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THN Power Rankings - March 4

Captain Brendan Morrow has his Stars flying high. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Captain Brendan Morrow has his Stars flying high. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There is a new king of the castle.

While the Detroit Red Wings still rank No. 1 in the overall standings, it is clear in recent weeks they are no longer the NHL’s best team.

That honor just may go to the Anaheim Ducks, who, if they continue to play with authority, could be No. 1 in The Hockey News’ Power Rankings next week.

For now, though, the honor goes to the surging Dallas Stars.

A team best known for its hard work and strong defensive play really stepped up to the plate on trade deadline day when it acquired star center Brad Richards from Tampa Bay.

We’re not about to anoint the Stars the favorite for the Stanley Cup, but they are certainly in the running.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Dallas Stars
2
41-23-5
7-3-0
Talk about a great debut! Not only did Richards draw five assists in his first game with Dallas, he was also plus-2. Who knows, by the end of the year he just might get back to even.
2
Anaheim Ducks
4
38-23-7
9-1-0
With captain Chris Pronger missing because of a broken jaw, the Ducks have continued on their ascent in the Western Conference. THN’s choice to repeat as Stanley Cup champions flexed their muscles in beating Ottawa 3-1 in a rematch of last year’s final.
3
Detroit Red Wings
1
43-18-6
2-7-1
The Wings failed to land a proven scorer at the deadline and it is highly unlikely journeyman defenseman Brad Stuart will put them over the top.
4
Montreal Canadiens
9
36-22-9
7-3-0
GM Bob Gainey made a bold statement in trading goalie Cristobal Huet and handing the reins to rookie Carey Price. The kid rewarded his boss with three straight wins before losing a competitive 6-4 outing in San Jose.
5
Pittsburgh Penguins
5
37-23-7
5-3-2
Hurry up Sid, we miss you! The Penguins, however, continue to do just fine without their leader thanks in large part to goalie Ty Conklin.
6
New Jersey Devils
3
37-23-6
6-2-2
After scoring in five straight games, Zach Parise had gone goalless in four in a row. Kind of thought Lou Lamoriello would have added a piece or two to the puzzle at the deadline, but it looks like he thinks he can win the Eastern Conference with what he has.
7
San Jose Sharks
12
37-21-8
6-4-0
The Sharks paid a premium to get what could amount to a rental player in defenseman Brian Campbell. Campbell has fit in nicely with a goal and three assists in his first four games with the Sharks.
8
Ottawa Senators
6
37-24-6
3-5-2
What a mess. John Paddock was fired as coach (and took a few parting shots at goalie Ray Emery on the way out) and GM Bryan Murray moved back behind the bench – that is until he was ejected in his third game back against Anaheim.
9
Calgary Flames
7
34-23-9
6-3-1
Captain Jarome Iginla hit the 40-goal plateau for the third time in his career, but he’ll be hard-pressed to match his career best of 52 which he scored in 2001-02.
10
Minnesota Wild
8
37-24-5
5-4-1
GM Doug Risebrough took a lot of heat for acquiring Chris Simon at the deadline and rightly so. While Simon will certainly stand up to the big, bad Ducks, he’ll be of little value otherwise down the stretch. His best days are long gone.
11
New York Rangers
10
34-24-8
7-1-2
Winger Fredrik Sjostrom could be a really nice pickup for the Rangers, who will use his size and skill down the stretch. After an up-and-down year, the Rangers were 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.
12
Boston Bruins
13
35-24-6
7-2-1
With seven wins in their last 10 games (including six in a row), the Bruins were looking very much like a legitimate playoff team. Then came a 10-2 loss to Washington. Fluke? Gotta be.
13
Colorado Avalanche
20
34-26-6
4-5-1
The addition of Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg (if he stays healthy) has to give the Avalanche a huge edge over Columbus, Nashville and Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Potentially season-ending injuries to Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos could spoil the plans, however.
14
Vancouver Canucks
11
32-23-10
5-2-3
In being spanked 4-1 by Chicago, a game in which they managed a measly 10 shots on goal, the Canucks looked very much like a team that was devastated their GM didn’t acquire some scoring help at the deadline.
15
Carolina Hurricanes
17
34-29-5
7-2-1
The Hurricanes picked a perfect time of the season to get hot. Their seven wins in the last 10 games had them firmly entrenched in first place in the Southeast Division, which will get them into the playoffs as the third seed if they can hold on.
16
Nashville Predators
14
33-25-8
5-3-2
The Predators are within sniffing distance of the final playoff spot in the West and have their sights set on passing Colorado and Vancouver. They have virtually no hope of catching Detroit in their division, however.
17
Philadelphia Flyers
24
33-25-8
3-4-3
Kudos to GM Paul Holmgren for acquiring Vinny Prospal at the deadline. With Simon Gagne likely gone for the season with a concussion, Prospal should help.
18
Phoenix Coyotes
15
33-28-5
5-4-1
Rookie Peter Mueller has fallen on tough times in the goal department with none in his last 12 outings.
19
Buffalo Sabres
16
31-26-9
4-5-1
Jason Pominville has come to life with goals in four of his last five games, but the Sabres have taken a step back with six losses in 10 games.
20
New York Islanders
18
31-29-7
6-4-0
Good PR move in extending Mike Comrie by one year. It proves GM Garth Snow and the Islanders are serious about building a winner.
21
Chicago Blackhawks
19
31-28-6
7-3-0
The Blackhawks have seemingly come out of their slump and look like they may be able to play some decent hockey down the stretch. Patrick Sharp has very quietly scored 32 goals.
22
Columbus Blue Jackets
21
30-27-10
4-4-2
With the playoffs within reach, rookie GM Scott Howson decided to move veterans Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote at the deadline. Tough call, but one that puts his imprint on the organization and will serve the team well in the future.
23
Toronto Maple Leafs
27
29-28-10
6-3-1
Say all you want about center Mats Sundin’s excellent play – and he has been rock solid – goalie Vesa Toskala gives the Maple Leafs a chance to win virtually every game.
24
Washington Capitals
26
31-28-8
4-3-3
It’s hard to say if it is a case of too little, too late, but the addition of Cristobal Huet, Sergei Fedorov and Matt Cooke will make the Caps tough to play down the stretch as they take direct aim at a playoff spot. Oh, and the odd 10-2 victory doesn’t hurt, either.
25
Edmonton Oilers
28
31-30-5
6-4-0
What a weird season for the Oilers. Some nights they look awful and more recently they have looked good, despite missing key players due to injury. The bottom line is there is a solid foundation for this team to get good in a hurry if GM Kevin Lowe can convince any free agents (and their wives) Edmonton is a good place to play.
26
Florida Panthers
25
29-31-8
3-4-3
Hard to say what the heck was running through coach-GM Jacques Martin’s mind when he picked up Wade Belak and Chad Kilger from Toronto at the deadline. Maybe it was his way of making the team worse so they’d get a higher draft pick.
27
St. Louis Blues
22
28-27-10
3-5-2
It is just a rumor, but word has it some of the players have grown a little tired of demanding coach Andy Murray. If that is the case, it’s really too bad because Murray will be around a lot longer than many of the players.
28
Atlanta Thrashers
23
29-31-7
3-4-3
Now that it looks like the Thrashers have no chance whatsoever to make the playoffs, all that remains to be seen is if Ilya Kovalchuk can score 50 goals. He has a decent shot at it.
29
Tampa Bay Lightning
29
26-32-7
3-5-2
How can a team with the third and 13th leading scorers in the league be this bad? GM Jay Feaster got a decent return in the Brad Richards trade, although goalie Mike Smith will find life a lot more difficult playing behind the Lightning defense than he did playing in Dallas.
30
Los Angeles Kings
30
26-36-5
3-5-2
It’s games like the Kings 2-1 overtime loss to Minnesota that suggest this team has the potential to play with the big boys and will turn things around next season. Getting Steven Stamkos will be huge if they swing it.

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 on Mondays. Changes in rankings reflect each team’s play from the previous seven days.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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