Friday, December 19, 2014

NHL power rankings: The Philadelphia Flyers log two more big wins to move up two spots to No. 16

The Philadelphia Flyers move up two spots after a 7-0 shutout win against the New York Islanders on Monday and a 6-5 win against their most heated rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

NHL power rankings: The Philadelphia Flyers log two more big wins to move up two spots to No. 16

Claude Giroux and the Flyers move two spots in the rankings while they log a two-game win streak and try to redeem their season. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Claude Giroux and the Flyers move two spots in the rankings while they log a two-game win streak and try to redeem their season. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

This week, the Chicago Blackhawks remain dominant while the Detroit Red Wings drop four in a row. Injuries continued to take their toll on teams, especially for the Ottawa Senators, who lost defenseman Erik Karlsson for the rest of the season due to a scary Matt Cooke-skate-inflicted tear of his Achilles.

Flu season has been in full effect, and hockey players haven’t been immune. It cost Flyers’ Sean Couturier two games earlier this season, and Montreal’s Carey Price missed Saturday’s game against the Flyers. The flu hit Boston especially hard. Seven Bruins missed Tuesday’s practice with flu-like symptoms.

1. Chicago Blackhawks (13-0-3) Last week: 1
The Blackhawks have the best record in the NHL and just matched a league record after tallying points in 16 consecutive games. It’s no wonder that the Chicago keeps the top spot for a third week in a row.

2. Anaheim Ducks (12-2-1) Last week: 5
The Ducks logged three more wins last week to increase their streak to five. With Teemu Selanne leading in assists (11) and Ryan Getzlaf leading in goals (five), they might just have the best chance to knock out the Blackhawks come playoff time.

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3. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-6-0) Last week: 4
There’s a reason why the Penguins are leading the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division, and his name is James Neal. With 11 goals already on the young season, Neal is a sniper that goalies must watch out for this season.

4. Montreal Canadiens (11-4-1) Last week: 11
The Canadiens jump seven spots thanks to four straight wins this week. They now own a five game winning streak. Even without super star Carey Price in net, they dismantled the Flyers on Saturday in a 4-1 win.

5. New Jersey Devils (9-3-4) Last week: 3
Even good teams lose once in a while. That’s likely all that happened to the Devils last week as they dropped two of their last three, one in a shootout. They remain in the top five as veteran Marty Brodeur keeps playing like the goalie all young net-minders want to emulate.

6. Boston Bruins (9-2-2) Last week: 2
The Bruins split the only two games they played last week. They only drop in the rankings due to having played just 13 games so far. They are still a top tier team, but may run into some trouble this week while their locker room recovers from the flu.

7. Ottawa Senators (9-6-2) Last week: 7
The Senators managed to win two out of three this week, but suffered a major blow when vital defenseman Erik Karlsson tore his Achille’s tendon in a cut by Penguins’ Matt Cooke’s skate blade. Karlsson is expected to miss the rest of the season.

8. San Jose Sharks (8-4-3) Last week: 6
The Sharks have being dropping since opening weekend, and will look to Patrick Marleau to help them rise above. He leads the Sharks with ten goals.

9. Vancouver Canucks (8-3-4) Last week: 8
The Canucks lost all three of their games last week, but two of the losses were during overtime shootouts, so they still managed to add points to their overall record. The Sedin twins continue to be the point leaders the Canucks need to remain a top team this season.

10. Nashville Predators (8-4-2) Last week: 15
Goalie Pekka Rinne logged another shutout win on Thursday against the Coyotes 3-0, to try to pull the Predators out of a rut. Their next three games weren’t pretty, as they lost two and eked out a 4-3 overtime win against the Red Wings on Tuesday.

11. St. Louis Blues (9-6-2) Last week: 12
The Blues just miss the top 10 this week after points in four of their last five games, including three wins. St. Louis relied on AHL call-up Jake Allen in net, and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, an early Calder Trophy favorite.

12. Carolina Hurricanes (8-5-1) Last week: 9
The Canes split the only played two games last week. They also have been hit with injuries across the board. Joni Pitkanen and Jeff Skinner’s lower body injuries will have the biggest impact.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-7-0) Last week: 19
The Leafs continue to do well this season, but their last four was a 2-2 split. Fans boast that Toronto got the better end of the trade with the Flyers as James Van Riemsdyk impresses Leafs’ fans with his nine goals. Will this be the first time in years they see a playoff run?

14. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-6-1) Last week: 16
Steve Stamkos told the media last week that the Lightning’s previous losses were “unacceptable.” It must have made an impact. The team won two of their last three, and it should come as no surprise that Stamkos was a key goal scorer in both games.

15. New York Rangers (8-6-1) Last week: 10
The Rangers dropped another two games and continue to struggle this season. New York will rely on Marian Gaborik to continue logging goals while point leader Rick Nash is hurt.

16.Philadelphia Flyers (8-9-1) Last week: 18
Claude Giroux finally took the “C” on his chest seriously by reaming his team out after an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The result was a 7-0 lashing of the New York Islanders which gave Ilya Bryzgalov his first shutout win of the season, followed by a close and exciting win 6-5 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, where Jakub Voracek scored his first career hat trick. 

17. Dallas Stars (8-7-1) Last week: 14
The Stars faced the struggling Calgary Flames twice this week and lost both, (7-4 and 4-3). If Dallas is to end their slide, Jaromir Jagr needs to use his star power and veteran status to show that every opponent must be taken seriously.

18. Detroit Red Wings (7-6-3) Last week: 13
The Red Wings are vying for the Stars’ current playoff spot, but their four game losing streak won’t help. For a franchise that is historically a top 10 team, they need to get their act together and fast. 

19. Phoenix Coyotes (8-6-2) Last week: 20
The ‘Yotes continue to rise after notching two wins and a loss this week. Martin Hanzal tries to inspire interest from the Phoenix fan base with his potent scoring ability.

20. Minnesota Wild (7-6-2) Last week: 17
The Wild fell in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche last Thursday, 4-3. They rebounded on Sunday with a 3-2 win over the reeling Detroit Red Wings.

21. Edmonton Oilers (6-6-3) Last week: 25
The Oilers might actually have a shot this year. They’re currently the 10th seed in the West and if Taylor Hall continues to keep his team relevant, they just might find themselves in the quarter-finals.

22. Los Angeles Kings (7-6-2) Last week: 24
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are keeping L.A. in contention. The Kings won three of their last four, but they’ll have to pull out all the stops again this season if they hope to defend the Cup.

23. Colorado Avalanche (7-7-1) Last week: 23
The Avalanche really want Gabriel Landeskog back on the ice, but as they wait for their concussed captain’s return, Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau try to keep them in the mix with victories in two of their last three games.

24. Winnipeg Jets (6-8-1) Last week: 22
The Jets lost another two games this week as they wrestle with the ghosts of their Atlanta Thrasher past. They may have a bigger fan base now, but they still struggle to remain a good hockey team.

25. New York Islanders (6-9-1) Last week: 21
The Islanders embarrassed themselves in their own arena on Monday when the Flyers wiped the ice clean in a 7-0 shutout loss. You almost have to feel bad for Matt Moulson and John Tavares, whose unrecognized talents lay mired in a poor Isles record.

26. Buffalo Sabres (6-10-1) Last week:23
Things have gotten so bad for Buffalo that Lindy Ruff was fired after 16 years on the Sabres’ bench. Not even Thomas Vanek’s league-leading points (25) and goals (12) could save his coach’s job.

27. Calgary Flames (5-7-3Last week: 30
The Flames beat Dallas twice this week. Unfortunately for Calgary, there are other teams on their schedule. Their two wins boost them out of the power rankings cellar, but losses to St. Louis, Phoenix and Los Angeles keep them in the bottom five.

28. Washington Capitals (5-9-11) Last week: 29
Do the Capitals realize that this is a shortened season? Because they are playing with almost no urgency. Despite three straight wins against Florida teams, they managed just one goal on Sunday as the New York Rangers brought Washington back down to earth.

29. Florida Panthers (4-7-4) Last week: 27
The Panthers lost three more games this week. Three losses in their current five-game skid came in overtime. So hey, at least they came away with some points.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-10-2) Last week: 28
That glimmer of hope against the against San Jose was just a mirage. Columbus dropped the first three games of their six game road trip, and with a date in Chicago looming, things are likely to get worse before they get better.

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