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The playoff push

Top teams remain in place as I predict who gets in

Posted: Tuesday February 6, 2007 3:11PM; Updated: Tuesday February 6, 2007 7:08PM
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Note: All statistics are through Sunday.

BIGGEST CLIMB: Minnesota (19 to 15), Tampa Bay (20 to 16), N.Y. Isles (22 to 18)
BIGGEST FALL: Colorado (15 to 19), Boston (18 to 22)

NHL Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 1 Talk about a rollercoaster ride. After falling to Colorado on Tuesday -- their first loss in 16 games when Paul Kariya scores -- the Preds fell short two nights later against the lowly Coyotes. It looked like it would be a lost week, but then the Central leaders came up huge Saturday with a 3-0 victory over the Ducks, their first regulation win over Anaheim since Oct. 9, 2003.
Last Week: 1-2-0 Early Prediction: 1st in West
2 2
Buffalo Sabres (35-15-4)
Chris Drury scored his 30th goal of the season Saturday, reaching the plateau in Buffalo's 54th game. The veteran pivot became the quickest Sabre to reach the mark since 1992-93 (Alex Mogilny in 36 games, Pat LaFontaine in 42). The Sabres, meanwhile, hope February treats them better than January, where they went 6-7-1 -- their worst month since Dec. 2003.
Last Week: 2-1-0 Early Prediction: 1st in East
3 3
San Jose Sharks (34-18-1)
The Sharks' top-ranked power play hit a slump, going 1-for-38 over the past seven games. But they won't need much from it as long as Vesa Toskala continues to do everything. In Saturday's win over the Blackhawks, the 29-year-old netminder recorded two assists -- San Jose's first multipoint game by a goalie. But no goals? "I got my goal in Europe," he joked. "I don't have to worry about that any more."
Last Week: 1-1-1 Early Prediction: 5th in West
4 5 Should we start calling them the Cardiac Devils? Rookie Zach Parise scored a game-tying goal with 32 seconds left Thursday against the Flyers. It was New Jersey's fifth game-tying score in the last minute of regulation this season -- tying the NHL record set by the 1983-84 Flames. Heroics aside, keep an eye on Marty Brodeur, who has started 23 straight games and 46 of the last 47.
Last Week: 2-0-1 Early Prediction: 2nd in East
5 6 Henrik Zetterberg has tallied seven points in his last three games. The Wings have won 10 straight at Joe Louis Arena. Even the special teams have started to come together. But if Detroit doesn't add some offensive punch, they may get bumped in the first round of the playoffs. Why? They have just one scoring line -- and that won't get it done in the postseason. One player who may look nice in red and white is Peter Forsberg.
Last Week: 2-0-0 Early Prediction: 4th in West
6 4
Anaheim Ducks (32-13-8)
A Toronto newspaper suggested Andy McDonald isn't a true No. 1 center. That didn't make GM Brian Burke too happy, saying he'd like "to meet the imbecile who said that in a dark alley." And how did McDonald take the news of his GM sticking up for him? "For him to say something like that with those kind of comments means a lot," McDonald told the Los Angeles Times. The Ducks got some good news with the return of Scott Niedermayer.
Last Week: 1-1-0 Early Prediction: 2nd in West
7 7
Dallas Stars (31-20-2)
The schedule makers haven't been kind -- at least for February. Of its nine remaining games this month, Dallas faces eight teams that hold a playoff spot. The only exception is Colorado, which is never easy. Like the Wings, the Stars won't do much in the playoffs unless they add some pop. It's never a good sign when your leading scorer is a blueliner (Philippe Boucher).
Last Week: 2-1-0 Early Prediction: 7th in West
8 11
Calgary Flames (29-17-6)
If you look up "redemption" in the dictionary, you'll see Craig Conroy's picture. Just one night after the Kings traded him, the 35-year-old notched two goals -- his first scores of the season -- in the Flames' 4-1 win over L.A. "It surpassed all expectations," he said. "It gave me goose bumps being out there on the ice." This might be a sign of things to come. Conroy was an instrumental part of Calgary's Stanley Cup finals run in 2004.
Last Week: 2-0-0 Early Prediction: 3rd in West
9 8 Just when it looked like they solved their power-play woes with three scores on Tuesday, the Thrashers do nothing in their next 10 chances. In its last seven games, Atlanta is 3-for-34 with the man-advantage. If that's not bad enough for Thrashers fans, seven of the tean's 10 remaining games in February are against playoff teams. Atlanta's still in good shape, but a first-ever postseason spot won't come easy.
Last Week: 1-2-0 Early Prediction: 3rd in East
10 10 Is there a dark cloud slowly making its way to Montreal? Until the Islanders' Trent Hunter scored twice on Saturday, the Habs had gone 16-0-2 when they led after two periods this season. More issues: Cristobal Huet has been so-so the past month, and blueliner Andrei Markov is out indefinitely. Want more? The eighth-ranked PK has allowed seven goals in the past three games.
Last Week: 2-1-1 Early Prediction: 4th in East

Read on for teams 11-20 ...


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