1) New York Rangers (1) - Overshadowed by the Linsanity epidemic, in the Big Apple, the Rangers quietly remain the NHL's top team. They improved their record over the Flyers to 5-0 this past weekend. The reason for their success -- a complete team approach. Avery-free.
3) Vancouver Canucks (4) - Byron Bitz is the toast of VanCity since joining the Sedin twins on the Canucks' top line. Two weeks ago he was in the minors, now he's the complement to the NHL's best duo.
4) Boston Bruins (3) - The B's have been dealing with highs and lows all season. Their 3-7 start however, was nothing compared to the devastation that was, losing 6-0 to the Sabres this past week. It might be the wake up call they needed to stay on track during the stretch run.
5) Pittsburgh Penguins (8) - As long as Crosby sits out, the Pens go as Malkin goes. The clear-cut Hart favourite had seven points and a plus-5 in the last two games, both Pens wins, that vaulted them into a tie with the Flyers for 4th in the Eastern Conference.
6) St. Louis Blues (10) - The Blues were a perfect 4-0 this past week, catalyzed by a rare offensive explosion from David Perron. DP_57 went off for six goals and picked up the NHL's third star of the week.
7) Philadelphia Flyers (7) - The Flyers have stumbled through their toughest section of their schedule, and have won just two of their last eight tilts. Kimmo Timonen stepped up and openly criticized their team for a lack of effort after their fifth loss to the Rangers, and although they had more jam against the Wings the next night, they just simply weren't going to win that game, that night.
8) San Jose Sharks (5) - The Sharks are a top five team in goals against, but rank 3rd to last in the NHL in penalty killing. Thought to be leaders in the Travis Moen sweepstakes, the Sharks may be an improved penalty kill away from being serious contenders.
9) Nashville Predators (6) - The Preds are winless in their last three games, but played tough against two of the NHL elite, dropping shootout decisions to the Canucks and Bruins.
10) New Jersey Devils (9) - Not only to the Devils have the second best penalty kill in the league, they have the top three shorthanded scorers to boot.
Middle of the Pack
11) Florida Panthers (13) - Three straight W's have the Panthers four points clear of the fading Capitals and with a four game home stand awaiting, they can further distance themselves.
12) Los Angeles Kings (16) - The Kings have a scored a minuscule 120 goals in 57 games this season, yet they are tied for 6th in the West. That in itself should earn Johnny Quick a Vezina nod.
13) Phoenix Coyotes (21) - The Coyotes continue to spoil the party out West. Before losing to the Canucks in a shootout last night, they had won five straight. Are the Ray Whitney sweepstakes over?
16) Toronto Maple Leafs (12) - The Leafs honoured Mats in true Maple Leaf fashion -- a classy ceremony, followed by a dismal on-ice performance. Whether Saturday night can be deemed a microcosm of Mats tenure with the Leafs -- his greatness surrounded by mediocrity -- the loss could be either devastating, or the wake up call the Buds need. How will they respond?
17) Ottawa Senators (15) - Just one win on a five game home stand has them clinging to their playoff lives, maybe for the final week, in what has been a nice story.
18) Washington Capitals (14) - Vokoun, Neuvirth and now Braden Holtby have all let in goals from beyond the blue line over the past seven games for the Caps. My beer league has that problem.
19) Calgary Flames (23) - At the time of the Cammalleri-Bourque trade, the playoffs were a pipe dream for the Flames. Now, a spot is theirs to lose. They Flames have points in eight of their last ten, and are suddenly in striking distance in the West. Feaster should proceed as a buyer with caution. Mortgaging your future for a first round date in Detroit would not be a well-advised investment.
20) Montreal Canadiens (29) - Before dropping a decision to the Canes last night, the Habs had won four straight, with the pinnacle win being their embarrassment of the Leafs on Mats' night. Like the Flames however, surging into the middle of the conference, won't cure what surely will ail this team for years to come.
21) Dallas Stars (20) - With Sheldon Souray and Brendan Morrow out with injury, what is left to sell?
22) New York Islanders (22) - Nino Niederreiter - one goal, minus-17 rating this season. Too early to call bust?
23) Colorado Avalanche (24) - Since Erik Johnson and Kyle Quincey have paired up, the Avs have caught some fire.
24) Tampa Bay Lightning (17) - Stamkos' goal scoring heroics hasn't been enough to mask the NHL's worst goalie tandem of Roloson and Garon.
25) Winnipeg Jets (25) - With more home games than away remaining, and just four points out of the playoffs, the Jets may have a better shot than any at squeezing into the second season in the East.
26) Buffalo Sabres (28) - The Sabres found a little redemption in their beatdown of the boys from Beantown.
27) Edmonton Oilers (26) - Does re-signing Andy Sutton to a modest one-year extension, raise his trade value?
28) Minnesota Wild (19) - A fall from grace of epic proportions.
29) Carolina Hurricanes (29) - Jaro Spacek was beyond fired up after scoring a goal against the Habs last night and why shouldn't he be?
30) Columbus Blue Jackets (30) - #freenash
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