Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Penguins swim to top
HAGGERTY'S POWER RANKINGS: DEC. 22, 2014
The NHL Holiday roster freeze is in effect through Dec. 27, so what you see is what you get with the NHL Power Rankings. Playoff caliber teams like the Blackhawks and Rangers are making big runs headed into the Christmas break, and a potential pretender like the Calgary Flames is dropping like a stone with eight losses in a row headed into the holidays.
Win, lose or draw, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night of hockey.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (22-6-4, rank last week: 3) - Even the mumps apparently can’t take them down. Their handling of the Sidney Crosby/mumps situation and its aftermath is about all they’re doing wrong right now.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (23-9-2, rank last week: 2) – The Blackhawks show just how good they are by deciding to turn it on when they want to, and they’ve been in sprint mode up to the Christmas break. They’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
3. Anaheim Ducks (22-8-5, rank last week: 1) – The Ducks have lost two of their last three on the road in Eastern Canada after ripping off eight wins in a row.
4. New York Islanders (23-10-0, rank last week: 9) – What an amazing addition Brock Nelson has been: 14 goals and 27 points and a player consistently willing to pay the price in front.
5. Nashville Predators (21-8-2, rank last week: 6) – It gets slightly overlooked in Nashville, but Pekka Rinne is having a monster year for a sting, well-rounded Predators team.
6. St. Louis Blues (21-9-3, rank last week: 7) – We’ll cut the Blues some slack here even though all signs point toward them being the monkey from Outbreak in terms of the mumps situation.
7. Montreal Canadiens (21-11-2, rank last week: 8) – The Habs are still atop the Atlantic Division, but Sergei Gonchar has just one power play point. So much for him being the answer to the Habs’ special teams' woes.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning (20-11-4, rank last week: 5) – The Bolts are scuffling along with a 4-5-2 month of December, and nobody is pulling away with the Atlantic Division right now.
9. New York Rangers (17-10-4, rank last week: 20) – A six game winning streak signals that the Stanley Cup Final appearance hangover is over, and the Blueshirts are back to business.
10. Vancouver Canucks (19-11-2, rank last week: 10) – They snapped a five game losing streak with a badly needed OT win over Calgary last weekend, and continue to stay afloat in the West.
11. Detroit Red Wings (17-8-9, rank last week: 4) – The Wings have dropped five in a row while going 0-2-3 in that span after spending a brief moment in first place in the Atlantic Division.
12. Toronto Maple Leafs (19-12-3, rank last week: 11) – I can’t get that weird image of Phil Kessel in a Christmas elf sweater out of my head. Somebody make it stop.
13. San Jose Sharks (19-11-4, rank last week: 17) – The Sharks have won five in a row and nine of their last 10 games, and seem to have finally recovered from their wicked long road swing.
14. Winnipeg Jets (17-10-7, rank last week: 13) –Winnipeg is just hanging right in there on the playoff bubble, and looks like they belong. That was a big home win for them Friday night vs. the Bruins.
15. Los Angeles Kings (17-11-5, rank last week: 15) – The Kings have scored 10 goals in consecutive wins over the Blues and Coyotes, and appear to be getting on a roll.
16. Washington Capitals (16-10-6, rank last week: 16) – The Caps are hanging onto that last playoff spot in the East, so this ranking seems about exactly right for them.
17. Minnesota Wild (16-12-3, rank last week: 14) – The Wild have dropped three in a row and have a tough stretch of opponents right before the holidays.
18. Florida Panthers (14-9-8, rank last week: 19) – Bonus points for appearing in a ridiculous 20-round shootout with the Capitals last week.
CHECKING FROM BEHIND
19. Boston Bruins (11-8-7, rank last week: 18) – A Sunday night overtime win vs. the Sabres kept this from being a truly ugly ranking. They are still in Struggletown, USA.
20. Calgary Flames (17-15-3, rank last week: 12) – Speaking of Struggletown, the Flames have lost eight games in a row and are dropping like a stone in the Western Conference.
21. Dallas Stars (14-13-5, rank last week: 23) – The Stars have won four in a row. They still play absolutely no defense and have a player in Tyler Seguin that’s on pace to score 50 goals as well.
22. Ottawa Senators (14-13-6, rank last week: 21) – Will things be any different for the mediocre Sens with a new coach, and the same cast of characters? That’s really hard to say.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (14-15-3, rank last week: 26) – You’ve got to give it to Columbus. They are again showing character winning eight of their last 10 games while bodies continue to drop from their roster.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-6, rank last week: 24) – The Flyers are winning some games, and have an okay 8-5-3 record on home ice. But they just look too flawed to really make a run.
25. Colorado Avalanche (12-13-8, rank last week: 25) –It seems like the Avalanche have been stuck here all season. What a disappointment.
26. New Jersey Devils (12-17-6, rank last week: 22) – I hear that Ed Belfour and Lanny McDonald are still available if the Devils are looking for a few more players for the stretch drive.
27. Arizona Coyotes (11-17-4, rank last week: 25) – It should be an interesting situation in the desert once they get the full okay to start trading off pieces to top bidders.
28. Buffalo Sabres (13-18-3, rank last week: 28) – The Sabres have now lost three in a row, and are once again sinking to the bottom of the NHL. I’ll give them this: they are much more competitive than they were earlier in the year.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (9-20-4, rank last week: 29) –It sounds like Jordan Staal will be coming back soon. So they’ve got that going for them…which is nice.
30. Edmonton Oilers (7-20-7, rank last week: 30) – They lost their seventh game in a row by blowing a three-goal lead to the Dallas Stars. That’s the Oiliest Oiler moment to ever Oil.