.5 San Jose Sharks: Are They Peeking to Soon

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No.7

    Points: 330

    Third in the West, First in Pacific.

    The Sharks have won six straight and are 15-2-1 in their last 18 games. Do you Remember their six game losing streak back in January, me either. While they are just two points ahead of Phoenix, they seem to be playing hockey on a different level.

    They have surged to the number three seed in the Western Conference and are now circling the second seeded Detroit Red Wings. San Jose is coming off a 3-0 road trip through Detroit, Pittsburgh and Calgary, and Tuesday's game starts a six-game home stand.

    In what I believe is a good move, the Sharks have locked up goaltender Antti Niemi as the Stanley Cup winning goaltender has signed a four-year extension to stay in the Bay Area.

    The only concern could be, are the Sharks peeking to soon? Only time will tell.

No.4 Detroit Red Wings: All They Do Is Win Hockey Games

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Rank last week: No.4

    Points: 386.5

    Second in West, First in Central.

    Home is where the road is, says the Wings' official website. The breakdown says they're 17-10-4 at Joe Louis Arena, a closer look shows a recent 8-9-2 record at home. Contrast that with a 20-8-2 away mark and it's easy to see why coach Mike Babcock just can't wait to get on the road again.

    The Wings went 7-1 on the road and 2-4 at home in February. If they could just figure out a way to stay out of Joe Louis Arena, the Wings seem capable of winning a banner to hang it in.

    Look for Detroit to hold off San Jose now but I like the Sharks this year in the post season.

No.3 Boston Bruins: Are They Now the Team to Beat in the East?

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    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    Rank last week: No.3

    Points: 422.5

    Second in East, First in Northeast

    The Bruins have been perfect on their current six-game road trip with regulation wins in each of their first five games. The recent strong play away from home has helped the Bruins to the NHL's best road record at 21-7-4 and second in this poll behind Detroit. This poll is based on winning percentage as not all teams have played the same amount of road games to date.

    The Bruins roster seems set, and while Monday’s trade deadline passed without much turnover, the Bruins management and coaching staff are satisfied with the group that is going to finish the season in Boston.

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers: Using Their Time Wisely

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    four days to healMike Stobe/Getty Images

    Last week rank: No.2

    Points: 495

    First in East, First in Atlantic

    The Flyers are taking a much needed four days off and working on their struggling power play in the process. If the Flyers can get their extra man troubles worked out, then it could be game, set and match for the rest of the eastern conference. The Flyers are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games.

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks: Stanley Cup or Bust in the Great Northwest

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    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Rank last week: No.1

    Points: 505

    First in West, First in Northwest

    The Canucks seem to be on cruise control and not necessarily in a good way. They have alternated wins and losses in their last 10 contests. The Canucks were busy at the deadline yesterday acquiring centers Maxim Lapierre and MacGregor Sharp from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for centre Joel Perrault and a 2012 3rd round draft pick.

    Still feeling like his team needed some more help Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis acquired left wing Chris Higgins from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Evan Oberg and a 2013 third round pick.

    The moves were solid in securing depth through all four lines. They got a coveted fourth line center and added quality depth on the wing. These moves sent notice to the rest of the NHL that it is Stanley Cup or bust in the Vancouver this  season.