NHL Power Rankings: Wide open East

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NHL Power Rankings: Wide open East

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

Injuries continue to wreak havoc with the power rankings.

Sidney Crosby has been out more than a month while the Penguins have treaded water, but now they've lost another of their stars (Evgeni Malkin), and this time for the entire season. The Bruins, too, will be without one of their top players (Marc Savard) for the rest of the year.

One thing is certain, though: With injuries in Pittsburgh and goaltending questions in both Philly and Washington, the East is wide open for the Bruins if they can get their act together.

1. Vancouver Canucks (34-10-9, last week: 2) The Canucks are riding a five-game winning streak, theyre owners of the tightest defense in the Western Conference as Ryan Kesler has taken it to a different level this season. The Canucks are for real.
2. Philadelphia Flyers (35-13-5, last week: 1) The Flyers are setting the pace in the East and enjoy the best depth in the NHL, but it should tell you something that theyre fooling around with signing Ray Emery.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-16-6, last week: 4) Evgeni Malkin is done for the season with a knee injury and word on the street is that Sidney Crosby might not be back until March. Somehow the Pens keep on winning, but they cant go on like this forever without their two big guns.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (33-16-5, last week: 5) Marc-Andre Bergeron steps into the Tampa lineup as a power-play specialist defenseman and notches two assists in his first game. Its really starting to look like their year, isnt it?
5. Detroit Red Wings (32-15-6, last week: 5) The Wings hit a skid as soon as Pavel Datsyuk returned to the lineup, and you cant make this stuff up. That should be a temporary phase for the Winged Wheels.

6. Boston Bruins (30-16-7, last week: 7) Its going to be difficult without Marc Savard, but the Bruins have found a way without him before. Theyll be able to do it again and have become much more consistent in the last month.
7. Washington Capitals (29-15-10, last week: 7) The Caps did a good job of weathering the storm against the Penguins last weekend, and dodged a bullet when hatchet man Matt Cooke couldnt quite take out Alex Ovechkin with a knee-on-knee hit.

8. San Jose Sharks (28-19-6, last week: 14) The Sharks have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight games and Logan Couture looks like hes Calder Trophy worthy this season. San Jose is finally making its move.
9. Montreal Canadiens (30-19-5, last week: 10) The Habs arent lighting anybodys world on fire, but theyve got a big Northeast Division showdown in Boston on Wednesday.

10. Nashville Predators (28-19-7, last week: 9) The Preds scored a big win over the Red Wings, and Sergei Kostitsyn has posted career highs in goals and points for Nashville. They continue to keep pace as a playoff team.
11. Anaheim Ducks (29-21-4, last week: 11) It looks like Jonas Hiller is hitting a wall as he had to be pulled from a loss to San Jose with fatigue and lightheadedness. Thats not good for the Ducks.

12. Phoenix Coyotes (27-19-9, last week: 13) The Desert Dogs have been stuck in neutral for a bit, but it looks like Ilya Bryzgalov is about to heat up between the pipes.

13. Dallas Stars (30-18-5, last week: 11) It may take the Stars to recover from the epic butt-kicking suffered at the hands of the Bruins that saw both Adam Burish and Krystofer Barch go down with fractured orbital bones in hockey fights.

14. Los Angeles Kings (29-22-2, last week: 18) Kings captain Dustin Brown is donating 50 to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles for every registered hit he records this season. Thats a pretty cool gesture from a pretty gritty forward.

15. Calgary Flames (27-21-7, last week: 21) The Flames have done an amazing job of climbing from 14th in the Western Conference all the way to a playoff position out West. Its amazing what happens when theres a Sutter surgically removed from the organization.

16. New York Rangers (29-23-4, last week: 12) The Rangers problems in a nutshell: Chris Drury is a fourth-line forward and penalty killer and he was a 7 million cap hit.17. Minnesota Wild (27-20-5, 17) I have nothing interesting or pithy to write about the Wild. I take that as a poor reflection on their team.

18. Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-6, last week: 20) If I had a nickel for every time I heard that Jeff Skinner was the NHLs version of Justin Beiber during All-Star weekend, Id be a rich man.

19. Chicago Blackhawks (27-22-4, last week: 15) The Blackhawks are on the outside looking in with 30 games left to go in the season. Time for Chicago to wake up as San Jose has done recently.
20. Colorado Avalanche (25-21-6, last week: 16) Perhaps Peter Forsberg can do something to rescue the Avs from their doldrums, but it appears their defense is the big bugaboo.

21. Atlanta Thrashers (24-22-10, last week: 22) The Thrashers have two wins in their last 10 games, and have dropped out of the Eastern playoff race for now.

22. St. Louis Blues (23-20-8, last week: 23) The Blues are 7-12-5 on the road this season, which makes then the worst road team in the NHL.

23. Buffalo Sabres (24-22-5, last week: 22) Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff are both in trouble with new ownership arriving in Buffalo. A good, old-fashioned housecleaning may be coming for Buff.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (25-22-5, last week: 23) The B.J.s are 5-2-2 in their last nine games, and are giving GM Scott Howson some food for thought with the trade deadline approaching.

25. New Jersey Devils (19-30-4, last week: 27) The winning streak for the Devils is fools gold, but the Martin Brodeur knee injury certainly wouldnt seem to hurt them very much.

26. Florida Panthers (23-23-6, last week: 25) Tell me again why Dennis Wideman is the only Panthers defenseman with a negative plusminus rating?

27. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-26-5, last week: 27) Claude Julien must be rolling his eyes at all of the Phil Kessel complaints being aired about Ron Wilson these days.

28. Ottawa Senators (17-28-8, last week: 30) The Sens have been horrible, but small consolation is that Jason Spezza is back after missing 15 games.

29. New York Islanders (17-28-7, last week: 29) Rick DiPietro should probably quit trying to be the tough-guy goalie for a while after Brent Johnson broke his face with one punch.
30. Edmonton Oilers (15-29-8, last week: 30) One win in 10 games means the great fade has begun in Edmonton, and the spare parts should be flying fast and furious sooner rather than later.

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

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

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Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while everybody is working for the weekend...or during the weekend.

*The vice-presidential candidate for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, made quite an impression while hanging out a Capitals game with MC Hammer. They call this guy boring, but that doesn’t sound very boring to me.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bob Stauffer has the news that the Edmonton Oilers are parting ways with fancy stats lad Tyler Dellow. Boy, it seems like some teams are reversing course pretty quickly on some of these smarter-than-thou advanced statistics types, aren’t they? I certainly wish Dellow well and hope he finds another gig. But Instead of baselessly wondering whether the Oilers are going to continue down the fancy stats road (which they most certainly will), perhaps this is more a referendum on nonsensical stats-driven decisions like handing out that long term contract to a perpetually underachieving Benoit Pouliot.

*The New York Rangers have locked up Chris Kreider to a four-year contract at a reasonable number, and now he has the time with the Blueshirts to see how good he can be.

*Brian Leetch opens up to the Players Tribune about his NHL experiences playing with the New York Rangers, and all of his favorite experiences from a Hall of Fame career.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says that Carey Price’s injury from last season is no longer a concern, according to Habs coach Michel Therrien.

*The Chicago Blackhawks will appear a whopping 21 times on national television across the NBC Networks next season.

*Incoming BU goaltender Jake Oettinger is among the names to look out for at the 2017 draft, according to the NHL Central Scouting bureau.

*Travis Yost says that the Carolina Hurricanes are on the rise thanks to winning the shot differential battle. I think it’s because they have an outstanding cast of young defensemen, who are helping them control the puck and win that shot differential battle. But they still need to score more if they’re going to really be a team on the rise, so we’ll see what happens there.

*For something completely different: for those that think I’m a Democrat because I am anti-Trump, here’s a story on the DNC machinery attempting to torpedo Bernie Sanders during the presidential campaigning over the last year.
 

 

Friday, July 22: Versteeg headed for Europe

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Friday, July 22: Versteeg headed for Europe

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while vowing to never try to marry the NHL and Pokemon into the same lame story.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Kris Versteeg one of a number of NHL veteran free agents going to Europe for next season.

*The New York Islanders have reportedly been discussing moving to Queens and building a rink right next to the Mets’ Citi Field. Interesting. I know the Isles fan base was not happy with the setup in Brooklyn last season.

*The Black Knights get the top odds as a moniker for the Las Vegas franchise with a number of funny long shot names.

*Ian Mendes said that it’s pretty clear by the moves of the Ottawa Senators that they believe their time is now.

*Jason Botchford wonders if the Vancouver Canucks have a shot at being a playoff team next season. I hope so for Jim Benning’s sake.

*Ken Campbell wants to know if Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, now that they’re both retired, are Hall of Fame-worthy players. I say no to both of them, but I can be stingy with my Hall of Fame qualifications as the Jarome Iginla fanboys know so well.

*For something completely different: Jon Stewart brought the funk and the noise while breaking his TV silence on Thursday night and tearing into a GOP that’s coming apart at the seams right now.