Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Lightning strikes
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Lightning strikes
Things are starting to take shape in both the East and the West where it looks like there could be a new sheriff in the Atlantic Division with the Lightning, Canadiens and Red Wings all pushing hard at the Boston Bruins. Some old dogs continue to rise, however, as the Penguins are proving with a four-game winning streak that’s vaulted them to the top of the Metro Division. One team to keep an eye on in the West: the Vancouver Canucks.
Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins have that team playing hard, the Sedins are back to point-per-game players and Radim Vrbata has been a perfect fit with them while Ryan Miller has won eight of his first nine starts. That’s all the Western Conference, and the Pacific Division, needed was another team capable of doing some damage.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Anaheim Ducks (10-3-0, rank last week: 1) - Accept no substitutes, the Ducks were the unmitigated kings of October this season in the NHL.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-3-1, rank last week: 12) – All they’ve done with Victor Hedman injured is vault to the top of the Eastern Conference. That’s pretty impressive for a Bolts team that looks legit.
3. Vancouver Canucks (8-3-0, rank last week: 16) – A four game-winning streak has pushed Vancouver closer to the top, and Ryan Miller is 8-1 in nine starts. Watch out for them.
4. Montreal Canadiens (8-3-1, rank last week: 2) – The Canadiens were feeling pretty good about themselves until getting a dose of the Western Conference from Edmonton and Vancouver.
5. Minnesota Wild (7-3-0, rank last week: 14) – Impressive comeback, character win against the Bruins in the third period one night after giving up five goals to the Rangers in the third period. Minny has got something going on.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (5-2-0, rank last week: 17) – Four wins in row have the Penguins once again vaulting to the top of the Metro Division. Mike Johnston doing a nice job there thus far.
7. San Jose Sharks (7-4-2, rank last week: 18) – One of the few teams that have been able to beat the Ducks this season, and they’ve already got one of their tough East Coast road trips in the books.
8. Nashville Predators (6-2-2, rank last week: 3) – The Predators have lost a couple of games now, but Pekka Rinne and Co. are still off to an impressive start this year.
9. Calgary Flames (7-4-2, rank last week: 11) – Dennis Wideman leads the Flames in goals, and Joe Colborne leads them in assists. It’s going to be interesting to see if they can keep this up.
10. Detroit Red Wings (6-2-3, rank last week: 9) – Here’s hoping the Red Wings can do something special this season as a show of support for the great Gordie Howe. Get well, Mr. Hockey.
11. St. Louis Blues (6-3-1, rank last week: 21) – The Blues have won four in row to shake off a horrendous start for them, and they're starting to score a little bit more.
12. New Jersey Devils (6-3-2, rank last week: 10) – Giving up eight to the Penguins was a little rough, but otherwise the Devils have been better than expected in the early going.
13. Los Angeles Kings (6-4-2, rank last week: 4) – The Kings have lost four in a row as injuries and suspensions have staggered them a bit. Tough to win without Anze Kopitar
14. Chicago Blackhawks (6-5-1, rank last week: 5) – The Blackhawks have lost two in a row, and seem to definitely be in early-season coast mode at this point.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-4-1, rank last week: 20) – The Leafs have won three in a row and seem to be on the same page after that weak loss to the Bruins.
Checking from Behind
16. Boston Bruins (7-6-0, rank last week: 22) – Give the Bruins credit: it hasn’t been pretty but they’ve gone 3-1 in the four games without Zdeno Chara thus far.
17. New York Islanders (6-5-0, rank last week: 6) – Johnny Boychuk won his Boston homecoming, and it’s been downhill ever since.
18. Dallas Stars (4-3-4, rank last week: 8) – The Stars have lost four in a row, and the Coyotes are the only team that’s allowed more goals in the Western Conference this season.
19. Ottawa Senators (5-3-2, rank last week: 10) – It’s been a nice start for the Senators, but the loss to the Bruins showed they still have some work to do.
20. New York Rangers (5-4-1, rank last week: 20) – The start has been okay, but losing defensemen by the day – like Ryan McDonagh – isn’t going to help things for the Blueshirts.
Back of the pack
21. Florida Panthers (4-2-3, rank last week: 23) – They’ve played the fewest games in the league thus far, and have only allowed two goals per game. Roberto Luongo makes them a tough out.
22. Winnipeg Jets (6-5-1, rank last week: 26) – The Jets are winning more than they’re losing, but it’s tough to be a believer in this team or a reinvigorated Ondrej Pavelec.
23. Washington Capitals (4-5-2, rank last week: 13) – The Capitals have lost four in a row, and Barry Trotz is threatening changes if the players can’t figure it out themselves. The honeymoon in Wash is O-V-A.
24. Edmonton Oilers (4-6-1, rank last week: 28) – The Oilers have proven they’d be competitive in the East, at least.
25. Philadelphia Flyers (4-5-2, rank last week: 24) – It’s boom or bust for a Flyers team with an atrocious defense.
26. Colorado Avalanche (3-5-3, rank last week: 27) – At least Nathan MacKinnon is getting untracked, but the Avs are taking themselves out of the game with their bad start.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-7-0, rank last week: 8) – The Black Knight of the NHL has finally taken on more than a flesh wound. Losing Nathan Horton, Brandon Dubinsky and Sergei Bobrovsky along with a host of others has finally taken its toll.
28. Arizona Coyotes (4-6-1, rank last week: 25) – It’s been a bad start for a defensive nightmare with the Coyotes, but on the bright side they’re now pushing for an invite into the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (2-6-2, rank last week: 30) – The Canes were the last NHL team to win a game, but now they’ve won two games in a row. Guys like Jiri Tlusty are stepping up.
30. Buffalo Sabres (3-9-1, rank last week: 29) – We might be talking historically bad offense here with a team that’s scored 16 goals in 13 games thus far.