Been a crazy week in the world of sports and hockey is no different. I have discovered that I enjoy having no real ties to previous power rankings and am ranking the teams by the “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Overall I am trying to take into count how teams are stacking up on a whole which definitely leaves the rankings up for debate. This week we have a new number one, some teams that somehow vanished, and a few teams that are cracking my top ten for the first time. Hopefully this makes the rankings as unpredictable as the game of hockey itself, enjoy.
- Boston Bruins (2)– Yes Boston had a little bit of an off week but anytime you go undefeated for the month a single loss will be an off week. Boston may have lost to the Jets and Panthers but you have to give a lot of the credit to both of those team’s goalies. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 39 saves on Tuesday and Jose Theodore stopped all 40 shots he faced on Thursday. Boston also walked away with two wins against the red hot Penguins and the powerhouse in C-Bus with the Blue Jackets (yes that’s sarcasm). Whether or not Boston can stay on top of the power rankings depends a lot on Saturday’s mega match up in Philly against the Flyers.
- Philadelphia Flyers (9)– Let me get something straight I am against the BCS to the point I for the rest of these power rankings will only refer to them as the BS. I hate the way that college football rapes the rankings to give us the match up they feel America wants to see. That being said I am playing BS hockey God here and so I am jumping Philadelphia from number 9 in last week’s power rankings to number 2 creating the “Game of the Century” this Saturday against the Bruins. Playing God is awesome! In all seriousness though I thought Philly would be hurt by them being hurt but this past week they won all three of their games against Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Tampa. This next week will be huge for them staying near the top of the list with road trips to Washington and Montreal before taking on the top ranked BS Boston Bruins at home. Let’s just say thank you Little Baby Jesus that the NHL actually has a playoff and this match doesn’t determine anything other than bragging rights. I will predict this to be a top playoff match up this season.
- Minnesota Wild (6)– Last week I admitted to not knowing a lot about the Wild but now that they are already at 20 wins, trust me I am taking notice. Listen to these stats they have won 7 in a row and 12 out of 14. They have double digit wins at home and on the road and I still feel like a lot of hockey fans still aren’t paying them the attention they need. Personally their match on Wednesday at home vs. Chicago is one that I am very much looking forward to seeing.
- Chicago Blackhawks (4)– The Hawks have won 6 out of their last 8 dropping both of those games to Phoenix, both in the same week so as long as they can avoid playing the mighty Coyotes they should be ok. Chicago continues to have the same problems they have had since winning the Cup a few years ago, they allow way too many goals and they are near the bottom of the league at the penalty kill. You might be able to cheat with those into a decent playoff spot but that definitely won’t get you deep in the playoffs. Kane, Hossa, and Toews can only do so much and if Chicago wants to paint the city red again this June they are going to have to get some help on defense.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (1)– Fans in Pittsburgh should count their lucky stars that their hockey team is deeper than their baseball team. Seriously think about it, if the Pirates had half the major injuries the Pens have I’m pretty sure they would be demoted to AA baseball. Unfortunately Sid the Kid’s injury has to do with concussion like symptoms and who knows how much time he could miss this time, I hope this isn’t the end of what surely would have been an amazing career. Everything included it was a tough week for the Pens and it doesn’t get any easier this week with Detroit and Buffalo although this team always seems to rebound and excel with injuries and I’m sure they will continue to find a way. I for one hope that Crosby’s symptoms aren’t serious and that we see him again in the near future.
- New York Rangers (NR)– The Rangers dropped two in a row this week to Toronto and the Lightning and yet they have replaced my over hyped Maple Leafs on this week’s power rankings. Why you ask? Simple, they are 7-2 in their last 9 games, they’re in the top 10 in goals per game, goals against, and penalty kill percentage, and get this Henrik Lundqvist isn’t even leading the team in goals against and save percentage. Backup Martin Biron is 5-1-0 with a 1.79 GAA and a save percentage of .937. He also just beat Buffalo by allowing just one goal on 33 shots. In my opinion this means that the Rangers have something that the Leafs and a lot of other teams do not have, options. They can hold on to Biron for the stretch and keep Lundqvist fresh or he could be a huge trade bait for teams like Tampa Bay who, in my opinion, are in desperate need of a goaltender.
- Detroit Red Wings (3)– Detroit dropped some spots this week because of going 2-2 in their last four. Although they won their last two vs. Phoenix and Winnipeg they have a big match up on Tuesday as the Wings travel to the new Igloo to take on the Pens. I feel that the Wings are clicking on all cylinders as Jimmy Howard continues to impress although how long will they be able to be considered an elite team when they are in the bottom part of the league when it comes to their penalty kill. Another major question is how long can Howard continue to dominate? He at this point has 17 wins, the Wings only have 18 as a team. Can you imagine the fall off God forbid if anything happened to him? Then again this is Detroit and we all know that city never has anything go wrong.
- Florida Panthers (NR)– Yet another team to crack my power rankings. I’m not going to lie I have noticed the Panthers, it’s really hard not to as a hockey fan living in the Sunshine State. I know they have dropped their last two but prior to that they beat the Caps and shut out the Bruins both of which are impressive for a team that most people expected to be fighting with the Blue Jackets for the title of worst team. I mean let’s be honest a lot of hockey fans thought this could be the team moving to Quebec City the way they have been going. It is going to be really interesting as we get closer to the All Star Break what’s going to happen with this team and they definitely need to beef up their goals per game (currently they are ranked 13th) but as long as Theodore and the Panthers keep finding ways to win they could be the feel good story of this season, well feel good story for the few hockey fans Miami has.
- St. Louis Blues (7)– I will remain impressed with what Ken Hitchcock has done in St. Louis until I have reason to not be. St. Louis continues to look great with wins this week against Detroit, Anaheim, and San Jose although I still dropped them like Albert Pujols dropped the Cardinals. Ok maybe not that bad but I did drop them one spot and it’s because despite Brian Elliot continuing to win and them still finding ways to win you can’t hide the fact that they are 24th in goals per game and even worse on the power play. That being said they have a very interesting match up this week at home with the Rangers and I can’t wait to see if they can continue going head to head with the Red Wings.
- Vancouver Canucks (10)– Vancouver continues to impress at every aspect of their game after their slow start. I had a really hard time keeping them at number 10 although I think it has to do with me being impressed with so many other good teams. Vancouver is definitely right back where they should be and with a week with games against lesser teams such as Columbus I think by next week they will be higher than tenth on the chart. They are in the top 10 in goals per game (2nd), goals against (9th), power play pct (1st), and penalty kills (4th). Not to mention that they like the Rangers have a lot of depth at goalie and Schneider is about as good as it gets in a backup. I actually question if they will hold onto him or use him as trade bait much like I wonder about Biron in New York.
Cal Meacham’s Sound off of the week:
Coach Ryan seems to watch the Red Wings with his hands over his eyes who are 8-2-0 in their last 10 unlike the 6-3-1 of the Blackhawks. The Hawks also have two more games played than the Wings and only 3 more points. The Blackhawks have allowed more goals (92) than all but 6 teams in the NHL have scored and that is not a pretty stat at all. Circle December 30 on your calendar and we will solve this once and for all……….or at least until the next power rankings come out.