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NHL Power Rankings By: Betus.com
Senior Editor Wager On Hockey.com - NHL Sportsbook Review
March 6th, 2006 Page Updated at 1:00pm

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1. Ottawa Senators (1): The league’s finest team both at even strength and when killing penalties, the Senators’ power play is second only to the Red Wings. And though those stats were padded by an otherworldly start, the Sens remain a bona fide Cup favorite.

2. Detroit Red Wings (2): Six players have already tallied 20 or more goals for the Wings this year, and two more (Robert Lang and Jason Williams) are likely to join them before the regular season concludes. That scoring depth will make the Wings a very dangerous playoff team.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (3): Lost in the justifiable excitement surrounding Eric Staal’s breakout season (he’s already tallied 90 points) has been the re-emergence of Rod Brind’Amour, who is quietly putting together his best numbers since 1998-99.

4. Dallas Stars (5): He has struggled at times this season, but star netminder Marty Turco has gotten back on track in recent weeks, posting a miserly 2.11 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage to go along with an 8-2 record in March.

5. Buffalo Sabres (4): By keeping Martin Biron in the fold, sensational rookie Ryan Miller is going to have to battle to earn the starting job. Over the next three seasons, look for this strategy – not rushing Miller – to pay huge dividends for Buffalo.

6. Nashville Predators (6): He’ll face some hefty competition from the Flames’ Miikka Kiprusoff and the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, but the ever-steady Vokoun has been the NHL’s finest goaltender this season and is the top candidate to win the Vezina Trophy.

7. New York Rangers (8): Distributing the puck on the power play has worked wonders for the Rangers, as opponents can no longer focus their attentions squarely upon Jaromir Jagr. Not surprisingly, that change has enabled Jagr to re-emerge as the league’s top scorer.

8. Philadelphia Flyers (9): Peter Forsberg returned to the lineup and led the Flyers to victories against the Devils and Rangers this week. If the injury-riddled Flyers can get healthy in time for the postseason, they will be extremely dangerous.

9. Calgary Flames (7): Jarome Iginla is a minus-seven in games played in 2006, and that’s cause for concern in Calgary; if their captain is not at his best, the Flames will struggle mightily when the playoffs arrive.

10. Anaheim Mighty Ducks (11): The Ducks have posted an impressive 8-2-1 record since the Olympic break concluded, and – Wednesday’s performance notwithstanding – Jean-Sebastien Giguere has once again returned to his 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy-winning form.

11. Colorado Avalanche (10): They’ve already lost Marek Svatos to a shoulder injury, and now leading scorer Alex Tanguay will miss 2-4 weeks with a knee sprain. Look for Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk to pick up the slack in their absences.

12. San Jose Sharks (15): Netminder Vesa Toskala is slowly wresting the starting job away from the injury-riddled Evgeni Nabokov; were the playoffs to start tomorrow, it’s a good bet that Toskala would get the nod.

13. Edmonton Oilers (12): The team hasn’t jelled yet following the big trade deadline acquisitions of Sergei Samsonov and Dwayne Roloson, but the Oilers should find their way into the playoffs before all is said and done.

14. Vancouver Canucks (16): An impressive 4-1 victory over the Oilers in Edmonton on Tuesday night may have marked a turning point for the Canucks. In particular, goaltender Alexander Auld (30 saves on 31 shots) was absolutely stellar.

15. Los Angeles Kings (13): The Kings’ coaching change was a calculated maneuver by GM Dave Taylor, and should yield positive results. The normal short-term impact of a new coach might well be enough to spur the Kings into the postseason.

16. New Jersey Devils (14): The Devils are reeling, largely due to their severe lack of scoring depth, and if they don’t get back on track quickly, look for them to slip out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

17. Tampa Bay Lightning (18): The Lightning fell behind 5-1 against the Panthers on Monday night before storming back to tie the game in an impressive demonstration of resiliency. Unfortunately, they then fell in overtime.

18. Montreal Canadiens (17): The biggest factor for the Canadiens down the stretch is the health of defenseman Andrei Markov; they have lost the last four games he’s missed.

19. Atlanta Thrashers (19): With their come-from-behind victories over the Bruins and Devils, the Thrashers have battled themselves into playoff position.

20. Toronto Maple Leafs (21): Mikael Tellqvist has outplayed veteran Ed Belfour this season, and now that Belfour is out for the season, he'll get a chance to prove that he deserves the starting role next year.

21. Minnesota Wild (22): Talented sniper Marian Gaborik has been on fire in recent weeks, and has re-emerged as one of the league’s finest players.

22. Florida Panthers (24): It’s highly unlikely that the Panthers will earn a playoff spot, but they are gaining invaluable experience making the effort.

23. New York Islanders (20): It is a classic case of addition by subtraction for the Isles, who are far better following their trade deadline purge and youth influx.

24. Phoenix Coyotes (23): Though their playoff hopes have faded in recent weeks, the Coyotes have an excellent core of young players upon whom they can build.

25. Boston Bruins (25): The Bruins’ nagging propensity to blow two-goal leads has cost them dearly this season, something they must improve upon next year.

26. Columbus Blue Jackets (26): Since Rick Nash returned to the lineup in mid-season, the Blue Jackets – and promising youngster Nikolai Zherdev – have improved immensely.

27. Washington Capitals (28): Alex Ovechkin suffered his first NHL setback on Tuesday night, as he was benched for taking too-long shifts and for poor defensive play.

28. Chicago Blackhawks (29): The hapless ‘Hawks need to make dramatic systemic and organizational changes if they’re to ever re-join the league’s elite teams.

29. St. Louis Blues (27): The injury-plagued Blues suffered yet another setback on Tuesday night when former Calder Trophy winner Barret Jackman was lost for the season with a broken jaw.

30. Pittsburgh Penguins (30): He’s faced more than his share of adversity, but rookie phenom Sidney Crosby has met all expectations in his debut season.

Kevin Greentein is the Editor-in-Chief of www.InsideHockey.com. He can be heard every Wednesday at 2:30pm EST on www.BetUSradio.com.


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