Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

NHL Power Rankings: Winning returns to the northeast

While the league's best held steady, there was major movement in the bottom two-thirds that could loom large in the coming weeks.

NHL Power Rankings: Winning returns to the northeast

The Flyers´ Braydon Coburn and Wayne Simmonds. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Flyers' Braydon Coburn and Wayne Simmonds. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Well, well, well. The Devils, Flyers and Rangers finally realized there's no lockout this season and combined to win six games this week.

The top ten remains fairly constant, while the basement got some redecorating done.

Enjoy.

1. San Jose Sharks (10-1-1) (Last week: 1)

Well, they had to lose at some point, right? The craziest thing is, had it not been for had it not been for David Krejci squeaking a goal past Antti Niemi with 0.8 seconds left, the Sharks would still be unbeaten in regulation. Still, there's no shame in a 10-1-1 record, especially with a goal differential of +28.

2. Colorado Avalanche (10-1-0) (Last week: 2)

Just how much of a difference do Patrick Roy and Nathan MacKinnon make in Colorado? Put it this way: The Avs, who finished with the worst record in the Western Conference last season, didn't hit double-digit wins last year until their 24th game. This year? 12.

3. Anaheim Ducks (10-3-0) (Last week: 6)

All-Stars will be All-Stars. Veterans Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are both averaging a point per game as the Ducks are amidst a three-game winnning streak. Frederik Andersen has been an unbelievable safety net in goal for the Ducks, going 3-0 with a 1.50 GAA.

4. St. Louis Blues (7-1-2) (Last week: 5)

If you're not familiar with Alexander Steen's work, you're not alone. But the 29 year-old Canadian is turning heads with his play early on, tallying a league-leading 11 goals (including seven in his past five games). Not bad for a guy that scored eight total in last year’s lockout-shortened season.

5. Boston Bruins (7-3-0) (Last week: 9)

Boston was about two minutes away from being a top three team on the list. The B's were as hot as any team in the league could be, lighting up the Lightning and Sabres on the road before handing the Sharks their first regulation loss of the season at TD Garden. Then came a matchup with the Devils that the Bruins were leading 3-2 with under two minutes remaining. Not only did they give up the lead, they lost in regulation! They’ll be kicking themselves for that loss for a while.

6. Chicago Blackhawks (8-2-3) (Last week: 3)

After seven straight games of allowing three goals or fewer, the Hawks have given up at least five in three of their past four contests. The good news? they've also scored at least five in three of their last four.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (9-4-0) (Last week: 7)

That Phil Kessel extension keeps looking better and better. He's tied for second in the league in points with 18, sandwiched between two somewhat decent players, Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos. David Clarkson is playing again, but he has yet to record a point in his first three games.

8. Phoenix Coyotes (8-3-2) (Last week: 8)

The Coyotes were playing some of the best hockey in the NHL before self-destructing in Los Angeles last week. But as good teams do, Phoenix got their revenge when they met on Tuesday, beating the Kings 3-1.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-4-0) (Last week: 4)

A three-game losing streak for Crosby and crew? Yep, it happened. The Pens finally stopped the bleeding with a win over Carolina on Monday and Sid the Kid still leads the league in points, so it’s not all bad.

10. Montreal Canadiens (8-5-0) (Last week: 11) The

The Canadiens have eight wins on the year, and it wasn't until Tuesday that one of them was decided by one goal. The Habs have been blowing out their opponents when they win and hanging tough in games they lose. That'll go a long way for them.

11. Vancouver Canucks (9-4-1) (Last week: 13)

So what if three of the four wins during Vancouver's winning streak have come in overtime or by shootout? The Canucks are tied for third-most points in the league with 19, which is more than any team in the Eastern Conference.

12. Los Angeles Kings (8-5-0) (Last week: 14)

Maybe Jonathan Quick still has it after all. After a brutal start, Quick's goals-against average has dropped all the way to 2.53 and his record has skyrocketed to 7-4-0. They're getting scoring contributions from nearly everyone, but they seriously lack a go-to threat.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-4-0) (Last week: 12)

The Bolts had won five of their past six until the pesky Devils knocked them off their high horse in New Jersey. Their eight wnis in October were a franchise record. All 5' 8" of Martin St. Louis continues to be the team's jolt of energy even at 38 years old.

14. Minnesota Wild (6-4-3) (Last week:18)

The Wild are finally coming around. They've won three of their past four, largely in part to Ryan Suter. Though he's yet to score a goal, he's contributed seven assists and leads the league in ice time.

15. Nashville Predators (6-5-1) (Last week: 15)

It's a sad week here at Philly.com as Seth Jones gave us nothing to drool over in the past week. Still, the Predators are continuing to surprise people with their play and are very much alive for a playoff spot.

16. New York Islanders (4-5-3) (Last week: 20)

It's tough to say that the Islanders are worse due to the Thomas Vanek deal, but they might be. Matt Moulson and John Tavares had unmatched chemistry on the first line, plus losing this year's first rounder and next year's second rounder for what could be a rental player is a steep price. Still, Vanek is one of the game's elite and should thrive when playing in games with actual meaning.

17. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-6-0) (Last week: 22)

Amazingly, of the eight teams in the Metropolitan Division, only the Jackets and the Pens have .500 records or better over their last ten games. They really shouldn't be considered a threat to make the playoffs, but I'd be surprised if they didn't get there with how the rest of the division is playing.

18. Calgary Flames (5-5-2) (Last week: 17)

Dear Flames: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? The Sabres just traded Vanek, and they're likely going to sell Ryan Miller as well. Calgary's two goalies rank 31st and 32nd respectively in save percentage, which is about as miserable as it gets. This is a team that could make the playoffs if they had more than a folding chair in net.

19. Dallas Stars (5-6-1) (Last week: 26)

They may not win all the time, but they're fun to watch on offense. The duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin has been electric as both are averaging a point per game through the first dozen. Kari Lehtonen is third in the league in save percentage and GAA.

20. Detroit Red Wings (6-4-2) (Last week: 10)

It's been nearly two weeks since the Red Wings last won a game. The offense has been practically non-existent, combining for just five goals during their current four-game losing streak. With Datsyuk and Zetterberg, the offense will come back, but they need it soon.

21. New Jersey Devils (3-5-4) (Last week: 27)

The Devils have earned a point in three straight games, two of which were wins. Their two goals in 100 seconds to win in Boston has the potential to be a major turning point in their season. Holding Tampa Bay to just one goal is also one heck of a feat.

22. Washington Capitals (5-7-0) (Last week: 19)

Alex Ovechkin is an unbelievable scorer, but unlike Crosby, he just doesn't make other players around him better. He doesn't have much help to begin with, though, as the Capitals are pretty starved for scorers.

23. Winnipeg Jets (5-7-2) (Last week: 21)

The Jets just aren't a scary team. Nothing about their game is overwhelming or intimidating. Yet somehow, they are hovering around .500 and give themselves a chance in nearly every game.

24. Carolina Hurricanes (4-5-3) (Last week: 16)

This is where the job gets hard. The Hurricanes are second in the Metropolitan Division which should warrant some love, but they've lost three straight! Their goal differential is -10 and frankly, they would be sixth or seventh in either of the Western divisions.

25. New York Rangers (4-7-0) (Last week: 30)

They survived playing their first nine on the road, and now it's time for the Rangers to show us something. They have four straight home games coming up, including hockey's version of a 'gimme' against the Sabres.

26. Philadelphia Flyers (3-8-0)

Anyone know if that Claude Giroux guy still plays for them? The captain has a big fat goose egg in the goal column and a -7 rating. LeCavalier is picking up the slack for now, but the Flyers need Giroux to get going if they plan on making a jump in the standings.

27. Ottawa Senators (4-6-2) (Last week: 24)

Losers of three straight and on the verge of being caught by the Panthers, it's not a great time to be a hockey fan in Ottawa. Put a lot of that blame on Craig Anderson, as the offense has been solid. Tough to complain when there's four guys already with double digit points.

28. Florida Panthers (3-7-2) (Last week: 25)

The Panthers aren't a great hockey team, but no one expected them to be. If they get to 75 points this season, their front office has a lot to be proud of. It's hard to win in a market that simply doesn't care about the sport.

29. Buffalo Sabres (2-11-1) (Last week: 29)

Not putting them in 30th is simply a reward for a great trade. Moulson, a first and a second for Vanek - who wasn't going to re-sign with the team next year anyway - is pure genius, especially considering Moulson found the back of the net twice in his first game.

30. Edmonton Oilers (3-9-2) (Last week: 23)

I'm not mad Edmonton, I'm just disappointed. After making me think things were clicking last week, the Oilers went ahead and dropped four straight (one in shootout), proving that they still have a long way to go in overcoming their growing pains.

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