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Super 16: Rangers surge in Power Rankings

by Dave Lozo
It was the night of Oct. 22 when New York Rangers coach John Tortorella offered some insight into his team following a 2-0 road loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

To repeat his words in this space would sully the good name of this website, but let's just say Tortorella kept it short and not very sweet. It's the type of entertainment that should make for tremendous viewing when HBO's cameras start filming the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers for "24/7" in a few weeks, but it was also an indictment of the team's poor play.

Nearly a month later, the Rangers have been a far better team from head to toe.

Ryan Callahan
Right Wing - NYR
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 9
SOG: 56 | +/-: -1
They are 7-1-1 since that loss and winners of six straight. The Rangers have outscored their opponents 23-9 during the current winning streak.

"Obviously there's confidence that comes from a winning streak and getting wins," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "Going into the third period obviously you feel it, that we have the guys here and we can get it done."

The Rangers have been masters in the third period and with the game on the line of late. During the past five games, the Rangers have either been tied or faced a one-goal difference during the third period. In the 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks that started this streak, the Rangers didn't buckle when they coughed up a 2-0 lead in the second period, responding with three quick goals to put the game away.

Brandon Dubinsky has found the back of the net during this streak, snapping a 14-game goal drought to start the season. Sean Avery has been an asset since returning from the AHL. Even backup goaltender Martin Biron has two wins during the six-game run.

Everyone is contributing -- including big guns Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards -- but there's now a calm around the team when things start to get tight.

"That's a big reason why we're winning now," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We're not deviating from any game plans. We're not panicking. We're being confident out there with the puck. We're making plays -- not just throwing the puck away and panicking. That's been really helping us with the last six games, just staying with it and not getting down when a goal is scored or the game is tied."

The six straight wins have the Rangers flying up the Super 16, which sees its first change at the top this season. The Washington Capitals, 3-4-1 in their last eight, have been replaced by their arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are 7-2-1 in their last 10 even with a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

In an effort to keep this interesting and avoid bogging you down with stats every week, I've tried to come up with a current or past TV show that best represents each team in this week's Super 16. Although "24/7" isn't technically a TV show because it's not TV -- it's HBO -- the documentary starting in December was a small inspiration. Enjoy:

1 Pittsburgh (10-4-3) 2 "Two and a Half Men" -- Consistently highly rated. Either loved or hated by the people. Even without its big-time star, the winning continues.
2 Chicago (11-4-3) 4 "Scrubs" -- Had a great thing going, but blew up its cast, struggled in that first season after that. Unlike the show, there's a season two for the new cast for the 'Hawks, and it's terrific.
3 Dallas (11-5-0) 3 "Bored to Death" -- Not as widely watched as other shows, but lots of quality there. No true stars, but a terrific ensemble with great chemistry. Arguably the best out there.
4 N.Y. Rangers (9-3-3) 11 "Parks & Recreation" -- Both were average, but with promise, for a while. Both added new blood to go to the next level (Marian Gaborik is Adam Scott, Brad Richards is Rob Lowe).
5 Washington (10-4-1) 1 "The Sopranos" -- Quality, long-running, although it's lacking the punch and flair it had at the beginning. Will Bruce Boudreau get whacked at season's end?
6 Philadelphia (9-4-3) 5 "Survivor" -- Change the cast wholesale, people still love watching it because it's really good. Beating the 1-3-1 trap could be an immunity challenge on an episode.
7 San Jose (9-5-1) 7 "The Wire" -- Both considered the best for seven years ('02-08 for the show, '03-11 for the team). However, neither the show (an Emmy) nor the team (the Stanley Cup) won it all.
8 Minnesota (9-5-3) 10 "American Horror Story" -- It's not a commentary on the Wild in any way. It's just both are new, out-of-nowhere hits. People want to see where both are going to go in the future.
9 Buffalo (10-6-0) 9 "Melrose Place" -- It was nothing great at first, but once Heather Locklear joined, everything took off. The same is happening in Buffalo with the arrival of owner Terry Pegula.
10 Detroit (9-5-1) NR "Law & Order" -- Same winning formula for about two decades. Nicklas Lidstrom is hockey's Jack McCoy, a leader who's always coming up big when he's needed most.
11 Toronto (10-6-1) 6 "Eastbound & Down" -- Both are close to one-man shows, with Phil Kessel as a well-mannered Kenny Powers. Season 3 was the last for Kenny. Season 3 is going much better for Kessel.
12 Edmonton (9-6-2) 8 "Saved by the Bell" -- Because it stars young people? Get it? One day, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be household names like Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez.
13 Phoenix (8-4-3) 13 "Family Guy" -- Once facing cancelation, both are flourishing against all odds. Dave Tippett is to the Coyotes as Seth MacFarlane is to the cartoon.
14 Tampa Bay (8-6-2) 15 "Boardwalk Empire" -- The show can drag at times, just like the 1-3-1 can slow things. But both are winning products if you're willing to enjoy the talented people involved.
15 Boston (8-7-0) NR "Sons of Anarchy" -- A fictitious motorcycle gang encapsulates the Bruins nicely, no? Tough and willing to fight for each other with the ability to run over those who get in the way.
16 Florida (8-5-3) NR "Glee" -- Most of the cast is unrecognizable and was thrown together after never working together, yet the results have been unmistakably positive for both.
If you have any problems, questions, anger or praise for this list, you can let me know on Twitter: @davelozo
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