NHL Power Rankings: Week 25

Another week, another dose of the NHL Power Rankings. With two and a half weeks left in the season, the Western Conference playoff picture is just as cloudy as ever. But there’s still the stand out Vancouver Canucks atop the standings. However, leading the Presidents’ Trophy chase won’t get them on top of the Power Rankings.

#1 Washington Capitals (Last Week #1)
They’re still the hottest team in the NHL. Everything is clicking at the right time for the Caps. Arnott was the missing piece of the puzzle there. Leadership and scoring is what this team needed for the stretch run (yes, scoring on a team with Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom and Green). Arnott’s Stanley Cup rings are what will guide the team through the playoffs. He has to carry this team in the locker room for them to win the Cup.

#2 Vancouver Canucks (LW #2)
I’m still not as sold as the rest of the bandwagon jumping Canadian media that the Canucks are soon to be anointed Stanley Cup champions. It comes down to the play of Roberto Luongo and that defense in front of him. Scoring is not an issue in Van-City. But Bobby Lu isn’t the best of pressure performers and there’s no way that they’re calling Cory Schneider’s number to start a game in the post-season. Either Lu gets over his playoff yips or it’s another early exit.

#3 Anaheim Ducks (LW #16)
This oughta brighten up Jackie’s impending Australian winter. As Australia starts to cool down for fall, the Ducks start to heat up. What’s better for the Quack Attack is that they’re doing it without a vertigo stricken Jonas Hiller. If Hiller can come back as one of the top five goalies in the league, the Ducks are set for a couple of rounds of playoff action. Which is more than I can say for playoff action that will happen when the Sacramento Kings move to town as the Anaheim Royals. But at least there won’t be a fight over scheduling.

#4 Montreal Canadiens (LW #5)
The Habs are evil. Even when they’re not playing the Leafs, they’re intent upon shattering the dreams of Leafs fans. Tuesday night, they laid an egg against Buffalo who hold down the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. They should have beat Buffalo but they screwed the Make Believes by losing. Now that’s true hatred. To hate a team so much that you’ll quite clearly dog it to keep them out of the post-season.

#5 San Jose Sharks (LW #3)
You know the NHL is cracking down on head shots when Dany Heatley is suspended for an elbow to the head of Steve Ott. Heatley may not be liked but he’s an offensively talented player (AKA the type of player Bettman likes). And Steve Ott is Steve Ott. In the old new NHL, Campbell would’ve called it a hockey play and all would be right with the world. It’s funny how much changes in a week.

#6 Detroit Red Wings (LW #8)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Goaltending is the weak link of this team. They played a fantastic offensive game against Pittsburgh with a lot of heart but no team should lose having scored four goals on the night. I’m not saying Jimmy Howard is a bad goalie. I’m just saying that he can’t win them a Stanley Cup the way he’s playing right now. Even though the new NHL is about scoring, you can’t win a Cup with Hardy Astrom in goal.

#7 Philadelphia Flyers (LW #9)
Even with two games in hand over the Caps, I’d say that the Flyers are more likely than not to lose out on the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington is only one point back and are playing their best hockey of the season. Philadelphia are slumping their way into the playoffs with some 0.500% hockey. That’s not going to win a Stanley Cup but they did just sneak into the playoffs last year so anything is possible.

#8 Pittsburgh Penguins (LW #11)
Ten games and the first round of the playoffs for Matt Cooke. That’s a good sign. Up to this point in his career, Cooke has only been suspended for 10 games. He is the consensus dirtiest player in the game but it took thirteen seasons for him to get a meaningful suspension. Granted, meaningful is a relative thing. As a repeat offender with no appearance of rehabilitation, not losing the whole playoffs is a shame. But we can all be thankful for baby steps from Colin Campbell.

#9 Phoenix Coyotes (LW #15)
Those dudes from the Goldwater Institute might seem like they’re anti-Phoenix Coyotes but they’re really pro-NHL. By threatening a lawsuit if the city of Glendale issues bonds to help Matt Hulsizer buy the team, what they’re really doing is saving Hulsizer and NHL from itself. No bond issue by the city of Glendale means no sale. No sale means that the team has to move. If the team has to move, Winnipeg is ready to get a team back and all is right with the world again… Even if it took some 14 years for order to restore itself.

#10 Chicago Blackhawks (LW #6)
By the way, speaking of Matt Cooke, the people of Pittsburgh had some fun at Monday night’s WWE Raw show. One sign that was spotted in the crowd (and TwitPic’ed to Twitter) read “The Miz fears Matt Cooke.” I think I’m inclined to agree with that one. Imagine if Cooke used a running elbow smash as a finisher like Dusty Rhodes’s old Bionic Elbow. Matt “The Hammer” Cooke, they could call him. He could have a blindside check finisher where he whips his opponent off the ropes and drops him with a hit after bouncing off the ropes himself. Somebody get Vince McMahon on this.

#11 New York Rangers (LW #18)
Speaking of the WWE, they want you to know that they are no longer just a simple wrestling company. They are a “global entertainment company” according to a WWE publicist. The publicist informed one TV blog of that fact as well as the fact that the WWE is a movie studio, magazine publisher, consumer goods distributer and more. If Vince McMahon Sr. was still alive, he’d be scrambling to get Vince Jr. out of the Chairman’s spot and get somebody more wrestling minded back in control of the WWE. Wrestling fans would probably be happy.

#12 Nashville Predators (LW #19)
But that brings me to another point. Is it just me or is wrestling starting to get cool again? I know that the wrestling business is fairly cyclical. It’s gone through two “golden ages” since I was born. It was only a matter of time before it happened again. Bringing The Rock back, even only in a limited capacity, might have been enough for people to take notice again. Granted, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Steve Austin and Trish Stratus showing up as a throw back to better times in wrestling might have helped too. Perhaps all is not lost for the WWE.

#13 Boston Bruins (LW #7)
Mark Recchi may have slightly (or entirely) redefined bulletin board material with his latest quote. The Habs and Bruins rivalry is legendary and will likely reach new levels tonight when the teams meet again. Recchi was quoted as saying that he thought that the Habs embellished Max Pacioretty’s injury to get Zdeno Chara suspended. Referencing a tweet saying that Pacioretty went to the movies, Recchi says that Max’s head injury isn’t that severe. Actually, that makes some sense. Loud noises shouldn’t be tolerable when concussed. I don’t think that everything is on the up and up.

#14 Dallas Stars (LW #12)

#15 Los Angeles Kings (LW #4)
Can someone explain to me what’s going on with Law and Order: LA. Skeet Ulrich and the bald guy were an okay pair. Ulrich is a good actor but needed more Jesse L. Martin and/or Jeremy Sisto from the original L&O in that character to make it resonate with the viewers. Instead, they replaced one good actor in Ulrich with a great one in Alfred Molina. The problem is that the show will fall apart with trying to explain why his character switched from DA to police. And bringing in Alana de la Garza to play second fiddle to Terrence Howard? Not going to make me watch.

#16 Tampa Bay Lightning (LW #10)
Speaking of cop shows, my sister was telling me that CSI: Miami is the most watched of the three CSI shows right now. I haven’t bothered to investigate if it’s true but let’s pretend that it is. The only reason that show is still on the air is so people can laugh at and mock David Caruso. He’s become a caricature in that role. Sunglasses off, sunglasses on, pun, The Who. That’s the show right now. And that makes it the best comedy on TV. No wonder why people are watching.

#17 New Jersey Devils (LW #17)

#18 Calgary Flames (LW #13)

#19 Buffalo Sabres (LW #14)

#20 Carolina Hurricanes (LW #22)

#21 Minnesota Wild (LW #20)

#22 Toronto Maple Leafs (LW #21)

#23 Atlanta Thrashers (LW #26)

#24 New York Islanders (LW #27)

#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (LW #24)

#26 St. Louis Blues (LW #23)

#27 Ottawa Senators (LW #25)

#28 Florida Panthers (LW #28)

#29 Edmonton Oilers (LW #29)

#30 Colorado Avalanche (LW #30)

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