Haggerty’s NHL Power Rankings: Settling in at the top
Haggerty’s NHL Power Rankings: Settling in at the top
After some early surprises in the season, it appears that the NHL power structure is settling into its usual formation. There’s Montreal, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, St. Louis and Los Angeles in the top positions among the power rankings with only the upstart Edmonton Oilers pushing their way in with the league’s old guard.
Meanwhile, teams that got off to hot starts, Vancouver, Minnesota, Buffalo and Colorado, are starting to sink back into their positions in prior seasons, and that’s not necessarily a good thing for their respective fan bases. Clearly, the Habs are still the eye-opener to everybody at the top of the rankings with just one regulation loss in their first 12 games, but watch out for the Blackhawks and the Kings, who are starting to gather momentum after people began to speculate that the window was closing on them.
With Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, only they will decide when the Cup/playoff window is truly closed for them.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Montreal Canadiens (11-1-1, previous ranking: 1)
Sure, the Canadiens finally lost in regulation to the tune of a 10-0 score to the Columbus Blue Jackets last week, but they’re still 8-0-0 at home and high, high atop the power rankings.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (10-3-1, previous ranking: 3)
Seven wins in a row after the 0-2-0 start for the Blackhawks have Chicago back to where its need to be, and shrugging off those thoughts that the window might be closing. It doesn’t feel like the window will ever be truly shut as long as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are still around, and in the prime of their careers.
3. New York Rangers (10-4-0, previous ranking: 7)
The 4.1 goals per game tell the story of a Rangers team that’s flat-out dominated offensively, and has seen big forwards Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash perform at an elite level. They did lose to the Canucks the other night, though, so that’s not very impressive.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-2-2, previous ranking: 2)
I wonder how long it’s going to take Sidney Crosby to take over first place in the NHL’s scoring race after missing the first six games of the season with a concussion?
5. Edmonton Oilers (9-4-1, previous ranking: 4)
Kris Russell leading the Oilers with a plus-6 rating through the season’s first month, so that’s been a decent signing for Edmonton given the low price and short term. Otherwise, it’s just more of the same Connor McDavid domination.
6. Washington Capitals (8-3-1, previous ranking: 5)
The Capitals are off to a solid start, but they certainly should be better than 14th in the league in overall offense, right? Perhaps that’s partially about paying attention to defense, but there’s no reason this team should be 24th in the league on the power play with Alex Ovechkin.
7. St. Louis Blues (7-4-3, previous rank: 12)
Four goals in 14 games for David Perron in his Blues reboot experience, but also a minus-6 rating at the same time. Must seem like old times for him, right?
8. Los Angeles Kings (7-6-0, previous ranking: 27)
Peter Budaj has all seven wins for the LA Kings since all of their goaltenders got hurt all at once, and Jeff Carter has caught fire offensively as the Kings have won three in a row. I’m guessing the reports of LA’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-1, previous ranking: 8)
The Lightning need to hang their head in shame after dropping the ball in the Battle of Florida with the Panthers earlier this week. I think it’s about time we saw Lightning/Panthers in the playoffs, don’t you?
10. Ottawa Senators (8-5-0, previous ranking: 10)
If Erik Karlsson is such a great, game-changing defenseman, how are the Senators 25th in overall offense and 25th on the power play as well? Things that make you go “Hmmm.”
11. Anaheim Ducks (6-5-3, previous ranking: 15)
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are both minus players right now for the Ducks, and they’ve got to be better than that. It seems like Anaheim is starting to turn things around, but they’ve still got a way to go.
12. Minnesota Wild (6-4-1, previous ranking: 6)
Losses to the Sabres and Avalanche have tarnished the great start just a little bit, but the Wild got a chance to really recharge the batteries and reset themselves this week.
13. San Jose Sharks (7-6-0, previous ranking: 9)
Solid shutout win for the Sharks over Washington amid a long road trip for the Sharks and they’re just looking to stay within shouting distance on their long odyssey.
14. New Jersey Devils (6-3-3, previous ranking: 13)
The Devils are playing tight defensively while getting decent offensive starts from Travis Zajac and Taylor Hall, and are mostly riding goalie Cory Schneider to a good start. That’s not a bad formula for sustained success.
15. Detroit Red Wings (7-6-1, previous ranking: 11)
A six-game win streak followed by a five-game losing streak reveal the young, inexperienced Red Wings are probably going to swing wildly back and forth all season.
16. Boston Bruins (7-6-0, previous ranking: 14)
It’s tough to really pin down the Bruins and figure out what exactly they are this season, but they look to once again be right on the bubble of the playoffs as they’ve been in the past couple of seasons. The effort was pretty good against the Canadiens on the second night of back-to-back games, but this stretch of five games in seven days is a big character test.
17. Winnipeg Jets (6-7-1, previous ranking: 25)
The Jets have moved up a few notches by at least temporarily resolving the Jacob Trouba situation and they also have a complete star on their hands in Patrik Laine and his rookie hat tricks. The Jets might end up surprising a few people this season, but they need to get back over .500 before that can happen.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-3-2, previous ranking: 16)
It’s really unfair to have the Blue Jackets drop two spots after dropping 10 goals on the Canadiens last week, but the CSNNE NHL power rankings aren’t always fair. Good start to the season for Alexander Wennberg.
19. Florida Panthers (6-6-1, previous ranking: 19)
The Panthers were victors in the Battle of Florida earlier this week, but Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad are off to very slow starts for the Battle Cats.
20. Philadelphia Flyers (6-6-2, previous ranking: 20)
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are a combined minus-16 to start the season for the Flyers. It’s awfully tough to win that way on Broad Street.
21. New York Islanders (5-6-2, previous ranking: 28)
At least the struggling Islanders were able to beat the Canucks, which is pretty close to the bare NHL minimum at this point. They’ve taken points in each of their last three games, so they have that going for them.
22. Buffalo Sabres (5-5-3, previous ranking: 11)
The Sabres have done a good job of hanging in there without Jack Eichel and Evander Kane, but they need some of their skill players back pronto. The shutout loss to the Bruins was a rough one for them.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-5-3, previous ranking: 23)
You know that the Maple Leafs rookie class is onto something when Bon Jovi is tweeting about them. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner continue to electrify the Leafs organization right now.
24. Nashville Predators (4-5-3, previous ranking: 24)
Shootout losses to the Hurricanes and Coyotes aren’t really going to get it done, Smashville. It’s time for the Predators to start picking it up given their very talented roster despite the offseason turnover.
25. Dallas Stars (4-6-3, previous ranking: 22)
Three losses in a row for the Stars, who have been beset by injuries and underperformance in the early going of the season. The ranks of 20th in goals scored and 19th in power play success are way below what they should be given the traditional strengths of this hockey club.
26. Calgary Flames (5-8-1, previous ranking: 26)
Brian Burke calling out Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau isn’t a very good start for the Flames and really underscores some problems that haven’t been straightened out in Calgary.
27. Vancouver Canucks (5-8-1, previous ranking: 21)
A 1-8-1 stretch for the Canucks in their past 10 games is closer to what many expected from the Canucks rather than their 4-0-0 start to the season. It’s going to be a long season for Vancouver.
28. Colorado Avalanche (5-7-0, previous ranking: 18)
Semyon Varlamov is making $5.9 million per season to basically stink in Colorado right now. The Avalanche need better from him given the talented cast of players surrounding the goaltender, and their spot once again in the basement of the Central Division. The 3.67 goals against average and .881 save percentage for Varlamov are bogus, there’s just no two ways about it.
29. Arizona Coyotes (5-7-0, previous ranking: 30)
It’s been a slow start for young forwards Antony Duclair, Dylan Strome and Lawson Crouse and the Coyotes are again trailing their competition in areas like puck possession. They need to get more out of more players before they’re truly going to turn things around.
30. Carolina Hurricanes (3-5-4, previous ranking: 29)
The play of Jeff Skinner has been a real bright spot as a point-per-game guy with six goals and 12 points in 11 games for the Hurricanes, but there are just too many weak spots. The goaltending of Eddie Lack and Cam Ward has been dreadful and that’s being kind.