The Capitals' win streak ends, but they maintain the top slot. San Jose stays close. The Coyotes, yes, those Coyotes move near the top and the Senators continue upward. The Hurricanes are hot, but New Jersey, Buffalo and Calgary struggle.
1. (1) Washington Capitals
The Caps had their wins streak snapped at fourteen. After a thrilling win in OT against Pittsburgh, Washington has lost consecutive games after falling just short in a pair of attempted comebacks. Does the GM G.M. really think that they will score five goals every night in the post season, or are defensive changes on the way?
2. (2) San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have not streaked like Washington, but they stay close in the race for the President's Trophy. San Jose's big three of Thornton, Heatley and Marleau continue to produce, but their other forwards have struggled a bit. If they don't heat up in the secondary scoring department, will we see another early round exit for the Sharks?
3. (5) Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes are as hot as ever. They consistently shut down their opponents top scorers and frustrate them for sixty minutes. Vrbata is on one of his famous hot streaks and he has brought along Matthew Lombardi along for the ride. No one will want to face this Phoenix team in the playoffs.
4. (3) Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago has looked a bit pedestrian as of late. The three goals they scored in regulation against Dallas is the most they have had in a game in the month of February. The Blackhawks struggling to score goals? How can that be?
5. (8) Ottawa Senators
The Sens' win streak was nearly as long as Washington's, but of all teams, it was Toronto that halted Ottawa's at eleven games with a shutout thud. The team bounced back by extending Calgary's slide and then started the Cap's new "losing streak" by beating the "Other Alexander", Semin and Co. in a high-flying 6-5 contest.
6. (4) Los Angeles Kings
The Kings had a nine game win streak snapped against Anaheim. In return they nearly snapped Ryan Getzlaf's ankle. L.A.'s young bunch is playing with confidence and swagger. There is a new "Showtime" in the Staples Center with no Kobe to be found.
7. (11) Colorado Avalanche
The Avs have won three straight after rallying to beat Atlanta in OT Wednesday. Colorado endured a rough ending in January, but February has been much nicer losing only once since the flip of the calendar. Chris Stewart must be wearing a Joe Sakic sweater under his own, because he sure has played like Joe in the past week.
8. (6) Pittsburgh Penguins
After a long break Pittsburgh got caught by both looking ahead to their match-up against Ovechkin, and treacherous Mid-Atlantic weather conditions. After looking quite uninspired in a ugly loss to Montreal, they immediately departed for a plane and bus combo to get into Washington the next day. The Pens jumped all over the Caps, but fell apart as the were dismantled in the third period. Pittsburgh welcomed the floundering Isles for a tap in win to pull within one point of the division lead, but can they find a way to overtake New Jersey down the stretch?
9. (7) Vancouver Canucks
The twins have gone quiet, therefore so has the Vancouver offense. Luckily for them Roberto Luongo is the backstop. His shutout of the Panthers may be just what the Canucks needed to get back on track before the break.
10. (10) New Jersey Devils
The Devils won the Kovalchuk sweepstakes butt have only won one game this month. Their offense is still anemic, as witnessed by their lone win was the only game in which they scored more than twice. Ilya has yet to notch a goal and Parise is a bit banged up. Lemaire's system is so stifling that he can keep his own club from scoring!
11. (9) Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres are O for February. Loser of six straight, Buffalo's tight defense has been somewhat leaky. Dropping games to Carolina, Boston and Columbus is a bit surprising. They are falling and their goaltender likely will not get any rest during the Olympic break.
12. (12) Nashville Predators
The Preds have also slowed a bit recently. Some nights the offense just isn't there and others the defense is a little too generous. Patric Hornqvist has become the attack zone catalyst. If he doesn't score, Nashville struggles. Maybe help for him is on the way via trade?
13. (15) Dallas Stars
The Stars are still in the hunt. Awfully tough to beat at home, but a near pushover on the road, Dallas needs to find the same level of play when they are wearing their visiting whites. Is Kari Lehtonen the answer? Does his arrival mean that they will deal Turco for a puck moving blueliner?
14. (14) Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks strong play continues. They have lost only one contest this month and seem energized now that Giggy isn't there to question his shared duty role. Ryan Getzlaf gave the team a scare, but it appears that his boo boo isn't not as bad as first feared. Much like last year, the Ducks are making a late push and could be a nightmare round one matchup for another division leader.
15. (13) Detroit Red Wings
The Wings are getting lots of bodies back, but it is doing them no good. Detroit has lost four in a row with a hot Ottawa team waiting for them before the break. What is the over/under on one of their Olympian Swedes going down with a fluke injury in Vancouver? Jimmy Howard looks like he will welcome the time off.
16. (19) Tampa Bay Lightning
It seems that Coach Rick Tocchet and his team are finally in sync. Due to their last win streak, Tocchet must like Tampa's odds to make the playoffs. You can bet that the new ownership situation will be a good thing for this franchise, as they have firm financial footing for the first time.
17. (18) Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers enjoyed their home and home with the Devils and have another with the Habs going in to the break. Ray Emery has been shut down to rest his hip and it remains to be seen if they will make a deal to bring in some goaltending insurance. With or without Emery, Laviolette has this Phailadelphia team playing sound defense and is keeping the dumb penalties to a minimum. How long can he contain Hartnell, Carcillo and crew?
18. (28) Boston Bruins
The Bruins lost ten in a row. Now they are going for their fourth victory in a row before the break! They have Lucic and Savard in the lineup at the same time and are looking like they are ready to get back to business for the stretch run. They are trying to deal Michael Ryder, but does his two goal performance against Tampa give the team second thoughts?
19. (22) Montreal Canadiens
Montreal is dealing again. Overpaying again. Causing the fans to groan again. Yet, somehow, they are winning again in February. Les Canadiens manhandled Pittsburgh and then halted Washington's super streak. They have played themselves into a position to where it will be difficult to move either Price or Halak, but the team will probably still be active at the deadline. Got an atrocious contract??? The Bleu, Blanc et Rouge may want you!
20. (17) Minnesota Wild
The Wild need to keep the score low to win, but they can't always limit the opposition to two goals or less. Thus, Minnesota can't win them all. The problem is the rest of the team has not been able to keep up with Latendresse, who has been an amazing acquisition. Even if Havlat heats up, the Wild still need another consistent scorer. Who doesn't? (Don't answer that Bruce Boudreau.) The Wild are said to be interested in Ruslan Fedotenko. What? He doesn't score until after the playoffs start.
21. (20) St. Louis Blues
The Blues keep hanging around, but they may be better served selling off their veteran assets (read Tkachuk and Kariya) to bolster their youthful core. They were said to be in on the Kovalchuk sale, and may be in a strong position to land him in the summer. Clear some cap room while adding a few complimentary pieces along the way in effort to make a run next year. No?
22. (23) Atlanta Thrashers
Good news Thrashers fans. Niclas Bergfors has out scored Kovalchuk 2-0 all by himself! Atlanta wins this deal, right? Waddell did what he had to do and the team is moving on. The team traded another first round pick in Lehtonen and received Dallas' top prospect in return. Maybe they end up better in the long run. Look for "Dealin' " Don Waddell to keep unloading impending UFAs... AND for the Thrashers to contend for the last playoff spot until the very end.
23. (27) Carolina Hurricanes
The Canes are hot! Winners of four straight, if it weren't for such an unbelievably bad start, Carolina would be looking to add to this team rather than sell off their free agents-to-be. Matt Cullen was moved today, and a few others are extremely likely to be moved before March 3rd. The Hurricanes will be back in contention next year, just a more youthful version of the team that made the ECF in 2008/09.
24. (16) Calgary Flames
After winning a pair of games last week, the Flames got back to losing again. Calgary has enough forwards to ice two teams, but none of them seem to be able to score. The team looks frustrated. The Sutter upstairs ain't gonna fire the one behind the bench. How long until fans start calling for both brothers to go?
25. (24) Columbus Blue Jackets
Hitch is gone, and so is the disastrously soft defensive play. The Jackets have won three in a row by shutting down their opponents. Rick Nash has found the sticks with the goals in them again. Will Filatov be back after the break to tantalize the Columbus faithful with his skills as well? New Coach Noel may have some bad suits, but he has his team playing well.
26. (25) New York Rangers
Super sniper Marian Gaborik has not been able to find a way to get injured during games, so he took drastic measures to make sure that he missed some time due to a practice injury. All kidding aside, the rangers need the tanking Devils to find their lone victory in February. Lundqvist had to make 41 saves in that game to make it happen. The Rangers still are not getting consistent scoring. Will Sather find anyone else to unload his big cap players on now that Gainey is gone?
27. (21) Florida Panthers
Five straight defeats have prompted another Florida sale. Randy Sexton announced that no player is unavailable for trade, and that he is ready to start over... again in South Florida. Injuries have hampered the Panthers. Booth missed significant time and now Nathan Horton is sidelined with a broken leg bone. Would this story be different if they could keep their top guns on the ice together?
28. (26) New York Islanders
The Isles have gone cold again. It looked for a while like they might contend for a playoffs spot, but that seems much less likely now. The Isles are looking to retool their blueline. Brendan Witt, the SUV killer, passed through waivers and Andy Sutton could be moved at the deadline. The team also has some goaltending assets which they can use to bolster their defense.
29. (29) Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto is competing every night, but the wins are not always there. Brian Burke looks like he is just a few moves away from completing his overhaul of the roster. No playoffs in year one of the Burke area, but they show up for the fight, just like he wanted.
30. (30) Edmonton Oilers
The good news? The Oilers are undefeated at home in February AND they snapped their long road losing streak by winning in Los Angeles on Thursday. The bad news? the season isn't over yet. Edmonton will attempt to sell off every high-priced vet on the roster. However, the tricky part will be finding another team to take them.
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