I hope everyone had a great start to 2012. I personally took a week or so off to let the NHL get back into full swing after the holidays. We have a few new teams coming into the Power Rankings this week and I even am doing a little venting against a certain team that has continued to get under my skin. Regardless we have another great week of hockey as we get closer and closer to the All Star Game in just a few weeks.
1.) Boston Bruins- I actually considered lowering the Bs in the rankings this week, the only problem is I really didn’t have a reason not to. Although the Bruins dropped a game this week to the Hurricanes, over the last three weeks they have 8 good wins. The Bruins continue to lead the league in goals per game and goals against. This all translates to them sitting pretty a top the power rankings although I must admit there are other teams, especially in the west who could quite easily be taking over the top spot here in the near future.
2.) New York Rangers- Yes the Rangers are coming off a pretty poor defensive effort against the Canadians last night but that can’t get away from their 10-3 record lately including the biggest hockey game of the year in the Winter Classic. The thing that this team has that really turns me onto them is John Tortorella. Seriously if you saw the Canadians game the other day you saw him ripping into his players for their defense and then gave one of the more funny bench interviews in recent memory. Still you can’t put a team in the top in the league because you like their coach. If you have watched this team prior to playing in the Winter Classic you have seen that they have been playing on a different level from the rest of the league (outside of their effort last night in Montreal) and are tied with the Blackhawks for most points in the league. Look for a mega matchup this Saturday when the Rangers travel to Boston in a mega #1 vs #2 matchup, yup I’m still playing BS Guru….
3.) Detroit RedWings- This is where my and Cal’s friend Timmie busts a blood vessel in his head. Ok let’s get something straight, yes I realize that Chicago is ahead of Detroit by three points in the standings. Yes I realize the Hawks are playing phenomenal hockey. However since the new year the Wings have won both meeting with their hated rivals from Chi-Town. If you have had the pleasure to catch any of the Wings and Hawks games this year you know that they have been more of the entertaining games this year and I for one am really hoping that this becomes a playoff matchup. The big question this week is whether or not the Wings can win 15 home games in a row tonight against the very disappointing Buffalo Sabres. If only they could work on that sub .500 road record, they’d probably be number one in these rankings. I also would like to note that apparently Lidstrom doesn’t like playing on the road at all as he has backed out of the All Star game this year.
4.) Chicago Blackhawks- One thing about the Hawks yes they just lost to the Wings in a Western Conference mega matchup although it wasn’t easy and the Hawks were able to sneak away with a point. I still feel that the Hawks have as good 0f a chance as anyone to make it deep into the chase for the Cup and what Blackhawks fan didn’t love seeing the team figure out how to beat former net minder Niemi last night in a great game vs. the Sharks. The Hawks have an interesting week coming up as they face three winnable games against Buffalo and then tougher matchups against the Panthers and Predators. How about this for the rumor mill, would anyone like seeing Ryan Miller wearing Chief Blackhawk across his chest? Ya I really don’t see it happening either but it’s a fun thought on the rumor mill. Bottom line is the Hawks and the Wings will be battling out the top of the west, along with Vancouver, and will be leap frogging themselves quite often for the remainder of the season.
5.) St. Louis Blues- I know a lot of hockey fans that are amazed to see the Blues continue to be one of the top surprises this NHL season. I also know a lot more that are impressed that the Blues have started off the new year 5-0-1 and Brian Elliot continues to dazzle. I didn’t think the Blues would be able to hold on this long in the season but here at they are hanging tough at number five on the list. This week the Blues have the Stars, Oilers, and Sabres which if they walk away with winning those will set up a huge matchup next Monday against the Red Wings.
6.) Vancouver Canucks- The Canucks have continued to bounce around my rankings like a ping-pong ball and in all honesty they could easily be in the top five. I put them below the Blues because of their 4-3 record since the New Year. This is a team that has potential and will once again make for a lot of fun in the West come playoff time. Since 2012 the Canucks have beat Boston and St. Louis but at the same time have dropped games to the Wild and Ducks along with almost giving a game away in Tampa. I attribute a lot of this to a brutal east coast road trip. I still question whether or not they can continue to hold on to both their goalies and if indeed they decide to trade either Luongo or Schneider they should be able to put any last pieces to the Canadian puzzle that could bring the Cup home to Canada.
7.) San Jose Sharks- Oh San Jose, here you go again getting the Bay area all excited. Let me be honest, I like the Sharks but how many times have we seen this before they find some way to let it all fall apart in the postseason. Coutoure continues to have a good season, good enough for a nod into the All Star game but they are still lacking that major point getter. San Jose has a tough game coming up this week in Vancouver for the best team in the west coast. San Jose has to continue to win and has benefited by playing non contending teams since the new year like Columbus.
8.) Philadelphia Flyers- Oh how the mighty have fallen, just a few weeks ago I had the Flyers near the top of the power rankings although they just have fallen to injuries just like their Pennsylvania neighbors the Penguins. I know they are still holding tough but with no cap space and underperforming goalies it is going to be tough for the Flyers to be able to make a serious run at the Cup as the year progresses. They dropped both games to their rival Rangers, including the Winter Classic when I really though the Flyers would find some way to be able to pull it out. They have a tough schedule this week with four games including back to back games to the Devils and then hosting Boston.
9.) Ottawa Senators- What New Years the Senators have had! Four players voted into the All Star Game by the hometown fans in Ottawa and they have come out firing. Since 2012 the Sens have been 8-0-1 including victories over the Flyers, Pens, and Rangers. The most impressive part they have been able to do this with allowing 3.1 goals a game, which ranks 27th in the league. The key to the Sens success is they’re 6th in the league in goals per game. Teams like this always worry me as I believe you must have a complete team to really have success. That being said they have been on a tear lately and with the All Star Games a little under two weeks away they will do everything they can to go into the break as one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
10.) Nashville Predators- It always amazing me how year in and year out the Preds are able to find their way into the power rankings and the playoffs. The Central Division continues to be one of the hardest divisions in all of hockey yet every team, minus Columbus, always seem to find a way to make the playoffs. All their major team statistics are right around the middle of the pack but thanks to Pekka Rinne once again being a solid goaltender and Shea Weber continuing to be a top defender the Preds are once again in the mix. I hope that Weber can stay healthy after coming back from his concussion and that has helped the Preds to a 6-1 record since the New Year. This week will be very challenging for the Preds as they face both the Rangers and their Central Rival Chicago Blackhawks.
Awful): Tampa Bay Lightning- I am adding another ranking here for one of my most frustrating teams of the 2011-2012 season. I don’t think many people realize that they Lightning have not won a single game in 2012 and have a whopping 1 point since the ball dropped on 2011. The defense is terrible, they are constantly in the box, and Roloson has an impressive .880 save percentage. Cal and I have been able to see first hand through our season tickets how frustrating this team has been after being one goal away from the Stanley Cup Finals. If it wasn’t for Steven Stamkos having another amazing year the Lightning would be battling the Blue Jackets for worse team in the league. I really hope Steve Yzerman can fix this mess although the way they have played expect some major changes before the trading deadline.