Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Tip of the Caps
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Tip of the Caps
The NHL finally saw a trade go down this week when Pittsburgh traded veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi to the Chicago Blackhawks for a player in Trevor Daley that hadn’t lived up to Chicago’s hopes this season. The fact the Penguins also swallowed some of Scuderi’s contract made it an understandable trade on both sides, and also underscores how difficult finances and the salary cap have made it for any team getting anything done on the trade market.
So don’t expect a lot to go down prior to the NHL holiday roster freeze, which goes into effect later this week on Dec. 19 and will mean no trades executed through the Christmas holiday week. It’s just another example of the family friendly NHL, which doesn’t want to pull players away from their family homes during the Christmas holiday.
So with that merry, merry gesture, we wish you a happy holiday season.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (21-6-2, rank last week: 2) - The Capitals are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, and have a goaltender in Braden Holtby at the very top of his game. They look like the class of the East along with the Canadiens if they can get healthy.
2. Dallas Stars (23-6-2, rank last week: 1) – The Stars are off to the best start in the franchise’s near 50-year history, and Jamie Benn once again is leading the way in the goal-scoring department.
3. Montreal Canadiens (20-9-3, rank last week: 3) – The Habs have lost five of their last six games while suffering through the absences of Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher, a pair of key players to Montreal’s success.
4. New York Rangers (19-9-4, rank last week: 5) – The Rangers only have three wins in their last 10 games, but did take down the red-hot Oilers on Tuesday night. So they’ve got that going for them.
5. Los Angeles Kings (19-9-2, rank last week: 4) – The Kings have lost a couple in a row, but they’re also on a long, six-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. So there’s a bit of a good reason behind it.
6. New York Islanders (18-9-5, rank last week: 6) – The Isles had been playing at a high level before getting spanked by the Florida Panthers by a 5-1 score earlier this week. They are kind of a hard hockey club to pin down.
7. Minnesota Wild (16-7-6, rank last week: 11) – The Wild are on a 5-0-3 point streak where they’ve dialed up the defense, and have games in hand on just about everybody else in the West.
8. St. Louis Blues (18-10-4, rank last week: 7) – Big win over the Dallas Stars where they shut down the NHL’s most explosive offense, and it looks like the Blues have found their goaltender in Jake Allen.
9. Ottawa Senators (16-10-5, rank last week: 8) – Only Columbus and Carolina have allowed more goals in the East than the Sens. That needs to change if Ottawa thinks they’re going to sustain it for the playoffs.
10. Boston Bruins (16-9-4, rank last week: 13) – The Bruins are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games, and have really seemed to stabilize things defensively. It’s also coincided with Tuukka Rask elevating his game, which shouldn’t be a surprise at all.
11. Detroit Red Wings (16-9-6, rank last week: 12) – The Wings had been ultra-hot under Jeff Blashill, but now they’ve lost a couple of games in a row with their play evening off just a little bit. But Blashill and his staff have done a good job in Detroit.
12. Chicago Blackhawks (17-11-4, rank last week: 9) – Patrick Kane’s consecutive point streak is over at 26 games, but that served as a nice diversion for a Blackhawks team that continues to keep up in the conversation.
13. New Jersey Devils (16-11-4, rank last week: 12) – The Devils are 4-1-2 in their last seven games, and are enjoying a Hart Trophy level season for Cory Schneider.
14. Nashville Predators (15-10-6, rank last week: 14) – Three wins in their last 10 games continue to push the Predators down in the playoff conversation. The offense just isn’t there aside from their D-man group.
15. Calgary Flames (14-14-2, rank last week: 24) – The Flames have won six games in a row, and have been a 7-1 unstoppable force during the 3-on-3 overtime session. Johnny Gaudreau is a certified weapon with that much open ice.
16. San Jose Sharks (15-14-1, rank last week: 16) – God bless the Pacific Division where barely .500 teams like the San Jose Sharks have as good a chance at the playoffs as anybody else.
17. Arizona Coyotes (14-14-2, rank last week: 20) – The Coyotes are enjoying a cushy part of the schedule with teams like Carolina and Columbus coming to face them in the desert, and they’re in the mix for one of those charity Pacific Division playoff spots.
18. Vancouver Canucks (11-12-5, rank last week: 17) – The Canucks have five wins in their last 20 games, and look like a team that would be wise not to try and hang on for a desperate, fluke playoff spot.
19. Florida Panthers (15-12-4, rank last week: 19) – The Panthers are hanging around, but had a damaging loss to the Bruins team that they’re chasing last weekend. They definitely look like they need a little bit more of a dynamic offensive element to their club.
20. Edmonton Oilers (14-16-2, rank last week: 25) – The Oilers ended their winning streak at six games against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, but have pushed their way back into the playoff picture. Who would have thought that possible?
21. Pittsburgh Penguins (15-11-3, rank last week: 15) – Will the coaching change to Mike Sullivan make a big difference? Perhaps, but it’s not going to help the concussion that Marc-Andre Fleury is out with now.
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (16-13-3, rank last week: 22) – The Lightning have won a couple of games in a row, and Steve Stamkos hasn’t liked any tweets recently. It looks like things are starting to turn around for Tampa.
23. Philadelphia Flyers (13-12-6, rank last week: 23) – It’s time for the rest of the team to step up and match what Claude Giroux is bringing to the table for the Flyers. Otherwise this is where they’ll stay all year.
24. Colorado Avalanche (15-16-1, rank last week: 26) – The Avs are 6-2 in their last eight games, and Semyon Varlamov has started stepping up for Colorado. It’s probably too late for them to get back into it given their division, but at least they’re showing life.
25. Winnipeg Jets (14-15-2, rank last week: 21) – The Jets are 3-3 in their last six games, and look like they need some kind of change given all the contracts coming up at the end of the season.
26. Anaheim Ducks (11-13-5, rank last week: 18) – The Ducks have their chance to get back into the race, but dropped a 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. What a disappointment this team is.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-13-6, rank last week: 27) – So does Stamkos like them? Does he really, really like them?
28. Buffalo Sabres (13-16-3, rank last week: 28) – A big home win over the Kings last weekend led by Ryan O’Reilly, who has been outstanding for the Sabres this season.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (12-14-5, rank last week: 29) – Carolina keeps playing the spoiler even though they are completely out of the playoff race. So give them credit for that.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-19-3, rank last week: 30) – The Blue Jackets are 1-3-3 in their last seven games. So much for making some progress under John Tortorella, who saw things go south as soon as Sergei Bobrovsky went down.