At the midway point of the 2007-08 NHL season, we pinpoint each team's most valuable player for the first half and target who needs to be better in the second. Power rankings are updated every Tuesday.
1. Detroit Red Wings (32-8-3, Previous: 1) – Henrik Zetterberg, the team leader in goals, scoring and average ice time among forwards, edges Pavel Datsyuk, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and goalie Chris Osgood for the MVP nod. Dominik Hasek has to be on top of his game if the Wings want to go deep in the postseason, meaning an 11th Stanley Cup.
2. Ottawa Senators (27-10-4, Previous: 2) – Daniel Alfredsson has been the best Senator with honorable mention going to Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. Goalie Ray Emery has to pick it up on and off the ice to contribute again and not be a negative distraction.
3. San Jose Sharks (23-12-6, Previous: 4) – Evgeni Nabokov started all 41 of his team's first-half games and spearheaded the league's second-most stingy defense and penalty kill. Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo had only five goals in the first half. He and captain Patrick Marleau need to provide more so Joe Thornton isn't asked to do everything offensively.
4. Vancouver Canucks (23-14-4, Previous: 6) – Goalie Roberto Luongo is not only his team's MVP, but he might have had the best first half of any player in the league. In addition to hopefully getting defenseman Kevin Bieksa back from surgery needed to repair a lacerated calf, the team needs more from Markus Naslund, who is due to be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
5. New Jersey Devils (23-15-3, Previous: 5) – Who else? Martin Brodeur appeared in all but five of his team's first 41 games and found his game after a shaky start. Patrik Elias has to regain his scoring touch if the Devils want to make any noise in the spring.
6. Calgary Flames (22-14-7, Previous: 12) – Jarome Iginla has been spectacular, a candidate for the Hart, Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies. Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has been better of late, but he's still not where he knows he can get.
7. Dallas Stars (24-16-4, Previous: 3) – Mike Ribeiro has scored on better than one in every three shots to provide clutch and much-needed goal scoring. Goalie Marty Turco has been no better than average to date. He needs to get into a zone to carry the Stars.
8. Montreal Canadiens (20-13-8, Previous: 7) – Andrei Markov has emerged from the shadow of Sheldon Souray to log 25 minutes a game and contribute almost as much offensively as the departed defenseman without being as much of a defensive liability. Forward Michael Ryder needs to rediscover his goal-scoring touch.
9. Anaheim Ducks (22-17-6, Previous: 10) – Ryan Getzlaf is the best all-around young star that no one knows. He's skilled, gritty, tough, a leader, everything. Someone has to produce secondary offense for this team to have a chance to defend its Cup, and that responsibility lands on the broad shoulders of Todd Bertuzzi, whether fair or not.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-16-2, Previous: 17) – Sidney Crosby added captaincy to his plate and he's still in the hunt for a second straight scoring title. Jordan Staal needs to shake his sophomore slump if the Pens want to hang in the most competitive and balanced division in hockey.
11. St. Louis Blues (20-14-5, Previous: 9) – Brad Boyes has emerged as one of the league's brightest young goal-scorers, and hasn't been a defensive liability. Defenseman Barret Jackman finds himself on the ice against opposing top lines, and he has to lead the charge down the stretch if the Blues are to return to the postseason.
12. Minnesota Wild (23-17-2, Previous: 8) – Marian Gaborik has been relatively healthy and consistently productive, which must continue. Veteran forward Pavol Demitra has to produce more shots on goal and the goals will come, too.
13. Colorado Avalanche (22-16-3, Previous: 11) – Super sophomore Paul Stastny has emerged as the team's best player, skating 21 minutes a night and averaging basically a point a game. Milan Hejduk has a modest goal total which he'll need to increase, especially with Joe Sakic out of the lineup for most if not the rest of the regular season.
14. Philadelphia Flyers (20-15-4, Previous: 14) – Mike Richards is the league's biggest star no one talks about, but the Flyers know what he's meant to the team's turnaround. A healthy Simon Gagne could give the team an impressive attack for a deep postseason run, but he has to shake his current concussion issues.
15. Boston Bruins (21-16-4, Previous: 21) – Defenseman Zdeno Chara averages 27 minutes a night, is the team's second-leading scorer, a plus player and will be considered a perennial Norris Trophy candidate now through his prime years. Glen Murray misses super-setup man Joe Thornton, but there's no time to cry over his loss. The B's need more goal scoring and when he returns from his hip flexor injury he can supply it.
16. New York Rangers (20-17-5, Previous: 13) – King Henrik Lundqvist has been the East's answer to Roberto Luongo in the West – simply the best goalie in his conference. Jaromir Jagr barely made it into double-figure goal-scoring in the first half. He could go a long way in solving the team's offensive woes.
17. New York Islanders (20-17-4, Previous: 18) – Bill Guerin has stepped in, taken the mantel of captain, scored goals, and has been consistent for a team that's not very deep. Goalie Rick DiPietro is going to have to clamp down because he's just not going to get more than two goals a game to work with on most nights.
18. Phoenix Coyotes (21-18-1, Previous: 23) – Radim Vrbata was one of those young players in Colorado that got away. The Coyotes sure are glad he didn't stick in Carolina or Chicago either. Vrbata leads the team in goals, game-winners and shots. It's the first time in a long time Shane Doan has been in position to lead a team into the postseason. He needs to do just that.
19. Carolina Hurricanes (21-19-4, Previous: 16) – It doesn't matter that he's 37, Rod Brind'Amour is still the team's best player, averaging nearly 23 minutes a game and on pace for 30 goals. Cam Ward needs to flash some of that Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goaltending from 2006, but he could use some help in front of him, too.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (19-17-6, Previous: 20) – Ken Hitchcock has taught Rich Nash to be more of a complete player, and he's looking every bit the part of a No.1 overall pick now. It's time for Sergei Fedorov to take it off cruise control. He still has another gear he hasn't shifted into for several seasons now.
21. Buffalo Sabres (19-18-3, Previous: 19) – The team's style of play keeps Ryan Miller on his toes, and the goalie is the best thing the Sabres have going for them. Thomas Vanek is finding out expectations increase when you're making a ridiculous $10 million per. He has to produce a lot more to validate that kind of dough.
22. Nashville Predators (20-19-2, Previous: 22) – Hmmm. Team MVP? The fact that no one stands out speaks volumes. The team is waiting for David Legwand or Alexander Radulov to assume the moniker, but it hasn't happened. And speaking of needing to be better, Chris Mason looks like the backup goalie he always was behind Tomas Vokoun instead of the No. 1 guy he's trying to be now.
23. Chicago Blackhawks (19-19-3, Previous: 15) – In reality Patrick Sharp has been their best player, but the excitement and attention teenage forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have brought back to this ailing Original 6 franchise has been invaluable. Martin Havlat needs to stay healthy and produce if Chicago is to make up a lot of lost ground in the race.
24. Edmonton Oilers (19-21-4, Previous: 28) – This team doesn't have an MVP as much as it has an inspirational story in the person of Fernando Pisani, who overcame a serious, career-threatening bout with ulcerative colitis to return to the team a month ago. Take your pick on who needs to be better, but wasn't Jarret Stoll trending up before this miserable season for him started?
25. Atlanta Thrashers (21-21-1, Previous: 26) – The race is on for Ilya Kovalchuk and a possible Rocket Richard Trophy. Hey, this team is on pace for 82 points, forget about any playoff run. The only person who could change that is goalie Kari Lehtonen, but not with a goals-against average over 3.00.
26. Florida Panthers (19-20-3, Previous: 25) – Don't blame Olli Jokinen, skating 20 minutes a night and averaging a goal every other game and a point per game, but he isn't going to see the postseason for a 10th straight season. Richard Zednik is a veteran counted on to score goals, not skate off quietly into the sunset with a guaranteed raise to $1.75 million coming here, or somewhere else, next year, too.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-18-8, Previous: 24) – As usual Mats Sundin has been splendid, the team's leading scorer by far, and a double-figure plus player on a minus-team. Too bad he doesn't have enough help. Speaking of which, Darcy Tucker is getting paid $3 million this season, and the same for the next three years, too. And he didn't crack double-figures in points in the first half of the season.
28. Washington Capitals (17-20-5, Previous: 27) – Much like the situation in Atlanta, the only intrigue here is Alexander Ovechkin and his pursuit of a goal-scoring title. On pace for nearly 450 shots, he's not going to lose it for a lack of effort. Viktor Kozlov, a career under-achiever back to his days with San Jose, is getting paid $2.5 million to produce four first-half goals.
29. Tampa Bay Lightning (15-22-5, Previous: 29) – Easy call here: Vincent Lecavalier would be the hands-down favorite for league MVP, but the fact is he could be great or terrible and this team would be going nowhere. Brad Richards: minus-24. Is that a misprint? No, it's not, and he's getting paid $7.8 million annually last, this, and the next three seasons for it.
30. Los Angeles Kings (15-26-2, Previous: 30) – Dustin Brown is a complete player, and almost looks like a misfit on this rag-tag outfit. Less than 25 minutes in penalties is very impressive for his hard-nosed style of disciplined play. Remember when Mike Cammalleri led the league in goal-scoring after the first month? Don't feel bad, it hardly even seems like this season.