NHL Power Rankings: Coaching change leads to Panthers' skid
NHL Power Rankings: Coaching change leads to Panthers' skid
The shot heard round the world was the Florida Panthers firing Gerard Gallant. It was surprising because most felt Gallant was going to get a longer rope after guiding the team to such a strong finish last season, but this new Panthers management group has also shown that they’re looking to change many things about the organization.
So Tom Rowe is in and Gallant is out. The whole situation makes you wonder who else could be on the NHL’s hot seat for head coaches. A couple to keep an eye on: Dan Bylsma in Buffalo has a team off to a middling start with some tough injuries, but there is pressure with the Sabres to start seeing results. Jack Capuano keeps getting the dreaded vote of confidence from Garth Snow, but the Islanders are going nowhere fast right now toward the bottom of the league. You have to wonder what’s going on in Dallas where the Stars are underachieving and under-performing in a major way, and players have had to be disciplined this season for blowing off meetings. That doesn’t reflect all that well on the control that Lindy Ruff has over a highly talented group in Big-D right now.
You could certainly throw Paul Maurice in there as well after some of the games on a tough road trip for Winnipeg looked about as disinterested as I’ve seen a hockey team in the last couple of years.
As people that have been predicting Claude Julien’s ouster for at least five years would know firsthand, this is a difficult thing to prognosticate. But it’s pretty safe to say Gallant won’t be the only one, and others could be coming sooner rather than later as losing streaks start to turn into nosedives out of the playoff picture.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (16-7-3, previous ranking: 4)
Well, I guess the Penguins weren’t fooled by the old 1-3-1 trap from Guy Boucher. The Penguins dropped eight goals on Ottawa as a high point amid a three game winning streak for red-hot Pittsburgh.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (17-8-3, previous ranking: 3)
The ageless Marian Hossa and his 14 goals scored have been pretty awesome to watch for the Hawks this season, and make you wonder how long he can just keep going for. The 37-year-old now has more goals this season than he did all of last year.
3. Montreal Canadiens (17-6-3, previous ranking: 2)
The Habs are in a 4-4-2 rut over their last 10 games, and have lost Alex Galchenyuk to a lower body injury. That sound you hear? It’s adversity coming for the Canadiens.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-5-4, previous ranking: 7)
You can’t stop John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets. You can only hope to contain them.
5. St. Louis Blues (15-7-4, previous ranking: 5)
The Blues have taken points in nine of their last 10 games, and have kept pace with the Blackhawks in the Central Division as Chicago starts to make their move.
6. New York Rangers (17-9-1, previous ranking: 1)
The waters are getting rocky for the Blueshirts with Rick Nash on the shelf after a tremendous start to the season, are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. It also seems like their vaunted, dominant offense has started to slow down just a little bit.
7. Boston Bruins (15-10-1, previous rank: 16)
The wild swings for the Bruins continue this season, and now they’ve gone 4-0-1 in their last five games while pushing back into the playoff picture. Zdeno Chara returns to the lineup, but they lose Matt Beleskey for six weeks in the span of a couple of days. It’s been that kind of run for the Black and Gold.
8. Ottawa Senators (15-9-2, previous ranking: 8)
It will be interesting to see how the Senators respond to giving up eight goals to the defending Stanley Cup champ Penguins. It will also be interesting to see how many boring, trapped down games the Sens play in response afterward to that complete breakdown vs. Pittsburgh as well.
9. Washington Capitals (14-7-3, previous ranking: 6)
So Barry Trotz and Alex Ovechkin had to have a meeting about the penalties that Ovie had been taking lately for the Capitals? This is how many of the Washington Capitals’ disaster films have begun in the past.
10. San Jose Sharks (15-9-1, previous ranking: 9)
The Sharks have made it through some tough travel and challenges with a busy schedule, and it now looks like they’re primed for a good run out in the Pacific Division. An impressive one-goal win over the Canadiens showed the Sharks are playing at a high level right now.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (15-10-3, previous ranking: 17)
The Flyers have won six in a row and continue to roll up some big offensive numbers. The real change lately has been Steve Mason snapping out of his early season funk and giving the Flyers some good play between the pipes.
12. Edmonton Oilers (14-10-4, previous ranking: 26)
The Oilers have lost a couple of games in a row, but the real story with the Oil is the media uproar over concussion spotters after Connor McDavid was required to leave a game for a period of time after his head hit the ice. So are we protecting our stars, or not protecting our stars?
13. New Jersey Devils (12-7-6, previous ranking: 15)
The Devils have won a couple of in a row, and Taylor Hall is back scoring, hitting hand helping the Devils push back up the Metro Division standings again.
14. Minnesota Wild (12-8-4, previous ranking: 14)
The Wild are one of five teams that have played only 24 games to date this season, and they are in good position to make a move once the schedule starts to speed up a bit for them. Local boy Charlie Coyle is really coming into his own this season for the Wild.
15. Anaheim Ducks (12-9-5, previous ranking: 12)
On second thought Randy Carlyle, we don’t need to know why John Gibson couldn’t get into that 8-3 loss to the Flames where Jonathan Bernier got his mask handed to him. Too much information, bud.
16. Tampa Bay Lightning (14-11-2, previous ranking: 10)
The Lightning are 2-5-1 in their last eight games, and are finding yet again that life without Steve Stamkos is not exactly fun, or easy, or conducive to success.
17. Nashville Predators (12-9-4, previous ranking: 11)
The Predators are 5-2-1 in their last eight games and have been pretty decent, but it just feels like they’ve lost some ground in the Central Division from an overall talent standpoint. They need to start showing exactly who they are as a team because they lost a lot of their identity with the Shea Weber trade.
18. Los Angeles Kings (13-10-2, previous ranking: 22)
The Kings are just trucking along and staying within striking distance with no Jonathan Quick and no Marian Gaborik right now. You just wonder how much is being taken out of them now trying to hold it together.
19. Detroit Red Wings (13-11-3, previous ranking: 19)
It looks like the Red Wings are starting to come out of the doldrums a little bit, but now they’ll be without pit bull forward Justin Abdelkader for an extended period of time. It’s going to be a long year with a lot of teams, Detroit being one of them, bunched up in the Eastern Conference looking for a playoff spot.
20. Calgary Flames (14-3-2, previous ranking: 27)
The Flames have won four games in a row, and perhaps been a little inspired by little Johnny Gaudreau coming back so early from his broken finger. That’s leadership and selflessness to help lift up a hockey team, and it’s working out for the Flames right now.
21. Winnipeg Jets (13-13-3, previous ranking: 21)
Patrik Laine continues to be the story for the Winnipeg Jets as he lights up goalies across the NHL, and is backing up some of the confident stuff he said this summer prior to his NHL career getting started.
22. Florida Panthers (12-11-4, previous ranking: 20)
The Panthers have lost three in a row, and perhaps haven’t responded the way owner Vinny Viola thought they might when he impulsively decided to fire Gerard Gallant last week. This could become a very interesting year in Florida, and perhaps not for the right ways.
23. Carolina Hurricanes (10-10-5, previous ranking: 23)
The Hurricanes are losing a ton of close games and have been competitive this season. It feels like this is a young team that needs more talent, and needs a few more skilled bodies up front to score some goals.
24. Buffalo Sabres (10-10-6, previous ranking: 24)
Jack Eichel has returned for the Sabres and Rasmus Ristolainen has been playing some massively high minute totals in Buffalo over the last few weeks. Could the hot seat be heating up for Dan Bylsma if the Sabres don’t start making a leap forward in the Eastern Conference this season?
25. Dallas Stars (10-11-6, previous ranking: 22)
The Stars are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and have a minus-20 goal differential for the season. They’ve had some injuries, but there it still talent there. Something is very, very wrong with the hockey club down in the Lone Star State.
26. Vancouver Canucks (11-13-2, previous ranking: 25)
Everybody just hopes that Phillip Larsen is okay after that scary play where he was knocked out on his skates by a Taylor Hall hit, and then kicked in the head multiple times as he lay unconscious on the ice. That’s the kind of hockey play that’s very tough to watch.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-9-5, previous ranking: 18)
James van Riemsdyk leads the Maple Leafs with 11 goals on the season, and is apparently available on the trade market in exchange for some defensive help. The Maple Leafs makeover continues for Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock.
28. New York Islanders (10-10-5, previous ranking: 30)
A 4-0-1 run in their last five games has lifted the Islanders out of the muck and the mire of a last place standing, but they still have a long, long way to go. It’s not surprising that the Isles franchise is looking for a “hockey person” to come in and be the face of the entire franchise in a club president-type role. This is a team that needs some direction.
29. Arizona Coyotes (8-13-4, previous ranking: 28)
The Coyotes have lost five in a row, and there are grumblings around the league that John Chayka is overvaluing his own players in trade talks. It looks like it might be a bit of a steep learning curve for the wonder boy GM that hasn’t seen the performance from the Coyotes on the ice.
30. Colorado Avalanche (9-14-1, previous ranking: 29)
The Avalanche have lost six games in a row and continue to look like an underachieving group that just isn’t going to make it with the current group intact. There are a few teams desperately in need of a shakeup this season, and Colorado is one of them after the coaching change didn’t improve much.