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Late bloomers

Ilya Kovalchuk had seven points in five games before going down with an upper-body injury. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Ilya Kovalchuk had seven points in five games before going down with an upper-body injury. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Becoming the Ontario League’s all-time leading goal-scorer did nothing to endear John Tavares to the Atlanta Thrashers or New York Islanders.

OK, maybe it’s just a pure coincidence of timing, but the Isles and Thrashers have both been playing much better hockey lately – making the prospect of picking No. 1 overall slightly more remote.

As of Monday morning, the Isles still have a four-point “cushion” on last overall, but have gone 5-2-1 in March with a bunch of kids trying to convince management they’re NHLers.

Atlanta, meanwhile, has been all about credibility for more than a month now. After going 6-5-1 in February, the Thrashers have won five straight on the back of some incredible offensive output.

The only thing to stop Ilya Kovalchuk over his past 20-plus games is an upper-body injury, while Todd White has five goals and 16 points in his past 13 contests.

Currently 27th overall, if the Thrashers make up the four points between them and 25th place Ottawa, they won’t even have a mathematical shot at the first overall pick.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
New Jersey Devils
1
45-20-3
8-2-0
Marty gunning for Roy's all-time wins record on St. Patrick's Day. How perfect is that?
2
Detroit Red Wings
5
46-15-9
7-2-1
Wings become first team in league history to top 100 points in nine straight seasons
3
Vancouver Canucks
2
36-23-9
7-2-1
All of a sudden just five points back of Calgary for the Northwest Division lead
4
San Jose Sharks
4
45-13-10
4-5-1
Travis Moen has blended in well since coming over from the Ducks
5
Washington Capitals
8
43-21-6
5-4-1
After missing a season and a half with concussion-related injuries, defenseman Brian Pothier is back up with the Caps
6
Pittsburgh Penguins
3
37-26-8
8-0-2
Sidney Crosby is really clicking with new linemates Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz; that's not good news for the rest of the East
7
Columbus Blue Jackets
13
36-26-6
6-4-0
Antoine Vermette has three goals and six points in five games with Columbus
8
Boston Bruins
11
45-17-9
4-5-1
Phil Kessel has goals in his past three games to provide something good for the faltering Bruins
9
Calgary Flames
6
40-23-6
5-5-0
Have lost 8-6 to both Toronto and Tampa this month
10
St. Louis Blues
19
32-29-8
7-3-0
Have done well to get where they are, but nine of their final 13 games are on the road
11
Philadelphia Flyers
12
37-21-10
5-4-1
Easy to forget how great it is Simon Gagne is simply healthy and in the league, let alone the fact he could net 80 points for the first time
12
New York Rangers
14
36-26-8
5-3-2
Sean Avery can still stir this team's drink
13
Carolina Hurricanes
7
36-28-7
5-3-2
Three-game road trip produced three tight, tough losses
14
Nashville Predators
9
34-30-5
7-2-1
All the talk early on was about Shea Weber, but Ryan Suter could well end up the Preds' highest-scoring defenseman this year
15
Chicago Blackhawks
10
37-21-9
3-6-1
Starting to feel like a first round playoff win will be tough, especially if they line up against Vancouver
16
Florida Panthers
15
34-25-10
4-4-2
David Booth takes charge with nine points in his past four games
17
Atlanta Thrashers
25
28-35-6
7-3-0
Now they're even winning on the road, sweeping a three-game trip out west
18
Dallas Stars
22
33-28-8
4-5-1
Coach Dave Tippett may have found something putting Brendan Morrison on the right side with center Mike Modano
19
Buffalo Sabres
18
34-27-8
4-4-2
Inability to beat East's bottom feeders could be reason Buffalo misses the playoffs
20
Montreal Canadiens
16
36-25-8
6-3-1
Who's left to fire?
21
Edmonton Oilers
17
32-27-9
3-2-5
Just one win in their past six, with three consecutive overtime defeats
22
Anaheim Ducks
21
32-31-6
4-5-1
Ducks are a very underwhelming 16-16-3 at home
23
Ottawa Senators
26
28-30-10
6-3-1
With guys playing for jobs, results have been better
24
Minnesota Wild
20
32-29-8
2-5-3
Falling behind in games and, subsequently, in the standings
25
Toronto Maple Leafs
24
28-29-13
6-3-1
After going to sleep for a couple months, rookie Mikhail Grabovski is back shakin' again
26
New York Islanders
27
24-38-8
6-2-2
Peter Mannino stopped 40 shots in his first NHL start on Sunday, a 4-2 win over Chicago
27
Tampa Bay Lightning
28
23-32-14
4-4-2
Steven Stamkos is making some serious strides in the late stages of his rookie season
28
Los Angeles Kings
23
29-29-10
4-5-1
Dustin Brown picked the wrong time of year to go cold
29
Colorado Avalanche
29
31-38-1
3-7-0
Can't forget this team played without Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny for the vast majority of the year
30
Phoenix Coyotes
30
28-35-6
2-7-1
How long can Shane Doan remain attached to this situation?

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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

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