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Payoff is the playoffs

Posted: Thursday April 04, 2002 7:10 PM


By Jamie MacDonald,

In this, the seasonís penultimate Power Rankings, we're keeping with the theme that our playoff best bets should round out the top 16 here. Barring a miracle on the order of, say, bench-clearing playoff brawls, the West is just about set while the East deals with what drive-time traffic experts like to call a bottleneck. Here, we uncork Edition 24 (good lord, is hockey season long) Ö Power Rankings
11 Detroit Red Wings
Only team in the Western Conference to have clinched a playoff spot and it should come as no surprise that -- yawn -- they're No. 1 again. But we're thinking about shaking things up next week. For now, that's the most suspense we can muster.
22 Boston Bruins
Showdown with the Flyers starts badly (two goals in the hole), but ends with four unanswered goals and Boston's seventh consecutive road win.
33 Philadelphia Flyers
Ugly power play does Philly in against the Bruins and keeps them in Boston's rear view at least another week.
46 San Jose Sharks
What, didn't everyone score 28 goals last week?
54 Toronto Maple Leafs
Yes, they beat the Red Wings in OT Monday night, but we're more concerned that they lost to each of the last three playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams they faced.
65 Colorado Avalanche
Since he last scored a goal on March 11, Joe Sakic has been outscored by 12 Avalanche players, including such household names as Riku Hahl, Bryan Muir, Brad Larsen and Steve Reinprecht. But the biggest filler of the void has been Radim Vrbata, who scored five of his 16 goals in his last eight games. To bring some closure to this bit, Sakic assisted on three of Vrbata's handful.
78 New Jersey Devils
The karma police rarely act so promptly: In the midst of what would have been his third whack at a Hurricane's player behind his own net, Scott Gomez broke two bones in his hand. Good news in New Jersey is that Patrik Elias is on one of his super-hot streaks (goals in five of his last six).
87 Los Angeles Kings
A week ago they lost 4-0 to the Canucks. Tuesday night's rematch ended 4-4. So, they're making progress. But these are still thorny days in Shangri L.A.; the Kings haven't tasted victory since March 23.
99 Ottawa Senators
Last week in the Power Rankings we brought up the scoring woes of Martin Havlat, but it pales in comparison to Bill Muckalt's situation. A component in the Alexei Yashin deal, the former University of Michigan sniper last scored on April 2, 2001. And in one of the great fibs of the season, assistant coach Perry Pearn told The Ottawa Citizen, "Right now, we wouldn't ask him to change anything."
1010 Phoenix Coyotes
Is this team better than the electric darkhorse immortalized in Electronic Arts' NHL '94 (Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhamnov leading the way)? The highest point total for a season that group achieved was 87. As of April 4, the franchise's desert reincarnation was up to 89 and within striking distance of a franchise points record.
11 11 Chicago Blackhawks
Diminishing returns for the Blackhawks last week against lesser opponents. In four games since March 27, they scored four, then three, then two, then one goal against Nashville, Minnesota (home and home) and Nashville again. They went 3-1-0-0 in that span with the loss coming Wednesday night, which left a bad last impression on the Power Rankings staff.
1212 St. Louis Blues
About to cozy up at home for five straight in St. Louis, where they'll face Nashville and each of the four teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings.
1313 New York Islanders
A litmus test of a week upcoming, when they'll face Boston, Washington and Carolina before coasting into the playoffs with Nashville, Tampa Bay and, on the last day of the season, Philadelphia.
1415 Edmonton Oilers
We'll try not to jinx them here, but they have a legit shot at finishing the season on a 14-game undefeated streak.
1514 Carolina Hurricanes
Why may the Hurricanes be a third-seeded underdog in the first round? Not only are they mathematically capable of losing their division lead, but as of this writing they were only four points in front of the current No. 8 seed.
1616 Montreal Canadiens
Nail-biting time in the shadows of Mont-Royal, where the playoffs are an uphill battle; at Philly, a home and home with Ottawa, at New Jersey and home against Buffalo.
1719 Washington Capitals
Jaromir Jagr was minus-4 last week against his former team but the Caps are cruising along on his 14 points since March 15 (10 games). To bolster the playoff run, Sergei Gonchar returned on April 3 (he had been out since March 21 with a concussion) to score a first-period goal in Washington's seventh win in its last eight games.
1817 Vancouver Canucks
One of the best runs in hockey might go for naught, but some the numbers since March 12 should be shouted from the mountaintops: Eight wins in 11 games, Todd Bertuzzi with 11 goals in that span, Mats Naslund with seven, Andrew Cassels with three in his last four, and one of the much-maligned Sedin boys has scored in each of the team's last four.
1918 Dallas Stars
After not being able to peddle Rob DiMaio via waivers last month, Dallas shipped him to the minors. And yet, after a March 19 recall, he didn't mind helping the Stars salvage a 2-2 tie with a goal and an assist in 66 seconds vs. Calgary. Still, Dallas is 1-3-1-1 in its last six.
2020 New York Rangers
Is anyone happier that it's baseball season on the New York tabloids' back pages than the Rangers?
2121 Buffalo Sabres
Miroslav Satan seems to have adjusted to life without Stu Barnes just fine, thank you. In four games from March 26 to April 1, Satan scored six goals and eight points. The scoring load falls even more heavily on his shoulders now that the team's second-leading goal scorer, J.P. Dumont might be done for the season.
2222 Calgary Flames
After the Calgary Hitmen lost in the first round of the WHL Central Division playoffs, here are three things worth looking forward to in Calgary hockey: Jarome Iginla's 48th goal, Jarome Iginla's 49th goal and Jarome Iginla's 50th goal.
2323 Minnesota Wild
With two games remaining at home, the worst they can finish is 13-15-8-5, with, obviously, a chance at two games above .500. It's those games on the road that give the Wild fits. After going winless last week in the first two of four straight on the road, they sunk to 12-19-3-3. Though they don't sink here.
2424 Pittsburgh Penguins
Unless games are added to the schedule and the Penguins win each of them -- one scenario more unlikely than the first it seems -- Pittsburgh will finish below .500 for the first time since 1990.
2526 Nashville Predators
This week Denis Arkhhipov became the fifth member in the history of the franchise to score 20 or more goals in a season. For a frame of reference, the Bruins have five this season.
2625 Tampa Bay Lightning
Seems strange that a guy with 474 career PIMs in 214 games would be so anxious for more. But in Andre Roy's 215th NHL game, he found a way to tack another 63 to that total by leaving the penalty box for a fight -- which is not unlike leaving jail to rob a bank. Kind of overshadows Vaclav Prospal's goal-a-game pace of late, doesn't it?
2727 Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Maybe they don't know this, and their goal-a-game pace as a team suggests such, but the Ducks are in danger of getting caught from behind by Florida as the third-lowest scoring team in the league. As of April 4, Anaheim led the Panthers 168-166, but Florida has two games in hand. Only Columbus has scored fewer.
2828 Florida Panthers
As the Florida sun sets on this forgettable season, the star of Niklas Hagman rises. Hagman picked up 10 points (four goals, six assists) and was plus-3 in 14 March games. Modest numbers, yes, but it earned him NHL rookie of the month honors. Remember, we're a positive outfit here when we can be. To that end, Wade Flaherty might have played himself into the backup role. It doesn't take a genius to realize that for a 34-year-old goaltender who mostly made his living this season with the Utah Grizzlies, this is good news.
2929 Columbus Blue Jackets
Sloughing off criticism that they brought new meaning to the Shark Tank, the Blue Jackets trudged home after five winless games on the road in which they were outscored 26-8.
3030 Atlanta Thrashers
And Mark Hartigan makes 16. On Tuesday night the Hobey Baker finalist became Atlanta's 16th rookie this season to don the gold, burnt orange, copper, black, navy and maroon. Hartigan recently completed his NCAA season at St. Cloud State, where he led NCAA Division I with 37 goals.

Related information
2001-02 Rankings: Edition 23
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