NHL Power Rankings: Flyers tough at the top

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NHL Power Rankings: Flyers tough at the top

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

With the NHL trade deadline little more than a month away, the time has come for plenty of moves to take place. Which teams will stand pat with their teams confident in their roster building at the beginning of the season, and which teams will make an epic splash with an Ilya Kovalchuk-level move this season.

As weve seen, those kind of major deals can either pull a team apart or push them together. Thats always the ultimate chance when altering the chemistry of any hockey team.

There are plenty of rumors out there about Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar with some even suggesting that Boston might be interested and that kind of player could be the one missing link for many teams to become Stanley Cup contenders.

Tomas Kaberle is also going to be available in the coming weeks with Toronto once again on the ropes, and it really likes itll be a healthy market for puck-moving defensemen for the first time in recent memory.

Teams have already evaluated what they have, and now its time to get bold with a move or two and get busy winning or get busy losing. Without further ado, here are this weeks power rankings:

1. Philadelphia Flyers (32-12-5, last week: 1) The Flyers are the biggest, baddest hockey team in the land and now they have Chris Pronger back. They also beat down the defending champs on national television Sunday.
2. Vancouver Canucks (29-10-9, last week: 2) It wasnt a banner week for the Canucks with three overtimeshootout losses, but you cant fault them too much for that in the socialist NHL, right?

3. Dallas Stars (29-14-5, last week: 4) The Red Wings finally whooped up on the Stars last weekend and handed them their first loss in January, but hats off to a Dallas team that has been good all season.

4. Detroit Red Wings (29-13-6, last week: 4) The Red Wings have hung in there admirably, and will be getting Daniel Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk back after the All-Star break. Watch out for the Winged Wheels.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (30-15-5, last week: 8) Hats off to the classy Marty St. Louis, who has topped 20 goals in a season eight consecutive years. The Bolts have won four in a row, and look like theyre legit.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (30-15-4, last week: 6) The Penguins are fighting valiantly, but life without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin isnt going to be easy.

7. Boston Bruins (27-14-7, last week: 5) Who would have ever thought that Brad Marchand would be the rookie that everybody is talking about? He leads all NHL rookies with a plus-21.
8. Nashville Predators (27-15-6, last week: 11) The Preds are streaking, and much it is all about Pekka Rinne. The rangy Nashville goalie is 9-1 in his last 10 starts and has allowed one goal or fewer in six of those games.

9. Washington Capitals (27-14-8, last week: 7) Alex Ovechkin snapped out of a goal-scoring funk with a hat trick last weekend, and the competition with Tampa Bay will end up being a very good thing for the Caps.

10. Montreal Canadiens (27-17-5, last week: 10) Apparently, the Habs are taking umbrage with all this talk that only one Northeast Division team will make the playoffs.

11. Phoenix Coyotes (24-16-9, last week: 9) The Desert Dogs are 10-8-5 at home this season. That just isnt going to get it done.

12. Chicago Blackhawks (26-19-4, last week: 12) The one-sided loss to the Flyers was a pretty indicator of how much lesser the Blackhawks are as a team this season.
13. Anaheim Ducks (27-20-4, last week: 15) Saku Koivu wins in his return to Montreal and the Ducks are making due without Ryan Getzlaf in an impressively gutty showing.

14. New York Rangers (28-19-3, last week: 16) The Rangers havent been the best in their last seven games, but its going to do nothing but help with Marian Gaborik on track offensively.

15. San Jose Sharks (25-19-5, last week: 21) You would think that the Sharks would get angry or embarrassed given the way theyre underachieving this season. Youd be wrong.
16. Colorado Avalanche (24-18-6, last week: 14) The good: the Avs have Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny. The bad: the Avs are brutal defensively and got blown out in two straight games.
17. Minnesota Wild (24-19-5, 20) The Wild are in the periphery of the playoffs, but its going to be tough to stay there for Minnesotas Wild Bunch.

18. Atlanta Thrashers (23-19-9, last week: 17) The Thrashers lose Toby Enstrom to injury and get spanked by the Lightning by a 7-1. Guess hes kind of important, eh?

19. St. Louis Blues (22-18-7, last week: 19) The Blues seem to really be stuck in neutral right now, and have won two of their last 10 games. They cant even get Kyle Wellwood on waivers for cripes sakes.

20. Carolina Hurricanes (23-19-6, last week: 16) The Hurricanes arent exactly burying their chances to catch up to a Thrashers team thats struggling. For a team with a strong young leader like Eric Staal, the Canes seem to take too many shifts off.
21. Los Angeles Kings (25-22-1, last week: 18) I love Dean Lombardi, but it might be time to lay low in a safe house for a while.

22. Calgary Flames (22-21-6, last week: 22) The Flames have pulled themselves to within a handful of points of a playoff spot out west, but methinks theres a better chance of Jarome Iginla getting dealt than Calgary making the playoffs.

23. Buffalo Sabres (22-21-5, last week: 25) Ryan Miller will be playing until either A) his limbs fall off or B) the Sabres are eliminated from the playoffs.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (23-20-5, last week: 27) The Blue Jackets have taken points in five straight games, but really need to turn it on.
25. Florida Panthers (21-21-5, last week: 24) The latest four game losing streak for the Panthers should be taken as their official white flag of surrender for this season.

26. Toronto Maple Leafs (19-23-5, last week: 26) Brian Burke needs to trade Tomas Kaberle or get off the pot. The Leafs are going nowhere but inviting the Bruins to the lottery once again.
27. New Jersey Devils (16-29-3, last week: 30) The Devils are 6-0-1 in their last seven games and Ilya Kovalchuk is finally starting to look as advertised. Wonder if Lou Lamoriello is muttering Its about time in the Devils management box.
28. Edmonton Oilers (14-25-8, last week: 29) The young Oilers are struggling big time, but at least GM Steve Tambellini didnt have any goaltenders hang up the phone on him.
29. New York Islanders (15-25-7, last week: 28) Would love to have been a fly on the well for that ever so brief chat between Evgeni Nabokov and Garth Snow.

30. Ottawa Senators (17-25-7, last week: 27) Looks like theres a full Ottawa housecleaning set to take place with the Senators beginning soon. Its about time that dirty room was cleaned up.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

BRIGHTON, Mass – Claude Julien met with the media after Tuesday’s morning skate and there was a bit of a long pause between questions at one point early in the session.

“I understand because everything that needs to be said has already been said, right?” cracked the longtime Bruins bench boss, who was in good spirits after morning skate despite the turmoil around him.

It’s clearly less about words and more about results right now for a struggling team that’s lost a season-worst four games in a row in gut-punching fashion and has fallen out of a playoff position despite teams above them, Ottawa and Toronto, holding five games in hand on them. 

The Bruins are in a freefall at the worst possible time and at this point, Julien wants to see positive action and winning results from his team rather than the empty talk with the media.

“We want to respect our game plan, execute it well and that normally helps you. We’ve been a little bit all over the place, especially in the last game,” said Julien. “That’s what we addressed yesterday, moving forward.

“I haven’t used the All-Star break as a motivation. We’re basically looking at these last two games, and what we have to do in these last two games. I think we’re well aware of what’s waiting for them after that. The players normally know when the breaks are. That’s not for us right now. I’d like to see our focus on what we need to do [against the Wings] to right the ship. We’ve talked about it a lot, and I think right now the less said, and the more shown is probably the best thing.”

With two games left until the All-Star break, one has to wonder what Julien’s fate will be if the Bruins drop both games to Detroit and Pittsburgh before the group breaks up for All-Star weekend. 

A good showing might be enough to keep Julien calling the shots for the Black and Gold down the stretch this season. But the sense is that more of the same fragile, losing efforts from the Bruins in these final two home dates, a familiar look from this group over the past three seasons, could spell doom for the winningest coach in Bruins franchise history.

One thing is for sure: Words aren’t going to do anything for Julien, and instead it’s about cold, hard results for the coach and the Bruins players who are nose-diving in the middle of the regular season.


 

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins held an optional morning skate on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena with little more than a handful of B’s players skating, but the most important player to Boston success, Tuukka Rask, was taking part after missing practice on Monday.

Rask missed Monday’s practice session while getting checked out medically following his exit from Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh due to vision issues. He said on Tuesday that it was all related to migraines that have cropped up a couple of times in his NHL career. The Bruins No. 1 netminder also said he was good to play on Tuesday night against the Red Wings with just a couple of home games left until this weekend’s All-Star break.

That was the kind of good news embattled coach Claude Julien was looking for as Boston looks to end its season-worst, four-game losing streak.

“We’ve got good news so far, so that’s nice to see,” Julien said of Rask, who has started 13 of Boston’s past 14 games dating to a Dec. 27 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Obviously it was because of the migraines, so hopefully we won’t see much more of that.”

In other Black and Gold health news, both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller have been cleared to play, and are expected to rejoin the B’s lineup with John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow headed for healthy scratches. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings as the Red Wings arrive for a divisional tilt after a shootout loss for Boston last week at Joe Louis Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Krejci-Backes

Schaller-Nash-Beleskey

Spooner-Moore-Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller


Rask