Here are the Power Rankings going into the All Star break.
1. Detroit - It looks to be breakout years for both Valterri Filppula and Johan Franzen. They are red hot with 17 consecutive home victories and are in the middle of a 7 game win streak. Howard will get some votes for the Vezina at this point...who predicted that?
2. New York Rangers - Here is another goaltender who could take home the Vezina this year, Henrik Lundqvist has been phenomenal. A really solid young defensive core in front of him and are getting offense from all over. Gaborik leads the team with 39 points.
3. St.Louis - Since Hitchcock took over the Blues have gone from a bubble team to a serious contender, 23-6-7. I would think he is first in line for the Jack Adams Award this year. They are one of the hottest teams in the league right now and making the Central Division a pretty tight race. Elliott just signed a 2 year extension with the Blues after being picked up on waivers for $600,000. He has been a big surprise and Halak has really turned his game around as well.
4. Boston - They just keep on rolling. It seems their entire team is the +- leaders in the league. Tyler Seguin has developed into a very dynamic player and he's tied for first in points on the team at 43. (t. with Patrice Bergeron). They have 7 players above the 30 point mark.
5. San Jose - The Sharks had a rough start but have gotten things on track as of late with more production coming from Dan Boyle, their powerplay quarterback. Thomas Greiss has been a stellar backup to Niemi and Thornton leads the team with 38 points.
6. Vancouver - Once again both Sedins are near the top of the league in points. Cody Hodgson has made great strides in his first full year with the canucks. They also sport a really nice home and away record.
8. Pittsburgh - Malkin continues to carry Pittsburgh on his back in these dark days of injury, seemingly putting up multiple points every game. Letang has returned which should provide a lot of relief on Geno. Fleury has done his part and Neal has been a nice fit in a contract year.
9. Chicago - With Toews and Sharp out of the lineup for an extended period of time could be difficult to overcome. However Chicago has the firepower to remain near the top until their stars return.
10. Nashville - They've gone 9-1-0 into the break and once again are being led by Weber, Suter and Rinne. It will be very interesting to see if Nashville can secure all 3 players. Craig Smith has been a nice addition to the lineup.
11. Philadelphia - Giroux is 2nd in scoring behind Malkin with 55 points. Pronger is a big loss heading into the playoffs, Van Riemsdyk is missing time with a concussion. 7 players on Philadelphia's roster this year have been diagnosed with concussions.
12. Anaheim - Bruce Boudreau has finally lit a fire under this team. We'll see if Corey Perry can hit a home run again and send this team into the playoffs. I doubt it. Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan are available for trades.
13. Colorado - Duchene out has been tough on Colorado but Giguere has taken over for a struggling Varlamov. O'Reilly leads the team in scoring and they remain in the playoff picture.
14. Florida - The Panthers seem to be drying up. Their record the past 10 games is at 3-3-4 and Fleischmann hasnt put up more than a handful of points in a month. They just got Theodore back, hopefully that helps them keep their playoff hopes alive.
15. Calgary - The Flames have to make a push here in the last half of the season in order to make the playoffs. We'll see if Mike Camalleri can live up to that hefty contract. He should do well playing alongside Jarome Iginla. Iginla leads the team with 39 points.
16. New Jersey - Brodeur has been a bit shakey in what could be his final season but New Jersey has been competitive with a healthy Parise in the lineup, along with some solid seasons by Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and a great rookie campaign for Adam Henrique. He will get some nods for the Calder while Nugent-Hopkins remains out.
17. Washington - Ovechkin has not been very Ovechkin like, often being caught making lazy mistakes and hasn't really shown up offensively as we are used to, however he is 2nd on the team in scoring behind Nicklas Backstrom. Semin has underperformed once again and I expect a trade involving him in the works.
18. New York Islanders - The top line of Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau has been dynamite and contributed 50% of the Islanders goals this season. Nabakov has done well for them as of late as they seem to be catching fire to make a playoff push.
19. Los Angeles - Since Daryl Suter took over LA has been playing better hockey but it is still going to need to be better in order to make the playoffs. Many expected LA to be not just a playoff lock but a contender which certainly has not panned out so far. Mike Richards has underproduced to this point and they will need a big turn around from him and for Quick to continue playing stellar hockey in order to get this team into the playoffs.
20. Toronto - This team has a pretty decent record so far and has a shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. What a year by Kessel and Lupul with 51 and 52 points respectively. Look for Toronto to spend at the trade deadline.
21. Montreal - A lot of turmoil in Montreal lately as Mike Camalleri is traded to the Calgary Flames for Rene Bourque because he described the Canadiens to the media as a team with a losing mentality. He was traded the next day. With just about every player underperforming you have to think Montreal is in some trouble this year. Off season pickup Erik Cole currently leads the team in points with 39.
22. Minnesota - The Wild had a great start to the season and gave Minnesota a lot of hope and excitement for the season and are still hanging in there but with a 3-6-1 record in their last 10 they will need to turn that around quick in a tight western conference. They have had a solid goaltending tandem of Backstrom and Harding fighting for the number 1 job.
23. Winnipeg - The Jets are performing to about what we expected and are beginning to fall out of the playoff race. Enstrom's return has helped them as they await the return of Byfuglien. They are receiving scoring throughout the lineup with 14 players in double digits however they lack a real point producer as Blake Wheeler leads the team with 33 points. Ouch.
24. Dallas - Dallas (like Minnesota) had a really great start to the season and has sense been spiraling down the western confrence. Injuries to Lehtonen, Goligoski and surgery to Jamie Benn has certainly been hurting them. After the All Star break they should have a rested roster and try to make a push at making the playoffs for the first time in 3 years.
25. Tampa Bay - Tampa was the surprise team last year but they weren't able to keep it up this year mostly for the lack of a goaltender. Roloson has really fallen off the map and Garon has not been able to take over the number 1 job so Yzerman will be shopping for a goaltender very soon. Stamkos, St Louis and Lecavalier are all having great years once again.
26. Phoenix - With the loss of Bryzgalov in the off season many expected this team to completely drop out of the playoff picture however once again Phoenix has shown its resiliency and remains in the hunt for that 8th and final slot in the west. Smith has been a spectacular addition, Yandle continues to progress and Vrbata is having a great season on the top line.
27. Carolina - The Hurricanes sit last in the east and have just been atrocious on the road going 5-13-6. They will be hard pressed to make the playoffs and many expect C Tuomo Ruutu to be on the trading block.
28. Buffalo - A lot of disappointment this year with the Sabres. New Owner Peggula did a lot of spending in the offseason and seemed to make a few upgrades to push a team that was a playoff bubble to at least a lock for the playoffs and they have certainly misfired on that one. Leino's contract is going to just continue to be a tough one to swallow for years to come.
29. Edmonton - The youngsters are starting to show some dangerous potential out there but still are not quite there. Injuries have slowed them a bit this year. Jordan Eberle leads the team with 45 points in his 2nd full season and has been selected for the All Star game.
30. Columbus - So much promise after all the big additions during the offseason and it has really gone wrong for Columbus once again. They have already announced Steve Mason will not be brought back next year, that should tell you just how bad he has been this year. Expect big big changes to Columbus come trade deadline and off season, this franchise is in a lot of trouble at this point in time.