By : Tom Ballantyne (@tbone31592)
In a month where the spotlight was on the Olympics, limited NHL hockey was played. Teams didn’t really do much to change their positioning on the rankings but of course that could all change tomorrow at the NHL’s annual trading deadline.
Congratulations to Team Canada for winning gold, and this includes the Islanders John Tavares, who collected the first Olympic medal of his career.
Now let’s take a look at the rankings as of February 28, 2014:
1) Anaheim Ducks (1) (41-14-5 = 87 pts)
The Ducks remain number 1, despite losing three of four. Still the top team in the league, but the Blues and Blackhawks are closing in on them.
2) St. Louis Blues (4) (39-13-6 = 84 pts)
3) Pittsburgh Penguins (3) (40-15-4 = 84 pts)
The Penguins took two out of three this month, continuing to run away with the Metro Division.
4) Chicago Blackhawks (2) (35-12-14 = 84 pts)
The Blackhawks split went 2-2-1 in their five games this month, continuing their cool-down streak that started in January. No need to be worried though, the defending champs will find their game soon.
5) San Jose Sharks (5) (38-16-6 = 82 pts)
The Sharks went took four of five, as they battled their way to stay in the top five and creep closer to the other four teams. Who knows, maybe this is the year the Sharks finally get over the hump and play great hockey in May/June
6) Boston Bruins (7) (37-16-5 = 79 pts)
The Bruins took points in all five games they played this month, winning three of them as they try to create distance between themselves and the rest of the Atlantic Division.
7) Colorado Avalanche (6) (37-17-5 = 79 pts)
The Avs split their six games in the month, cooling down and dropping a spot in the rankings. Patrick Roy continues to work them hard and into a competitive nature, as they stay within striking distance of the top of the league.
8) Montreal Canadiens (12) (33-21-7 = 73 pts)
The Habs went 4-1-2 in 7 games this month, climbing up the rankings, and moving to just six points back of the Bruins in the division race.
9) Los Angeles Kings (9) (33-22-6 = 72 pts)
The Kings took three of five, keeping pace with the rest of their division as they try to climb back into the division battle.
10) Tampa Bay Lightning (8) (33-21-5 = 71 pts)
The Lightning continue to tread water as Stamkos inches closer and closer to a return. Can the Lightning remain within striking distance by the time Stamkos returns?
11) Minnesota Wild (10) (32-21-7 = 71 pts)
The Wild took points in all of their games this month, winning three of four as well. Staying within striking distance, while holding off the rest of the conference, the Wild are in for a wild finish.
12) Toronto Maple Leafs (11) (32-22-7 = 71 pts)
The Leafs took points in four of five, winning three of them, but due to the red-hot play of the Habs, and other teams, they dropped a spot in the rankings.
13) New York Rangers (14) (33-24-3 = 69 pts)
The Rangers took three of four this month, staying hot and creating distance between themselves and the Flyers. Lundqvist put on a show in the Olympics, leading Sweden to silver, as it appears the so-called “King” is back.
14) Detroit Red Wings (20) (28-20-12 = 68 pts)
The Red Wings have gotten hot as of late, but who knows how long this’ll go without Henrik Zetterberg after losing him to injury in Olympic play.
15) Dallas Stars (21) (28-21-10 = 66 pts)
The Dallas Stars took points in every game this month, winning four of five and catapulting their way into the playoff picture.
16) Philadelphia Flyers (18) (30-24-6 = 66 pts)
The Flyers won four of five, keeping pressure and within striking distance of the Rangers for that critical two spot in the Metro Division with the Caps and Blue Jackets breathing down their neck.
17) Phoenix Coyotes (15) (27-21-11 = 65 pts)
The Coyotes took points in three of five, as the ACME products they’ve been receiving has faltered as of late. As they continue to fall off the cliff, can they turn it around and be able to play some meaningful games in late March/April with playoffs on the line?
18) Washington Capitals (23) (28-23-9 = 65 pts)
The Caps clawed their way back into it this month, winning four of six and collecting points in five of six. Only a point back of the Flyers for the third spot in the Metro Division, but the Blue Jackets are right behind them with about a month and a half to play.
19) Vancouver Canucks (13) (28-24-9 = 65 pts)
With the Canucks falling further out of the playoff picture, one has to wonder if Torts has already lost the locker room. With Kesler on the block and Luongo continuing to be stuck in the craziness of goaltending limbo, who knows what’s going on over there.
20) Winnipeg Jets (25) (29-26- 6 = 64 pts)
The Jets took three of five and took points in four of five, continuing their recent great stretch since hiring Paul Maurice, but is it too late for them to make a playoff push out West?
21) Columbus Blue Jackets (16) (29-25-5 = 63 pts)
The Blue Jackets cooled off this month, going 2-2-1 and dropping in the rankings. A victim of the short schedule this month, but only three points out of the three seed in the Metro Division, they can easily make up the ground lost this month.
22) New Jersey Devils (22) (25-22-13 = 63 pts)
The Devils stayed the course this month, yet again because of great goaltending and lack of offensive support. With Schneider taking almost full control of the job between the pipes, gotta wonder if the offense will be consistent enough for them to make a run.
23) Ottawa Senators (17) (26-23-11 = 63 pts)
The Sens dropped again, further hurting their playoff chances. Is it too late for Craig Anderson and the boys to get hot to make a run?
24) Nashville Predators (24) (26-24 10 = 62 pts)
The Preds just stayed the course, going 2-1-2 in the five games this month. On the bright side, Pekka Rinne is almost back.
25) Carolina Hurricanes (19) (26-24-9 = 61 pts)
The Hurricanes just haven’t been able to get anything going for them lately, especially this month, going 2-4. At least they are still somehow within striking distance.
26) New York Islanders (26) (23-30-8 = 54 pts)
Isles have their best month since October, playing .500 hockey. As the trade deadline looms, is anyone else being shipped off with Vanek and A-Mac? Who knows, as this season is officially down the tubes with JT done for the year. Will be fun to see how Nelson/Strome/Lee look the rest of the way.
27) Calgary Flames (28) (22-30-7 = 51 pts)
The Flames went 2-3 this month, as their “rebuild” season continues.
28) Florida Panthers (27) (22-30-7 = 51 pts)
The Panthers took one of five this month, continuing to show they are one of the weaker teams in the Atlantic Division.
29) Edmonton Oilers (29) (20-34-7 = 47 pts)
The Oilers went 2-2-1 this month as their “rebuild” continues out West.
30) Buffalo Sabres (30) (17-34-8 = 42 pts)
Sabres go 2-4 this month, Ryan Miller doesn’t get much playing time in Sochi, gets traded to the Blues, and LaFontaine leaves their front office. Ugly days in Buffalo right now.