Power Rankings: Capitals, Wild riding high, but coaching changes have spurred challengers

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Here come the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers in an Atlantic Division that free for the taking. My top five, however, didn't change. This week's Power Rankings:

1. (Last week: 1) Washington Capitals, 39-12-7

Two weekend losses for a Caps team that now must fight boredom until the playoffs begin.

2. (2) Minnesota Wild, 39-13-6

The Wild get their five-day bye week after Tuesday's game (versus Chicago) and then come out of that to play their final 23 games in 41 days. Whoa.

3. (5) Chicago Blackhawks, 36-18-5

Either Radim Vrbata or Patrick Eaves, both pending unrestricted free agents, would be good fits for the Blackhawks -- if the price isn't too grand.

4. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins, 36-14-8

Back-to-back losses this weekend included Friday's OT decision to Columbus, a would-be first-round foe. Second place in the Metro means home ice, no small carrot.

5. (5) San Jose Sharks, 35-18-7

The Sharks have only three wins in February (3-1-5) but have collected points in five of their six losses, picking up 11 out of a possible 18 points. There's your NHL math at its best.

6. (8) New York Rangers, 38-19-1

So if you're the Blueshirts, do you really want to try to finish second or third in the Metro and face Pittsburgh or Columbus in the opening round (and Washington in the second round)? Or is a fourth-place finish and a wild-card date with the winner of the mediocre Atlantic Division not a better route?

7. (7) Columbus Blue Jackets, 37-16-5

The Blue Jackets are in their bye week and when come out of it, they better be ready -- try 16 games in March.

8. (9) Edmonton Oilers, 32-19-8

Surging Oilers kicked off six-game road trip in style with 3-1 victory in Chicago. It's really happening, Oilers fans: Edmonton is for real and playoff-bound for the first time in 11 years.

9. (6) Anaheim Ducks, 31-19-10

Like their cousins up the highway in San Jose, the Ducks also have won just three games in February (3-4-1), but they haven't picked up as many overtime candies.

10. (10) St. Louis Blues, 31-23-5

The Blues are off until Sunday after Monday night's game with Florida. Good time for GM Doug Armstrong to perhaps pull off a deal or two.

11. (12) Ottawa Senators, 31-20-6

Does Bobby Ryan's injury add a little zest to GM Pierre Dorion's trade-deadline shopping for a top-six forward?

12. (11) Nashville Predators, 28-22-8

Just playing matchmaker here, but wouldn't pending unrestricted free-agent winger Thomas Vanek look good in a Predators uniform?

13. (15) Boston Bruins, 30-23-6

Make it a perfect 4-0-0 since the coaching change in Boston, including Sunday night's entertaining OT win in San Jose. Can the B's win the Atlantic?

14. (19) Florida Panthers, 27-20-10

The red-hot Panthers have won seven of their past eight games, including a three-game sweep through daunting California. They can smell a playoff spot in the wide-open Atlantic.

15. (13) Montreal Canadiens, 31-20-8

Claude Julien's first game behind the bench wasn't enough to avoid the post-bye meltdown that most teams have had. The No. 1 challenge for Julien is to restore swagger on a reeling team.

16. (14) Los Angeles Kings, 28-26-4

The Kings have dropped five of their past six games (1-5-0) and are inviting the Flames to steal that final wild-card spot.

17. (17) New York Islanders, 27-21-10

I think the Isles are playoff-bound. There, I said it. John Tavares' team has taken its game to another level since Doug Weight took over as head coach.

18. (16) Toronto Maple Leafs, 27-20-11

Nice bounce-back win in Carolina on Sunday after a gut-wrenching loss to provincial rival Ottawa the previous night. Leafs need to find more consistency in their game if they're really going to make the playoffs.

19. (20) Calgary Flames, 29-26-4

These Flames are tough to figure out. Few teams have bigger swings in their play than these guys.

20. (26) Winnipeg Jets, 28-29-5

Huge weekend with wins in Montreal and Ottawa, and suddenly the Jets are one point out of a playoff spot.

21. (18) Philadelphia Flyers, 28-24-7

Will pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen Mark Streit and/or Michael Del Zotto be moved before 3 p.m. ET on March 1?

22. (21) Tampa Bay Lightning, 26-24-8

Three out of four points earned coming out of the break and now a four-game homestand coming up. But is it too little, too late?

23. (25) Buffalo Sabres, 26-24-10

A decent stretch of late by a young Sabres team that's finally healthy and showing signs of life.

24. (23) New Jersey Devils, 25-24-10

Pending unrestricted free-agent defenseman Kyle Quincey would be an under-the-radar asset for a team looking to add top-six depth for a playoff run.

25. (24) Vancouver Canucks, 26-28-6

Can the Canucks find a home for pending unrestricted free-agent winger Alex Burrows? They might need to eat some of his $4.5 million cap hit.

26. (28) Dallas Stars, 23-27-10

You can sense captain Jamie Benn's frustration with how this season has gone. This team should be better.

27. (27) Detroit Red Wings, 24-25-10

Red Wings snapped a five-game losing streak with weekend wins over powerhouse Capitals and Penguins. Go figure.

28. (22) Carolina Hurricanes, 24-23-8

Four straight losses for a team coming to grips with another year out of the playoffs.

29. (29) Arizona Coyotes, 20-30-7

Does GM John Chayka start the sell-off this week? Wouldn't surprise me.

30. (30) Colorado Avalanche, 16-38-3

Hey, people aren't happy with the high prices for Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, but GM Joe Sakic is well within his right to set the bar high. Why? Because he doesn't have to trade those guys before March 1 -- he can wait until the summer.