Posts Tagged ‘Edmonton Oilers’

Stuff I noticed on day one of the 2010-2011 NHL season

October 8th, 2010

The 2010-2011 NHL season has officially begun! No more waiting, prediction shows or team preview blogs (yeah yeah, I know I’m guilty of writing a few, but whatever). Just hockey. As someone who relies on new hockey stories to write new material, the NHL season couldn’t have started soon enough. Seriously, I’ve been running on vapor since… uhh… April. Basically the day after the Stanley Cup Finals ended.

But that’s all behind us now. To kick off the new season, here’s some (random) things I noticed on day one of the new season:

- This was mentioned by several people on Twitter throughout the day and I agree: Are Minnesota and Carolina the best teams to showcase the NHL in Europe? While on the subject of Europe; Why did the arena shine spotlights on goalies and players for saves? Several times I thought I missed a goal because of those ill-timed, misused spotlights.

- The Toronto Maple Leafs really went all out last night in their pre-game ceremony. Including former Leaf greats was a nice touch. And though the ceremony was way too long, my favourite part was when Air Canada Center announcer Andy Frost spoke this line “The 2010 Toronto Maple Leafs ice is made of water from Lake Erie, Lake Superior and Nazem Kadri’s tears.”

- Throughout the Canadiens/Leaf game, it seemed like Mikhail Grabovski shot the puck over the net a dozen times. Too bad he doesn’t shoot as well as he bar-fights…

- While listening to the Leafs post-game radio show on am-640, fans were excited, but cautious. A number of callers didn’t want to get ahead of themselves with just one win. I really appreciated hearing things like “we’ll only put down a small deposit for some of the parade costs tomorrow.”

- Nothing says “let’s get the hockey season underway” like a nice, soft, ballad titled “I’m not perfect.” I’m just saying…

- Luke Schenn was totally booed by the crowd at the ACC during the team introductions. From what I could hear, he was pretty much the only Leaf booed. What was up with that?

- Around half-way through the first period of the Flyers/Penguins game, I saw “respected analysts” tweeting that rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky “could be the goaltending answer for the Flyers.” It’s one game, folks. When did the Flyers media turn into the Leafs media anyways? While on the subject of the hot Flyers goalie, you should know Puck Daddy is leading a movement to rename him “Sideshow Bobrovsky.” I support this initiative. (Sorry, no direct link – it came from a PD live chat).

- Jordan Eberle’s highlight reel goal was truly spectacular. Man, the Edmonton Oilers are going to be a ton of fun to watch this season. The only bad thing about that Eberle goal will be hearing Pierre McGuire talk about it for the next half century. Although I could do without hearing Gord Miller mention how many more minutes Tyler Myers played than any other rookie last season (yes, that’s a recycled joke from my article on The Score yesterday, sue me).

It’s fantastic that hockey is back! Should be a great weekend too. Happy Thanksgiving to Canadian readers.

Stay classy, 2010-2011 NHL season.

What kind of hockey player are you?

August 27th, 2010

I’ve been talking about my rec hockey life a little bit lately. Today I’m going to do more of that so let’s have some fun with this. There are two rec hockey seasons: summer and winter. Winter runs from September to April and summer runs from May to September. As you’ve probably surmised, summer rec hockey is coming to an end.

That means I’m trying to figure out which teams I will play on for the winter season. In addition to that, I recently decided to add another team to my schedule. And so, the “interviews” begin. Every team leader asks a series of questions like “How good are you,” “What leagues have you played in” and of course, “What kind of player are you?”

I usually say something like “Uhh, I’m OK. I don’t suck.” I never know how to explain what kind of player I am. To help with this issue – and hopefully get some sort of resolution before all the winter teams cut me – I’ve created a list of player descriptions. I’ll start with the straight forward descriptions and move into the more specific examples after.

The Goal Scorer
Description: A strong forward who has the capability of scoring a goal every time he steps on the ice. A player who’s best single season goal total almost beats the Edmonton Oilers points total from last season.
NHL Comparables: Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Matt Moulson.

The Playmaker
Description: A player who has great on-ice vision and knows how to control the pace of the game. A player who does everything Craig Conroy was supposed to do in Calgary. A player who can actually pull off no-look passes without fans screaming “Dammit Spezza!!”
NHL Comparables: Nicklas Backstrom, Patrick Kane, no current Toronto Maple Leafs player.

The Difference Maker
Description: A player who would no doubt would be subjected to benchside interviews from Pierre McGuire… if, you know, he had slightly less credibility.
NHL Comparables: Mike “Monster” Richards, Dion “Monster” Phaneuf… those are the only two comparables, ever.

The Really Good, Young Player
Description: A young and strong player the entire team loves… except the guy who makes decisions. Largely because he’s a poor evaluator of talent and doesn’t know what an offer sheet is… yet!
NHL Comparables: James Neal, Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal.

Those are all pretty simple descriptions. But sometimes team leaders want even more information about the kind of player you are and what you bring to their team. Here are some more in depth descriptions I’ve been using (with little success, of course).

The Mike Milbury
Description: An extremely special player that you could build a team around and expect years of success with. A player that no other GM would even think about trading (even for a great return).
NHL Comparables: Roberto Luongo, Jason Spezza, dozens more.

The Don Cherry
Description: A player no one really acknowledges for anything and yet, some crazy old man feverishly campaigns for Team Canada to pick him for the Olympics.
NHL Comparables: I dunno, I never noticed a player like this.

The Dave Andreychuk
Description: By far the oldest guy on the ice who is someday bound to win something (for the love of God!!!!).
NHL Comparables: Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Alfredsson and uhh… Dave Andreychuk.

The Doug Maclean
Description: An overrated (read: not scouted well enough) forward picked from a very strong pool of players in which he was clearly the worst.
NHL Comparables: Gilbert “still a great pick” Brule.

The Don Waddell
Description: A player with so much talent and such a bright future who the Atlanta Thrashers would only screw up, trade or do nothing with 5/10 times.
NHL Comparables: Patrik Steffan, Alex Bourret, Braydon Coburn, Kari Lehtonen, Boris Valabik.

Hey readers: Have some fun with me – What kind of hockey player are you? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay classy, hockey players.

Other people and organizations DownGoesBrown can write for

July 28th, 2010

Hockey news in late July is pretty slim (read: Not Wellwood). And then yesterday a number of hockey stories broke all at once. The signings of Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alex Frolov (Kovalchuk-Lite versions 1 and 2), Max Talbot referring to Alex Ovechkin as a hygienic instrument and of course the big story, DownGoesBrown now writing for the National Post!

(Check out his debut article here).

As many in the online hockey community noted yesterday, this is crazy-awesome news. Kudos to the National Post for doing something different and bringing something fresh to their audience. Following this news, I had many contacts reach out and inform me that DGB’s writing skills could be hugely valuable within NHL circles. My mind began racing and I started calling my insiders to learn as much as I could.

So in light of his new writing gig, here’s a few other people and organizations DGB can write for:

  • New Jersey Devils: Apparently Lou Lamoriello and the rest of the New Jersey Devils are having some trouble writing a simple 17-year contract for a player I’m not overly familiar with. I’m pretty sure DGB could take a look through the existing contract and jam in a few subtle points to make it stick with the league.
  • Kyle Wellwood: We are a full month into free agency and Kyle Wellwood has been offered as many NHL contracts as he’s ordered salads this summer. Maybe DGB can work with Wellwood’s agent to write a pamphlet outlining some of Kyle’s core skills. Skills like “Ability to weave in-and-out of impatient McDonald’s lines on free Big Mac day” and “Literally wrestling every last piece of fried chicken out of the KFC stand just outside of Sunday’s Nascar event.”
  • Junior Hockey Stars: It would be nice of DGB to help prepare top junior stars for the NHL by giving solid advice and handing out reality checks to those who need it. For example, DGB could address how being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs isn’t the end of your career. It just means your NHL career won’t truly begin until you are traded in lopsided exchange that further empties Toronto’s depth chart.
  • NHL11: Later this summer EA Sports will release NHL11 to gamers and hockey fans across the world. If EA Sports are smart, they’ll enlist DGB to write a eulogy script for the game’s announcers each time users try to trade for Phil Kessel.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky: It took nearly a month for free agent Alexei Ponikarovsky to get a contract offer. Given Ponikarovsky’s disappointing results during a brief stint with Pittsburgh last year, the Los Angeles Kings might want to have DGB add a quick blurb in Poni’s contract about the NHL season mattering after February. On second thought, with DGB being a loyal Leafs fan, maybe he’s not the right guy for this assignment after all…
  • Edmonton Oilers Prospects: Everyone knows about the Edmonton Oilers history of winning, great fans and star players with no trade clauses. For young Edmonton prospects, they have no choice – their rights belong to the Oilers. DGB could help educate these inexperienced players that traditionally, you can demand a trade out of Edmonton once you feel like you’ve carried the team for a few years or weeks. DGB will be sure to note that you are obligated to cry like a baby at a press conference when this happens.
  • New York Rangers: Glen Sather confuses the hell out of everyone. It’s clear he could use a translator of sorts – someone who can eloquently explain his logic for trades and signings. Basically, Sather and the Rangers need DGB to explain how prized UFA signing Derek Boogaard is worth roughly 1/25th of Ilya Kovalchuk.
  • Ottawa Senators Goaltending Coach: Recently the Ottawa Senators hired Rick Wamsley as their new goaltending coach. It would be wise of the Senators to have DGB explain to fans that Wamsley probably won’t take part in Bryan Murray’s annual “Blame someone else February firings”… this season.

Stay classy, DownGoesBrown. The National Post just got a lot better!

The awkward part of No Trade Clauses

July 6th, 2010

It seems whenever a new contract is signed a no trade clause is the first thing reported, often before the term of the deal. Players want NTC’s to be in control of their career and to see teams commit to them (I guess being offered Millions of dollars isn’t enough…). GM’s offer NTC’s because they have to. If they don’t some other GM will.

But do players ever stop to wonder how awkward it would be if asked to waive their NTC’s? Regardless of how well a team or GM approaches the subject, it still says a players’ services are no longer valued as much as they once were. Let’s take a closer look at some players who’ve recently been asked to waive their NTC:

Sheldon Souray
The prospect of Steve Tambellini telling Sheldon Souray he’s going to be traded makes me laugh. In a round about way, the Oilers came to the conclusion that Souray wasn’t good enough to play on the worst team in the NHL half way through the 09-10 season when most of their roster was sick, injured, wedding ring shopping, hiding, etc… I have it on good authority that after telling Souray this, Tambellini quickly offered up a “… but no offense. It’s nothing personal.”

Simon Gagne

News of Simon Gagne being asked to waive his no trade clause hit the internet last week. It might come as a shock to some fans but probably not to Gagne. His name has been kicked around the rumor mill for some time now. But here’s the best part: Apparently the Flyers don’t have any particular team asking about Gagne. Assuming that’s factual, can you imagine that conversation between Paul Holmgren and Gagne? Philadelphia are essentially saying “You are the one player we’ve identified as getting rid of regardless of the return. Trading your contract gives us room to qualify Daniel Carcillo’s new contract.” Ouch.

Marc Savard
Around the last month’s NHL draft, word was going around that Bruins center Marc Savard was available. Apparently Savard has said he would waive his NTC to go to either Ottawa or Toronto. What do you think that conversation between Savard and Peter Chiarelli was like? Purely speculative on my part but probably something like this… “Marc, we didn’t draft Taylor Hall like we really wanted to. We ended up with Tyler Seguin and because of that, we can’t get rid of you soon enough. *Starts speaking slowly* Now, do you remember signing that seven year extension a few months ago?? No? Perfect. Just sign here… and here… and repeat ‘I, Marc Savard waive my NTC’… perfect… OK, we’re good to go. And oh – by the way, training camp is in Toronto this year… yeah… thanks!”

OMG!! It must be so awkward! I bet hockey players won’t stop asking for no trade clauses though. Let the awkwardness continue!

Stay classy, NHL players requesting no trade clauses.

NHL Draft Facebook Event – Would you go?

June 25th, 2010

When I logged into Facebook last night, I had a notification of an event I had yet to RSVP to. I’m still not entirely sure if I should confirm my attendance. Although it looks legit (the NHL is very hip on these social media sites!), I’m not sure I fit in with the scene.

Below is a screenshot of the 2010 NHL Draft Facebook event. Would you go?

(Click on the image to view a larger version).

Stayclassy.net's funny 2010 NHL Draft event on Facebook

Stay classy, NHL Entry Draft.

Saturday Chat Roulette Sessions

May 8th, 2010

Welcome to Stayclassy.net’s newest weekly feature, Saturday Chat Roulette Sessions. Each week, I’ll have a few new Chat screenshots from our favorite NHL-ers and people associated with this great game. Before going any further, the wonderfully witty BladesofFunny.com inspired this idea, so all the credit/blame should go to them.

This week, we have Chat Roulette escapades of the Edmonton Oilers and Jaromir Jagr, Tim Thomas and Matt Cooke.

Stayclassy.net - Chat Roulette escapades of the Edmonton Oilers and Jaromir Jagr.

Stayclassy.net - Chat Roulette escapades of Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins.

Stayclassy.net - Chat Roulette escapades of Matt Cooke and some elbow pads.

Stay classy, NHL Chat Rouletters.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 20

February 15th, 2010

Welcome to the final Classy Power Rankings prior to the Olympics! This week, the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators move up, while the Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild take a slide downwards.

Scroll down to see how your favourite teams measure up at the break. Please note this will be the last Power Rankings for a few weeks – the Classy Power Rankings will return on Monday March 8th, once the NHL season resumes.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 20

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
29.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 28)
28.  New York Islanders (last week: 27)
27.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 29)
26.  Florida Panthers (last week: 26)

The Carolina Hurricanes have been playing their best hockey of the season recently, going 8-2 in their last 10 games. All this while the Toronto Maple Leafs lost both of their games this week. In other news, the Florida Panthers management recently sent out a letter to all season ticket holders explaining large changes will be made to their roster soon. Hmmmm…

25.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 25)
24.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 23)
23.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 17)
22.  New York Rangers (last week: 22)
21.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 18)

The Tampa Bay Lightning keep bouncing in and out of playoff contention with inconsistent play. The New York Rangers have won two straight games and are just outside of the 8th spot in the East. The Montreal Canadiens, who are holding down the 8th position in the Conference, traded a second round draft pick for Dominic Moore (of the Panthers)… why do teams keep trading second round draft picks for Moore?

20.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 16)
19.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 21)
18.  Boston Bruins (last week: 24)
17.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 19)
16.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 14)

The Boston Bruins seem to have found their stride, having won their last four games, while the Anaheim Ducks continue to move closer to the playoffs. Ryan Getzlaf appears to be OK after having a sprained ankle scare earlier this week. At this point in the Western Conference, I’m starting to believe the Ducks are the only team outside of the playoffs who can make the post-season.

15.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 20)
14.  Dallas Stars (last week: 15)
13.  Calgary Flames (last week: 12)
12.  Nashville Predators (last week: 13)
11.  Buffalo Sabres (last week: 11)

This is where it gets tight. The Philadelphia Flyers have done a nice job moving up, thanks to four straight wins.  The Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames all remain in the top 15 going into the Olympic break.

10.  Pittsburgh Penguins (last week: 9)
9.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 10)
8.  Colorado Avalanche (last week: 8)
7.  Vancouver Canucks (last week: 7)
6.  New Jersey Devils (last week: 6)

The Ottawa Senators move up one spot this week thanks to big wins over the Capitals and Islanders. The New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils stay pat in their respective positions.

5.  Phoenix Coyotes (last week: 5)
4.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 3)
3.  Chicago Blackhawks (last week: 4)
2.  San Jose Sharks (last week: 2)
1.  Washington Capitals (last week: 1)

The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks swap positions this week, while the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals hold down the top two positions in the Classy Power Rankings. The Blackhawks, Sharks and Capitals are starting to pull away from the pack in the NHL points race. They are the class of the league.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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Rumour commentary

February 10th, 2010

With twice the number of deadlines as usual, trades and trade rumours have come early this year. In fact, we’ve already seen a few trades involving some pretty big names (Kovalchuk, Phaneuf, Giguere, Jokinen) with more expected over the next few days/weeks. Here’s a few thoughts from the trades we’ve seen so far, potential fallout and well documented rumours.

  • With the Dallas Stars acquiring Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen last night, one has to wonder what the future holds for Marty Turco. There are all sorts of rumours out there, but I’m assuming bringing in Lehtonen means they are done with Turco this season. Regardless of that, goaltending is a huge question mark for the Stars moving forward. Turco, Lehtonen and Alex Auld all are free agents at the end of the season (Turco and Auld are UFAs while Lehtonen is an RFA).
  • When the New Jersey Devils traded for superstar Ilya Kovalchuk, they traded a pretty handy defenseman in Johnny Oduya. Frankly, if the Devils are serious about going for the Cup this year, they’ll need a better defense than what they currently have. And something tells me they are serious about winning this year. It’ll be interesting to see if they move on any defensemen in the rumour mill (salary cap numbers aside, players like John Michael Liles and James Wisniewski come to mind).
  • New Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier says otherwise, but it will be interesting to see if Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price is traded before the deadline. The bigger question I have for Montreal is whether Gauthier has his own plans or intends to carry out Bob Gainey’s vision. Time will tell, I guess.
  • Per Andy Strickland (as of last week), the Carolina Hurricanes were asking for a 1st round draft pick (for this summer’s draft) as well as a good prospect in return for Ray Whitney. I wonder if A- they’ll end up getting what they’re asking for and B- which team is actually willing to give up that much for a 37 year old forward. It’s also been reported players like Matt Cullen and Tuomo Ruutu are of interest to a few teams. Could they be available?
  • What are the chances the Edmonton Oilers actually move Sheldon Souray and Ethan Moreau? To be blunt, they’ll be lucky to get anything back for these two players. Getting one or both contracts off their payroll would be a coup for the Oilers, regardless of what they get back (assuming they can dump salary and not trade one bad contract for another). To me, the only Oiler player who’s known to be available that could fetch any return is young forward Andrew Cogliano. There is a market for him (it’s believed the Senators, Rangers and others have shown interest in the past).
  • The New York Rangers were busy last week trading Alex Kotalik and Chris Higgins and replacing them with Brandon Prust and Olli Jokinen. One has to wonder if they are done making moves for the season. I look at Brandon Dubinsky as a player who will be traded between now and this time next season. Dubinsky has a two year contract (this season and next) with a cap hit of $1.85 Million, however, the deal was awarded to him in arbitration. It’s clear he expected a lot more from the Rangers and didn’t like the idea of going to arbitration. I’d imagine his relationship with Glen Sather isn’t great (just my speculation).
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of players who could be traded prior to March 3rd. Players like Lee Stempniak, Alex Ponikarovsky (who I still believe will end up in Pittsburgh), Garnett Exelby (not sure if there’s a viable market for a slow defenseman who’s cap hit is $1.3 Million) and potentially Tomas Kaberle. According to Brian Burke, Kaberle won’t be traded, but I’m still listing him as a possibility.
  • There are loads of rumours circulating the Washington Capitals and their desire to add a quality defenseman. No idea how accurate the rumours are, but with a number of good defenseman available, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Capitals add another defender. The Capitals have nearly $4 Million (in cap space) to work with, according to NHLNumbers.com.
  • Despite the tailspin the Boston Bruins are currently in (hopefully for their sake getting out of), will they make any shake ups to their roster? I’ve heard the Tim Thomas rumours and I don’t believe them at all. Regardless, scoring is an issue for this club. Maybe they miss Phil Kessel more than they thought they would? Maybe they could trade back their lottery pick to the Leafs for Kessel? Obviously that was a joke.
  • Will any other playoff bubble teams like Detroit, Dallas, Anaheim, St. Louis, Boston, New York Rangers and Atlanta make any moves before the deadline? I’m assuming they’ll be buyers in hopes of adding the final piece to secure a spot in the playoffs. That probably means there will be 3-5 sellers including the Leafs, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Oilers and maybe one other team that will soon bow out of the playoff mix.

So, what do you think will happen between now and March 3rd? I wonder what kind of implications will follow from the Olympics? I’m betting a few important players will return from the games with significant injuries. Anyways, what’s your take? Discuss!

Stay classy, NHL trades and trade rumours.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 19

February 8th, 2010

In a week that saw the Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes win streaks snapped, the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals continued theirs with come from behind victories over the weekend! This past week also saw a few trades made between the Flyers/Red Wings, Rangers/Flames and Hurricanes/Sharks. Read below to find out who was dealt.

This week, the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers suffer drops while the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings all move up in the Classy Rankings.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 19

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
29.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 28)
28.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 29)
27.  New York Islanders (last week: 26)
26.  Florida Panthers (last week: 17)

It was a busy week for this group of teams last week. The Toronto Maple Leafs ushered in a few new faces (with immediate impact) and the Carolina Hurricanes traded Nicolas Wallin to the San Jose Sharks. The Edmonton Oilers won two games and Sheldon Souray has reportedly given the team a list of trade destinations he’d lift his no trade clause for. There are some other reports that indicate the Oilers could be close to dealing captain Ethan Moreau.

25.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 27)
24.  Boston Bruins (last week: 25)
23.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 21)
22.  New York Rangers (last week: 24)
21.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 20)

Obviously, the Boston Bruins are the standout club in this group of under achieving teams. It’s looking more and more possible that Boston will have two top 10 draft picks this summer at the NHL Entry Draft. The Columbus Blue Jackets finally fired coach Ken Hitchcock – a decision that seemed like it had been coming since week two of the season. Oh, and Glen Sather traded for Olli Jokinen… another sound move by the GM Mark Messier will eventually replace.

20.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 18)
19.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 19)
18.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 22)
17.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 23)
16.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 16)

The Philadelphia Flyers added more forward depth trading for Red Wings forward Ville Leino (yeah – that’s exactly what they needed, more forwards!). One has to wonder if they have any trades up their sleeves prior to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. The Tampa Bay Lightning jump up this week with three straight wins and a terrific home record. Don’t look now, but Rich Tocchet has the Lightning sitting 7th in the Eastern Conference. In other Lightning news, they appear to have a new owner who’s almost guaranteed to “not suck as much” as the previous ownership group, OK Hockey.

15.  Dallas Stars (last week: 15)
14.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 13)
13.  Nashville Predators (last week: 12)
12.  Calgary Flames (last week: 14)
11.  Buffalo Sabres (last week: 5)

The Calgary Flames have started to turn things around a bit, following a big time roster shake up. As of writing this, they find themselves back in the playoffs. The Buffalo Sabres suffer a big drop this week after losing their last four games. Also, the Detroit Red Wings traded Ville Leino to Philadelphia on Saturday as a way to clear cap space for Johan Franzen.

10.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 10)
The Ottawa Senators won two of three games last week, keeping them in the Weekly top 10. The Sens managed to set a franchise best 11 game winning streak… and then blew it to the Leafs on Saturday night. When you consider all the strong rosters the Senators have had over the last decade, did you ever think this year’s club was the one who could win 11 straight games? Ottawa’s previous best was eight straight wins. And a day after the disastrous 5-0 loss to the Leafs, Jonathan Cheechoo won the shooting accuracy event at the Sens skills competition on Sunday hitting four targets in four shots. By the way, Cheechoo has five goals all year… with only 111 shots taken. OK, I’ll stop.

9.  Pittsburgh Penguins (last week: 9)
It was a rough weekend for the Pittsburgh Penguins after laying an egg in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, enduring a very rough journey to Washington for a second straight afternoon game and blowing a two goal lead to the Capitals. It’s not all bad news though. Defenseman Alex Goligoski is getting better and better for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby is only three goals shy of the NHL scoring lead.

8.  Colorado Avalanche (last week: 11)
The Colorado Avalanche seem to have a pretty steady supply of rookies who can step in on a whim and do some damage. The Avs continue to play great hockey and Matt Duchene is now the leading goals and points scorer among all NHL rookies. Fun fact: Duchene has scored more times than any Boston Bruin player. In other Avalanche news, apparently Marek Svatos is available with the Leafs and Senators having inquired about him recently.

7.  Vancouver Canucks (last week: 4)
So far, the Vancouver Canucks are 2-2 on their massive road trip. Given how long this road trip is (basically two full weeks prior to the Olympics and one week after the Olympics), if the Canucks can come out of it with a .500 record or better, it should be considered a success. So far, so good. Although it should be noted the Eastern Conference teams are significantly weaker than some of the Western Conference teams they’ll play the week following the Olympics (Hawks, Predators, Red Wings, Avalanche, and Coyotes to name a few).

6.  New Jersey Devils (last week: 8)
Although the New Jersey Devils only won one of three games this week, they acquired one of the top hockey players in the world, Ilya Kovalchuk (albeit for a maximum of five months, for now). As a result, that moves them up the rankings this week. Clearly Devils President Lou Lamoriello believes his club can win the Stanley Cup this year, although the jury is still undecided about Kovalchuk as a playoff performer (Kovalchuk has played just four playoff games in his career).

5.  Phoenix Coyotes (last week: 6)
The Phoenix Coyotes had their six game winning streak snapped on Saturday in a 4-0 loss to the Stars… the running joke being the Coyotes didn’t want to “make it Seven”. And in case you still aren’t sold on the idea of pro hockey in Phoenix, Fox Sports Arizona is reporting TV ratings are up 50 percent this year versus last. I’m sold… a 50 percent increase of a very low number is still, wait… nevermind.

4.  Chicago Blackhawks (last week: 3)
From all reports, it sounds like Antti Niemi has officially grabbed the number one goalie spot on the Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, he currently owns the top goals against average in the league. Although having said that, I’m not sure the Hawks allow the Niemi/Huet goalie tandem to go unchanged heading into the playoffs. Remember, it’s Cup or bust for this team this year.

3.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 7)
The Los Angeles Kings have strung 10 nine straight wins together and are sitting comfortably in 4th place in the Western Conference. Why some Kings fans may be disappointed the team didn’t trade for Ilya Kovalchuk this week, I believe it was the right decision not to. This Kings team doesn’t need to panic or change anything they are doing at the moment. Fun fact: Drew Doughty is second on the team in scoring with 42 points in 58 games. Unreal.

2.  San Jose Sharks (last week: 2)
Only in the “parity filled” NHL can a team go 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and fly under the radar. Especially with the Capitals and Kings going on huge winning streaks. The San Jose Sharks lost only four times in January! The Niclas Wallin trade is now complete, following a few days worth of speculation. Wallin’s contract was not extended beyond this season (it was speculated this was the reason the deal had been held up for a few days).

1.  Washington Capitals (last week: 1)
As if their 14 game winning streak wasn’t enough, I’m still blown away by what had to the game of the year yesterday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Ovechkin showed why he is the most exciting player in the world and the Capitals reminded the NHL to never count them out of a hockey game. Do you think the Capitals can make it to the Olympic break without losing? They have three more games remaining against the Canadiens, Senators, and Blues. Should they win each of these games, they’ll tie an NHL record for 17 straight wins with… the 92/93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 18

February 1st, 2010

Here we go, week 18 of the NHL Classy Power Rankings! This week, there’s a new number one team with huge jumps from the red hot Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and the high flying Los Angeles Kings.

The result of the Senators, Canucks, and Kings pushing into the top 10 means a few slides for the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators. The New York Islanders are among the week’s biggest drops with a current 5-game losing streak.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 18

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
29.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 29)
28.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 28)
27.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 27)
26.  New York Islanders (last week: 20)

Virtually the same bottom 5 as last week, with the addition of the New York Islanders, who slide 6 spots after dropping 5 straight games. Of these bottom teams, there’s a few things to note since last week. First of all, Sheldon Souray fractured his hand on Saturday night. The Oilers obviously won’t be able to trade Souray at the deadline. And of course, the big news from Sunday morning – The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired J.S. Giguere and Dion Phaneuf by swapping out 6 players.

25.  Boston Bruins (last week: 22)
24.  New York Rangers (last week: 19)
23.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 25)
22.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 17)
21.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 26)

Cue the Vincent Lecavalier rumours… it appears the Lightning are in the process of being sold to a new owner and whispers suggest the new owner may (I stress may) want to cut payroll. Instantly, Lecavalier to Montreal/Los Angeles stories are popping up. I highly doubt this. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins continue to slump with bad goaltending and little scoring. They are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. For the Rangers, they may (again, I stress may for multiple reasons) get a boost in scoring as a trade with the Calgary Flames has been reported but not yet completed (or may not happen at all).

20.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 24)
19.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 15)
18.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 16)
17.  Florida Panthers (last week: 23)
16.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 21)

The Anaheim Ducks signed Jonas Hiller to a 4-year extension on Saturday and the Florida Panthers got a big boost to their lineup as David Booth returned in Sunday’s win against the Islanders (Booth recorded an assist in his return). The Minnesota Wild have reportedly terminated their 1-year contract with Peter Sykora after he didn’t report to the AHL.

15.  Dallas Stars (last week: 18)
14.  Calgary Flames (last week: 14)
13.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 13)
12.  Nashville Predators (last week: 10)
11.  Colorado Avalanche (last week: 5)

The Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators slip out of the top 10 because of sub-par weeks and big winning streaks by other teams. It will be interesting to see how the Calgary Flames look with 4 new players in their line up. For the record, the Leafs/Flames don’t hook up again until next year… unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Fina… wait. Nevermind. I’ll stop there. They’ll next meet in the 2010-2011 season.

10.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 12)
The red hot Ottawa Senators have won 9 games in a row against some impressive teams. They’ve really set themselves apart from the 6th-13th seeded teams in the Eastern Conference and are 3 points back of Pittsburgh for 4th in the Conference. It’s not all great news for the Senators – Nick Foligno is out for 6-8 weeks with a broken leg after blocking a shot on Saturday.

9.  Pittsburgh Penguins (last week: 8)
It’s hard to knock the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the most part, they play like an experienced playoff team with a pretty deep roster. I’m interested to see what they do between now and the March 3rd trade deadline (some rumours suggest they are looking at Toronto’s Alexei Ponikarovsky).

8.  New Jersey Devils (last week: 4)
The New Jersey Devils have hit a bit of a rough patch lately – they are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and Martin Brodeur has been showing some signs of shakey goaltending we saw during the conclusion of the Hurricanes/Devils playoff series from last year.

7.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 11)
The Los Angeles Kings just wrapped up a road trip that saw them go 5-0. They’ve won 6 games in a row and are really starting to gel as a team. Rumours continue to name the Kings as one of the frontrunners for Ilya Kovalchuk, but as of now (Yeah – I sort of buy some of it), there doesn’t seem to be much to the stories.

6.  Phoenix Coyotes (last week: 9)
The Phoenix Coyotes had a nice week topped off by a win in Dallas on Sunday night. It was Dave Tippett’s first time in Dallas  since being fired by the Stars last year. The Coyotes have won 5 of their last 6 games and are starting to get contributions from a few of their young kids.

5.  Buffalo Sabres (last week: 6)
After going winless on their 4 game Western road trip, the Buffalo Sabres turned in 2 straight home victories against Eastern Conference teams. Good timing for the Sabres who now hold significantly reduce 5 point lead on the Northeast Division.

4.  Vancouver Canucks (last week: 7)
The Vancouver Canucks are one of the hottest 3 teams in the league! They’ve just set out on a NHL record 14 game road trip (making way for the Olympics) and are firing on all cylinders. The only question I have for the Canucks right now (beyond what, if any moves they may or may not make at the deadline) is if they are peaking too early in the season.

3.  Chicago Blackhawks (last week: 3)
With Dave Bolland scheduled to return to the line up this week (per Harken), the Chicago Blackhawks will be as close to 100% health as ever. It’s arguably the deepest roster in the NHL, so it will be interesting to see how the players and coach Joe Quennville handles it. Of course there is trade speculation, but we’ll have to see. The Hawks are 6-4 in their last 10 and currently hold a 15 point lead on the Central Division. The team is only 3 points back of the NHL lead in points.

2.  San Jose Sharks (last week: 1)
It’s pretty amazing a team (Capitals) can win 10 games in a row and still not lead the NHL in points. The reason for that is the 8-0-2 record of the San Jose Sharks over their last 10 games. The Sharks have quietly been winning nearly every game they play. In fact, they’ve only lost 10 games all year (in regulation). I’m pretty sure the Edmonton Oilers have dropped more games than that in 2010 alone…

1.  Washington Capitals (last week: 2)
The Washington Capitals are the hottest team in the league with 10 straight wins! The bad news is Mike Green was suspended for 3 games after a bad elbowing incident. In the same game Green suffered a knee injury, however, Capitals insider Tarik El-Bashir believes the injury isn’t too serious.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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