Power rankings

Matt Romig

Archives can be a cruel thing.

No matter how well Carolina plays, no matter how much fine-tuning it does prior to the trade deadline, the ranking won't change. Through nine-game win streaks, Eric Staal MVP talk and near-perfect months, they'll just sit there.


That's where Carolina, after two mediocre seasons ranking dead last in the NHL in scoring, sat in the initial Power Rankings. The rankings shut down for the Turin break with a Hurricane watch atop the rankings.

And much like that Oct. 5 archive story that will never budge, there's no reason to expect they'll move from there.

(Records and rankings through Wednesday, Feb. 8.)


1. Carolina Hurricanes (38-12-4; Previous: 1) – Cory Stillman's return Sunday gave Carolina a big boost. Did they really need one? Start engraving the Presidents' Trophy now, assuming Doug Weight and just-added Team USA travel partner Bret Hedican make it back from Italy in one piece.


2. Detroit Red Wings (37-13-5; Previous: 3) – Curious comments from Manny Legace just before recording his second straight shutout: "You look around this room; it is a weak point," Legace told the Detroit Free Press, referencing the team's goalie play. "If we have anything to point our finger at, it's this." Not necessarily an inaccurate comment given how loaded Detroit is from front to back, but not something you expect to hear from a Stanley Cup-caliber goalie.


3. Ottawa Senators (36-13-5; Previous: 2) – Ottawa's top line was reunited just in time to disappear. Broken up by injuries over the past several weeks, the Daniel Alfredsson-Jason Spezza-Dany Heatley line is now just broken. Together they have scored four goals in the last six games, and three of those came on one night against the hapless Penguins.


4. Dallas Stars (37-15-3; Previous: 4) – Though it was clear he scored before the horn, Bill Guerin had to fear the worst as his second-period goal Monday was being reviewed. The goal held up, snapping Guerin's goalless streak at 18 games. Dallas also got a nice lift from defenseman Janne Niinimaa, who played his best game since arriving in a Jan. 10 trade.


5. Buffalo Sabres (35-15-3; Previous: 6) – Ryan Miller really deserves to be on the U.S. Olympic team. He was added to the taxi squad last week, but it will take a change of heart by Robert Esche for him to don a Team USA uniform. Miller, by the way, tamed Philadelphia, the best road team in the conference, and Ottawa in back-to-back starts last week.

New York Rangers

6. New York Rangers (33-15-8; Previous: 11) – The Rankings request a mulligan for last week's out-of-the-top-10 snub. The loss of Petr Prucha will hurt, for sure. But he's not out for as long as originally feared, and the Rangers' power play managed to go on without him in a 5-1 rout of Ottawa on Wednesday.

New Jersey

7. New Jersey Devils (29-21-6; Previous: 9) – They're jumping all over teams lately. Twice in a little more than a week the Devils have led 3-0 inside the first 16 minutes. New Jersey matched a team record with its eighth straight home win. So why did only 10,191 show up for Tuesday's cooling off of the Lightning?


8. Philadelphia Flyers (32-15-9; Previous: 5) – Rendered vulnerable by injury, Philadelphia's paper-thin defensive corps has allowed three hat tricks in its last six games. Add in Mike Richards' three-goal performance Wednesday and the message is clear: Don't wear your favorite hat to a Flyers' game.


9. Nashville Predators (33-17-6; Previous: 7) – Two road games at Dallas. A road game at Detroit. Home games against Detroit and Colorado. Everyone hates the schedule, but good luck finding a tougher stretch than the one Nashville is enduring in its seven games leading up to the Olympic break.


10. Colorado Avalanche (30-20-6; Previous: 8) – Everyone in the Northwest has a winning record. That fact makes it all the more impressive that Colorado has dominated division play, going 4-2-1 vs. Vancouver, 4-2 vs. Edmonton, 3-1 vs. Minnesota and 2-1-1 vs. Calgary.


11. Vancouver Canucks (32-20-5; Previous: 12) – Easily the toughest team in the NHL to figure out, Vancouver beat Calgary and thumped Columbus last week, then dropped its third straight to St. Louis. Poll the Canucks and, to a man, they'll tell you they're not satisfied with the team's play, and yet the team is 10-plus games over .500 with a plus-19 goal differential. Go figure.


12. Calgary Flames (32-17-7; Previous: 10) – Calgary won a regular season game in San Jose on Monday for the first time in five years. But don't tell Sharks fans the Flames aren't dangerous. Calgary won three straight in San Jose during the 2004 Western Conference finals, and echoes of Steve Montador banging his stick against the ice before his Game 1 overtime winner still reverberate through the Shark Tank.

Tampa Bay

13. Tampa Bay Lightning (30-22-4); Previous 13) – For once, a John Tortorella tantrum may serve a greater purpose. Tampa Bay's coach was tossed Tuesday after protesting a boarding call on winger Evgeny Artyukhin. Too often this season it seems referees are cracking down on clean hits. Tortorella gets a free pass on this one.


14. Edmonton Oilers (30-19-7; Previous: 14) – Still no movement on the goalie front, unless you count backup Ty Conklin clearing waivers. Edmonton is still expected to acquire a playoff-caliber goalie, but probably not until after the Olympic break. A roster freeze goes into effect Friday.


15. Boston Bruins (24-23-9; Previous: 17) – Nice to see Brian Leetch enjoy an incident-free return to the lineup after missing 10 of 12 games with a groin injury.
16. Anaheim Mighty Ducks (25-19-11; Previous: 15) – Defenseman Scott Niedermayer has knee surgery on the calendar, but not until after he suits up for two more pre-Olympic games. His heart probably wanted to be in Turin, but as team captain he opted for rest and recovery. Class move.

San Jose

17. San Jose Sharks (25-21-8; Previous: 16) – So the Sharks have locked up goalie Evgeni Nabokov through the 2010 season. Does this mean Vesa Toskala, who has earned the Sharks 14 points in his last eight starts, will be having an MVP-type season in another Western Conference city soon?


18. Minnesota Wild (28-24-4; Previous: 21) – Not a bad run for Marian Gaborik, who has 11 goals in his last 11 games.

Los Angeles

19. Los Angeles Kings (30-23-5; Previous: 18) – The Kings are just 3-9-3 since Jan. 1. Illness and injuries have been a concern, but those problems have exposed the team's lack of depth. Teams like Philadelphia and Buffalo haven't gone belly-up faced with similar challenges.


20. Columbus Blue Jackets (23-31-2; Previous: 20) – Columbus is 14-9-2 since Rick Nash returned to the lineup. David Vyborny scored the game-winning goal Wednesday when a puck deflected off his chin and into the Los Angeles net. Vyborny finished the night with two points and several stitches.


21. Florida Panthers (22-26-8; Previous: 23) – Don't tell Florida that no third-period lead is safe in the new NHL. The Panthers have lost all 18 games they've trailed after two periods. Only three other teams have failed to stage a rally.


22. Atlanta Thrashers (24-26-6; Previous: 19) – In case you missed it, Atlanta GM Don Waddell guaranteed that his team will make the playoffs. In case Waddell missed it, the Thrashers have dropped eight of nine.


23. Montreal Canadiens (25-22-7; Previous: 24) – Cristobal Huet has started four straight in goal and polls show Montreal fans have seen enough – for now, anyway – of Jose Theodore.


24. Toronto Maple Leafs (27-23-5; Previous: 26) – Back-to-back games against the Rangers heading into the break will be a big test. According to the Toronto Sun, Eric Lindros may return to the lineup following the break.


25. Phoenix Coyotes (27-27-3; Previous: 22) – Shane Doan practiced with the team's fourth line Monday as the captain continues to have his play scrutinized by coach Wayne Gretzky. Nobody will be talking about this budding controversy now that the Rick Tocchet gambling probe reportedly involves wiretaps of Gretzky. Any chance he and Tocchet were simply discussing Doan's ice time?

St. Louis

26. St. Louis Blues (15-31-8; Previous: 29) – St. Louis snapped a 10-game road losing streak Wednesday, and did it against the fifth-best home team in the NHL. The Blues are now 3-0 against Vancouver, having outscored it 12-3. Center Petr Cajanek has really stepped up his play since the departures of Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger.

New York Islanders

27. New York Islanders (24-27-4; Previous: 25) – Since Jan. 1 the Islanders are 4-0 against Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago and 3-9-2 against the rest of the league. New York needed to steal two points from the injury-depleted Flyers on Wednesday, but they couldn't do it.


28. Washington Capitals (19-30-5; Previous: 27) – The Caps haven't scored in more than 120 minutes and Alexander Ovechkin has only one goal in eight games. It's not for a lack of trying. Ovechkin matched a season-high with 10 shots Tuesday.


29. Chicago Blackhawks (18-30-7; Previous: 28) – Draft lottery headlines are already surfacing in Chicago. Welcome to the Phil Kessel sweepstakes. Hey, it's something to shoot for.


30. Pittsburgh Penguins (12-34-11; Previous: 30) – The Penguins have been banking on slot machines solving the city's arena dilemma. They probably weren't betting on Mark Recchi and John LeClair retaining legal counsel to refute allegations that they have ties to the gambling probe that surfaced this week.