NHL Power Rankings: Week 21

It’s the last set of Power Rankings before the trade deadline. The problem is that the activity from the last couple of weeks would make you think that the trade deadline is earlier than February 28th. Short of Brad Richards getting traded, I’m not sure if there’s any major moves left to be made. Anyway, there’s a new team on top of the Power Rankings this team but it’s not like they haven’t been there before this season.

#1 Detroit Red Wings (Last Week #5)
As we come up to the trade deadline, it looks like Detroit has to pull something off to get a goaltender. It looks like their options come down to the Isles’s Evgeni Nabakov and Florida’s Tomas Vokoun. I’m not sure how many other #1 calibre goalies are on the trading block at the deadline but they should be on the Wings’s wish list. Their weak point has been keeping the puck out of the net and solving that will help them have a shot at the Cup.

#2 Vancouver Canucks (LW #1)
One of the burning questions heading into the trade deadline isn’t what move will Vancouver make but will Vancouver even make a move. I love this sort of talk. At a certain point, you have to figure that the Canucks are going to buy the hype as Canada’s great Stanley Cup hope. If they get complacent, they’re as good as done in the first round of the playoffs… again. The Canucks need to make a move at the deadline if only to tell the players that they aren’t perfect.

#3 Philadelphia Flyers (LW #3)
While everyone is talking about how great the Canuckleheads are, nobody is on about how the Broad Street Bullies don’t have a discernible need. Goaltending is always a need in Philly but they’re doing well enough in that department this season that they might just be able to get away with it. So why is everyone singing the praises of Vancouver when Philly is essentially in that same boat of not needing to pull off a trade to make a Cup run? They’re anti-old time hockey. That’s what’s happening.

#4 Phoenix Coyotes (LW #9)
I still can’t figure out Phoenix. This is their highest Power Ranking of the season but I have no idea what’s so different now to move them up here. If memory serves, they’ve been as low as 24th in the Power Rankings this season. I think that St. Louis is the only other team that has had such a wide range of rankings this season. The big difference is that St. Louis is bottoming out while Phoenix is moving on up.

#5 San Jose Sharks (LW #6)
I kept saying it was only a matter of time before the Sharks started baring their teeth and tearing up the league. Now they’re in the top five of the Power Rankings. This is a very good regular season team, they just needed Kyle Wellwood to push them over the top. I love the irony of Kyle Wellwood showing up just as this team turned the corner. He had to leave everywhere else to make them better. Only in Northern California, I guess.

#6 Calgary Flames (LW #11)
Don Cherry made a good point on Sunday during Coach’s Corner. The slump and subsequent turn-around really had nothing to do with Darryl Sutter getting fired. His dismissal wasn’t what turned the team around. The players haven’t changed under Jay Feaster’s watch. Sure, this might have been a case of changing the team culture with a new GM but it could just as easily have been a case of catching a few bounces and the teams gaining confidence as a result.

#7 Boston Bruins (LW #7)
Boston looks to be the team that is loading up the most for a run to the Cup. Tomas Kaberle was the real missing piece for this team. They needed a puck-moving defenceman to spark the offence in the playoffs. While this team is built from the net out, every goal that they can put on the board makes life that much easier for Tim Thomas. While a hot goalie can get you to the Cup, not having to rely solely on goaltending can win you the Cup.

#8 Tampa Bay Lightning (LW #2)
Tampa’s only made one move so far. They picked up Eric Brewer from the Blues for a prospect and a pick. I think this is the right move for the Bolts. Goaltending is sorted out with Rollie the Goalie. Scoring is okay as long as Stamkos and/or St. Louis stay healthy. Getting leadership and defensive presence is just what this team needs. After all, they’re a -6 in goal differential. That’s gotta be a sign that they need some help on the blue line.

#9 Pittsburgh Penguins (LW #8)
The funniest thing I saw about the Neal/Niskanen for Goligoski trade was a screenshot from NHL 11. An intrepid gamer tried executing the trade in what I assume was franchise mode as Pens GM Ray Shero. The response from the virtual Joe Nieuwendyk? The offer was insulting and the Pens would have to offer a lot more for the trade to go through. It’s ironic because that’s how everyone but Nieuwendyk feels about the trade.

#10 Los Angeles Kings (LW #13)
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with The Blake Show at the NBA All-Star Game. The dunk in the Rookie-Sophomore challenge was impressive but a fair bit of that was John Wall’s pass. The Slam Dunk Contest was okay but I don’t think Blake lived up to the hype. Everyone else lived up to Blake’s hype, however, but got screwed because this was The Blake Show. On Sunday, Griffin was invisible. He may be a spectacular dunker but he’s still got plenty of room to develop his game.

#11 Anaheim Ducks (LW #4)
I’ve heard of the saying “If you can’t beat them, join them” but I don’t think that saying is meant for four years later. In the last week, the Ducks have added former Ottawa Senators Jarkko Ruutu and Ray Emery to their squad. It’s not like Anaheim added the good parts of the Ottawa Eastern Conference champions team but the agitator and the one-hit wonder in goal. I bet I’m going to get a nasty tweet or five from Jackie about these moves.

#12 Minnesota Wild (LW #14)
Can someone explain to be how McDonald’s plans on selling more Caramel Mochas by running commercials with that synchronized hand tap dancing routine? Is it supposed to be so good that you insist upon doing a supposedly spontaneous but actually well-rehearsed routine in public so it can be posted to YouTube and pose like a figure skating pair when you’re done? This makes me want to avoid McDonald’s altogether to avoid the possibility of seeing such a ridiculous routine.

#13 Washington Capitals (LW #15)
It looks like my new interweb side project is slowly starting to gain traction. Last week, I pimped my new site K Me Now. It’s a website dedicated to all those moments in life that you dread that make you scream “Kill me now!” Our readers submit stories from that made them think KMN and we publish them for everyone to share a laugh at. We’ve even got a few stories up there for you to read and share a laugh at so check it out.

#14 Nashville Predators (LW #12)
Here’s our most recent KMN story that was submitted by a woman under the name of Just Friends: Last night, I went on what was supposed to be a date with the guy I’ve been in love with for a year. While on said “date,” he called another girl and asked her out for later that night. KMN! I know everyone has a couple of stories like that stored away to tell folks over drinks. Why don’t you submit yours?

#15 Montreal Canadiens (LW #10)
I like that columnists have strong opinions that stimulate discussion and debate. However, I don’t like it when columnists form opinions solely to provoke discussion. Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun wrote a column saying he didn’t think that Montreal was hockey royalty any more. I read the column and his point is that the Habs haven’t won as many Cups recently as they did in their glory days and shouldn’t get preferential status any more. That’s something I would expect from Bleacher Report, not a major newspaper columnist. Looks like Cole was just trolling for comments with that piece.

#16 Columbus Blue Jackets (LW #18)
Speaking of dumb commercials, in Canada, we have an ad for Sun Life retirement planning. A couple retires early so they throw a party and invite their financial/retirement planner. Naturally, they serenade him with a song and dance about how wonderful he is. So why would I go to these people for retirement planning just because a fictional couple does a slightly awkward song and dance for their planner? Does anyone actually think these commercials through?

#17 Chicago Blackhawks (LW #20)
I think it’s safe to say that the best new network drama of the season is The Chicago Code. It’s well filmed, well scripted and well acted. And it’s a cop show where they don’t quite get their man every episode. They get a couple of underlings but not the big target. That’s a welcome change from the usual fare for the crime drama genre. For the sake of completeness, I’d say the best new drama overall is The Walking Dead. Who doesn’t like a good zombie drama.

#18 New Jersey Devils (LW #17)
They may not be #1 but the hottest team in the NHL is still the Devils. But when you’ve still got a lottery pick, I don’t think I can legitimately rank them atop the Power Rankings. Quite clearly, I usually don’t let points standings factor that much into where I rank teams. But being ten points out of a playoff spot is still being ten points. I don’t think you can be considered a top ten team in the league when you’re still in contention for a #1 pick. So next week, I’ll rank the Devils #8.

#19 Dallas Stars (LW #16)
At this point, I think it’s fairly obvious that the Stars are giving up on the season. Neal and Niskanen for Goligoski was a pretty good sign that management thinks this team isn’t quite ready for a long playoff run. Now all signs point to Brad Richards getting traded to the highest bidder by the trade deadline. The only question is how many first round picks and prospects get moved for the most elite talent available at the deadline.

#20 Buffalo Sabres (LW #19)
It would seem that the Sabres are open for business. The following teams had scouts in attendance at last night’s Sabres game: Vancouver, San Jose, Chicago, Toronto, Minnesota, Montreal, the Rangers, Columbus, Ottawa, St. Louis, Dallas, Carolina and Edmonton. The Thrashers were also there so that would mean that thirteen of the twenty-eight teams not involved in last night’s game were scouting it. I guess that’s what happens when a new owner is in town.

#21 St. Louis Blues (LW #24)
Can somebody explain to me what the Blues get out of their trade with Colorado? It’s not bad in the short-term but the Blues are a rebuilding team. Getting Stewart and Shattenkirk will help now but not as much as Erik Johnson will later. It seems like a very short-sighted move. After all, it’s not every year that you get a first overall pick in your organization. And how often do those players get moved for that matter?

#22 Carolina Hurricanes (LW #21)
I’ve had a long couple weeks at work. Okay, I think it’s been a long couple months since the change of calendars but these last two weeks have been exceptionally busy. The best example I can think of when it comes to the blog is that I originally typed the Carolina Hurricanes as the Carolina Panthers. Somehow, I managed to get the NHL team confused with Carolina’s NFL team. I sure I’ll be okay… Eventually.

#23 New York Islanders (LW #23)
I can’t believe that it’s taken me all the way to #23 to mention the new NASCAR season. I’m 23 and I don’t think I’ve really accomplished month in my life. Meanwhile, the Daytona 500 champion is 20-year-old Trevor Bayne. Sunday’s race was his first 500 and his second NASCAR Sprint Cup race. He has reached the pinnacle of his sport before I reached any level of satisfaction with my life… KMN.

#24 Florida Panthers (LW #27)
According to Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy thinks that the Panthers will be busy selling on deadline day. Cory Stillman and Tomas Vokoun are likely to be on their way out on Monday. But what about ex-Leaf Bryan McCabe. Well he wants to re-sign with the Panthers. I didn’t realize that Pete DeBoer’s offensive strategy included the Panthers scoring in their own net. McCabe hasn’t indicated whether or not he’ll wave his NTC but he is a member of Muskoka Five. That doesn’t bode well for GM Dale Tallon.

#25 New York Rangers (LW #22)
Well, the Rangers have been pushed off the New York sports radar once again thanks to the newest New York Knick. The long-awaited trade for Carmelo Anthony has made the Knicks the top draw at MSG. I don’t know much about the NBA but it seems to me the Knicks parlayed tonnes of negotiating leverage into a bad deal. Melo only wanted to play for the Knicks but New York sent a huge package out in a three-way deal. They should sent four tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert and call it a deal. That would have been a fair deal considering no other team in the league had a shot at signing Melo.

#26 Toronto Maple Leafs (LW #26)
So the Leafs trade two defencemen and now decide that they want to add one with a trade. Doesn’t that really defeat the purpose of  the second trade. Anyway, after moving Frank Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle, Brian Burke decides that he wants John-Michael Liles from Colorado. I know they’re out of the hunt for the playoffs and will be looking to dump salary but that’s no reason to become a buyer. The Leafs should try to get picks not get rid of them.

#27 Atlanta Thrashers (LW #25)
Heading into last night’s action, the Thrashers were all of one point ahead of the Leafs in the standings. Remember when the Thrashers were in contention to win the Southeast Division? Now they’ve managed to slump their way down to contention for the #1 draft pick. To quote former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, the Thrashers are who we thought they were. I don’t think anyone expected much better from Atlanta this season.

#28 Edmonton Oilers (LW #29)
I really hate those TSN Tradecentre commercials. It probably has to do with the dude having an iPad… At least, I think he has an iPad. I know he’s got a laptop and a BlackBerry Torch. Anyway, there is one redeeming quality to this commercial. At the very end, Jay Onrait is seen carrying the vintage Gino Reda mug. Normally I wouldn’t be inclined to buy a mug of Gino’s mug but I may just make an exception just this once.

#29 Colorado Avalanche (LW #28)
Naturally, three days after making the trade with St. Louis, the Avs and Blues played. Until that point, Colorado was winless for the month of February. Naturally, they beat the Blues after robbing them blind in their early morning trade. Seriously, the trade went through at about 3:00 AM Eastern. I assume that the Blues GM was asleep when he agreed to the deal because that would be a logical explanation for the result.

#30 Ottawa Senators (LW #30)
I have to give Bryan Murray some more credit again this week. Not enough credit to call him “cuz” as I do to other Murrays who I like but credit just the same. After committing robbery in getting rid of Mike Fisher, he traded Jarkko Ruutu for a sixth round pick (a big return for him), Chris Kelly for a second, and Brian Elliott for Craig Anderson. Those four trades have put Ottawa in much better long-term shape than they were a week ago.

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