There is no change atop the NHL Power Rankings according to TSN’s Scott Cullen who presents the weekly order. The Chicago Blackhawks continue to win and for good reason sit clearly at number one, well ahead of everyone else. No losses in regulation through twenty-two games is impressive and it’ll be interesting to see if they can continue the streak this week. Every game they win will only add more pressure as it now becomes the hot topic amongst the media and I’m willing to bet the Hawks players are tired of talking about it.
Firmly entrenched in the second spot are the Boston Bruins and again, it’s no surprise to see them there. They have just three regulation losses and despite sitting in fourth in the Eastern Conference, they have three games in hand on the Montreal Canadiens and are only two points back. The big bad Bruins don’t miss Tim Thomas. Not when they’re getting solid goaltending from Tukka Rask. Throw in the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin and the B’s are a well balanced attack that can beat you up on the scoreboard and in the alleys.
Just behind the Bruins in third place are the Anaheim Ducks, who like Boston have just three regulation losses. Nicely nestled in second place in the Western Conference, the Ducks are a surprise to some in the hockey world given they weren’t supposed to compete for a playoff spot this year let alone a top three seed. With the trade deadline just under one month away, the Ducks will be the center of discussion when Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry‘s names surface on whether or not the club will trade one of their two superstars.
The Montreal Canadiens sit in fourth place on the rankings thanks to a 14-4-4 record and a first place position in the Eastern Conference. The club is getting good goaltending from Carey Price and balanced scoring from their top two lines, proving that this complete turnaround from last season that saw them wind up in last place in the East is no fluke.
The Pittsburgh Penguins round out the top five with a record of 15-8 and good enough for second in the conference. Don’t wait for the Pens to fall out of the top five anytime soon, not with Evgeni Malkin returning from a concussion. The Pens are the real deal and they could even climb higher than number five in the coming weeks.
Rounding out the bottom five in order from 26 to 30 are the Washington Capitals, Colorado Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. Not much is likely to change with the bottom three teams and Buffalo could be in the running for one of the biggest surprises this season, and not a good surprise.
The Edmonton Oilers narrowly missed out on the bottom five and if they don’t pick up their play the Capitals could pass them in the rankings. Anytime a team fails to register a shot on goal like the Oilers did the other night in Minnesota is cause for concern. The addition of Mike Brown will add some grit but the top six forwards need to start playing like it in order for the Oilers to have a chance at the playoffs and climb the power rankings.
Some surprises this week would be the Carolina Hurricanes who jumped from 15 to 6. The Canes are atop in the Southeast division and have been riding the hot play of Cam Ward…..until now. As we posted yesterday, Ward will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a knee injury and if backup Dan Ellis can’t shoulder the load, look for the Canes to deal for a veteran, proven goaltender. I’d look for the Canes to drop slightly in the rankings next week.
Biggest mover: Dallas Stars – thanks to Kari Lehtonen returning in goal, the Stars went 3-1-1 last week and vaulted up the rankings from 24 to 9, a difference of +15. Jaromir Jagr continues to amaze at the ripe old age of 40 and a balanced attack is helping the Stars win tight games.
Biggest fall: St. Louis Blues – considered the favorite by many to win the Central division this season, the Blues have been marred with injury of late and it’s starting to show. Rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen and Andy McDonald are all out and are one reason the club has four of their last six games and sit in seventh in the West. They’ve dropped 11 spots this week and need to get healthy and start winning games to maintain their playoff position. They can likely forget about winning the division, the Blackhawks have a solid grip on that, so for the Blues, it’s about playing consistent hockey and picking up two points on a nightly basis.