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Wheels off Washington

Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals have yet to win on the road and have the fewest points in the NHL.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals have yet to win on the road and have the fewest points in the NHL. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals have hit rock bottom, dropping to the basement of THN's Power Rankings for the first time in recent memory. The dubious honor is well-deserved: they're the worst team in the NHL, one point behind Columbus for 29th place overall, and are just one of two teams (the other is Minnesota) who have yet to win on the road.

Captain Alex Ovechkin has taken all kinds of heat – and rightfully so – for the Capitals' awful start, but he's hardly alone in being worthy of criticism. Fellow star Nicklas Backstrom has just a single goal so far, while defenseman Mike Green is on pace for just a 24-point season. And of course, their goaltending duo of Braden Holtby (.879 save percentage, 3.87 goals-against average) and Michal Neuvirth (.889 SP, 3.05 G.A.A.) aren't stealing any games for them.

If there's one minor bright spot for Washington, it's that their division is thoroughly mediocre. Indeed, the Lightning are leading the Southeast despite losing their past four games, while Florida and Winnipeg are respectively two and four points ahead of the Caps in the standings. That said, the turnaround will have to begin soon – and with only three games to play in the next 10 days, Washington can't complain about their schedule. In sum, it's buckle-up-or-blow-it-up time in America's capital city.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
THE SCOOP
1
Chicago Blackhawks
1
10-0-2
Hawks show no signs of cooling off despite playing just twice at home so far this season; Patrick Kane averaging two points per game in his past four games.
2
New Jersey Devils
6
8-1-3
Defending conference champs continue to defy lowered expectations; goalies have allowed more than one goal in a game just once since Feb. 2.
3
Vancouver Canucks
13
7-2-2
Canucks have won five straight thanks in large part to Roberto Luongo (1.53 goals-against average, .940 save percentage).
4
Boston Bruins
3
8-1-1
Snowstorm in Boston Saturday forced rescheduling of game against Lightning; since Jan. 31 7-4 loss to Buffalo, Bruins have just two goals-against in their past three games. (Three g.a if you count yesterdays game vs. Buf.)
5
Anaheim Ducks
8
8-2-1
Surprising Ducks not wilting on extended road trip, but they’ll have no time to rest this week with away games against Hawks, Wings, Preds.
6
Detroit Red Wings
16
7-4-1
Three straight wins last week helps Wings overcome sluggish start; Henrik Zetterberg tied for league lead in assists (13).
7
San Jose Sharks
4
7-2-2
Sharks dropped three straight last week, but didn’t play poorly; Joe Thornton is pointless in his past five games.
8
Pittsburgh Penguins
7
8-5-0
Pens took care of games against lowly Caps, Isles, but dropped both games against division rival Devils.
9
Dallas Stars
11
6-5-1
Stars once again are playing better than many imagined they would; goalie Kari Lehtonen has a .940 SP and 1.48 G.A.A. in his past two games.
10
Toronto Maple Leafs
25
7-5-0
Maple Leafs look more disciplined under Randy Carlyle. Still, they’ve needed James Reimer to look like the player of two years ago and not last year to weather the storm.
11
Carolina Hurricanes
19
5-4-1
Goalie Cam Ward is warming up, while Alex Alexander Semin is averaging more ice time (21:33) than fellow new addition Jordan Staal (20:05).
12
Tampa Bay Lightning
5
6-5-0
Lightning haven’t won since Feb. 1; Vincent Lecavalier has just one point in his past four games.
13
Ottawa Senators
9
6-4-2
Absence of injured Jason Spezza is already being felt: in two (three) losses this past week, Sens managed just three goals.
14
Nashville Predators
18
5-3-4
Preds got at least one point in three of four games last week; Pekka Rinne (1.92 G.A.A., .929 SP) has been good, but backup Chris Mason (1.45 G.A.A., .952 SP) has been better.
15
St. Louis Blues
2
6-4-1
It was a disastrous week for Blues, who were outscored 11-2 in their first two games of this past week and lost 6-5 in a shootout against the Ducks; you just know coach Ken Hitchcock won’t stand for that much longer.
16
New York Rangers
15
6-5-0
Blueshirts romped over struggling Isles, Bolts, but a 3-1 loss to the Devils shows they’re not out of the rough just yet.
17
Montreal Canadiens
10
6-4-1
Three-game losing streak capped off by an ugly 6-0 loss to Toronto Saturday; backup goalie Peter Budaj’s numbers (.866 SP, 4.32 G.A.A.) mean Habs need Carey Price to shoulder the load more than ever.
18
Edmonton Oilers
20
5-4-3
Goalie Devan Dubnyk has just one regulation loss (3-1-3) in his past seven games and his individual numbers (1.80 (1.86) G.A.A., .948 (.947) SP) in that span are spectacular.
19
Phoenix Coyotes
28
5-5-2
Wins over Wild, Sharks last week demonstrate Yotes can play a smart defensive game; blowout loss to Hawks shows consistency is still a problem.
20
Winnipeg Jets
12
5-5-1
Trio of former Leafs (Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kyle Wellwood) have combined for only three goals and seven points.
21
Philadelphia Flyers
24
5-6-1
Flyers receiving solid goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, but their road record (1-5-0) is abysmal – and they kick off a six-game road swing Monday in Toronto.
22
Minnesota Wild
14
5-5-1
Wild’s sputtering offense can’t get on track; marquee free-agent acquisition Ryan Suter is goalless and a team-worst minus-7.
23
Buffalo Sabres
21
5-7-1
Tyler Myers was a healthy scratch Saturday for the Sabres, who could dig a deeper hole if they don’t come up with solid efforts this week against Sens, Bruins and Penguins.
24
Calgary Flames
26
3-4-2
Flames won two straight games for the first time this season; newcomer Dennis Wideman now averaging more time on ice (24:56) than Jay Bouwmeester (24:34).
25
Florida Panthers
30
4-6-1
Panthers finally showing signs of life, winning two of four games last week and getting at least one point in three of four; need to do some damage in a four-game homestand this week against Caps, Habs, Bolts and Leafs to avoid being put behind the eight-ball for the rest of the season.
26
Colorado Avalanche
22
4-6-0
Paul Stastny and David Jones are a combined minus-15; only four other “minus players” on the entire roster are a combined minus-8.
27
Los Angeles Kings
23
3-5-2
Drew Doughty is a league-worst minus-10; with more than 20 percent of the season complete, is it time for Kings GM Dean Lombardi to panic?
28
New York Islanders
17
4-6-1
Four straight losses has Isles back near the basement; John Tavares is on pace for 57 points in 48 games – three more than he had in his 82-game rookie campaign.
29
Columbus Blue Jackets
29
3-7-2
Jackets still a major work in progress – and a three-game West Coast road trip that begins after Monday’s game against San Jose is going to underscore the long road to respectability that’s ahead for them.
30
Washington Capitals
27
3-8-1
5-0 win over struggling Panthers won’t stop Caps critics from calling for massive change; no offense to Mike Ribeiro, but when Mike Ribeiro is far and away your team’s leading scorer, critics may be right.

 

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