Friday, December 17, 2010
By Kevin Kurz
1Last week: 4; Record: 21-7-5
The Flyers proved themselves to be the class of the Eastern Conference and maybe the league with wins over the Bruins, Pens and Habs this week. Chris Prongers status is concerning, though, as hes unquestionably their most important player.
2Last week: 6; Record: 17-8-4
Vancouver still boasts the best power play in the NHL, and Ryan Kesler just gets better and better. He already has 15 goals in just 29 games this season.
3Last week: 3; Record: 21-10-2
The Pens dropped games to division rivals Philly and the Rangers this week, a minor hiccup after a long and impressive winning streak. Still, they get points for their uncanny ability to move furniture into hotel hallways.
4Last week: 1; Record: 20-7-3
Niklas Lidstrom recorded his first NHL hat trick in a 19-year career on Wednesday. Even more impressive, it looks like he could play another 19 years in the league.
5Last week: 5; Record: 19-11-2
Thursdays win over Boston was huge for the Canadiens after a disappointing home loss to another nemesis, Philadelphia. Carey Price and Tim Thomas will likely battle the rest of the way when these two teams face off, and thats about as good of a goaltending battle as there is.
6Last week: 10; Record: 18-10-3
Dallas games with San Jose are indicative of just how close the Pacific Division is this year, as all three have gone past regulation. They split this week, with each team winning on the other teams ice.
7Last week: 17; Record: 20-13-1
The Rangers are surprising everyone this year, considering the number of injuries to key players they have had to overcome. Could John Tortorella be an early candidate for the Jack Adams?
8Last week: 8; Record: 17-10-4
Sudden free agent Evgeni Nabokovs name has been mentioned as a good fit for the Lightning, and well, it would make sense for a team that has struggled between the pipes while Dan Ellis keeps complaining.
9Last week: 9; Record: 16-10-4
Just when Boston looked like it was ready to take its place among the Eastern Conferences top clubs, it has a brutal road trip with losses to key division rivals.
10Last week: 16; Record: 17-11-5
Atlanta smells blood with the Capitals recent slump, and is battling with Tampa Bay to overtake Washington for the top spot in a surprisingly hot Southeast Division.
11Last week: 3; Record: 18-11-4
The Capitals have shown a propensity to fold when the lights are brightest the past few years. Maybe those HBO cameramen can hide in the corner until they end their losing streak.
12Last week: 14; Record: 17-11-1
Marco Sturm could be a very good addition by Dean Lombardi. That is, if he gets his speed back after undergoing major knee surgery for an injury that occurred in last years playoffs while with Boston.
13Last week: 15; Record: 17-10-4
Tomas Fleischmann scores a hat trick this week, while defenseman Scott Hannan has been brutal in Washington. That trade looks like a steal so far for Colorado.
14Last week: 7; Record: 16-14-3
Chicago has suffered some third period meltdowns as of late, and the absences of Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane have been noticeable. On the plus side, goaltender Corey Crawford looks like a keeper.
15Last week: 20; Record: 16-8-6
Anders Lindback notches back-to-back shutouts to keep the Preds right in the thick of things. So what if they were against the Panthers and Islanders?
16Last week: 18; Record: 16-11-5
The Sharks never got that veteran d-man they were looking for in the offseason, and now it looks like they need one more than ever. Some of the inexperienced players on their back end have made glaring mistakes at inopportune times.
17Last week: 22; Record: 17-14-4
Beating the Caps in overtime was a great way for Anaheim to begin a key seven-game road trip that begins with several games on the East Coast.
18Last week: 13; Record: 14-9-7
Phoenix was forced to find a backup goalie on the street for its game against the Rangers on Thursday night, as Ilya Bryzgalov was home with the flu. Tom Fenton had the best seat in the house for the 4-3 shootout win.
19Last week: 11; Record: 16-12-3
Columbus wrapped up a terrible Canadian West Coast trip this week, losing all three games. When you have the third-worst power play in the NHL, those results are bound to happen.
20Last week: 12; Record: 15-10-5
The Blues let out a huge sigh of relief when they got news that Erik Johnsons knee is day-to-day. The key defenseman limped off of the ice Wednesday night, and he needs to stay healthy for the Blues to remain in the race.
21Last week: 23; Record: 13-14-4
Give Buffalo credit for hanging together and righting the ship after a horrific start. The win against Boston this week shows that they are improving, and could easily slip right back into playoff position.
22Last week: 21; Record: 14-12-4
Will a couple nice come-from-behind wins this week spark the Hurricanes? Theyve now won three in a row, but are still behind their division rivals.
23Last week: 25; Record: 14-15-3
Calgary won the battle of disappointing Canadian teams on Thursday with a 5-2 win over Toronto in Dion Phaneufs return to the Saddledome.
24Last week: 29; Record: 12-15-4
Some dubious number for Toronto: only the Islanders and Devils score fewer goals-per-game than the Maple Leafs, and only the Oilers have a worse penalty-killing percentage.
25Last week: 24; Record: 14-16-3
Sergei Gonchar leads the Sens in ice time (24:59), and is last in plus-minus (-16). Should the Senators remain out of contention, look for his name to start getting mentioned in trade rumors in a month or so (San Jose, maybe)?
26Last week: 19; Record: 13-13-4
Minnesota is fading fast, as evidenced by Thursdays loss to lowly Ottawa, putting them in 14th place in the Western Conference.
27Last week: 28; Record: 13-16-0
Several experts have said that the Panthers are a much better club than their record indicates. Well, their record stinks.
28Last week: 27; Record: 12-14-5
Its somewhat old news, but anyone complaining about the Linus Omark shootout move against the Lightning has to get with the times. Hate the game, not the player.
29Last week: 26; Record: 9-19-2
Ilya Kovalchuk finally recorded a multiple-goal game for the Devils this year in their win over Phoenix. It catapulted him into a tie for 113th in the NHL in goals scored, with seven.
30Last week: 30; Record: 6-18-5
Despite their second win in 22 games on Thursday, the Islanders have yet to show any recent signs that they arent the worst team in the league. And really, its not even close.
Kevin Kurz covered the Philadelphia Flyers for seven seasons as the managing editor for philadelphiaflyers.com. He is currently a digital content producer for Comcast SportsNet.