NHL: The Weekend Update: Calgary Takes a Step Back; No Babcock? No Problem; Don’t Leave Ovi Open

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By: Adam and Rossy Pasternak

Here on SportsNak, we will be doing weekly updated power rankings, with features about three teams each week. The season has just begun, and as many people will tell you, it is ‘too early’ too make assumptions about teams, but we sure can try. These rankings are not only based on the standings, but also the level of team play. All stats are taken from NHL.com. (GD stands for goal differential, the difference between goals scored and goals against)

The Bottom Feeders (30-21):

Nov 20, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller (1) guards his net against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Chicago Blackhawks won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller (1) guards his net against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Chicago Blackhawks won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (0-8-0, 0 pts, -22 GD)

29. Buffalo Sabres (2-5-0, 4 pts, -9 GD)

28. Calgary Flames (2-5-0, 4 pts, -12 GD)

27. Carolina Hurricanes (2-5-0, 4 pts, -8 GD)

26. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-3-2, 4 pts, -6 GD)

25. Colorado Avalanche (2-3-1, 5 pts, -1 GD

24. Anaheim Ducks (1-4-1, 3 pts, -11 GD)

23. Edmonton Oilers (3-5-0, 6 pts, -5 GD)

22. New Jersey Devils (3-3-1, 7 pts, -4 GD)

21. Boston Bruins (3-3-1, 7 pts, -2 GD)

Although Columbus’ horrid start is something to talk about, the focus for this section will be on the surprisingly, but at the same time, not-so-surprisingly bad Calgary Flames. Last year, the Flames were a team that defied advanced stats, and were a favourite to regress this year. That was before the outstanding offseason GM Brad Treliving had, bringing in future star, and current outstanding defenseman, Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in one of the biggest trade steals in recent years. He also brought in highly praised role players Michael Frolik and Mason Raymond in to help out with the team this year. Those moves do not seem to have had the effect he was hoping for, as his team has struggled so far. A big reason for the struggles has been their horrible goaltending, as the duo of Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo have been terrible, with a .882 and .879 GAA respectively, culminating in the demotion of Ramo to the minors. The goaltending will even itself out, both of these guys have proven they can at least be average goaltenders in the NHL, with Hiller not so far separated from leading the Ducks into the playoffs. Head coach Bob Hartley was the winner of the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the NHL last year, and he should be able to find a way to fix this, but for now, he, and the Flames, have to be worried. The Flames have recently inquired on the status of Steven Stamkos and it isn’t that hard to realize that the Flames are currently seeking improvements in net and on the blue-line. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season will play-out for the Calgary Flames. Was last year a fluke, or are they truly just having a slow start? Only time will tell.

The Middle of the Pack (20-11):

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20. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-4-0, 6 pts, -4 GD)

19. Florida Panthers (3-3-1, 7 pts, +5 GD)

18. Arizona Coyotes (3-3-1, 7 pts, +1 GD)

17. Detroit Red Wings (3-3-1, 7 pts, -1 GD)

16. Vancouver Canucks (3-2-2, 8 pts, +4)

15. San Jose Sharks (4-3-0, 8 pts, +2 GD)

14. Philadelphia Flyers (3-2-1, 7 pts, -3 GD)

13. Ottawa Senators (3-2-1, 8 pts, +1 GD)

12. Los Angeles Kings (4-3-0, 8 pts, -2 GD)

11. St. Louis Blues (5-2-0, 10 pts, +4 GD)

When Mike Babcock left for so-called “greener pastures” in Toronto, the thought in Detroit’s front office was that they would be just fine with AHL coach Jeff Blashill stepping up to the plate; and boy was GM Ken Holland right in that regard. Detroit started off the season by embarrassing Babcock’s Maple Leafs in his return to Joe Louis Arena, and has continued their strong start to the season to date. With stellar goaltending from the duo of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek, as well as contributions from young guns Dylan Larkin (2 goals, 7 points), Gustav Nyquist (3 goals, 5 points), these new-look Red Wings are still getting it done. With veteran captain Henrik Zetterberg leading the way, Larkin and Nyquist, and the rest of the solid supporting cast look to continue their postseason streak once again this year, and have a solid chance of doing so. That they have done so well without their lead-magician, and Zetterberg’s partner in crime, Pavel Datsyuk, is a huge accomplishment, and no small feat. Once Datsyuk is back, look out NHL, if the Red Wings stay healthy, they will be very dangerous.

The Best of the Best (10-1):

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 15: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals shoots the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center on January 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – JANUARY 15: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals shoots the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center on January 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images. 

10. Minnesota Wild (4-1-1, 9 pts, Even GD)

9. Winnipeg Jets (4-2-1, 9 pts, +6 GD)

8. New York Islanders (4-2-1, 9 pts, +4 GD)

7. New York Rangers (5-2-1, 11 pts, +6 GD)

6. Chicago Blackhawks (4-3-0, 8 pts, +1 GD)

5. Nashville Predators (6-1-0, 12 pts, +10 GD)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-2-1, 11 pts, +4 GD)

3. Dallas Stars (6-1-0, 12 pts, +10 GD)

2. Washington Capitals (6-1-0, 12 pts, +11 GD)

1.Montreal Canadiens (8-0-0, 16 pts, +21 GD)

After 10 seasons in the NHL, all of them with over 30 goals, and 6 of them with over 50, including one with 65, you would think that opposing teams would cover Alex Ovechkin. This man is a goal-scoring machine. This year he is on a tear, with 5 goals and 4 assists in his first 6 games. The most, and only, surprising fact about his stats so far is that he is yet to record one power play point, goal or assist. That means that Ovi is getting looks at even strength more than ever, a scary fact to consider for opposing teams. Watching the Capitals’ game against Vancouver on Thursday, I saw him get 4 shots from his “sweet spot” at the top of the circle on the left side, including the game winning goal. Ovechkin has scored so many goals with his one-timer from that spot in the last few years that it has become impossible to keep track. One thing is for sure however, that man should have someone sticking on him like glue, no matter where he is. The Caps are for real this year, with great goaltending from young star Braden Holtby, as well as great defence, led by John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Look out Eastern Conference, Ovi hasn’t made it to the Stanley Cup Finals yet in his career, and he is mad about it. With Ovechkin playing as well as he has so far, these Capitals will be tough to stop.

That concludes this week’s rankings. Check back next Saturday for the updated rankings and stories.

Do you agree, or disagree with our picks? Comment below!

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