By: 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):
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (2-10-0, 4 pts, -21 GD)
29. Calgary Flames (3-8-1, 7 pts, -23 GD)
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-7-2, 4 pts, -15 GD)
27. Colorado Avalanche (3-7-1, 7 pts, -6 GD)
26. Anaheim Ducks (2-7-2, 6 pts, -15 GD)
25. Edmonton Oilers (4-8-0, 8 pts, -7 GD
24. Philadelphia Flyers (4-4-2, 10 pts, -8 GD)
23. Buffalo Sabres (5-7-0, 10 pts, -7 GD)
22. Carolina Hurricanes (5-7-0, 10 pts, -8 GD)
21. Arizona Coyotes (5-5-1, 11 pts, -2 GD)
Is it time to fire Bruce Boudreau? That is the question on the mind of all Anaheim Ducks fans and management. Boudreau has led this team deeper into the playoffs each year he has been behind the Ducks bench, and his team was once (this preseason) considered elite. Since the season started however, the Ducks aren’t experiencing the same great amount of luck as they did last year. Last season, the Ducks had the lowest goal differential (+10) of any playoff team, despite coming first in their division. They did this by winning an inordinate amount of one-goal games, going 33-1-7 in those games. The Ducks also won a record 18 games after trailing in the third. If the Ducks were just league average in these situations, – some would say it was luck, others would say it was a measure of their determination and grit – the Ducks would have been a bubble team for the playoffs. Now, what does this have to do with Bruce Boudreau? That is for Ducks’ GM Bob Murray to decide. If he thinks that the team needs a change behind the bench, Boudreau will be replaced. If he thinks the status quo is the way to go, then that is how it will be. In my opinion, Boudreau is a great coach who has had a lot of success in this league, but this team needs a shakeup, and that will happen in the form of a coaching change.
The Middle of the Pack (20-11):
20. Detroit Red Wings (5-5-1, 11 pts, -2 GD)
19. San Jose Sharks (6-5-0, 12 pts, +3 GD)
18. Ottawa Senators (5-4-2, 12 pts, -1 GD)
17. New Jersey Devils (6-4-1, 13 pts, -1 GD)
16. Florida Panthers (5-4-2, 12 pts, +9)
15. Chicago Blackhawks (6-5-0, 12 pts, E GD)
14. Boston Bruins (6-3-1, 13 pts, +8 GD)
13. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-4-0, 14 pts, +4 GD)
12. Los Angeles Kings (7-3-0, 14 pts, +3 GD)
11. Vancouver Canucks (5-2-4, 14 pts, +7 GD)
The Vancouver Canucks are struggling at home, with a record of 1-2-3 so far, compared to a stellar record of 4-0-1 on the road. Much is made of home advantage in sports, and in my personal opinion, most of the time it is overrated. But in terms of hockey, home-ice advantage is real, due to the “last change” rule that allows the home team to match lines as they want to. It is really surprising that Willie Desjardins has failed to take advantage of this, as he is considered a very smart coach. Vancouver usually is great at home, and Rogers Arena will always be rocking, so this trend is not likely to continue. I think Desjardins will figure this out, and the depth of this roster will begin to make the difference it is supposed to. Bo Horvat has not produced as many thought he would, but he will pick it up, and so will the supporting cast. They have an established goaltender in Ryan Miller and he’ll be a huge factor in their success. The Canucks are looking like a good team so far, once again surprising many critics who think the core is past their prime.
The Best of the Best (10-1):
10. Tampa Bay Lightning (6-5-2, 14 pts, -1 GD)
9. New York Islanders (6-3-3, 15 pts, +6 GD)
8. Winnipeg Jets (7-4-1, 15 pts, +3 GD)
7. Nashville Predators (7-2-2, 16 pts, +7 GD)
6. New York Rangers (7-2-2, 16 pts, +10 GD)
5. St. Louis Blues (8-2-1, 17 pts, +7 GD)
4. Minnesota Wild (7-2-2, 16 pts, +3 GD)
3. Dallas Stars (9-2-0, 18 pts, +10 GD)
2. Washington Capitals (8-2-0, 16 pts, +11 GD)
1.Montreal Canadiens (11-2-0, 22 pts, +26 GD)
The top three teams in this weeks power rankings show that scoring can win championships. The Dallas Stars completely ignored their biggest weakness this offseason, their defence, and added to their biggest strength, scoring forwards. With the addition of Patrick Sharp, this team fields the best offence in the league. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin sit atop the NHL points leaders with 17 and 16 respectively, and Sharp has contributed 8 points to the cause. Jason Spezza is playing like he did back in his prime with the Sens with 10 points. Defensively, the young, emerging star John Klingberg has 11 points, and is playing stellar defence as well. This defence corps is playing surprisingly well also, with Jason Demers and Johnny Oduya providing the steadying presence on the back-end, proving GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s decision not to upgrade the defence look like a good one. With the way the Stars are playing so far – and how their in-arena entertainment team is on it’s game – no one will want to come to American Airlines Center any time soon.
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!