Haggerty’s NHL Power Rankings: All-Star Edition
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: All-Star Edition
With the natural stop to the regular season for the NHL All-Star break, it’s a natural time to gather information, evaluate and project what’s going to happen over the second half of the season. It’s pretty clear watching Alex Ovechkin skip the All-Star Game that his focus – and that of his team – is squarely on the prize that has eluded him throughout his career with the Capitals, and that Jonathan Toews is taking some rest seriously as his Captain Serious moniker would clearly indicate.
Both players will serve out the one-game suspension from the NHL that comes along with skipping the All-Star weekend. Ovechkin, in particular, will obviously be missed for his skill, his flash and charisma. It’s a shame that two of the faces of the NHL are pulling out of an event meant to promote the league, and hockey, but this seems to be the wave of the future. Consider that the entire Patriots contingent pulled out of the Pro Bowl this week, as well.
Both the Capitals and the Blackhawks are sitting in the 1-2 positions in the power rankings this week and have put their teams in place for a strong playoff run with a little more than one-third of the season remaining when the regular season convenes next week.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (35-8-4, rank last week 1)
It’s a shame that Alex Ovechkin won’t be participating in the All-Star game, but it’s pretty clear the Capitals have loftier goals in their sights this season.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (33-16-4, LW: 2)
Seven shutouts for Corey Crawford is pretty impressive this season, and the Blackhawks are doing what they need to do for a nice setup headed into the playoffs.
3. Florida Panthers (29-15-5, LW: 5)
The Panthers go into the All-Star break with strength on a three-game winning streak, and continue to look like a hockey club that’s going to be tough to handle down the stretch.
4. Dallas Stars (31-14-5, LW: 3)
Lindy Ruff tells his Stars players that they shouldn’t think about hockey at the All-Star break. So that gives you an indication how things were going for them lately.
5. Los Angeles Kings (30-16-3, LW: 4)
The Kings were treading water with a 5-4-1 record going into the break, and could use a rest after some strong work.
6. St. Louis Blues (28-16-8, LW: 6)
The 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks right before the break serves as a reminder that the Blues keep falling short unless they find a way to upgrade their roster.
7. New York Rangers (27-17-5, LW: 9)
The Rangers have been spinning their wheels for a bit, and continue to wrestle with their decision on what to do with UFA Keith Yandle ahead of the trade deadline.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning (27-18-4, LW: 7)
Another team that finished strong into the break with an 8-2-0 record, and is finally seeing Tyler Johnson returning to form after a very slow start to the season.
9. Detroit Red Wings (25-16-8, LW: 8)
Dylan Larkin continues to shine while leading the Red Wings with 15 goals and a plus-24 rating at the break.
10. San Jose Sharks (26-18-4, LW: 15)
An 8-0-2 run headed into the break that’s allowed them to stake a claim to a playoff spot in the weak Pacific Division.
11. New York Islanders (25-16-6, LW: 10)
The Isles are another hockey club treading water with a 4-4-1 record this month, and looking for some inspiration following the All-Star break.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins (24-17-7, LW: 17)
The Penguins finished with a three game winning streak, and are beginning to look like a team primed for a playoff push in the second half.
14. Colorado Avalanche (27-22-3, LW: 13)
The Avalanche are on a 9-4-0 record headed into the All-Star break, and right in the thick of the playoff race. Patrick Roy has done a good job with this group.
15. Nashville Predators (24-18-8, LW: 22)
The Predators now have four wins in a row headed into the break, and will have all of the good feelings with the city hosting the All-Star Game this weekend.
16. Minnesota Wild (23-17-9, LW: 12)
Three wins in their last 13 games means that the Wild need to do something if they want to remain in the playoff picture. Offense is a problem for this team.
17. New Jersey Devils (25-20-5, LW: 14)
14 goals and 36 points in 50 games for Lee Stempniak this season is good stuff for one of the good guys. It’s amazing to think nobody else jumped on Stempniak when he was a free agent looking for a gig at the end of the summer.
18. Anaheim Ducks (22-18-7, LW: 24)
The Ducks finished 7-3-1 going into the All-Star break, and are finally, mercifully pushing back into the playoff picture.
19. Arizona Coyotes (24-20-5, LW: 23)
Big wins against the Kings and Wild, and then they lose against the Winnipeg Jets in the final game before the break. That’s the Coyotes in a nutshell.
20. Carolina Hurricanes (23-20-8, LW: 18)
The Canes were on a 7-2-1 headed into the break, and will put Ron Francis into an interesting position headed into the trade deadline.
21. Vancouver Canucks (20-19-11, LW: 19)
The bubble might have burst on the Canucks with those losses to the Penguins and the Predators right before the break.
22. Ottawa Senators (23-21-6, LW: 20)
There should have been a parade through Ottawa when they shut out the Rangers last weekend. That’s how bad their defense has been this season.
23. Philadelphia Flyers (21-18-8, LW: 21)
The Flyers looked like they were running out of steam down the stretch, but got a nice little feel-good victory with an OT win against the Capitals right at the break.
24. Montreal Canadiens (24-22-4, LW: 19)
The Habs finished 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and lost two in a row headed into the break. They need to find something big to pull them out of the tailspin after the All-Star break.
25. Calgary Flames (21-24-3, LW: 25)
What the hell was Dennis Wideman thinking? You can’t say you were trying to simply get around somebody when you finish off a cross-check from behind like that.
26. Winnipeg Jets (22-24-3, LW: 26)
The Jets finished 3-5-1 headed into the break, but dropped five goals on the Coyotes in that final game. Good for them, I guess. There is plenty for them to worry about with Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien contracts on the front burner now that the playoffs seem out of the question.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-22-9, LW: 27)
The Leafs lost four in a row headed into the break, and are in full free-fall mode at this point.
28. Buffalo Sabres (20-26-4, LW: 28)
Jack Eichel is the ray of sunshine for the Sabres as they continue to sink in the Eastern Conference.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (19-27-5, LW: 30)
Two wins in a row for the Blue Jackets with John Tortorella on injured reserve.
30. Edmonton Oilers (19-26-5, LW: 29)
The Oilers have something to be excited about with Connor McDavid coming back after the All-Star break, but they are way out of it at this point.