This will be our first rendition of the NHL power rankings. From here we are going to do them once weekly. Let’s look at what’s going on in the league and not only will I give you a 1 to 30 ranking but I will give you a detailed explanations as to why that team is where it is. Been loving the NHL season so far and I could only imagine most hockey fans are as well. Let’s see what’s going on.
|7||Los Angeles Kings||22||10-6-2||7-3-0||W5|
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs||24||12-9-0||6-4-0||L1|
|10||New Jersey Devils||24||10-5-4||5-4-1||L2|
|12||St. Louis Blues||22||10-6-2||4-4-2||W1|
|15||San Jose Sharks||21||9-7-3||2-6-2||W1|
|16||Detroit Red Wings||21||9-8-3||4-4-2||L1|
|21||Tamp Bay Lightning||19||9-9-1||3-6-1||L2|
|24||New York Rangers||18||8-8-2||4-4-2||L2|
|25||New York Islanders||17||8-11-1||4-6-0||L2|
|30||Columbus Blue Jackets||13||5-12-3||2-6-2||L1|
1. Chicago Blackhawks
There is no question who sits atop the power rankings. So far the Blackhawks have had their way with just about every single one of their opponents, with very little resistance. They’re 5th in the league in goals with 59, but match that with their tie for the least amount goals allowed with 34 and that’s a dangerous combo. They do edge out that tie breaker with a more favorable goals allowed per game as they’ve played more game, they allow 1.79 per game. Patrick Kane has been a beast with 24 points and he has 3 other players with 15 points to help carry the load. They have one of the more dominant goalie duos in the league featuring Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. The equal playing time will keep the 2 competitive against one another in a good way. When you get half the starts and your counter part is doing well, you’ve got to match that to keep playing. This team shows no sign of slowing down and if they can continue to play like they have in their first 19 games, than there is no reason the Hawks couldn’t win the Stanley Cup this year.
2. Boston Bruins
That counterpart we were telling you about in the tie for the least amount of goals allowed, well that would be the Bruins. Tuukka Rask has taken the reigns after an absent Thomas left him not choice and thus far as shined. The Bruins have also only allowed 34 goals thus far, and while they have played 3 games less than the Blackhawks so far, they’re still top 5 in goals allowed per game with 2.12. The Bruins also boast the best penalty kill squad in the NHL successfully killing 95.1% of penalties. Their power play squad could most certainly come through more, they have scored on just 12.1% of the power plays they’ve had thus far. A big thing the Bruins need to capitalize on to keep ahead. They look good though, have won 4 straight and display great consistency, surely they will go deep into the playoffs.
3. Anaheim Ducks
This team has been a huge surprise thus far. When I sat down to do our preseason rankings, I regrettably bashed on this team and assumed they were incapable of winning with their squad, boy how wrong was I? The Ducks have been lead by Ryan Getzlaf so far who’s racked up 6 goals and 15 assists, seemingly involved in the majority of the scoring plays. They’re 4th in the league with 60 goals and showcase and equally impressive 47 goals against. The Duck have rotated pretty equally between Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller. Fasth has demonstrated why he’s the primary starter though with his 9-1-0 record and a 92.6% save percent, averaging only 1.92 goals allowed per game. They sit atop what has turned out to be a very competitive Pacific division and if things continue on the current path are looking good.
4. Montreal Canadiens
Montreal has had a roller coaster of season finishes in the last 2 seasons. They finished 6th in the East back in the 2010-11 season before turning things over to become the worst team in the Eastern conference just a season ago. Well they’re back on a high as they sit currently 1st in the East. Things are looking up for the Habs currently as they are doing very well offensively scoring 57 goals, and defensively too allowing 41. Montreal is showing some serious promise to their 2013 campaign and as if they aren’t doing well enough, they make a great move in sending struggling RW Erik Cole to Dallas for their leading scorer Michael Ryder. Ryder started his career in Montreal where he played 4 years before going to Boston where he won a Stanley Cup. It’s a great pick up that will only add to their offensive scoring capabilities as Ryder is quite the sniper.
5. Ottawa Senators
The headline of this team has to be goaltender Craig Anderson. Anderson is currently the best goalie in the NHL with a 95.2% save percent and allowing 1.49 goals per game. They allow a league 2nd best 36 goals in 20 games. The Senators could be a lot better though if they had a little more offensive help to the great netminding. Ottawa has only scored 45 goals which is in the bottom 10 teams, 23rd to be specific. Defensively this team is all there though, they have the 3rd best penalty kill with 88%. We will see if the Senators can remain a factor in the later portion of the season when the pressure kicks up a notch. For now they are a threatening force on the ice.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
Sid “The Kid” Crosby, do we need to say anything more? After a season that made it seem as though his career was all but over from a series of concussions, The Kid has reemerged as the star he was when he left. Currently Crosby has claimed a share of the points leader with Steven Stamkos with 30 points. He leads the league with 21 assists. He isn’t without help though, the Penguins have 3 players with 20+ points and another 3 with 10+. They are 2nd in goals with 68 and that ability to score isn’t going anywhere. The one concern for the Penguins currently is in goal where Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t had his best of years. As a team the Penguins allow 3.40 goals per game which is 2nd worst in the NHL. Something that must improve if the Penguins expect to go anywhere in the playoffs.
7. Los Angeles Kings
I know it’s a little bit generous on this ranking, but the Kings are on the rise. Yes they had an embarrassingly slow start, but the defending champions have seemingly found their groove. They’ve won 5 in a row and 7 of their last 10. The scoring has made a comeback and they’ve begun their climb from the bottom of that column statistically. Overall they have 47 goals, 17 of those coming in this 5 game winning streak. Defensively they’ve only allowed 41 goals which is top 5 in the league, so in that sense they can continue what they’re doing now. If the scoring can continue than this Kings team could make a run back to the Cup. They currently sit 5th in the West.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
You may look at the stats that Toronto puts up and think to yourself this team is doing nothing special. Well so be it, but they’re getting it done out there. They currently sit 7th in the East and have a lot of competition clawing at those bottom 3 spots. They are top 5 in goals scored with 59, but have allowed 51 goals on 31.6 shots per game. The goaltender situation is a little bit of a mess for Toronto currently as they are playing 3 different goalies, none of whom have really stepped up. Yeah sure they’re all over .900 in save percent but when you’re allowing as many shots are they are it only makes sense. The Leafs can possibly hang to make the playoffs with their scoring but until their defense/goaltenders clean up a little bit they won’t go deep. For now all is well north of the border.
9. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are dealing with something they thought maybe to never see with the depth they have, semi struggling goalies. What does that mean exactly? Well you have Roberto Luongo and the guy who replaced him Cory Schneider. Yes I may be overreacting a tad, but with those two studs in net, you should not be outside the top 10 in goals allowed. Sure they’re 1 goal out, but still. Ok I’m joking they’re doing fine, really that’s all this team is worrying about, that and what to actually do with Luonogo. So really it’s nothing to be worried about. They’ve put up a respectable 52 goals lead by the Sedin boys who have 38 points between the two of them. Sure they’ve lost 2 in a row and are .500 in the last 10 games, but the problems end there. Don’t expect to see the Canucks dive too much.
10. New Jersey Devils
New Jersey is looking to repeat a trip to the Stanley Cup, except this time walk away on top. They have a lot to improve on if they plan on managing that though. The Devils are barely outscoring their opponents as they have put up 48 goals while allowing 47. Sure neither are necessarily good or bad, but if they want to return the Cup than they’re going to need to do better. Yes they’re playing in a very goal friendly Atlantic division with top scoring teams, but if they want to really hang they’re going to have to join in on that fun. The Devils are good enough to win games when they need to though, and for that earn the spot where they are. We should see them cruise into the playoffs, but beyond that doesn’t look too bright.
11. Nashville Predators
The Predators have struggled a little bit in getting to the net, scoring 43 goals so far this season, which is among the bottom 5 teams. Luckily for them, their goaltending has kept them alive in the race out west. Pekka Rinne who hasn’t been the top netminder on the year has done what he’s needed to keep the Predators in the running of things. He has an NHL best 3 shutouts thus far and is allowing 2.10 goals per game. Without this goaltending the Predators could easily be a cellar dweller. So far only 2 players have 10+ points as the team has struggled to identify a player worthy of leading this team offensively. They need a big name to come get some goals. They currently sit 4th in the West, but we will see how long they can hold off the teams closing in on them.
12. St. Louis Blues
What happened here? Would anybody have guessed to see Brian Elliott struggle like this after the numbers he put up last season? He’s played in 9 games starting 7 of them allowing 3.57 goals per and 28 overall with a save percentage of 84.9% The Blues probably most comfortable goaltending heading into the season, they’re now scrambling to stop the bleeding. Luckily enough for them they’ve scored enough to keep their head above water while they address the problem, but we will see how long it can last. So far it seems Jaroslav Halak will be the guy to save them, but we will see how things turn out. If the Blues can get their goaltending situation figured out they can easily be in the top 4 out West.
13. Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes are without proper ownership as the expected deal has struggled to close. That hasn’t stopped the team from going out there and fighting for the win. Without a go to scorer the Coyotes have done well distributing the weight of the game among themselves. They have 6 players with 10+ points and two players 1 point shy. They have scored 53 goals, while allowing 49, nothing exceptional but it’s getting the job done. Phoenix has 3 current options in goal and they are all demonstrating they are worthy of net time, none of them with a sub .900 save percent. The Coyotes are competing for that 8th seed, we’ll see how things end up.
14. Dallas Stars
I was a little shocked to see them let go of their top scorer in Michael Ryder. They’re top 10 in goals with 55 and have been outscored overall allowing 57 goals which is in the bottom 10 respectively. Sure they have another 6 guys with 10+ points, but Ryder provided a great sniping threat, plus a great guy to hook you up with assists. We’ll assume the Stars carry on scoring without him, why they really need to worry is goaltending. Not so much for their ace Kari Lehtonen who’s got a 93.4% save percent allowing 2.12 goals per game. No where the concern comes is anytime Kari needs a night off. The Stars have 2 incapable goalies behind him and a catch 22 arises. Yes you need to keep Kari healthy and rest him to avoid any injury, but you also need enough points to make the playoffs. They’re barely holding on right now.
15. San Jose Sharks
Such a great start followed by an equally embarrassing skid, 7 up to 7 down. I had half a mind to put them a whole lot further down, but I had to be realistic here. They obviously are capable of scoring big numbers and holding opponents to little. However that consistency is needed to remain a float in this quick season. They’ve dropped to the 3rd least amount of goals put up in the league with 41. Lucky for them they have Antti Niemi keeping the goals against down. Niemi has allowed 30 goals and as a team they’ve allowed 39 which is good enough for 4th best. It would seem that the skid has ended and they may have a foothold again to regain some momentum, but look out as this could obviously easily happen again.
16. Detroit Red Wings
For most expectations the Red Wings are under preforming. Scoring lots of goals, but another team allowing just as many against. They have the talent offensively as the goals are showing, seen good outing from Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to nobodies surprise. The Wings are struggling defensively which is having an impact on their goaltenders. Currently working with 3 goalies trying to identify their go to guy, which so far none have really stood out. The Red Wings have allowed 56 goals so far, and as a team have a 90.2% save percentage. They’re virtually tied for the 8th out West right now and if they want to join the post season festivities will need to clean up defensively.
17. Minnesota Wild
The Wild have been another surprise to most. They are currently well in contention for a playoff seat sitting just 1 point out from the 8th seed tie. The Wild are being lead by Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise who both have 13 points. While new guy Ryan Suter hasn’t found the net himself he’s been a vital role in the scoring of this team with 11 assists. The scoring needs to step up if this team wants to make a run though, the goaltending and defense is there as the Wild have only allowed 42 goals which is 7th in the league. Even if it’s 3 guys, this team has the talent to score, and they need to figure out how to do so. Sitting last in goals scored is not where they want to be. Still, the Wild are very much in this.
18. Philadelphia Flyers
This team should be right there with Pittsburgh dominating the Atlantic. The Flyers who have scored 64 goals — which is 3rd best in the NHL– they barely cling to the 8th seed in the East though. Why you may ask? Well they have allowed 66 goals on 27.4 shots against per game. Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled so far, and unfortunately the story is only worse when he’s not in the game. Boucher and Leighton have struggled to emerge as worthy backups and as a result the goaltending situation is a mess. Ilya who’s seen his numbers steadily declining over the last few seasons has to turn it around or go. The Flyers have this great team that is falling apart due to poor defense and goaltending. Maybe Pronger will be missed a whole lot more than we thought.
19. Winnipeg Jets
So preseason there was a lot of controversy building around the Jets young scorer Evander Kane who was seen in Vegas during the lockout while others trained. He’s demonstrated that you can both party and still be in game shape. Kane sit’s 23rd in the league in points and is the key factor in the Jets lineup. Teammate Andrew Ladd is right there with him 29th in the league with 17 points. Winnipeg has put up 52 goals which nets them dead center in the league, however the Jets have been scored on 59 times. Ondrej Pavelec has started his year off slowly and it’s not looking good going forward. The Jets could be contenders if they put somebody better in net.
20. Carolina Hurricane
Awfully low for a division leader some might say. Well when you’re betting the worst division in the league it’s not saying very much. The Southeast has become the armpit of the league, and without a Washington capable of dominating, this whole division loses a lot of respect. If they weren’t a division winner, the Hurricane would currently miss the playoffs by 2 points. That’s how competitive the East is this year. There are high note on what they have done so far. The Staal brother duo has seemingly been a great investment and as always Alexander Semin is putting points on the board. Their concerns come in net where Cam Ward is allowing 3.15 goals per game on average. Dan Ellis has had good showings in the 6 games he’s played so far and if Ward slumps anymore we may see Ellis takeover. The only chances I’m giving Carolina to make the playoffs is winning the division, other than that they’re a little out classed this season.
21. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning looked great in their opening games but in the last 10 games have slumped going 3-6-1. Tampa Bay shows the most promise from the division currently. They have a player –Steven Stamkos– who is the leading scorer in the NHL with 14 goals, he also shares a tie in points with 30. They have put up a league best 70 goals. There are a number of capable scorers on this team, but Stamkos will continue to lead them all. Martin St. Louis has been a vital role in the success of Stamkos and company as he’s provided 20 assists on the year 1 behind the league leader Crosby. Unfortunately the Lightning are allowing a lot more goals than they need to be with 59. Anders Linback who was the Predators backup last season hasn’t been everything they had hoped with a 89% save percent allowing 3.27 goals a game. That needs to change if the Lightning want to win this division and make the playoffs.
22. Calgary Flames
I am torn as to if the Flames are capable of turning things around and maybe competing. They certainly won’t win the division but they have the scorers to maybe sneak in at the 8th seed. The one thing that would need to be resolved is the goalie nightmare they currently suffer from. The Flames have started 4 different goaltenders so far and that’s not a good thing. Only one of them has a .900+ save percent and even that is barely breaking the barrier. Unfortunately their scorers aren’t the type that could be used as a trade incentive to collect a quality goalie. The Flames will probably cruise just how they are now, winning some here, but losing the majority of them.
23. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers are the opposite case, their defense and goaltending have been their high point. Devan Dubnyk has done well enough and his backups Nikolai Khabibulin and Yann Danis are showing some great promise. Sam Gagner has been their main threat on offense though collecting 5 goals and 13 assists. Overall the Oilers only muster 40 goals, which just isn’t going to cut it unless they’re boasting shutouts nightly. They show some future promise but as far as this season goes it’s not looking good.
24. New York Rangers
Maybe that grueling conditioning camp is a much more vital role in the success of this team than we think. How can a team with so much talent fail to score? Nash, Richards, Gaborik, and Staal fill this roster yet the Rangers have 43 goals. Which is a part of the bottom 4 in the league. Henrik Lundqvist is giving it his all to keep the score low, he’s allowing 2.41 goals per game with a 91.5% save percent. There are more than a couple occasions where the defense around him seems completely lost, which as a goaltender must be very frustrating. The Rangers are in danger of beginning to fall out of the mix of things. They are 3 points out from the 8th seed, and there is little to no hope in winning their division.
25. New York Islanders
The Islanders have got to be hounding Tim Thomas to come play this season. They have allowed 68 goals this season which is only 1 less than Florida for the most in the league. Evgeni Nabokov is struggling allowing 2.92 goals per contest with a 90.4% save percent. It’s a nightmare when Nabokov has to sit down though as Rick Dipietro has allowed 12 goals in his 3 games played. Kevin Poulin has allowed 3 in his 1 game. If the Islanders had Thomas as a starter and Nabokov as a backup the team could go far. The Islanders are very capable of scoring as they’ve put up 56 goals thanks in part John Tavares and Matt Moulson who have 23 between the two of them. The Islanders final season before moving to Brooklyn is likely going to be a forgettable one.
26. Washington Capitals
I didn’t think it was possible to do this bad with a squad that features Alexander Ovechkin, but once again boy was I wrong. I guess when you’re allowing 3.11 goals per game it’s a pretty easy thing to do. The Capitals have been awful on defense. I however cannot take too much blame from Braden Holtby who hasn’t been able to make up for any of the Caps many mistakes. He’s got a 89.9% save percent and allowing 3.26 goals per game. The Capitals would need a miracle to turn themselves around although for a brief second there it looked they were turning things around.
27. Colorado Avalanche
Such a young team with lots of promise. So far this year they’ve only been a disappointment. The young stars of Colorado have had a tough time scoring in this season where every point matter so much more. The veterans of the league have been able to shut the young guns down for the most part. The Avalanche has scored 43 goals which is tied for the 4th fewest. Don’t get too down though Colorado fans, there is a lot of promise for your young team. They just can’t hang in this craziness.
28. Buffalo Sabres
There was a lot of promise for this team at the start of the year. They brought in what they expected to toughen the squad up and solidify. The team looks weaker than ever though. The only highlight so far has been Thomas Vanek who up until this week was the scoring and point leader of the NHL. Now even that note seems to be fading away. It’s strange to imagine even Ryan Miller is lackluster. Sure he’s got a 91.6% save percent, but he’s allowing 2.83 goals per game. The defense is just getting taken apart as they’ve allowed almost 600 shots on Miller. This team isn’t going anywhere this season.
29. Florida Panthers
Surprisingly this team isn’t even the worst in the East standing wise. Which is a huge surprise cause this team is awful. Yes they’ve scored 48 goals this year, but but that side by side to the 69 goals allowed and the result is a face palm. The best news that could come from this organization would be a move to Canada where a fan base wouldn’t let management let an embarrassment like this exist. It’s kind of the nature down in south beach. Love it when they win, but just uninterested for the most part.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets
Ther isn’t a whole lot to say for this team right now. They’re struggling, and big time. They have scored a mere 43 points matched to their 60 allowed goals. Nothing seems to go right for the poor guys. This season is essentially already over for them and they’ve got a lot of work going forward. There are gaping holes everywhere you look on this team. With no real trade bait, the Blue Jackets only hope is to hit free agency hard and put some players that they can build around.
*Stats from NHL.com
(Photo 1 source) http://1.cdn.nhle.com/blackhawks/images/upload/2013/02/hawks-line-600.jpg
(Photo 2 source) http://bostonherald.com/sites/default/files/media/2013/02/24/25bspanthers2.jpg
(Photo 3 source) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f6/Sidney_Crosby_2013-02-02.JPG/200px-Sidney_Crosby_2013-02-02.JPG
(Photo 4 source) http://www1.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Brian+Elliott+hQDiWsXrw9Om.jpg
(Photo 5 source) http://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/sports/hockey/2012/09/28/nhl_lockout_winnipeg_jets_evander_kane_joins_khls_dinamo_minsk/evanderkane.jpeg.size.xxlarge.letterbox.jpeg
(Photo 6 source) http://binaryapi.ap.org/374e1191a8294f6cb69556ee4d163648/320x.jpg