NHL Power Rankings: Deadline reshuffling


NHL Power Rankings: Deadline reshuffling

By JoeHaggerty

With the NHL trade deadline having come and gone, there are clear winners and losers.

The Washington Capitals added a group of veterans with playoff experience, and a little size up the middle in Jason Arnott. The Bruins got the key to their power play in Tomas Kaberle and important role players in Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.

The Los Angeles Kings might have pulled off the biggest move of the week when they landed Dustin Penner from Edmonton, and may have finally found a sizeskill player that can be paired with Anze Kopitar.

Teams like the Canucks and Flyers made few roster additions, and the Lightning obviously addressed their biggest weakness with Dwayne Roloson earlier in the season. All in all, though, the high number of teams still in the playoff hunt curbed many of the players available, and therefore the deals werent plentiful on Feb. 28. There were only 16 trades on deadline day, and thats a mere fraction of the deals finalized just a year ago.

So now more than ever, teams simply have to make due with the roster their GM constructed, and thats what each NHL hopeful will be doing over the final 20 games of the regular season.

Without further ado, here are this weeks power rankings:

1. Philadelphia Flyers (40-16-6, last week: 2) The Flyers continue to enjoy the exact opposite of last season while cruising through the regular season. But will their goaltending once again be their Achilles heel during the playoffs? That is the question. Theres starting to be a troubling trend of Sergei Bobrovsky coughing up at least one bad goal in just about every game hes playing down the stretch.

2. Detroit Red Wings (39-18-6, last week: 3) The Red Wings got back on track with wins over the Sabres and Kings, and have locked up goalie Jimmy Howard with a two-year contract extension. They still look to these eyes like the class of the Western Conference. The Wings are an offensive machine.

3. Vancouver Canucks (40-15-9, last week: 1) The Canucks cruised a bit into the trade deadline, and fell to the Bruins in a statement game for both teams. Vancouver needs to get their D healthy before the playoffs. Itll be interesting to see what Maxim Lapierre adds to the Vancouver mix.
4. Boston Bruins (37-19-7, last week: 8) Cam Neely said earlier this week on the radio that he believes the Bruins are one of the top four teams in the NHL, and Im inclined to agree with him (even if Felger doesn't). Top five in goals scored, leading the NHL in goals against average and the best stats in the third period are some pretty good credentials.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (37-19-7, last week: 5) The Bolts are finishing up strong, and have to hope that grizzled playoff veterans Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Dwayne Roloson can carry an inexperienced Tampa Bay roster.
6. San Jose Sharks (37-21-6, last week: 6) The Sharks have won seven in a row and are playing their best hockey of the season. San Jose didnt do much at the trade deadline, but didnt really have to.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-21-7, last week: 7) Sidney Crosby is still battling with concussion symptoms. That sound you hear is Pittsburghs season slowly circling down the drain.
8. Washington Capitals (34-20-10, last week: 10) Alex Ovechkin is finally coming alive with 10 goals in his last 18 games, but there are some holes on this team. Picking up Dennis Wideman, Marco Sturm and Jason Arnott didnt have the Wow factor, but they do get bonus points for aiding in the former Bruins relocation project.

9. Los Angeles Kings (35-24-4, last week: 12) Kings GM Dean Lombardi went out and got his big forward in Dustin Penner, and now its up to the young Los Angeles hockey team to put it all together. They need to start showing more than just promise.
10. Chicago Blackhawks (34-23-6, last week: 17) Nice of the Blackhawks to finally show up this season. Jonathan Toews has seven goals and 16 assists over his last 14 games, and leads the NHL in scoring since Jan. 25. Looks like Captain Serious is finally tossing Chicago on his back.

11. Montreal Canadiens (34-23-7, last week: 13) The Habs continue to hang in without Andrei Markov, Jaroslav Spacek and Josh Gorges, but no depth deals at the deadline could come back to haunt them. Montreal is limping to the finish.

12. Phoenix Coyotes (33-22-10, last week: 15) Shane Doan and Ryan Whitney are both getting it done individually for the Desert Dogs, but theyve lost four straight and need a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

13. Calgary Flames (33-23-9, last week: 9) Miikka Kiprusoff threw a shutout at the Blues in Calgarys last game, and has hit the next gear with Calgary over the last month.

14. Dallas Stars (34-23-6, last week: 14) The Stars picked up a big win over the Coyotes, and have decided to go playoffs or bust with Brad Richards this season. Hard to believe they would have done anything else.
15. Nashville Predators (32-23-9, last week: 11) The Predators have lost twice to the Oilers this season. That should be enough to bar Nashville from the playoffs if the season were graded on style points.

16. Anaheim Ducks (33-25-5, last week: 16) Todd Marchant snapped a 71-game goal-scoring drought when he picked up a score in Anaheims win over the Avalanche. Now thats a dry spell.

17. Minnesota Wild (33-25-6, last week: 15) Dont you just get the feeling that the Wild arent quite going to cut it this year? Brent Burns and Martin Havlat might not be enough.

18. New York Rangers (33-28-4, last week: 18) Looks like Henrik Lundqvist might become the iron man between the pipes for the Rangers after Martin Biron broke his collarbone. The loss to the Sabres Monday night really hurt the Blueshirts.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (31-24-7, last week: 20) With the B.J.s longest-tenured player in Rostislav Klesla dealt at the trade deadline to the Coyotes, its a brave new world for Columbus. Just not sure its better.
20. Buffalo Sabres (30-25-7, last week: 23) Good to see Brad Boyes get a chance at the playoffs after the trade from St. Louis. Hes one of the all-time good guys and it appears the Sabres are headed that way.

21. Carolina Hurricanes (30-25-9, last week: 19) Its all hands on deck Thursday night when the 'Canes take on the Buffalo Sabres in a game with all kinds of playoff ramifications.

22. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-27-9, last week: 25) Phil Kessel has turned things around since finally potting a few against his old Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Can you say turning point?
23. St. Louis Blues (28-26-9, last week: 21) A tough ending for the Blues after they started out of the gate with so much promise before injuries hit them hard.

24. New Jersey Devils (28-31-4, last week: 22) Its a long shot, but the hot Red Devils are within single point digits of capturing a playoff spot, and need to keep the pedal to the metal.

25. Atlanta Thrashers (26-27-11, last week: 24) The Thrashers have added a lot of new pieces to the Atlanta fold, but theyre still skidding with two wins in their last 10 games. Looks like theyll be out of the playoffs again.

26. Florida Panthers (26-30-7, last week: 27) Dale Tallon took a stick of dynamite to the Panthers, and hell start over again from scratch. How many more times will the Florida hockey fans put up with that?
27. Colorado Avalanche (26-30-8, last week: 26) I guess Peter Stastny isnt going to be invited to the Avs golf tournament after the regular season is over.

28. New York Islanders (24-32-9, last week: 26) The best story going on the Island right now is youth. Al Montoya might have finally found an NHL home, and Michael Grabner is dynamite for the Isles.

29. Edmonton Oilers (21-35-8, last week: 29) Give the Oilers credit that theyre continuing to fight and scratch. Thats a good sign for a young team way, way out of contention.

30. Ottawa Senators (21-33-9, last week: 30) It appears the Craig Anderson deal to the Sens was a stroke of inspiration by Sens GM Bryan Murray. But the rest of the Ottawa roster is virtually unrecognizable.

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

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

BOSTON – Like most of us around New England, Wyc Grousbeck heard all the early praise doled out on the Boston Celtics as being one of the elite teams in the East prior to this season starting. 

“I felt before the season that maybe we were being overrated,” Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, told CSNNE.com. “That we were maybe a top-10 team in the league and the top few in the East, maybe. But it still felt like a longshot.”

And here they are, preparing to play Game No. 75 this season, against Milwaukee, with the best record (48-26) in the Eastern Conference. 

“They’ve grown into themselves,” Grousbeck said. “They’re playing better than I probably thought.”

But Grousbeck has been around the NBA long enough to know there is still much work to be done. After all, the Celtics’ focus remains on winning an NBA title. But Grousbeck is wise enough to know that while that is the goal, it often takes longer to accomplish than anyone – himself included – would like. 

It’s even trickier when you consider how the East is still relatively close despite their being just a handful of games remaining. 

“There’s a bunch of teams scuffling around in the East, and we’re scuffling around with them,” Grousbeck said. “We gotta do something in the playoffs.”

This will be Boston’s third straight season advancing to the postseason. Each of the first two appearances ended with a first-round exit. 

But this year is different. The Celtics are on pace to finish with home court advantage at least through the first round of the playoffs. But if they’re able to win the games they are favored throughout the remainder of this regular season, they will finish with the top seed in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

And as we’ve seen of late, home court has indeed been an advantage for Boston which comes into tonight’s game having won its last seven at home, which includes the first four games of a current six-game home stand. 

The success Boston has had thus far has raised the expectations of many. 

And while Grousbeck certainly wants to see the Celtics have more success than they have had the last couple of years in the playoffs, there’s no mistaking he is pleased with the direction of the franchise that just four years ago was a lottery team.

“There’s no reason to put a ceiling on the season,” Grousbeck said. “I think this season already looks good to me. I love our coach. I love our young players. I love our draft picks and our potential cap room (this summer); all of our fans. So I’m already happy with where the team is going.

Grousbeck added with a grin, “If we can speed it up all the better.”

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."