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With half a week left in the season, the league's hierarchy is pretty much set in stone. And as has been the case for most of the season, two New York-area teams have been among the league's best, while one other has continued to flounder at the bottom of the pack.
The Real Clear Sports' power rankings reveal that the New York Rangers are the NHL's second-best team. For those who haven't followed all season long, RCS averages the ranks from six media outlets across the internet. The New Jersey Devils slot in at ninth place, while the lowly New York Islanders occupy the 26th spot.
The Rangers continue to be one of the most consistent teams in the NHL, as they've lost just twice over their last nine games, earning points in eight. Over the "new" week, they just beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3, on Tuesday for the sixth time this season sweeping the series and locking up first place in the Eastern Conference. They currently have 109 points, two more than the NHL's second-best team, the Vancouver Canucks.
The Devils have also been streaking of late, after a lull, winning four straight games, the latest coming against the Islanders on Tuesday, 3-1. The Isles, meanwhile, continue to be maddingly inconsistent. After winning three straight, they've now lost three in a row.
All three locals have two games apiece left in their regular season, which concludes Saturday.
The NHL's regular season is a few weeks from expiring. The power rankings are now presenting a full picture of the league's hierarchy, but, of course, the postseason will be filled with surprises. That being said, the New York-area teams have been very well represented on the Real Clear Sports 2012 Power Rankings over the past month or so.
The latest installment, released Tuesday, has the New York Rangers in fourth, one position lower than last week's. The New Jersey Devils have also slid a spot, down to ninth. The New York Islanders held constant at No. 26, and they've occupied the bottom-third for pretty much the entire season.
Over the past week, the Rangers continued to endure a rough patch in their play. The Blueshirts on Tuesday, March 13, began with a 4-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, but then lost two straight, scoring three goals and giving up eight altogether, to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche. On Monday, March 19, they defeated the Devils, 4-2.
New Jersey won one game, in overtime, this week, going 1-3-0. The Devils lost to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins and Rangers. But defeated the Avalanche in overtime during the second game of their week.
The next week has already begun for the locals: the Devils topped the Ottawa Senators, 1-0, and will play the Toronto Maple Leafs next as part of a three-game week. The Rangers on Wednesday will play the Detroit Red Wings to kick off a three-game week, while the Islanders started with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they will play two more games this week.
The New York Rangers are No. 3 in the most recent Real Clear Sports 2012 NHL Power Rankings, released Tuesday. RCS aggregates rankings from several major media outlets to come up with its total.
The Rangers, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over the New York Islanders on Sunday, are ranked behind the No. 1 St. Louis Blues and No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers face the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night.
The New Jersey Devils are No. 9 overall after having been as high as No. 5 a few weeks ago. The Devils hope to build on a four-game winning streak when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
The New York Islanders are at No. 26, near the bottom of the 30-team NHL. The 28-31-10 Islanders host the Washington Capitals Tuesday night. The Islanders are coming off back-to-back losses to the Devils.
— See SB Nation’s NHL Hub Page for complete coverage
The New York-area hockey scene is heating up as the trade deadline approaches and the chance (however slight it may be) of all three teams making the playoffs. For the first time all season, two area teams are representing the top five in the Real Clear Sports power rankings, with the New York Rangers occupying the No. 2 spot and the surging New Jersey Devils grabbing hold of No. 5 in a tie with the Bruins. The New York Islanders are in 23th.
RCS averages the rankings of six major media outlets into a single streamlined one.
Since the Rangers have led the power-rankings discussions literally all season, let's talk Devils first. New Jersey is 35-20-4 this season, fourth in the Eastern Conference, and coming off a week in which they won all three of their games -- against the Sabres, Ducks and Canadiens. It also began the week (not identified in this version of the power rankings) with an overtime victory over the Maple Leafs. Even though they haven't been recognized as an "elite" team, New Jersey continues to find ways to get the job done, and that's all that counts. It will likely add a few pieces before the Feb. 27 deadline.
The Rangers are in the midst of a slight funk, something -- with a 38-15-5 record -- they haven't dealt with too often. They went 2-1-0 from Tuesday, Feb. 14 to Tuesday, Feb. 21. They defeated the Bruins handily, lost to the Blackhawks and needed overtime versus the league's bottom-dwellers, the Blue Jackets. They also began the new week with a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's the second time all season New York hasn't had a regulation win in a three-game spurt. The East-leading Rangers will likely look to add a scorer at the deadline. The Blue Jackets' Rick Nash has been mentioned extensively.
The Islanders, 25-27-8, went 2-2-0 over their week with wins against the Jets and Hurricanes, and losses to the Blues and Senators. In their losses, they scored one goal and gave up 11. New York began the week with a 2-1 loss to the Sabres and at seven points out, cannot afford too many letdowns over the final stretch if they want to make a playoff push.
All three teams continue with busy weeks (Feb. 21 to Feb. 27). The Devils play the Canucks on Friday, followed by the Lightning and Rangers. The Rangers will take on the Islanders, Sabres and Devils in a three-game-in-four-nights situation. The Isles play the Rangers, then clash with the Senators to close the power-rankings week.
It's been two weeks since SB Nation New York reported on the latest NHL power rankings. Games have also been played during the current week, which are certain to affect the newest version. Currently, though, things are looking up for the NY-area teams. The New York Rangers continued their hold of the top spot, while the New Jersey Devils continued to creep up into No. 9 and the New York Islanders to No. 23 in Real Clear Sports' standings.
For those who are new, RCS averages the rankings of six major media outlets.
From the Tuesday, Jan. 31 to Monday, Feb. 6 span from which these rankings are based, the Blueshirts earned five points in six games. The week began with two road games. They fell to New Jersey in a shootout, 4-3, defeated the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout, 1-0, and beat up on the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2. The Devils, meanwhile, went 4-0, with victories over the Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, 5-3, Flyers, 6-4, and Penguins, 5-2, -- three games played at home. The Islanders also earned five of six points, with their only loss being to the Sabres, 4-3 in a shootout. They topped the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2, and Ottawa Senators in overtime, 2-1, both games played on the road.
The week is nearly finished, but in terms of when these rankings are released, we're midway through. The locals should still be pretty happy about their play. The Rangers fell to New Jersey, 1-0, and edged the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3, in overtime, and they have two more games left this week. The Devils began the week with a win against the Rangers and recently were defeated, 4-3, in a shootout by the St. Louis Blues. They have one more game to play. Finally, the Islanders began their week with a 1-0 shootout victory over the Flyers, but fell to Montreal, 4-2. They also have two games left in the week.