Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: East strengthens up
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings:
The tales of the demise of the Eastern Conference have been vastly overrated.
The Pittsburgh Penguins vaulted to the top of the rankings after winning seven straight games – including victories over the Kings, Predators, Wild and Jets – and the Tampa Bay Lightning have similarly streaked to the top of the Atlantic Division with five straight wins.
Perhaps even more impressive, the New York Islanders won three out of four in the dreaded California plus Arizona swing, and took six out of eight points with wins over the big boy Ducks and Kings. That’s as good a statement as any that the Isles are for real this season, be it during the regular season or for a good playoff run.
So perhaps the crowning of the Western Conference was just a little premature, but then again it’s not even “U.S. Thanksgiving” yet.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (10-2-1, rank last week: 6) - Apparently a seven-game winning streak can do wonders in the power rankings. I’m not the biggest Marc-Andre Fleury fan, but not a bad deal for him either if they’ve shored up their defense.
2. Anaheim Ducks (10-3-2, rank last week: 1) – The Ducks have lost a couple in a row, but how about Frederik Andersen this year?
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-3-1, rank last week: 2) – The Lightning have won five in a row, and somehow dropped a slot in the power rankings. That’s how powerful they are.
4. Nashville Predators (9-3-2, rank last week: 8) – Filip Forsberg becoming a point-per-game player for the Predators, and infuriating Washington Capitals fans at the same time.
5. Montreal Canadiens (10-4-1, rank last week: 4) – A nice bounce back from the Habs, who held the Sabres and Wild to a combined two goals in consecutive wins after some awful defensive performances.
6. Vancouver Canucks (10-5-0, rank last week: 3) – Ryan Miller leads the NHL with 10 wins in his 12 starts, but he ended the week getting yanked against the champs in a tough loss for Vancouver.
7. New York Islanders (9-5-0, rank last week: 17) – The Isles spent the week succeeding and taking names on a West Coast trip through California. That’s as good an indication as anything that they are for real.
8. Calgary Flames (9-5-2, rank last week: 9) – It’s time to give Bob Hartley some credit for what he’s done with this team. They are tough to play against, and the Flames players are playing hard for him.
9. Los Angeles Kings (8-4-3, rank last week: 13) – That Tyler Toffoli is pretty good, eh?
10. St. Louis Blues (9-4-1, rank last week: 11) – That Vladimir Tarasenko is pretty good too, eh?
11. Detroit Red Wings (7-4-3, rank last week: 10) – You lose to the Buffalo Sabres, you automatically drop a spot.
12. San Jose Sharks (8-5-2, rank last week: 10) – Shocked that John Scott left the bench to start a fight, and then got suspended. Shocked.
13. Winnipeg Jets (8-5-2, rank last week: 22) – Ondrej Pavelec has a 1.98 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. I did not see that one coming.
14. Chicago Blackhawks (7-6-1, rank last week: 14) – The Blackhawks are just treading water right now. Everybody knows they can turn it on, but they’re in snooze mode at this point.
15. Boston Bruins (9-6-0, rank last week: 16) – The Bruins picked a great time to get all their injuries out of the way. They’ve whooped up on the Sabres, Panthers, Oilers and Senators among others going 5-1 without Zdeno Chara.
16. Ottawa Senators (7-3-3, rank last week: 19) – The Sens are off to a good start, but I just can’t get into Erik Karlsson as a team captain. There are too many games where he doesn’t show any compete at all. That’s not what a captain should be.
17. Philadelphia Flyers (7-5-2, rank last week: 25) – Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux are doing a lot of heavy lifting in Philly. I’m still not sure where the defense is coming from, though.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs (7-5-2, rank last week: 15) – I am just as interested as anybody else to see how Jake Gardiner ends up in Toronto. It seems like there are a lot of ups and downs there.
Checking from Behind
19. Minnesota Wild (7-6-0, rank last week: 5) – A concussion for Zach Parise is “no bueno.”
20. New York Rangers (6-5-2, rank last week: 20) – The return of Derek Stepan is a welcome one that will make the Blueshirts much better.
21. Washington Capitals (6-5-3, rank last week: 23) – Boy, they’d be a lot better with Filip Forsberg right now, wouldn’t they? They call that a “call back” in the business.
22. New Jersey Devils (6-6-2, rank last week: 12) – You know it’s tough times when Jaromir Jagr is getting mad at his team.
23. Arizona Coyotes (6-7-2, rank last week: 13) – The Coyotes, Oilers and Stars all have 50 goals allowed in the Western Conference. That is a lot of weak sauce defense being played.
24. Florida Panthers (4-4-4, rank last week: 21) – Shawn Thornton called the Panthers a “sneaky good” team last week. That’s a good way to describe the mix of talented young players and gritty veterans with a good goalie.
25. Colorado Avalanche (4-7-5, rank last week: 26) – Ryan O’Reilly with two goals and a minus-11 this season for the Avs. So much for that poor man’s Patrice Bergeron label.
26. Dallas Stars (4-6-4, rank last week: 18) – The Stars are 0-5-2 in their last seven games, and are losing in games where Tyler Seguin is getting a hat trick and logging a zero plus/minus rating. Time to start tightening up defensively, boys.
27. Carolina Hurricanes (4-6-3, rank last week: 29) – They were the last NHL team to get a win, but they’re starting to make up for lost time now.
28. Edmonton Oilers (5-8-1, rank last week: 24) – The Oilers played Benoit Pouliot almost 25 minutes in the loss to the Bruins. You aren’t going to beat many NHL teams doing that.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-9-1, rank last week: 27) – The Blue Jackets fought valiantly for a while, but the injuries have finally caught up to them.
30. Buffalo Sabres (3-11-2, rank last week: 29) – Another week closer to drafting Connor McDavid.