Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Hard times for Bruins
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Hard times for Bruins
By Joe Haggerty
Let the trade season begin.
The next couple of months should be active and entertaining as things kicked off with a bang on Wednesday. Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier were shipped away from the Philadelphia Flyers in a housecleaning trade for Ron Hextall that clears up some salary cap woes, and Capitals signed Mike Richards off the scrap heap. The Blue Jackets and Predators, meanwhile, hopped all over an old-fashioned 1-for-1 hockey trade with Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones switching teams. Johansen fills a big No. 1 center need for Nashville, and Jones undoubtedly does the same as the Blue Jackets had been searching for that No. 1, right-handed defenseman for a long, long time going back to Dougie Hamilton this summer.
One would expect that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was in on the Seth Jones discussions on some level with Nashville, but let’s face it: the Bruins don’t have a young, dominant player like Johansen to offer once the bidding starts to rise for Jones. So Boston’s search for a young, up-and-coming defenseman heir to the Zdeno Chara throne continues in Boston.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1.Washington Capitals (29-7-3, rank last week: 1) – The Capitals are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, and put together a solid effort vs. the Bruins when it seemed like they might hit cruise control for a while. Washington knows everything they need to prove is during the playoffs.
2.Florida Panthers (24-12-4, rank last week: 4) – The Panthers have won 10 games in a row, and stormed to the top of the Atlantic Division. It may not last, but they’re putting themselves in the playoff picture.
3. Dallas Stars (28-10-4, rank last week: 2) – The Stars have lost three games in a row, and Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin haven’t done much since the calendar turned over to 2016. I guess it was a good New Year’s Eve in Dallas?
4. Los Angeles Kings (25-12-2, rank last week: 3) – The Kings have won five of six games, and are separating from the pack in the Pacific Division. The only question now is whether or not they can pass the Kings in the West.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (25-13-4, rank last week: 8) – The Bread Man always rings twice, as the Pittsburgh Penguins found out on Wednesday night. The Hawks have won five in a row and are now making their move.
6. Minnesota Wild (21-11-7, rank last week: 10) – Scary injury for Mikko Koivu and the Wild, who continue to chug along despite the injuries to some of their most effective forwards this season.
7.New York Islanders (22-13-5, rank last week: 11) – The Johnny Boychuk injury could turn out to be a big one for the Islanders. At least they’re ahead of the Rangers, right?
8. St. Louis Blues (23-14-6, rank last week: 5) – The Blues have lost four in a row, and have a minus-1 goal differential. They’re about to really start falling behind if they can’t straighten up.
9. Montreal Canadiens (23-16-3, rank last week: 9) – Three wins in their last 10 games, and one really big victory at the Winter Classic have Montreal again pointing in the right direction. A healthy Brendan Gallagher is a big deal for them.
10. New York Rangers (22-14-4, rank last week: 9) – The Rangers have really flattened out over the last month, but have a big tilt with the Islanders ready for Thursday night. It’s a big game for both teams.
11. Detroit Red Wings (20-13-7, rank last week: 12) – The Red Wings have won a couple of games in a row, and need to make a move while the Atlantic Division is still wide open for the taking. It looks like Petr Mrazek is starting to take over as the goaltender there.
12. Arizona Coyotes (19-16-4, rank last week: 15) – Louis Domingue continues to do a nice job filling in for the injured Mike Smith, and the Coyotes look like a solid second team in the Pacific Division right now without being a threat to the Kings.
13. Boston Bruins (20-14-4, rank last week: 6) – The Bruins have lost five of six games, and were absolutely embarrassed in the Winter Classic. They’re also missing David Krejci and Brad Marchand. It’s hard times for the Black and Gold right now.
14. Nashville Predators (19-14-7, rank last week: 13) – We’ll see what Ryan Johansen can do for a Predators team that needed a player like that. It could be a game-changer for a Preds team that could afford to trade a defenseman.
15. New Jersey Devils (20-16-5, rank last week: 17) – The Devils have definitely slowed down quite a bit, but they’re still hanging onto a playoff spot and surprising people.
16. Vancouver Canucks (16-16-9, rank last week: 19) – Will the Canucks be the beneficiary of a dreadful Pacific Division that might allow a .500 or worse team to make the playoffs this season? We’ll see.
17. Calgary Flames (19-18-2, rank last week: 18) – The Flames are right where they need to be in the thick of the playoff hunt, and poised for a much stronger performance in the New Year.
18. Ottawa Senators (19-15-6, rank last week: 16) – The Senators are 5-8-1 in their last 14 games, and part of an Atlantic Division group that’s just treading water aside from the Panthers.
19. Anaheim Ducks (16-16-7, rank last week: 20) – It’s hard to believe the Ducks are only two points out of a playoff spot given how badly they’ve floundered this season. At least John Gibson and Frederik Andersen are giving them quality goaltending.
20. San Jose Sharks (18-17-2, rank last week: 14) – A 5-11-0 home ice record and a minus-5 goal differential is tough to overcome. The Sharks are sinking into the Western Conference horizon.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins (19-16-5, rank last week: 21) – Sidney Crosby is coming to life offensively, and the Penguins are 4-2-2 in the last eight games. There’s still time to get their act together, and it’s coming together nicely under Mike Sullivan.
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (19-17-4, rank last week: 22) – So Jonathan Drouin wants out of Tampa Bay, and Steven Stamkos is balking at signing on the dotted line. What the heck is going on with the Lightning?
23. Colorado Avalanche (20-18-3, rank last week: 25) – A big week for the Avs as Jarome Iginla notched his 600th career goal, and joined a very exclusive club.
24. Winnipeg Jets (19-19-2, rank last week: 26) – It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a return to the playoffs for the Jets sitting in last place in the Central Division.
25. Edmonton Oilers (17-21-3, rank last week: 24) – Say what you want about the Oilers, but they’ve won two games in a row and stand only four points out of playoff spot. It’s there for them if they can catch fire when Connor McDavid comes back.
26. Philadelphia Flyers (16-15-7, rank last week: 26) – Quite a move by Ron Hextall getting out from under the contracts for Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier as the Flyers pretty clearly want to rebuild at this point.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-15-7, rank last week: 27) – The Leafs have won three in a row, and could make a big surge upward if they can string a few more victories together. They’re not there yet, but hope is building.
28. Buffalo Sabres (15-21-4, rank last week: 28) – Five losses in a row for a Buffalo team that can’t score aside from a rejuvenated Jack Eichel, who went on a tear after the holiday break.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (16-18-7, rank last week: 29) – Three losses in a row for a Carolina team that’s going nowhere fast.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-23-3, rank last week: 30) – A brilliant move for the Blue Jackets dealing off a problem asset in Ryan Johansen, and getting a right-shot defenseman that could be their No. 1 guy for the next decade in Seth Jones.