Hockey World Blog NHL Power Rankings: February

 With teams resuming action after the All-Star break tomorrow night, I took the opportunity to use this months rankings to preview the second half and share insight at what teams need to do to make themselves a better team in the remaining 30 or so games before the playoffs start.

Rank Team Last Month Team Notes
1 PHI 1 The Flyers haven’t had the best record in the NHL this late in the season in 26 years. If they keep up the play, they will be dangerous to handle.
2 VAN 2 How will they handle potentially playing the rest of the season without Alex Edler? He was hurt last week with a back injury and will undergo surgery.
3 TB 4 The Bolts are for real, they were expected to contend for a playoff spot but midway through they are leading the Southeast Division. Look for them to keep up the solid play with 10 consecutive home games this month.
4 PIT 5 Maybe Crosby and Malkin should be injured more often because Marc-Andre Fleury has been hot in goal over the month of December. He’s only allowed over three goals in a game once since early November.
5 DET 6 For the Wings to challenge Vancouver for the top spot, they have to cut down the goals-against, turnovers and improve the penalty killing. It won’t hurt when Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, and Tomas Holmstrom return to the lineup as well.
6 DAL 8 Why has Dallas leads the Pacific? They are 23-2-1 when scoring first, 16-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes, and 16-3-5 in one-goal games. The last statistic is a record every team would want in single goal games.
7 BOS 11 Look for Marc Savard and his attraction to concussions to be dealt at the deadline. The Bruins can’t afford to waste the performance of Tim Thomas this season to come up short in the playoffs.
8 WAS 3 The Caps need to figure out what’s wrong with their offense. With injuries to Alex Semin, Tom Poti, and Eric Fehr in the first half, their power play is ranked 19th on the power play. Ther schedule isn’t kind either as they make separate five and six-game road trips in the second half.
9 NSH 15 The Predators have 21 of their 32 remaining games at home. Look for them to attempt to catch Detroit in the standings, provided Pekka Rinne can stay healthy in goal.  
10 NYR 12 Like other teams with several injuries, they have just as many AHL recalled players as the NHL-caliber players. Expect them to get Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal and Dan Girardi back this week from injury.
11 MTL 16 The Bruins have a one-point lead over the Canadiens in the standings. They also have a 1-5 record on shootouts this season. Look for that stat to cost them crucial points and wins over the course of the second half.
12 ANA 14 Anaheim is 13-27 on the power play in its’ last nine games. For the season, they are second in the league at 24.4 percent. When you have Teemu Selanne with 230 career power play goals, that helps.
13 CHI 18  Chicago’s main problem is consistency. Some night’s they look like the defending Stanley Cup champs, others they look like they won’t make the playoffs. Five teams are two points or less behind them in the standings, so they have a dogfight ahead of them.
14 PHX 20 The Coyotes are one of three teams (NYR and NSH being the others) with five or more road victories compared to home. If they want to make the playoffs, they have to play better in the desert.
15 ATL 10  Joining Anaheim as the only teams to have played 52 games before the All-Star break, the Thrashers need to regroup and figure out how to play the style of hockey earlier in the season versus more recently where they went into the All-Star break with three wins in its last 10 games.
16 CAR 19 The Canes entered the break earning a point in 55 percent of their games before the All-Star/Olympic break. That’s the highest percentage for them in four years. Except for a five-game road trip in a couple weeks, they don’t have consecutive road games for the remainder of the season. This is their chance to make a playoff push.
17 SJ 7 With Antti Niemi and Antero Nittymaki playing similar, do you think they miss Eveni Nabokov just a little?
18 COL 13 The defense has to tighten up for the Av’s. They are fourth in scoring but is second from last in goals alot. If they turn every game into a track meet, they will be booking tee times in the spring instead of playing hockey.
19 LA 17 The stretch of road for the Kings isn’t good this month. They are kicked out of Staples Center due to the NBA All-Star Game and the Grammys. They don’t return home until Feb. 24, which isn’t good for a team with a 10-13 road record.
20 MIN 23 The Wild will need every point they can get during the stretch run. That includes in the shootout where they are a league-worse 0-4.
21 CGY 22 A team that was all-but-done a month ago, the Flames find themselves only two points out of a playoff spot. Will they be buyers or sellers come the trade deadline?
22 BUF 25 The Sabres get extra time off for the All-Star break. They don’t return to the ice until Friday when they travel to Pittsburgh. Look for Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek, and Patrick Kaleta to play stronger as they heal from injuries.
23 CBJ 21 The Blue Jackets might lean towards being a buyer for offense at the trade deadline. They have depth on defense and could afford to trade someone like Mike Commodore who is currently in the minors.
24 FLA 26 While the Panthers aren’t officially eliminated from the playoffs, they need to start winning and win often. They sit eight points back of the Thrashers and have to jump over two teams. The good news is they have two games in hand on Atlanta and face them two more times.
25 STL 9 The Blues had a 2-8-2 record in the month of December. Both of those wins came against Los Angeles. Tomorrow against Colorado will be their first try to beat someone not named L.A. in 2011.
26 TOR 27 The Leafs have been a “win games when they count the least” type of the team since the lockout ended. They have a 74-54-18 record after February 1.
27 NYI 24 The Islanders have 33 games remaining. If Evgeni Nabokov was smart, he would show up, play at least 12 games and become a UFA this summer. But he could be holding out because the Islanders’ defense is so bad, he could look even worse to other teams than he is already looking.
28 NJ 30 The best thing GM Lou Lamoriello can do is trade the older veterans and start to rebuild with younger players. He will also start with a new coach this summer as interim bench boss Jacques Lemaire won’t coach beyond this season.
29 EDM 29 They don’t have much to play for, but the teams they play have a lot to play for. Look for the Oilers to upset some teams down the stretch and keep someone out of the playoff chase.
30 OTT 28 The Senators have lost seven straight at home. They have yet to win a game in which they trailed after two periods. Like the Devils, they need to trade veteran players and rebuild with younger players and a new coach.

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