Haggerty's Power Rankings: Ducks make a push

Haggerty's Power Rankings: Ducks make a push
March 12, 2013, 4:00 pm
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The Bruins will be the last team to reach the halfway mark of the season when they travel to the CONSOL Energy Center for a Tuesday night tilt with the Penguins. So what to make of the NHL standings and playoff positioning at the midseason mark?

Despite the shortened season it sure seems like it’s going to be “wait until next year” for teams like the Panthers, Blue Jackets, Capitals, Lightning, Oilers and Flames. For many of them, this has become an annual routine.

For other hockey clubs like the Maple Leafs, Ducks and Wild they are embracing the sweet reality that they’ll be involved in the postseason barring an unforeseen disaster over the next six weeks. That also means there’s only a small pool of players available as the trade deadline looms on April 3, and a glut of suitors lining up to fill their different roster needs.

Also, not surprisingly, there’s almost no movement at the top: The Blackhawks, Ducks, Bruins, Canadiens and Penguins are the class of the NHL in the first half, and each is looking like they’ll be a handful once the playoffs begin. Now it’s about filling a specific need or two and remaining as healthy as possible for a playoff season that will be here before we know it.  

Here are this week’s power rankings:
30. Florida Panthers (7-13-6, ranked last week: 30) – Florida may very well be here for the rest of the season. They’ve lost three in a row and have an NHL-worst minus-34 goal differential, and now they don’t have Jose Theodore. Charles Barkley would say they’re “turrible.”     
29. Buffalo Sabres (9-14-3, ranked last week: 26) – So maybe it wasn’t Lindy Ruff that was the problem after all, eh?   
28. Washington Capitals (10-13-1, ranked last week: 27) – They win a couple of big games -- including coming back from down three goals against the Bruins -- and then sink right back into the morass.  
27. Calgary Flames (9-11-4, ranked last week: 23) – What is it that’s keeping Jarome Iginla hanging in there with the Flames? They are going nowhere and refuse to rebuild. What a mess.  
26. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-14-1, ranked last week: 28) – Two wins in their last 10 games for a Lightning team that clearly doesn’t have enough defense or goaltending to contend again this season.  
25. Edmonton Oilers (9-11-5, ranked last week: 22) – Time to start selling off the wares and constructing another plan because riding their young talent just isn’t working for the Oil.  
24. Philadelphia Flyers (12-14-1, ranked last week: 27) – The Flyers looked like a dead hockey team walking when they passed through Boston last weekend. Not enough fight or pride on that club.   
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (10-12-4, ranked last week: 29) – The Blue Jackets are making a run with a five-game winning streak. We’ll see how far that takes them.    
22. New York Islanders (11-12-3, ranked last week: 25) – Might be time for the Isles to peel off Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky and try again next season. It’s certainly a waste of John Tavares and Matt Moulson in their primes.    
21. Nashville Predators (10-9-6, ranked last week: 21) – The Predators are completely stuck in neutral right now. They’re too good for the bottom, but not enough of a threat for the teams at the top. I call it “middle fiddle.”
20. Colorado Avalanche (10-10-4, ranked last week: 24) – The team that killed Chicago’s undefeated streak is making their move. Duchene and Parenteau have been great together.   
19. Winnipeg Jets (12-11-2, ranked last week: 20) – The Jets are three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the Southeast Division lead, and it might just be doable for them this season.    
18. Dallas Stars (12-10-2, ranked last week: 18) – Ray Whitney and Kari Lehtonen are both back and healthy, and it’s certainly worth it for management to see if they have a run in them over the next few weeks.  
17. Phoenix Coyotes (12-10-3, ranked last week: 9) – The Desert Dogs have some long road trips starting them in the face, and this might be where they finally go under for good this season. Or it could help them gel. Could go either way.   
16. New Jersey Devils (12-9-5, ranked last week: 13) – Could David Clarkson really be on the trading block as some have speculated? Then what exactly are the Devils doing this season?   
15. St. Louis Blues (13-10-2, ranked last week: 15) – Brian Elliott has to be feeling some Jake Allen envy these days. The Blues seem to keep finding goaltenders, don’t they?  
14. Vancouver Canucks (11-7-6, ranked last week: 6) – How is the Vancouver power play so bad with their offensive personnel? What are they paying the Sedin Twins besides being spokesmen for gingers everywhere?  
13. San Jose Sharks (11-7-6, ranked last week: 12) – The Sharks are ready to be detonated. It’s just not going to happen with that mix of players as they struggle offensively and float just below the surface. Cue the Jaws music.  
12. New York Rangers (13-9-2, ranked last week: 16) – The Rangers are finally starting to look like…the Rangers. It’s about time.  
11. Carolina Hurricanes (14-9-1, ranked last week: 10) – The Canes have won two out of three since Cam Ward went down, but they might be getting by on adrenaline right now.   
10. Detroit Red Wings (12-9-5, ranked last week: 17) – Let’s call it what it is this season for the Wings: a sometimes painful transition process where they’ll occasionally do things like drop two in a row to the Blue Jackets.  
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (15-10-1, ranked last week: 7) – No shame in losing to the Bruins and the Penguins, but that shows Toronto they still have work to do to beat the Big Boys.
8. Minnesota Wild (13-9-2, ranked last week: 14) – Stuff just got real for the Wild as they surged past Vancouver in their division. Minnesota starting to gel after introducing new parts this season.
7. Ottawa Senators (13-8-5, ranked last week: 9) – Ottawa once again gamely battling the Bruins to a shootout before losing their tenth straight game to Boston at Scotiabank Place. That’s just embarrassing.
6. Los Angeles (13-8-2, ranked last week: 11 ) – Jeff Carter is red hot and helping to carry a Kings team that’s won eight of their last 10 games, but does he really have 17 goals and only two assists? What a Hun.
5. Montreal Canadiens (17-5-4, ranked last week: 5) – The Habs looked pretty good stomping both Florida teams in their swing through the Sunshine State.  
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-0, ranked last week: 4) – Evgeni Malkin returns to the lineup, and then goes right back out with another injury. The Penguins keep on winning. Ho-hum.  
3. Boston Bruins (17-3-3, ranked last week: 3) – The Bruins are starting to catch on with the power play and Tyler Seguin is heating up offensively. It couldn’t have come at a better time with the schedule getting very heavy for Boston.

2. Anaheim Ducks (18-3-3, ranked last week: 2) – The Ducks’ phenomenal start has forced some tough questions: What do they do with Corey Perry now that Ryan Getzlaf has signed a huge deal? Can they keep them both? The team looks like it’s ready for a run if they’re kept together.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (21-2-3, ranked last week: 1) – The Blackhawks are on a two-game losing streak and appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. The jinx continues.