NHL Power Rankings: The playoffs edition
The regular season is over, but the Power Rankings still live. Here is our list for Week 3 of the postseason:
1. Anaheim Ducks
As long as the Ducks have their defense (aka studs Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin) and their goaltending tandem (Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov) intact, it's hard not to have them atop our playoffs offering. Anaheim also boasts the best penalty-killing unit of the playoffs (3-for-47) and is tied with Detroit for the fewest goals allowed per game (1.75). Last week: 1.
2. Detroit Red Wings
Headed into Monday's Game 3, the Red Wings and Sharks were split in their Western Conference semifinals series. But this Detroit squad is showing more than last season's squad. Yes, obviously, the Wings made it past the first round this time. But we're also seeing more production out of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg; Dominik Hasek is Dominik Hasek; Chris Chelios is hustling. More important, the latest top-line combo of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi created a spark for the Wings. Last week: 4.
3. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres are one of two teams in the second round to post a more than two-goal win differential in their series -- a 5-2 win over the Rangers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals. (The other was Anaheim's 5-1 win over Vancouver in its Game 1.) Although we're not taking anything away from the Rangers, we still believe Buffalo has more depth and speed than New York. We have yet to see the Sabres put it fully into gear yet. And yes, Ryan Miller is a stud. Last week: 6.
4. San Jose Sharks
"Dumb mistakes." That's how Ron Wilson described the Sharks' Game 2 performance against the Red Wings. Oh, fair enough. But what about just overall offense? San Jose averaged 32.4 shots on goal in the first round against Nashville. The Sharks have yet to crack the 20-shot mark in either of their two games so far versus the Red Wings. Last week: 2.
5. New Jersey Devils
How can the Devils be ahead of the Senators even though their series is split at 1 through Sunday's action? The answer is Martin Brodeur. After an awful opening against the Senators in Game 1, the goalie changed all his equipment for the follow-up game. He made 43 saves in the Devils' 3-2 double-overtime win in arguably his best game of the playoffs. We can't remember the last time Brodeur has been bad in back-to-back postseason starts. That alone is enough to give New Jersey the edge. Last week: 8.
6. Ottawa Senators
Game 2 between the Senators and Devils could have gone either way -- that's just overtime hockey in the playoffs. Still, we're a little alarmed Ottawa's middle lines aren't yet on the score sheet in the second round. Some might say, "Hey, who cares. We've got Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson." But we all know it's those lesser-known players that also play the hero in the postseason. The Schaefer-Fisher-Comrie and Vermette-Kelly-Neil combos combined for 16 shots on goal in Game 2, but none got past Brodeur. Last week: 3.
7. New York Rangers
After the Rangers' flat 5-2 opening loss to the Sabres (and subsequent 2-0 series hole before Game 3's double-overtime win), they fall a few spots this week. Luckily for them, in Sunday's Game 3, the Blueshirts allowed only one power-play goal ... out of nine chances. That's a credit to goalie Henrik Lundqvist (where would the Rangers be without him?). Another good sign is Jaromir Jagr, who said he only gets better the longer he plays. Last week: 5.
8. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks aren't getting any respect. When they ousted the Stars in the first round, critics said it was a miracle given that Vancouver was shut out in three of the seven games in the series. Even now, in the second round against the Ducks, despite the series being tied at 1, most consider it a foregone conclusion Anaheim is going to the Cup finals. Fair? Maybe not. But one only has to look to the Canucks' power play (4-for-58 in playoffs) and their underwhelming offense to be concerned. Last week: 9.
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