The NHL Classy Power Rankings are back after taking off week 13 for the holiday season. You know the holidays are officially over when Stayclassy.net gets back to regularly scheduled features.
To clear any confusion, this week’s Power Rankings – the first of 2010 – when I say last week, I’m refering to the Week 12 Rankings from the week of December 21st.
This week in our Power Rankings, we note jumps from the Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, and Buffalo Sabres while the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs see big slides. Make your way down the charts to see who’s number one in our first Rankings of the New Year!
NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 14
30. Carolina Hurricanes (11-23-7, 29 pts; last week: 29)
29. Edmonton Oilers (16-22-4, 36 pts; last: 24)
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (14-19-9, 37 pts; last week: 20)
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-19-9, 39 pts; last week: 28)
26. Anaheim Ducks (16-19-7, 39 pts; last week: 21)
The bottom of the NHL hasn’t changed much for what feels like a good month or two now. The Toronto Maple Leafs had a decent run but find themselves with injury problems and the Edmonton Oilers simply can’t buy a win with injury problems of their own. The Ducks and Jackets continue to hover around .500 hockey but never quite get over the hump. And of course, the Carolina Hurricanes are still the worst team in the NHL, but the Oilers are getting closer. The race for Taylor Hall is on! (except replace Toronto’s name with Boston).
25. St. Louis Blues (17-18-6; 40 pts; last week: 25)
24. Philadelphia Flyers (19-19-3, 41 pts; last week: 29)
23. Florida Panthers (17-18-7, 41 pts; last week: 19)
22. Atlanta Thrashers (18-17-6, 42 pts; last week: 17)
21. Tampa Bay Lightning (16-15-10, 42 pts; last week: 26)
What’s interesting about this grouping is about a month ago, the Flyers, Lightning, and Thrashers all sat around the 15-20 mark in our rankings. It seems none of these teams can get on a good winning streak. The Flyers, who brought a four-game winning streak in the 2010 Winter Classic have since lost their last two games.
20. New York Islanders (17-18-8, 42 pts; last week: 27)
19. Minnesota Wild (20-19-3, 43 pts; last week: 16)
18. New York Rangers (19-17-5, 43 pts; last week: 22)
17. Montreal Canadiens (21-20-3, 45 pts; last week: 23)
16. Dallas Stars (18-12-11, 47 pts; last week: 14)
Of this group of teams, the Montreal Canadiens have done a nice job of late to pull themselves up to .500 hockey with the return of Markov and the stellar play of Jaroslav Halak. The Dallas Stars have as many OT/SO loss points as the Hurricanes have wins. The Rangers and Islanders seem like they’ll be joined at the hip all season long with virtually the same record and point total. The only difference is the Rangers payroll is much higher and the Islanders have seven (yes, SEVEN) players playing in the World Junior Hockey Championships.
15. Detroit Red Wings (21-14-6, 48 pts; last week: 13)
14. Ottawa Senators (22-16-4, 48 pts; last week: 15)
13. Boston Bruins (21-12-7, 49 pts; last week: 18)
12. Los Angeles Kings (24-15-3, 51 pts; last week: 6)
11. Vancouver Canucks (25-16-1, 51 pts; last week: 12)
The Los Angeles Kings have slipped out of the top 10 after having a sub-par last 10 games (they went 5-5) while the Canucks, Senators, and Red Wings seem to always find themselves around the 10-15 tier (for the Wings and Senators, that’s a big win considering the key injuries each club has faced).
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (26-16-1, 53 pts; last week: 2)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost five straight games and have won only four games in their last 10. This is probably the most the team has struggled all year. The most alarming thing about this stretch is the teams they are losing to – the Lightning, Panthers, and Maple Leafs. Could this be the Stanley Cup hangover? Probably not. Anyways, the Penguins will look to turn this streak around when the play the Thrashers, Flyers, and Leafs this week.
9. Washington Capitals (24-11-6, 54 pts; last week: 4)
It’s interesting how the Washington Capitals and Penguins go through similar season stretches. Like the Pens, the Capitals have lost three straight games but with the exception to the Hurricanes, to strong teams like the Kings and Sharks. The Capitals recently got some good news at Semyon Varlamov is back from injury and in the AHL for a brief reconditioning stint. And while Mike Green didn’t make the cut for the Canadian Olympic team, the Capitals will still be sending five players to the Vancouver games (Semin, Ovechkin, Varlamov, Fleishmann, and Backstrom). And lastly, the Capitals traded Milan Jurcina and captain Chris Clark to the Blue Jackets last week in exchange for forward Jason Chimera.
8. Nashville Predators (25-14-3, 53 pts; last week: 5)
This has to be the year Barry Trotz wins the coach of the year award. Get this, over the Nashville Predators last 16 games, the club has gone 10-4-2. Unfortunately for the Predators, the team stumbled a bit in their search for top seed in the Central division losing back to back games to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Preds find themselves eight points back of the Hawks, but that’s a hell of a lot better than most people figured the Predators to be doing this year. This week, the Predators host the Flames, Hurricanes, and Ducks.
7. Phoenix Coyotes (25-14-4, 54 pts; last week: 10)
The Phoenix Coyotes have a busy month ahead. In January, the Coyotes have 14 games to play with only five of them on the road. That’s a really good thing considering the Coyotes are 16-6-1 when playing in front of no one… I mean playing at home. Although the Coyotes are enjoying a great year under Dave Tippett, they are only three points ahead of the Kings, who occupy the 8th and final playoff position in the Western Conference. How’s that for parity? This week, the Coyotes will face the Oilers, Sharks, and Islanders.
6. Calgary Flames (24-12-5, 53 pts; last week: 11)
The Calgary Flames are hot! as they’ve won their last four games and have held the losing team to one goal in each game. That’s all well and good, but most people around Calgary are still pretty surprised Steve Yzerman didn’t pick any of Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regher, or Jay Bouwmeester to the Canadian Olympic team. And to make matters worse, Dion Phaneuf left Saturday’s game against the Leafs with an injury – I have no idea how serious it is… or isn’t. But hey, the Flames have won four in a row!
5. Colorado Avalanche (24-13-6, 54 pts; last week: 7)
The Colorado Avalanche are 3rd in the Western Conference and 7-3 in their last 10 games. Matt Duchene continues to impress and looks to be getting even more comfortable in the NHL (and stronger too). Considering he was left off last year’s Canadian Junior team, I’d say he’s progressed nicely over the last 12 months. In a bit of a surprise, Craig Anderson was left off the USA Olympic team roster this week. I’m still surprised at that. This week, the Avalanche will face off against the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Sabres.
4. Buffalo Sabres (26-11-4, 56 pts; last week: 9)
The Buffalo Sabres are the second best team in the Eastern Conference, three points back of Pittsburgh for first in the East, yet have no player with more than 32 points this season. Tim Connolly (who has 32 points) is 49th in league scoring. It’s unbelievable how strong a season the Sabres have put together. They’ve only lost two of their last 10 games in regulation (6-2-2) and play two relatively easy games this week against the Lightning and Leafs before hooking up with the Avalanche on Saturday night.
3. New Jersey Devils (29-10-1, 59 pts; last week: 1)
The New Jersey Devils are tops in the East and have allowed the least goals against in the entire league. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and Zach Parise continues to generate loads of offense for the team (he’s 14th in league scoring). The Devils play Stars and Lightning at home before heading out on a five game road trip starting in Montreal on Saturday.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (29-10-3, 61 pts; last week: 3)
The Chicago Blackhawks (and Sharks) are tied for the most points in the NHL. They’ve won three straight games and will be well represented in the Olympics (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, and Tomas Kopecky). What more can you say about the Hawks? Everything’s rolling well and they are a fairly healthy club. The hit Patrick Sharp received was Saturday night versus the Blues was huge, but he was fine and even scored later in the game. The Hawks will play the Wild (twice) and Bruins later this week.
1. San Jose Sharks (27-8-7, 61 pts; last week: 8)
Along with the Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks are the best team in the NHL. They’ve lost eight times in regulation all year… Edmonton has lost more than that in their last 10 games! Their top forward line were all named to the Canadian Olympic team (as well as Dan Boyle) and the team appears to work harder this season over last. These are all good things for a team who’s season doesn’t really start until the Playoffs in April. They know this better than anyone, but you have to give it up to this team for how they continually dominate opponents. Probable Sharks victims this week may include the Kings, Blues, and Red Wings.
Stay classy, NHL rankings.