Eastern Conference Team Rankings
These are my power rankings for the Eastern Conference teams based on the first half of this year.
1) Ottawa- After a slow start and people wondering what’s wrong with this team, Ottawa has sneaked their way up the standings and are very close to taking over the number one spot in the NHL. The second highest scoring team in the NHL and third best goals against in the NHL, this team is well balanced. Only one loss in their last 10 games, and recent blowout wins against Toronto and NJ.
2) NJ- They are going through a pretty rough losing streak, but NJ still has the best goals against in the NHL, and are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They haven’t lost to Toronto or Philly this year. Wouldn’t be surprised to see this team pick up a forward at the deadline and make another Cup run.
3) Toronto- Had the best streak going this year and are getting big career years out of Klee and McCabe. Still this team has had a tough time beating the other big 3 teams in their conference, and are 1-3-2 against NJ, Philly and Ottawa this year. They need to start beating the other big 3 teams head to head if they want home ice advantage or they might find another early exit in the playoffs.
4) Philly- Started the year as the best team in the NHL, but have had some recent problems. Only 2-4-2-2 in their last ten games has seen them drop in the standings. Recent problems between the players and coach have surfaced, and the question mark in net continues to be a problem. Mike Comrie has been pretty good since joining the team.
5) Montreal- They have only 2 less wins then the Eastern Conference leading Leafs. It looks like the Canadians have a pretty good shot at making the playoffs this year, and maybe even a first round upset. Good defense and a great goalie, with balance scoring has put them into the playoff picture this year.
6) Boston- They lead the NHL at the very start of the season but went into a bad slump. Only team I know of that are better on the road then at home. At 6-2-2 in their last 10, including 2 wins against the Wings, the Bruins are starting to turn it around. The play of rookie goaltender Raycroft has been a big part of their success. Thornton needs to pick it up a little bit to put them into the elite class.
7) New York Islanders- After recent threats by their crazy GM, this team is starting to finally turn it around. Good team at home but they suck on the road. Depending how they do in their next 15-20 games will determine if they have a fire sale at the trade deadine.
8) Tampa Bay- Right now they are a playoff team because of their division but Atlanta will be right behind them all year. Ongoing problems between the coach and their top franchise player Lecavalier have caused big distractions on this team. Grahame has saved this team from dropping out of contention.
9) Atlanta- The feel good team of the year is fading fast. At 3-5-1-1 they have seen another struggling team Tampa Bay pass them. Strong seasons by Kovalchuk, Savard and Kozlov have given this team a chance at the playoffs. Look for this team to make a strong push for a playoff spot if or when Heatley comes back.
10) New York Rangers- Will this team ever make the playoffs? I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it this year. Although they didn’t have that great of a first half of the year, they are starting to come on strong and always seem to beat the Islanders in head to head games. I’m going to predict they end up grabbing the last playoff spot this year. I wonder when this team is going to make the big trade we are all expecting?
11) Buffalo- Believe it or not this team is not out of the playoff picture yet. A very streaky team, they will be hard pressed to make it to the playoffs this year. Still their future doesn’t look to bad. Biggest news this year will be who gets Satan?
12) Florida- This team won’t make the playoffs this year, but they do have some pretty good younger players coming up. Bouwmmeester, Horton, Weiss, Huselius and Stewart lead the youth movement on this team.
13) Carolina- What has happened to this team since making it to the finals two years ago? Problems all around this team. Expect a fire sale at the trade deadline with O’Neill going for sure, even though he only has 5 goals this year. Top point producer on this team has 22 points, ouch.
14) Washington- How the heck is this team doing so bad? They have enough talent to be at the very least a middle of the pack team or even a low playoff seed team, but right now are at the bottom of the NHL. Not often do you see a team near the bottom of the NHL with one of the leading scorers in the NHL in Lang, and the top scoring defensemen with Gonchar.
15) Pittsburgh- Their not as bad as I thought they would. They have wins over Detroit, Philly and NJ. I’m trying to look at the bright spots for this team, like Lemieux saying he will be back next year, or the play of Marc-Andre Fleury, and the fact they will most likely get that Russian kid everyone is talking about at next years draft.
Thats it for now, should have the Western Conference mid-season rankings done soon.