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Power Rankings: Tortorella and No. 1 Blue Jackets the season's biggest surprise

Ken Campbell
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Power Rankings: Tortorella and No. 1 Blue Jackets the season's biggest surprise

John Tortorella. Image by: Getty Images

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Power Rankings: Tortorella and No. 1 Blue Jackets the season's biggest surprise

Ken Campbell
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With their latest run, the Blue Jackets find themselves on top of our Power Rankings -- to the surprise of just about everybody.

Exactly six months ago today, Team USA lost 4-3 to the Czech Republic to give it an 0-3- mark in the World Cup of Hockey and their worst performance in international hockey since Bob Dylan went electric.

Please raise your hand immediately if you thought at that time that a mere half a year later, Team USA coach John Tortorella would have become just the eighth man in NHL history to chalk up 100 points with three different franchises, that the Columbus Blue Jackets would have clinched a playoff spot with 11 games remaining, and they’d be challenging for the President’s Trophy.

Actually, raise your hand and take a bow if you predicted Tortorella would even have a job by this time. And he could be working overtime if the Blue Jackets can parlay their surprising success into a long playoff run. With their latest run, the Blue Jackets find themselves on top of THN.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

1. Columbus Blue Jackets (8)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (2)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (7)
4. Washington Capitals (6)
5. Edmonton Oilers (16)
6. St. Louis Blues (4)
7. Montreal Canadiens (13)
8. Ottawa Senators (3)
9. Calgary Flames (1)
10. Anaheim Ducks (15)

John Tortorella became the eighth coach in NHL history to have 100-point seasons with three different franchises…Playing with Jonathan Toews, Yale grad John Hayden has a goal and three points in the first three games of his NHL career…With a 3-1 win over Buffalo Tuesday night, the Penguins clinched a playoff spot for the 11th straight season…Alex Ovechkin had 11 shots on goal and 13 shot attempts in a three-point performance in a 4-2 win over Calgary Tuesday night…Goalie Cam Talbot made his 65th appearance in the Oilers’ 2-0 win over Los Angeles Monday night…Jaden Schwartz scored in a 4-2 over Colorado Tuesday night, his first non-empty net goal in 25 games…The top line of Alex Galchenyuk between Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov has scored just two goals – both by Pacioretty – in the past seven games…Mark Stone, who has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury, is back skating with no set timetable for his return…The Flames said they were “disappointed in the league’s verdict” on Matthew Tkachuk’s two-game suspension. They’re lucky it wasn’t longer...Since being pulled from a Feb. 20 start against Arizona, Jonathan Bernier is 7-2-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE

11. New York Rangers (14)
12. Minnesota Wild (11)
13. Winnipeg Jets (22)
14. Nashville Predators (12)
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (20)
16. San Jose Sharks (9)
17. Boston Bruins (10)
18. Carolina Hurricanes (23)
19. New York Islanders (17)
20. Los Angeles Kings (21)

The Rangers could reduce their magic number to make the playoffs to two with a regulation win over the Islanders Wednesday…Martin Hanzal scored his first goal in 10 games for the Wild since being acquired at the trade deadline…The Jets were without five regular defenseman, but beat Philadelphia Tuesday night for their third straight win…Three-time 20-goal scorer Craig Smith will be lucky to get 10 for the Predators this season. He has four goals in his past 60 games…Super rookie Auston Matthews has just a goal and an assist in nine games in the month of March…Logan Couture said the Sharks weren’t worried about the Pacific Division standings after losing their fourth straight game Tuesday night, three of them by one goal. “I’m more worried about how we’re playing,” Couture said. “You try not to look at the standings and worry about how we’re playing our game.”…After going 12-3-0 in their first 15 games under new coach Bruce Cassidy, the Bruins have lost three straight…Two goals for the Hurricanes in a 4-3 win over Florida gave Jeff Skinner 7-1-8 totals in his past six games…Three points out of the final playoffs spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders play seven of their last 11 games on the road…Anze Kopitar needs four more goals this season to score as many goals as he will make millions of dollars in 2016-17. He has 10 goals and he’ll make $14 million.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE

21. Arizona Coyotes (19)
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
23. Detroit Red Wings (26)
24. Dallas Stars (27)
25. Philadelphia Flyers (24)
26. Vancouver Canucks (28)
27. New Jersey Devils (30)
28. Florida Panthers (18)
29. Buffalo Sabres (25)
30. Colorado Avalanche (29)

With a record of 5-3-2, the Coyotes put together their best 10-game stretch of this season…After giving up eight goals in six games, the Lightning proceeded to go out and give up five in each of their next three…The Red Wings are clearly new to this tanking thing. With their chances of making the playoffs all but wiped out, they’ve won three of their past four games…The Stars have been absolutely brutal on the road this season, which is a good reason why they won’t make the playoffs. They’re just 10-21-4 away from the American Airlines Center this season with six road games remaining…Flyers goalie Steve Mason after his team’s 3-2 loss to Winnipeg Tuesday night: “We keep playing like this and we'll be mathematically eliminated before you know it.”…Markus Granlund was shut down by the Canucks for the season when it was decided he needs wrist surgery…Devils’ prospect John Quenneville scored the first goal of his NHL career, then assisted on the overtime winner, in his team’s 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers Tuesday night…Defenseman Aaron Ekblad returned to the Panthers’ lineup after missing four games with a concussion in their 4-3 loss to Carolina Tuesday night…Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen could be watching for a game or two after concussing Jake Guentzel of the Penguins on Tuesday night. Or not. You never know with the NHL…The Avalanche are just one lost point or a point gained by Arizona from clinching last place overall this season. “We’re working toward something,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. “It’s not necessarily just this season, it’s beyond that.”

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Power Rankings: Tortorella and No. 1 Blue Jackets the season's biggest surprise