NHL Power Rankings: Rangers are for real
NHL Power Rankings: Rangers are for real
A month into the regular season, here are some observations about the NHL as it pertains to the CSNNE power rankings.
*The Rangers are for real. The depth of their forward attack, the traditional big, strong and tough defensemen corps and King Henrik Lundqvist still hanging onto the back end of his goalie prime, it all adds up a quality team in the East. They may not average 4 goals per game all season, but they also aren’t going to spiral out of the top half of the playoff picture.
*The New Jersey Devils look like a playoff team. They’re not sexy and they’re not getting a ton of offense (it’s a good thing that’s something hockey fans in Jersey are used to), but they play the game the right way to win games.
*The Ottawa Senators might be a fluke right now. Maybe Guy Boucher’s system is going to keep them among the NHL’s best defensive units all season and maybe their goaltending is up for the challenge as well, but one gets the sense that this roster isn’t quite built for what Boucher is looking for. I think we will eventually see cracks with this group, but give them credit for a pretty solid start to the season.
*The Winnipeg Jets are going to be a handful this season. Kevin Cheveldayoff may not trade Jacob Trouba this season after all if Mark Schiefele and Patrik Laine keep scoring, and the Jets keep pushing their way up the standings. The MTS Centre crowd in Winnipeg might finally be getting a hockey club worthy of the energy and noise they put into each and every home game.
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. New York Rangers (12-4-0, previous ranking: 3)
The Rangers are a plus-29 in goal differential and have 10 guys already in double figures for points this season. Many thought there would be a transition period for the Blueshirts, but they’ve been close to unstoppable for a month now.
2. Montreal Canadiens (13-2-1, previous ranking: 1)
If anybody doubted how dominant a figure that Carey Price is to the fate of the Canadiens, they can doubt it no longer. Price has been super-human between the pipes and the Habs have been super-human in the standings.
3. Chicago Blackhawks (11-3-2, previous ranking: 2)
The Blackhawks haven’t suffered a regulation loss in their last 11 games, and continue to rise up the standings after a rough opening couple of games. Artem Anisimov has been the big surprise with eight goals and 17 points in Chicago’s first 16 games of the season.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (10-3-2, previous ranking: 4)
In the sad state of our Presidential situation, I would have actually, gladly voted for Phil Kessel as President rather than both of the other alternatives if given that choice. And I don’t much like Kessel either.
5. Boston Bruins (10-6-0, previous ranking: 16)
The big riser of the week, the Bruins took eight out of 10 points while playing five games in a seven day span. They also got amazing work from Tuukka Rask, who won four games in the week and tossed in a couple of shutouts for good measure amid the best start of his NHL career.
6. San Jose Sharks (9-6-0, previous ranking: 13)
The Sharks have won three games in a row, and Brent Burns is killing it in his free agent walk year. The 73 shots on goal in 15 games for Burns is just a massive, massive number.
7. Edmonton Oilers (9-6-1, previous rank: 5)
Three losses in a row, including dropping the Sidney Crosby-Connor McDavid showdown gives the Oilers evidence there is still room to grow, and that perhaps they’re not in the class of the Penguins and New York Rangers quite yet.
8. Washington Capitals (9-4-1, previous ranking: 6)
Big matchup this week with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so bring the popcorn and enjoy yet another rivalry match between Sid the Kid and Alex Ovechkin. Washington is right in the mix, but the sense is that they’re not quite playing up to their potential yet.
9. New Jersey Devils (8-3-3, previous ranking: 8)
The New Jersey Devils team would nod approvingly at a sound, structured New Jersey team winning with an excellent frontline goalie in Cory Schneider, and just enough scoring with guys like Taylor Hall.
10. Ottawa Senators (9-5-1, previous ranking: 10)
The Senators are 27th in goals scored, and fifth in goals against allowing 2.3 goals per game. Makes sense for a Guy Boucher-coached team, but it doesn’t make sense for the players on the roster starting with Erik Karlsson. You can’t argue with the results, though. The Sens are playing winning hockey.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (9-6-1, previous ranking: 9)
Could there be a goalie controversy brewing in Tampa between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ben Bishop? The backup has outplayed the starter to this point in the season, and the Bolts are just kind of floating around in the Atlantic Division at this point.
12. Minnesota Wild (8-5-1, previous ranking: 12)
The Wild are the NHL’s toughest team to score against with new coach Bruce Boudreau at the controls. This is not what I expected to see with Boudreau in Minnesota, and one wonders if Minnesota can’t maintain this for the entire seasons given their personnel. Eric Staal is their leading scorer, so there are others that need to step up offensively.
13. Anaheim Ducks (7-6-3, previous ranking: 11)
Things could turn around soon for this team now that Hampus Lindholm is in the mix, but for now the Ducks are still languishing in the middle of a Pacific Division with a new world order.
14. Detroit Red Wings (8-7-1, previous ranking: 15)
The Red Wings aren’t particularly good at anything, but they’ve managed to hang in there thus far thanks to a hot start from Jimmy Howard. But the 5-0 shellacking at the hands of the Habs might be a wakeup call for this group.
15. St. Louis Blues (7-6-3, previous ranking: 7)
The Blues have lost three in a row, and hit a bit of a rock-bottom in allowing eight goals to the Blue Jackets last weekend. It’s tough to win games when your No. 1 defenseman is a minus-11 like Alex Pietrangelo.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-4-2, previous ranking: 18)
The Blue Jackets are second in the league scoring 3.45 goals per game, and have showed teams like the Habs and Blues that they can embarrass anybody when they don’t respect them enough.
17. Winnipeg Jets (8-7-2, previous ranking: 17)
Who knew that Mark Schiefele and Patrik Laine would be among the league leaders in goals and points a month into the season? Things are starting to get pretty exciting in Winnipeg.
18. Florida Panthers (7-7-1, previous ranking: 19)
The Panthers are just ambling through the season right now, win one and lose one. They don’t look all that motivated, and that was a downside concern after everybody was handed contract extensions last offseason.
19. Dallas Stars (6-6-4, previous ranking: 19)
Tyler Seguin is hitting his stride after coming back from the foot problems, and has 20 points in 16 games. But Seguin and Jamie Benn are a combined minus-10 on the season, and they are better than that.
20. Philadelphia Flyers (7-7-2, previous ranking: 20)
The injury to Michael Neuvirth puts a ton of pressure on Steve Mason, and count me as somebody that does not think that goaltender is up for the challenge. The Flyers could be in trouble if they don’t start getting some quality puck-stopping from somewhere.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-6-3, previous ranking: 23)
There’s no doubt that William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews are thrilling to watch with the puck on their stick, but they’re also a combined minus-13 on the season. Playing without the puck continues to be a challenge for Toronto’s young guns.
22. Nashville Predators (6-5-3, previous ranking: 24)
We knew life might be tough for P.K. Subban in a new place, but who would have guessed that Roman Josi would struggle so much with Shea Weber gone as well? Both Josi and Subban have been “meh” as top pairing guys for the Predators, and need to raise their respective games.
23. Buffalo Sabres (5-6-4, previous ranking: 22)
Evander Kane is back for the Sabres, but he’s not making an impact on the Sabres. This team has done about as much as it can until Jack Eichel returns, and brings the real Sabres spark with him.
24. Los Angeles Kings (7-8-1, previous ranking: 8)
There’s only so long the Kings can hang in there with Peter Budaj carrying the load for Los Angeles. He’s been pretty good, but the Kings are starting to drag now with losses on the road to the Habs, Senators and Jets.
25. Vancouver Canucks (6-9-1, previous ranking: 27)
At least Loui Eriksson has begun scoring goals in the opposing goals rather than his own. That’s a step in the right direction for a player that has completely underwhelmed after signing a six year, big money contract with the Canucks this summer.
26. New York Islanders (5-8-3, previous ranking: 26)
Now we’re reaching the “coach is on the hot seat for an underperforming team” portion of the power rankings, where Jack Capuano is in the danger zone right now. The Islanders have lost three in a row, and have looked like a mess doing it. It might be time with a solid coach that was never really viewed as the long term answer anyway.
27. Carolina Hurricanes (4-6-4, previous ranking: 30)
The 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals was an impressive one considering that Justin Faulk is injured, and the Hurricanes haven’t received consistent goaltending this season.
28. Colorado Avalanche (6-8-0, previous ranking: 28)
While Semyon Varlamov has improved his play a bit after being called out by the media in Colorado, there is still underachievement. There’s also the Avs missing Matt Duchene with a concussion, a giant part of their offensive attack that was toothless in a loss to the Bruins.
29. Arizona Coyotes (5-9-0, previous ranking: 29)
John Chayka wants to be the Theo Epstein of the NHL. Well, he’s got the youngest GM ever thing down pat. And now comes the challenge of turning a middling-to-bad Coyotes franchise into a consistent winner. Good luck with that, buddy.
30. Calgary Flames (5-10-1, previous ranking: 26)
The Flames are allowing 3.63 goals per game, and haven’t received anything approaching passable goaltending from anybody but career backup Chad Johnson. This is a team that either wasn’t constructed well, or is massively underachieving for the management out there.