NHL Power Rankings: Buffalo Sabres Threatening For No. 1

Perhaps I was a bit hasty when I mentioned that the Devils had been robbed last week.

In this week's power rankings, New Jersey falters while a number of teams start to gain position on the powers in front of them. We finally have some change in the top ten, yet Chicago and San Jose continue to lock down the top two positions. The big question now is whether San Jose has what it takes to actually knock of Chicago from the throne.

So much for a shakeup.

Disclaimer: Voting performed by SB Nation hockey bloggers.

The Power 16

1. Chicago Blackhawks: 34-12-4 overall, 3-1-0 last week

Last week: No. 1

SBN Blog: Second City Hockey

Despite an extremely impressive season thus far, everyone is still worried about the one negative plaguing the Blackhawks this season: the goaltending. Second City Hockey agrees, sort of, but says this team won't need a dominant goalie to be successful in the playoffs.

It used to be your goalie got you out of your division in the playoffs, back when that consisted of the first two rounds.  The Conference make up doesn't work that way any more. As far as JR's contention that your goalie needs to stand on his head and steal games to win the Cup, that's pure bull.  Let me go back into the closet here and pull out Marc-Andre Fleury's numbers from last posteason:  2.61 GAA with a .908 SV%.  Chris Osgood's playoff numbers from the previous two seasons are impressive, but how many are going to place the credit for the WIngs consecutive Finals appearances on Osgood solely?  Any of you who wish to are welcome to our Bug Juice.

2. San Jose Sharks: 33-10-8 overall, 3-0-1 last week

Last week: No. 2

SBN Blog: Fear The Fin

The Sharks have actually taken over a big lead for tops in the NHL, and are neck and neck with Chicago (who has a game in hand on San Jose). They've won their past two game by a combined score of 14-2 and absolutely embarrassed the Flames in San Jose. Despite all of the post-season issues the Sharks have had the past few years, it's safe to say that this may be the most impressive San Jose team yet.

Let me also point out that a team from California is consistently dominating everyone. EVERYONE.

3.  Buffalo Sabres: 30-12-6 overall, 2-1-1 last week.

Last week: No. 5

SBN Blog: Die By the Blade

The Sabres had a bit of an up and down week, but have secured points in nine of their last ten games. More importantly, they've opened up a ten-point lead over Ottawa in the Northeast division and their goal differential is actually growing (+25).

4. Washington Capitals: 31-12-6 overall, 3-0-0 last week

Last week: No. 4

SBN Blog Japers' Rink

The Capitals can't get no love. They've won four in a row, Alex Ovechkin has eight points in his last three games. This is a team that loves to score, every single player and they lead the league by a wide margin in that category. Yet they're still waiting on one thing: someone to have a damn hat trick.

5. New Jersey Devils: 33-14-1 overall, 1-3-0 last week

Last week: No. 3

SBN Blog: In Lou We trust

Remember how last week we were talking about the Devils being slighted by not getting the No. 1 spot in our rankings? Yeah, well not so much this week. The great ones proved mortal, dropping three straight before pulling out a 2-0 win over Florida last night. Giving up early goals were just some of the problems:

In each of these three losses the Devils have given up two goals in the first period.  Already as the game gets going, the Devils have found themselves down early.  In the Phoenix game, Matthew Lombardi deflected a shot past Brodeur 13:16 into the first period.   In the Colorado game, Paul Stastny found the right side of Chris Stewart on Brodeur's flank for an easy tap-in 3:17 into the first.  In the Islanders game today, Matt Moulson got his own rebound in the slot and backhands it in 1:07 into the first.  The last two games have seen the opposition get one on the board early and every reason to feel good.   While the Devils have made numerous comebacks all season long, these aren't any less easy to overcome.

6. Colorado Avalanche: 28-15-6 overall, 2-0-0 last week

Last week: No.8

SBN Blog: Mile High Hockey

A fairly quiet, easy week for the Avs, dispatching the Devils and the Oilers at home without hardly breaking a sweat. MHH says that because the Avs have a rounded set of fighters on their team, they are that much more formidable.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins: 31-19-1, 2-1-0 last week

Last week: No. 10

SBN Blog: Pensburgh

Uh oh. Everyone get ready. The Penguins are back. Right? Sure, they're 5-5-0 in their last ten and have been sliding lately, but it was a great week in Pittsburgh with Golden Boy Crosby getting six points in one game and the Pens finally finding some way out of the mess they found themselves in. Which really wasn't all that bad to begin with.

8. Nashville Predators: 29-17-3 overall, 1-1-0 last week

Last week: No.11

SBN Blog: On The Forecheck

Another quiet week for the Preds, but they've been on fire for most of the season. And the team wants you to know it:

9. Vancouver Canucks: 29-18-2 overall, 2-0-0 last week

Last week: No.7

SBN Blog: Nucks Misconduct

The Canucks fall two spots, inexplicably, after winning two in a row. The Canucks are emerging as one of the more dangerous teams in the West after getting off to slow start, and have the 2nd best goal differential in the conference. They needed overtime to beat the hapless Oilers, but this is a team that continues to find ways to win. Henrik Sedin leads the league in scoring. Yep.

10. Phoenix Coyotes: 28-17-5 overall, 2-1-0 last week

Last week: No.9

SBN Blog: Five For Howling

A good bounce back week for the Coyotes, who had fallen a bit with a slight January slump. It's important to remember that this is a team that most think are overachieving under a new coach and with some great goaltending; it's going to be their challenge to keep it up down the playoff stretch. What would be worse? The Yotes just stinking it up all season in front of 5,000 fans a game, or playing pretty good all season in front of 5,000 fans and then tanking right t the end?

11. Los Angeles Kings: 27-19-3 overall, 2-1-0 last week

Last week: No 13

SBN Blog:  Jewels From The Crown

Hey! SB Nation has a new Kings blog! Here's what they have to say about a Kings team barely holding onto a playoff spot:

Around New Year's, I posted what I thought the Kings needed to do in order to be "on pace" for the playoffs by the time the Olympic break arrived. I said they needed to get 24 of the 40 possible points. How have they done so far?

A little better than I thought, actually.

I would have guessed they were under .500. In fact, they're slightly better than that. With 12 games to go till the break, they are 4-4-0. That's 8 of the needed 24 points. That leaves 16 points to get, and 12 games to get them. That's 8-4-0 the rest of the way. They're making it hard on themselves, but it's still doable. Especially since, not a moment too soon, they're about to go on the road.

12. Calgary Flames: 26-18-6 overall, 0-4-0 last week.

Last week: Not ranked.

SBN Blog: Matchsticks & Gasoline

How did a team that's lost four in a row make in onto our rankings? I have no idea. The Flames have been horrible.

13. Detroit Red Wings: 24-17-8 overall, 1-1-2 last week

Last week: No. 12

SBN Blog: Winging It In Motown

Ouch. Two overtime losses derailed what had been a pretty damn good month for the Red Wings as the fought to rebound from injuries and poor first half of the season. But at least they earned points. The trick now is to find a way to win on the road, where Detroit is just 10-10-5 this season, and 1-9-4 when Mike Babcock combs his hair the wrong way in the hotel mirror.

I made that last part up.

14. New York Islanders: 22-20-8 overall, 2-1-0 last week

Last Week: Not Ranked

SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

Now here's a team that deserved the jump up into the standings. They're one of the hottest teams in the NHL and are finding ways to win, using 4-0 drubbings of New Jersey for motivation. John Tavares has actually started to score again, so that's good.

15. Boston Bruins: 23-17-8 overall, 1-1-1 last week.

Last week: No. 13

SBN Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Well, I guess last week was an improvement. After going 3-0 in the previous week, the Bruins were able to get 3 of a possible six points as they desperately try and hold off the Islanders.

The Islanders! What happened Boston? It's the Winter Classic curse.

16. Ottawa Senators: 26-21-4 overall, 4-0-0 last week.

Last week: Not Ranked

SBN Blog: Silver Seven

The Senators are proving what a disciplined, well-rounded team can do. They don't have many big scorers, but they do have four players with 10+ goals and three with 30+ points. The goaltending has been unspectacular but solid. Exactly what you expect from a mid-level team, just quietly going about their business.

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