Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Habs, and scorers, on rise
Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings:
For all of the talk about offensive being down around the NHL, there are some pretty impressive numbers going on right now. The chatter is about scaling back goalie equipment or widening nets in order to help invite more goals into the NHL’s product, but right now the NHL has 20 players on a point-per-game pace a full month into the season.
They range from Tyler Seguin and Patrick Kane leading the league with 23 points apiece, while having played 16 and 15 games, all the way down to Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom producing 11 points in his 11 games.
Last season, there were exactly seven players among the NHL’s top 50 scorers, with Jamie Benn leading the way with 35 goals and 87 points in 82 games played for the Stars. Clearly, there’s a question as to whether all of these players can maintain their current pace, but – contrary to popular belief – offense does exist around in the NHL if you’re looking in the proper places for it.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Montreal Canadiens (13-2-1, last week's rank: 1) - The Habs still have yet to lose at home in regulation, and have had Mike Condon and Dale Weise carrying them through a down period with some injuries. Montreal looks like the team to beat right now.
2. New York Rangers (11-2-2, LW: 3) – The Blueshirts have won six games in a row, and continue to get some very good goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta.
3. Dallas Stars (12-4-0, LW: 2) – Only the Jets, Coyotes and Oilers have allowed more goals than the Stars in the Western Conference this season. That’s something to keep an eye as you wonder if things are sustainable for the Stars right now.
4. St. Louis Blues (11-3-1, LW: 4) – The #RoarBacon thing is pretty goofy and harmless fun, and is even more enjoyable when it involves a pig pooping in Ken Hitchcock’s office.
5. Minnesota Wild (9-3-2, LW: 9) – The Wild are averaging almost three goals per game, but that might change now that Zach Parise is gone with a knee injury.
6. Nashville Predators (9-3-2, LW: 8) – Defenseman Roman Josi shares the team lead in points. Good for Josi, not so good for the Predators as a team. Still, they are winning games based on defense and goaltending.
7. Washington Capitals (10-4-0, LW: 10) – Congrats to Alex Ovechkin, who tied new Hall of Famer Sergei Federov over the weekend for the most NHL goals scored (483) by a Russian-born player.
8. Vancouver Canucks (7-4-5, LW: 11) – Sweet revenge for the Canucks, who dropped five goals on John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-5-0, LW: 13) – The Penguins are winning games, but are 26th in the NHL scoring a paltry 2.2 goals per game. This is not what anybody envisioned with this high-powered group.
10. New York Islanders (8-5-3, LW: 7) – The Islanders are coasting along, but clearly have some areas that need improvement after going through the bold move of dropping Dylan Strome down to the AHL. They also can’t seem to beat the Bruins. Weird.
11. Los Angeles Kings (9-6-0, LW: 6) – One goal and two points for Marian Gaborik in 15 games for the Kings is a major surprise this season. The Slovakian is struggling in a big way.
12. Winnipeg Jets (8-6-2, LW: 5) – The Jets have lost three in a row, and are caught in the constant struggle that is the Central Division.
13. Chicago Blackhawks (8-6-1, LW: 12) – A Duncan Keith return is on the horizon, and the Blackhawks have done a good job of surviving in the meantime.
14. Arizona Coyotes (8-6-1, LW: 21) – A two-game winning streak for the Coyotes, who continue to look like they’re going to be a pain to play this season. Max Domi is dynamite.
15. Detroit Red Wings (8-6-1, LW: 17) – Credit the hard-working Jeff Blaishill and his staff for keeping things churning in Detroit in the post-Babcock Era.
16. New Jersey Devils (8-6-1, LW: 19) – The Devils are 8-3 in their past 11 and have really surprised many that felt this was a lottery team again this year. They may be hard-pressed to maintain their current pace, but you never know.
17. Ottawa Senators (7-5-3, LW: 14) – The Sens are a tough team to figure out right now, but they certainly need to pick things up defensively while allowing three goals a game.
18. Boston Bruins (7-6-1, LW: 16) – The Bruins are right where they should be. They are capable of beating above-average-to-bad teams, but not capable of beating the Stars, Canadiens and Capitals’ of the world right now.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-8-2, LW: 15) – Something is very “off” with the Lightning right now. Is this all about Steve Stamkos, Jon Cooper and the superstar’s contract extension negotiations? Things just don’t feel right with that team.
20. Florida Panthers (6-6-3, LW: 18) – Three wins in their past 10 games and team meetings with the Panthers. It’s not good times with them right now.
21. San Jose Sharks (7-8-0, LW: 20) – The Sharks have lost seven of their past 10 games, and now it sounds like Patrick Marleau wants out. Maybe they’re headed for that rebuild after all.
22. Buffalo Sabres (7-8-0, LW: 23) – Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel have come into Buffalo, and made a major impact with the Sabres thus far. Six goals for the pride of Chelmsford.
23. Anaheim Ducks (5-7-3, LW: 30) – The Ducks have finally climbed up off the mat, and won some games. There are still some players like Ryan Kesler that are majorly underperforming, however.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (5-7-3, LW: 25) – Another hockey team with offensive problems and holding team meetings after embarrassing losses. The Dave Hakstol era is not off to a good beginning in Philly.
25. Carolina Hurricanes (6-9-0, LW: 24) – The crowds in Carolina have been sad, and underscore a franchise that would appear to have a little bit of unknown ahead of them.
26. Colorado Avalanche (5-9-1, LW: 26) – Matt Duchene finally woke up for the Avalanche with a couple of goals in the Tuesday win over the Flyers, so now it’s time for the rest of the team to do the same.
27. Calgary Flames (5-10-1, LW: 27) – The good: Johnny Gaudreau is having a very good sophomore campaign. The bad: Dougie Hamilton continues to struggle in just about every facet for the Flames.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-8-4, LW: 28) – The Leafs are working hard for Mike Babcock and hanging around in most of their games. Credit them for that at the very least.
29. Edmonton Oilers (5-10-0, LW: 22) – The Oilers have dropped their last couple of games, and just can’t seem to catch a break after losing Connor McDavid with a broken collarbone.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-12-0, LW: 29) – The Blue Jackets are winless on home ice, John Tortorella called out his captain Nick Foligno after the latest loss to Vancouver and still have the lowest point total in the NHL. Nowhere to go but up, right…right?