Deadline moves! Washington stays on top. The Blues and Canes make major moves upward, while Dallas, Calgary and Tampa fall.
1. (1) Washington Capitals
The Caps made four deals at the deadline and got better defensively up front, and better offensively on the blueline! They have won a pair of one goal games since the break, but no goals from Ovechkin. Bench that guy!
2. (4) Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks did not make a move for a goaltender, so it will be Niemi and Huet the rest of the way. Like Washington, they will go as far as their keepers take them.
3. (2) San Jose Sharks
Nabokov had an awful exit from the Olympic tourney, and it appears to have rolled over into the break. He was torched in his first game back. The Sharks have a powerful offense. Do we sense a trend at the top here? Who needs to stop pucks when you can pile up goals on the offensive end?
4. (3) Phoenix Coyotes
They Coyotes were surprising active at the trade deadline. Phoenix has a defensive game that can shut down anyone. Now that they added some scoring punch, can they go deep into the playoffs?
5. (8) Pittsburgh Penguins
Olympic hero Sidney Crosby has looked a little weary since the NHL games restarted, but he has a point in each game and the Pens have a pair of wins. They added depth at the blueline and got a winger to play with Malkin in Ponikarovsky. Three Finals appearances in a row?
6. (9) Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver is getting scoring from their top lines, and are playing reasonably well defensively. They have a rough schedule in March that will test their playoff readiness.
7. (6) Los Angeles Kings
The Kings added some grit at the deadline. The competition in the West will be fierce as their are six teams that have remained near the top all season long. The Kings are young and well balanced.
8. (7) Colorado Avalanche
Colorado has lost two of three since the break. A swap of young players with Phoenix landed them Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter who the Avs believe fit their system better than Wojtek Wolski who had slowed after a torrid start. Time will tell if they made the right move.
9. (10) New Jersey Devils
The Devils had struggled entering the Olympic break, but came out firing and beat San Jose at the Shark Tank coming out. New Jersey added Martin Skoula at the deadline, but will they have enough to beat out Washington or Pittsburgh come playoff time?
10. (5) Ottawa Senators
Ottawa was red hot entering the break, but have been shelled in their two games after by the Rangers and Canes. What happened? Ottawa must find the defensive game that rocketed them up the standings again to compete with the top teams in the East.
11. (12) Nashville Predators
Nashville often seems to find just enough to win. They held on to their blue chips on the blueline at the deadline and even added more punch in Grebeshkov. The Preds could be a real nightmare for one of the top teams in the post season.
12. (11) Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have struggled having won just one games since January. They added some scoring and toughness with Raffi Torres, but will he be enough?
13. (17) Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers had won five straight before David Booth and the Panthers literally punched their lights out on Wednesday night. Ray Emery is done for the duration. Without a prime time netminder, Laviolette will nat be able to take Philly very far.
14. (15) Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are finally healthy, but things look pretty much the same as they have all season in Detroit. They fought hard in a grinding win over Colorado, but then were blown out at home against Vancouver. Up and then down, the Wings will more than likely make the post season, but will they cause trouble for a top seed or get smoked? No one knows.
15. (21) St. Louis Blues
The Blues have won five in a row and suddenly have found the sticks that have all the goals in them. With offensive support, St. Louis now seems primed for another stretch run.
16. (20) Minnesota Wild
Minnesota returned from the break by shutting out Calgary. they have made significant strides up the standings in the new year, but it may have come to late for them to really contend for a post season spot.
17. (22) Atlanta Thrashers
The Thrashers have really looked like a better team since the trade of Ilya Kovachuk! They are getting consistent team offense and decent defensive play. Atlanta is in a good position to field the second playoff team in franchise history.
18. (14) Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim made multiple backup goaltending moves and added Lubomir Visnovsky at the deadline, whom we suspect will be tabbed their heir apparent to captain Scott Niedermayer. Anaheim still is in the hunt for a playoff spot, but the odds are still against them due to their atrocious start.
19. (13) Dallas Stars
Dallas has been awful coming out of the break, suffering a pair of blowout losses. Marty Turco looks as if he has already checked out, and the newly acquired Kari Lehtonen may be given an extended audition to remain with the team for next season and beyond.
20. (23) Carolina Hurricanes
The Canes are on a seven game winning streak! They are not just winning, but dominating games during this run. They effectively sold off some spare parts that do not factor in the teams' near future, and held on to sniper Ray Whitney at the deadline.
21. (18) Boston Bruins
The Bruins did not make any deadline moves of significance and did nothing to bolster their badly sagging offense. This looks to be a lost season for the B's. However, they plenty of draft picks and may end up with one of the top two selections in the draft as a consolation.
22. (24) Calgary Flames
The Flames still seem mired in a long slump. They have a very unfriendly schedule down the stretch and may have played themselves out of the playoffs after a strong start. No more blaming Phaneuf... who's fault is it now?
23. (25) Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets have played much better since their coaching change, but not well enough to make anyone believe in them again. Nash had an excellent Olympic tourney and maybe it will translate into an inspired run for Columbus... but maybe not.
24. (27) Florida Panthers
The Panthers issued a letter to their season ticket holders to warn them of the impending changes to the team due to an unacceptable performance heading into the break. Yet, the deadline came and went with a few minor tinkerings. What are their fans to think now?
25. (26) New York Rangers
Surprise, surprise, the one major player to get injured during Olympic play... you guessed it: Marian Gaborik! Although his boo boos do not seem serious, Gaborik has missed both of New York's games since the break. Yet, the team has played well offensively without him. What?
26. (19) Montreal Canadiens
Montreal did not do much at the deadline, and we suspect it was mostly because they have no players of interest to other teams. They are due to get Cammalleri back in mid March, but this team has a lot of work ahead.
27. (16) Tampa Bay Lightning
The streaky 'Ning have lost five in a row. It has been a magical season for Steve Stamkos who just keeps on scoring, but a roller coaster ride for the team as a whole. Tampa looks as thought it does have an official new ownership group and many of their current players may be auditioning for jobs the rest of the way.
28. (28) New York Islanders
After looking like they may compete for a post season spot, the Isles have won only three of their last ten and seemed destined for another lottery. Yet, they have plenty of reasons to believe that "next year" will be their time.
29. (29) Toronto Maple Leafs
Lots of moves and this team seems much further along on the road to be wholly Brian Burke's creation. Yet, they have only two victories since January.
30. (30) Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers sold off a few "assets" at the deadline. Yet they still stink and must trust in an influx of youth to save them next year.