By Brian Cazeneuve
April 06, 2011

NOTE: All stats and records through games of Monday, April 4.

NHL Power Rankings
1 Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 1
Before a lazy 4-1 loss to the Oilers, their impressive five-game win streak clinched the NHL's best regular season record. They allowed only one goal in each of the five, and boosted their longer run to 12-1-0 with only a loss to Phoenix sandwiched in the middle. Still, looking for the team's first Stanley Cup, Daniel Sedin wasn't too impressed with its first Presidents' Trophy. "Nope, nothing," he said. "It means we have home-ice advantage, but other than that, no." Last week: 2-1-0
2 Washington Capitals
Last Week: 2
Already battered by injury, their backline took another blow when Dennis Wideman suffered a leg hematoma during a collision in a game against Carolina. Likely to miss at least the start of the playoffs, he leads all NHL defenseman with nine power-play goals and has been especially valuable after the injury to power play quarterback Mike Green. "I've been on a lot of winning teams," said coach Bruce Boudreau, "and they've had to fight with more guys out than we have." Last week: 2-0-1
3 San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 5
San Jose Sharks (46-23-9)
They nailed their fourth straight Pacific title with a 6-1 rout of the Kings, and typical of their season, six different Sharks scored in the game, including Joe Thornton, who became the team's sixth 20-goal scorer. Joe Pavelski now has 19. San Jose has outscored its foes, 43-18, over its last nine games, and 16-3 for the week. "This is how you want to go into the playoffs," Pavelski said. "Everybody's contributing." Last week: 3-0-0
4 Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 3
While they continue to struggle in Chris Pronger's absence, it's déjà du all over again as goalie Michael Leighton has been summoned from Adirondack of the AHL. He wasn't expected to be a part of Philly's late-season plans in 2010, but after the team squeaked into the playoffs, he was a key cog in the push to the finals. Expect him to start at least once this week in an attempt to goose Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher on to greater heights. Last week: 1-2-1
5 Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 6
Detroit Red Wings (46-23-10)
The Central Division champs for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons are accustomed to support from third- and fourth-line forwards at playoff time, so coach Mike Babcock has been clear about his expectations for the new generation that includes Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Jakub Kindl. "Those young kids have had great personal growth and have made our team better," Babcock said. "But ideally, they'll continue to do that because this is the time of year when your players need to step up." Hopefully, the kids will come in handy in the race with San Jose for the West's second seed. Last week: 2-2-0
6 Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 4
A playoff berth secure, they're dueling with Tampa Bay for fourth in the East and home-ice advantage in the first round. "Everyone wants the solace of starting at home in the playoffs and having a possible Game 7 at home," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "We know if we win all three (remaining) games we will hold home-ice. We have that focus, making sure we put ourselves in a position to keep home-ice." To do it, the Pens must fix their fizzling power play, which has produced a measly two goals in its last 51 chances. Last week: 1-2-0
7 Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 12
Folks in Tampa are breathing a bit easier now that doctors have said there is no structural damage to Vincent Lecavalier's eye after he was struck by the stick of Chicago's Michael Frolik. "I'm always concerned when it's your captain and he's been playing incredible the last two months," coach Guy Boucher said after the game. "He's been driving physically and been a real inspiration for the players." That fact is reflected by the Bolts' perfect week and recent turnaround. Last week: 4-0-0
8 Boston Bruins
Last Week: 7
Boston Bruins (44-24-11)
"Oh, no, not anothah" they're saying in Boston (with the distinctive accent). A year after coughing up a 3-0 lead over Philly -- in the conference semifinal series and in Game 7 -- the B's blew a comparable April advantage against the Rangers in a 5-3 loss. "We respected the game plan when we took that 3-0 lead. Then guys wanted to get cute again," coach Claude Julien groaned. "We were the better team the first half of the game. The only reason they took over is because we let them." Ouch. Last week: 2-1-1
9 Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 8
Their humbling 6-1 loss to possible first-round foe San Jose ominously showed how the Kings are not the same team without Anze Kopitar. L.A. looked lifeless at times and goalie Jonathan Quick was pulled after giving up four goals on 16 shots in 26 minutes. "They came ready to play," defenseman Matt Greene said. "We didn't. We gave them every one of their goals. It's a good lesson, late in the year, that you're never really as good as you think you are." Last week: 2-2-0
10 Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 9
Phoenix Coyotes (42-25-12)
Getting healthy with the fourth seed and home-ice in sight, they signed undrafted center Andy Miele from the Miami RedHawks after he led the NCAA in scoring with 71 points in just 39 games. At 5'9", Miele makes up for lack of size with quickness and guile. "He is a highly skilled and competitive player who had a great season," said GM Don Maloney. "He was one of the most sought-after NCAA free agents in the nation. We look forward to watching him develop and being a part of our organization for years to come." Last week: 1-0-1
11 Nashville Predators
Last Week: 10
An OT loss to Detroit closed an impressive 7-1-1 run where they went from the verge of missing the playoffs to just four points behind the Wings at the top of the Central. "We still have to keep winning," goalie Pekka Rinne wisely observed. "It's been an amazing season in how tight it's been, but it's so exciting. You feel sharp and you feel fresh all the time because there's so much on the table." Last week: 1-1-1
12 Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 11
Anaheim Ducks (44-30-5)
Corey Perry is simply the NHL's hottest player. During his nine-game point streak, the winger has 11 goals and seven assists and is plus-9. "I've never seen a guy so hot like he is right now," says 40-year-old Teemu Selanne, who has seen his share of hockey. "It's unbelievable to watch. There are no words to describe it right now." Perry leads the NHL with 47 goals, three more than Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, and has become a legit candidate for the Hart Trophy. The Ducks will likely fit no opponent?s bill in the playoffs. Last week: 1-2-0
13 Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 15
Unseated as the No. 1 at the end of last season, netminder Carey Price has since become a stellar workhorse. He represented his team at the All-Star Game in Carolina and last week tied a franchise goalie record by appearing in his 70th game of the season, something only Gerry McNeil (1950-51 and 1951-52) and Jacques Plante (1961-62) had done. "We're obviously riding him as far as we can," said captain Brian Gionta. "He's been our backbone." Last week: 2-1-0
14 Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 13
They're cautiously optimistic that Patrick Sharp, the All-Star Game MVP and a key member of their Cup run last year, will be back by the end of the week as they try to snag a playoff spot. Sharp has missed six straight games and was expected to miss at least two more after injuring his left knee against Phoenix on March 20. "Sharpie is progressing well," coach Joel Quenneville reports. Despite his absence, Sharp still leads the Blackhawks with 34 goals. Last week: 1-2-0
15 Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 16
Buffalo Sabres (40-29-10)
With ace goaltender Ryan Miller out with an injury, backup Jhonas Enroth kept them in the playoff chase by helping to earn five out of a possible six points. He stopped 23 shots while shutting out the Rangers, 1-0, and finished the week with a 1.94 goals-against average and .936 save percentage when the club desperately needed his strong play. "It's no secret Jhonas was our best player," coach Lindy Ruff said after a critical win against Carolina. "[The Hurricanes] win and it's a different scenario in the standings." Last week: 2-1-0
16 Calgary Flames
Last Week: 19
Calgary Flames (40-29-11)
Captain Jarome Iginla reached a well-earned milestone: his 1,000th career point during a six-point week for Calgary. Ranked sixth in the NHL in scoring, Iggy had three goals and three assists to become the 77th player to reach the thousand mark. While the Flames' playoff hopes have flickered, his numbers are all the more remarkable given the dodgy teams he has played on. But don't tell him that. "I owe a lot to my teammates," he says. "They help me out a lot." Spoken like a true captain at the helm of a desperate ship. Last week: 2-1-0
17 New York Rangers
Last Week: 14
New York Rangers (43-32-5)
Their spring hopes took a huge blow when forward Ryan Callahan, among their hottest and most essential players, went down for the rest of the season with a fractured right leg after blocking a shot by B's defenseman Zdeno Chara in a game that was otherwise a celebration for the Rangers. New York had rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win, 5-3. "You keep moving on and play," said stoic coach John Tortorella. "Someone fills in. Someone takes responsibility." Still, this one hurts. Last week: 2-2-0
18 Dallas Stars
Last Week: 17
Dallas Stars (39-28-11)
Before their 4-3 win over Anaheim, they'd played six games in a row without a victory as the playoffs slipped away. "It's just about finding ways to win, and we've found ways to lose," sighed center Brad Richards. "It's not from a lack of care or heart in here. Against Phoenix and L.A., both winning goals go off us in front of the net. Sometimes it wears on you to lose a lot of one-goal games and shootouts in a row." Even so, the Stars ain't dead yet. Last week: 1-2-1
19 Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 18
With his club trailing the Isles after two periods, coach Paul Maurice eschewed fiery inspiration and told his lads to relax and not get too nervous. "That was preparing us for playoff hockey: the ups and downs, the momentum changes," Erik Cole said after the Canes' three-goal rally won the game. "More important, it's teaching us that we have to be loose. We have to play the way we're capable." Based on their 6-1-1 mark as they eye the Eaast's last playoff spot, they've been listening. Last week: 3-0-1
20 Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 20
Wins over Buffalo, Boston (2) and Ottawa were packed in a pair of three-game streaks separated by a loss to the Wings, but their slim playoff hopes continued to slip away for yet another season. On the bright side, goalie James Reimer was named the NHL's rookie of the month for March by virtue of his 9-4-1; 2.87 GAA .913 save pct. marks. Fore! Last week: 3-0-0
21 St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 21
St. Louis Blues (36-33-10)
While dusting off their putters they suddenly become gunslingers: 26 goals in their last five games, including 10 against the Red Wings as the first team since 1986 to score four goals in each of the first two periods of a game against Detroit. Even Cam Janssen and Chris Porter potted their first tallies of the season. "The guys know how important it is to start creating success," coach Davis Payne said. "Good habits aren't something you just turn on, you have to work to create them." Last week: 2-2-0
22 Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 22
Minnesota Wild (37-34-8)
They deep-sixed an eight-game winless streak by beating the Blues and Oilers, then were eliminated from the playoff hunt by losses to the Bolts and Wings. Sadly, they haven't beaten a team that had a shot at the playoffs since they topped the Rangers on March 3. "It's going to be a long offseason," moaned goalid Niklas Backstrom. "Before you can think of how it can be better next year, you think of what went wrong this year." He's going to be thinking for a while. Last week: 2-2-0
23 Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 24
A 3-9-7 stretch ensured their early tee time and they put out some flat efforts without captain Rick Nash and starting goalie Steve Mason in the lineup, but these tattered Jackets can take a little solace in their silver lining. They still had second-best season in franchise history, after the 92-point campaign in the playoff year of 2009. They also have an impressive 10-3-3 mark against the East, and forward RJ Umberger tied the team mark by playing in his 243rd consecutive game. Last week: 1-1-2
24 New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 25
After a miserable start to the season and a marvelous 23-3-2 rally under new/old coach Jacques Lemaire, they finally ran out of steam and time, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Habs and missing the postseason for the first time in 13 years. "We knew it was going to come," goalie Martin Brodeur said. "It doesn't come as a shocker. We had a good run, played really hard to get ourselves in position to compete. It was just too much." Last week: 2-1-0
25 Atlanta Thrashers
Last Week: 23
Atlanta Thrashers (33-33-12)
They were busting out their niblicks after a 3-2 loss to Boston put a sour capper on a season that held such great promise during the first 30 games before it deteriorated with an abysmal 4-17 skid in January and February. "We've been playing better here of late, but you can't take that much time off like we did," observed forward Bryan Little. So true. Last week: 1-2-0
26 New York Islanders
Last Week: 26
New York Islanders (30-37-12)
Center Frans Nielsen won the team award for dedication and went down with a concussion, adding to their league-leading total of 543 man-games lost to injury this season. What might have been, eh? On a more positive note, they enjoyed their 6-2 throttling of the hated rival Rangers and have found life in several young players who could be solid contributors next season. Among them: goalie Al Montoya (9-5-4; .921; 2.37) who got a one-year deal, and forward Jesse Joensuu, a call-up from Bridgeport. Coach Capuano is expected back, Jack, to do it again. Last week: 1-2-0
27 Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 27
Ottawa Senators (30-39-10)
With Daniel Alfredsson (lower-back pain) and Sergei Gonchar and Marek Svatos (concussions) shut down for the season, Ottawa called upon 21-year-old center Stephane Da Costa, who played his first NHL game after scrawling his Stephane Da Costa on an entry level contract last week. Fun Fact to Know and Tell: Da Costa, who played 18 minutes over two games without recording a point, is the sixth native of France to play in the NHL. Last week: 1-2-0
28 Florida Panthers
Last Week: 28
Florida Panthers (29-38-12)
The sinking Cats went eight games without tasting victory after their 4-0 whitewash of the Leafs on Marc 17 and scored 11 goals during that sorry stretch. Even after a decent outing against the Pens, in which his club was tied with eight minutes to play, coach Pete DeBoer sounded resigned to futility and a possible pink slip. "I thought our effort was there," he sighed. "Again, though, you have to score to win in this league. Two is not enough. Two is double our normal output lately, but it's not enough to win." A spring housecleaning is expected. Last week: 0-2-1
29 Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 29
Their season officially in the state of washout, they may have seen the last of Adam Foote. The 39-year-old hasn't played since he suffered a leg injury on March 16 and could be ready to hang up his skates. With two goals in his last four seasons, Foote has become a stay-at-home backliner, to say the least, one with 1,153 games-played during the regular season and a robust 170 in the playoffs. He also won a pair of Stanley Cup rings with Colorado, baubles from a time that seems long ago. Last week: 1-2-0
30 Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 30
Edmonton Oilers (24-43-11)
Their winless schneid hit 11 games before they knocked off Vancouver, of all teams. With only moral victories left to strive for, their young players will have to take that game into the summer and cleave it unto their bosoms. "Nobody expects you to have a chance, and you take that as motivation," said goalid Devan Dubnyk, who made 40 saves. "It's such a big night. This is the best team in the league and we beat them. It's a pretty special feeling and it shows all us young guys in here it can done if you buckle down and play the game." Last week: 1-2-0

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)