Monday, May 7, 2007
NHL Power Rankings: The playoffs edition
The Power Rankings are alive for one more week as the second round of the playoffs winds down. Here is our final list for the 2006-07 season. See you in September!
• Regular-season Rankings | Playoffs:1 | 2 | 3 | 4
1. Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks started at No. 2 when the regular season began and they still hold our top spot after dispatching Vancouver in five games. Some might criticize Anaheim over the fact that six of its eight playoff wins have been one-goal margins. But we still come back to this impressive stat: The Ducks' penalty-killing unit has allowed just three goals in 56 short-handed situations in the playoffs and none during 33 penalties at home. Another small boost -- coach Randy Carlyle's line shifts over the last two games versus the Canucks. He effectively moved Brad May from line to line to take advantage of the forward's strong forechecking. Last week: 1.
2. Detroit Red Wings
Heading into Monday's Game 6, the Red Wings seem to have control of their series against the San Jose Sharks. One player may be the reason for Detroit's 3-2 series edge -- Tomas Holmstrom. Since returning from an eye injury in Game 4, the forward has been on the ice for six of the last seven Wings goals. Before his return, the team went 1-for-15 on the power play without him. With Holmstrom back in the lineup, the Wings are 4-for-11 on the man advantage. Last week: 2.
3. Ottawa Senators Ray Emery gets into a minor car wreck while trying to catch his team flight before Game 5; he makes the game and still helps the Sens win it. It must be fate. (Thankfully, no one was hurt.) But Ottawa will get its biggest test yet against the top-seeded Sabres. Buffalo will have to find an answer for the Daniel Alfredsson-Jason Spezza-Dany Heatley line because the Devils sure couldn't. Each member of the trio scored three goals and they combined for 14 assists versus New Jersey. Last week: 6.
4. Buffalo Sabres
We know some might want to see the Sabres rank a little higher, especially since they did win their second-round series against the Rangers. Still, as coach Lindy Ruff said, New York "scared the hell" out of them. The Sabres were outshot in three of the six games against the Rangers and their penalty killing was subpar (1-for-4) in the series-clinching Game 6. And when Jason Pominville gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead in that same game, it was the first time Buffalo led in regulation since Game 2. We're not saying Emery is Henrik Lundqvist, but the Sabres do have some things to think about heading into the conference finals. Last week: 3.
5. San Jose Sharks
What has happened in San Jose? After being pummeled by Detroit in Game 5, the Sharks are trying to avoid another early playoff exit. Some might think the picture is bleaker without Bill Guerin in the lineup (he took a puck to the face), but, let's face it, he hasn't been much of a factor (he has yet to score a goal in the playoffs and has just two assists). We can't point the finger to Joe Thornton (five points versus Detroit). So, we're looking to Patrick Marleau to step up. He has yet to register a point in the second round after posting three goals and three assists versus Nashville. Last week: 4.
6. New York Rangers
Not many expected as close a series as the Rangers gave the Sabres in the second round. Lundqvist was his grand self in net, Jaromir Jagr was playing solid offense and defense and a team defensive plan shut down Buffalo's speed for most of the series. But when Chris Drury decides to score with fewer than eight seconds left in regulation to force overtime you kind of know it just wasn't meant to be. Last week: 7.
7. New Jersey Devils
Is this the end of an era in New Jersey? Yes, the Devils are moving into a new building, but with the future of Scott Gomez in doubt (he'll be one of the offseason's more coveted free agents) and a new coach to name (GM Lou Lamoriello says it won't be him!), New Jersey is going through a major transition period. The Devils got past a one-line Lightning team, but couldn't find a way to shut down the Senators' top guns. Last week: 5.
8. Vancouver Canucks
At least the Canucks won a game. That might have been more than many expected from Vancouver. But the same problems reared their ugly heads against a more talented Anaheim squad: no consistent scoring beyond the usual suspects (Sedin twins) and no power on the man advantage (they went 1-for-29 in the series). It's a shame, because we're really missing those hockey stick jerseys. Last week: 8.