Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Thanksgiving reality check
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Thanksgiving reality check
With Thanksgiving ready to roll on through next week, reality should be setting in for many teams.
Teams more than a handful of points out of a playoff spot on Turkey Day traditionally have a less than 10 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason and very rarely are able to turn things around, despite three-quarters of the regular season still in front of them.
So, that means NHL teams such as the Flyers, Maple Leafs and Coyotes are on the cusp of keeping hope alive for the playoffs, but the Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Avalanche, Oilers and Flames are in “wait until next year” mode. So, don’t be surprised when players on those rosters (like Tyson Barrie, Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman for those badly in need of defensemen help) start getting mentioned prominently in trade discussions.
Next week will bring both hope and reality to a number of teams around the NHL, along with the turkey and mashed potatoes at the dinner table, and that’s another thing to be thankful for as the holiday season speeds up into full swing.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. New York Rangers (14-2-2, rank last week: 2) - The Blueshirts have won nine games in a row and can beat opponents with their skating speed up front, their size and strength on the back end or with their franchise goaltender between the pipes.
2. Dallas Stars (15-4-0, LW: 3) – The Stars have won eight of their last 10 games, and nobody has scored more goals this season in an impressive start to the year.
3. Montreal Canadiens (14-3-2, LW: 1) – Mike Condon did his best to hold the fort for the Habs, but the absence of Carey Price is starting to make a little bit of an impact. The blowout loss to the Avalanche was a rough one last weekend.
4. Washington Capitals (12-4-1, LW: 7) – Evgeny Kuznetsov earning the mantle of “The Next Big Thing” in Washington by leading the team in scoring right now.
5. Nashville Predators (11-3-3, LW: 6) – Another solid regular season for the Predators with good defense, superior goaltending from Pekka Rinne and little fanfare along the way.
6. Los Angeles Kings (12-6-0, LW: 11) – It looks like Milan Lucic is hitting his stride out in Los Angeles with six goals for the Kings.
7. St. Louis Blues (12-6-1, LW: 4) – The Blues are an interesting team right now given their surplus of defensemen, and a market full of NHL teams that need help on the blue line. The question is who they’re going to end up dealing away.
8. Minnesota Wild (10-4-3, LW:: 5) – The slumping Wild were able to win with smoke and mirrors for a few games, but have now lost two in a row as the absence of Zach Parise continues to have an impact.
9. Chicago Blackhawks (11-7-1, LW: 13) – The Blackhawks have won three games in a row, and get Duncan Keith back on a big road swing through the West Coast. It would seem they’re starting to hit their stride again.
10. New York Islanders (10-6-3, LW: 10) – The loss of defenseman Travis Hamonic would be a tough one for the Islanders if he gets his wish, and facilitates a deal to one of the teams in Western Canada.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-7-0, LW: 9) – First Evgeni Malkin says that the Penguins are “mad at each other”, and now he claims that’s not what he meant. Sure it wasn’t.
12. Ottawa Senators (8-5-5, LW: 5) – The Senators haven’t played great hockey, and have given up way too many goals. But they’re still second by default in the Atlantic Division.
13. New Jersey Devils (10-7-1, LW: 16) – Lee Stempniak is second on the Devils in scoring this season after scouring for a job all summer. That’s a great story, and a good lesson for GM’s that valued youth a little too highly over experience in many instances this summer.
14. San Jose Sharks (10-8-0, LW: 21) – Three wins in a row for the Sharks as they run through the East coast, and step up their game after a lull at the beginning of the month. Joe Pavelski is pretty impressive.
15. Detroit Red Wings (9-8-2, LW: 15) – The Wings have taken three of four points from the Capitals and Senators after dropping games to the Sharks and Bruins. And they have Pavel Datsyuk back. This could be a team on the upswing.
16. Florida Panthers (8-7-3, LW: 20) – A home-and-home sweep of the Lightning shows that the Panthers are picking up their game, and that there is still something very wrong with the Bolts right now.
17. Winnipeg Jets (9-9-2, LW: 12) – The Jets are 2-6-1 in November, and have given up some big goal totals. Netminder Michael Hutchinson has hit a rough patch over the last few weeks as well.
18. Arizona Coyotes (9-8-1, LW: 14) – Martin Hanzal has been a great story for the Coyotes this season with 17 points in 16 games. He’s also been a big time fantasy diamond in the rough.
19. Vancouver Canucks (7-7-6, LW: 8) – Four losses in a row for the Canucks, and the real insult was blowing that game to Montreal at the Bell Centre.
20. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-9-3, LW: 19) – The home-and-home losses to the Florida Panthers might be the kick in the pants that this team needed. But it’s hard to tell given the way they’ve floated through the season so far.
21. Boston Bruins (8-8-1, LW: 18) – The Bruins are 2-6-1 on home ice, and their defense leaves a lot to be desired. It’s tough to win giving up almost four goals a game at home.
22. Buffalo Sabres (8-9-1, LW: 22) – They’re young and they play an entertaining brand of hockey in Buffalo right now. This team could very well pass on by the Bruins this season if they’re not too careful.
23. Philadelphia Flyers (6-8-4, LW: 24) – Ron Hextall and the Flyers are turning toward the future, and that’s the right call with a group that was never the right mix in Philly.
24. Anaheim Ducks (6-9-4, LW: 23) – The Ducks are 1-2-2 in their last five games, and the only win was against the Carolina Hurricanes. Boy, that’s just not the kind of roll people expected the Ducks to start getting on.
25. Colorado Avalanche (7-10-1, LW: 26) – The Avs are winning and Matt Duchene has started scoring again. Now, the trade rumor mongers turn their lonely eyes to Tyson Barrie.
26. Calgary Flames (7-12-1, LW: 27) – A minus-11 each for Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano illustrates the serious defensive woes for this team right now.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-9-4, LW: 26) – Four wins in five games for the Leafs, and James Reimer is really turning up his game in the victories. Mike Babcock is starting to sink in with the players.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-12-0, LW: 30) – The Blue Jackets are 7-5-0 under John Tortorella, and show some signs of coming out of the season-opening stupor.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (6-10-2, LW: 25 – The Canes are 1-4-2 in seven games during the month of November, and are circling down the drain. This may be one of the teams to start selling off assets quickly as relocation rumors swirl around in the background.
30. Edmonton Oilers (6-12-1, LW: 29) – Since the start of 2013-14, the Oilers have a .320 winning percentage vs. Western Conference teams, and a .507 winning percentage against teams in the East. They’re just not tough enough against the big, strong teams in the West, and that’s been a running theme for a while. The Connor McDavid injury certainly doesn’t help this season.