NHL: The Weekend Update: Struggling Pens; Jagr Makes History; Injury Woes Catch Up to Habs

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By: Rossy Pasternak

Here on SportsNak, we will be doing weekly updated power rankings, with features about three teams each week. The season is now in full swing, and things are starting to heat up in the NHL. 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. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-13-7, 29 pts, -9 GD)

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (13-19-3, 29 pts, -21 GD)

28. Edmonton Oilers (14-18-2, 30 pts, -17 GD)

27. Anaheim Ducks (12-14-5, 29 pts, -19 GD)

26. Buffalo Sabres (14-16-4, 32 pts, -10 GD)

25. Carolina Hurricanes (13-15-5, 31 pts, -20 GD)

24. Arizona Coyotes (15-15-2, 32 pts, -15 GD)

23. Vancouver Canucks (12-14-29, 33 pts, -13 GD)

22. Winnipeg Jets (15-15-2, 32 pts, -7 GD)

21. Pittsburgh Penguins (15-14-3, 33 pts, -11 GD)

johnston_sullivan_672
Credit:  http://1.cdn.nhle.com/nhl/images/upload/2015/12/JOHNSTON_SULLIVAN_672.jpg

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a couple of moves in the past week and a bit, firing incumbent coach Mike Johnston, and hiring their farm team’s coach Mike Sullivan to replace him. Sullivan has past experience coaching in the NHL, amassing a respectable 72-60-23 record with the Bruins and Canucks. He served as the Bruins head coach for three years, but only two seasons, as the 2004-2005 NHL lockout came during his tenure. Sullivan then found work under John Tortorella in Tampa Bay, New York, and Vancouver, serving as interim head coach in Vancouver for 6 games as Torts served a suspension. After being relieved of his duties in Vancouver, Sullivan served as a player development coach in Chicago last season, and parlayed that role into the Head Coach position for Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Since the coaching change, the Penguins have continued to struggle, losing all four games they have played. The Penguins not only made a coaching change, but also made their first trade of the season, acquiring Trevor Daley from the Blackhawks in exchange for Rob Scuderi. Daley is capable of playing a top-four role for the Penguins, who are desperate for help on the back end. This deal was a smart one for the Pens, as all it costed was cap space to upgrade their defence. The Penguins have now lost Sidney Crosby to an injury – believed to be short term – and are battling just to make the playoffs. This is a far cry from where the Penguins were projected to be at this point of the season by most experts. Phil Kessel and Crosby haven’t developed the expected chemistry, and the goal scoring has mostly dried up. If the Penguins cant pick up their play in a hurry, this season could continue going south for them.

The Middle of the Pack (20-11):

20. Calgary Flames (15-16-2, 32 pts, -25 GD)

19.San Jose Sharks (16-15-2, 34 pts, -3 GD)

18. New Jersey Devils (16-13-5, 37 pts, -5 GD)

17. Philadelphia Flyers (14-12-7, 335 pts, -19 GD)

16. Nashville Predators (16-11-6, 38 pts, E GD)

15. Colorado Avalanche (17-16-1, 335 pts, +45 GD)

14. Ottawa Senators (17-12-5, 39 pts, +2 GD)

13. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-14-3, 37 pts, +6 GD)

12.Minnesota Wild (17-8-6, 40 pts, +13 GD)

11. Florida Panthers (18-12-4, 40 pts, +13 GD)

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Credit: http://www.foxsports.com/nhl/story/florida-panthers-jaromir-jagr-mullet-100515

Jaromir Jagr passed Marcel Dionne to move into 4th in all time goals scored in the NHL with http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=2680703059” target=”_blank”>this goal on Sunday. Seeing this made me think about the time that Jagr spent away from the NHL, whether it be the one lockout – and the other half-season lockout – he experienced, or the time he spent in the KHL. If Jagr had been playing in the NHL for those four seasons he played elsewhere, one has to thing that Jagr would be second in all-time scoring to Wayne Gretzky. Even if we said that Jagr would get a very conservative 60 points in each of those seasons, he would be over 2000 points. Now, there is no way Jagr would break The Great One’s record of points scored, but he would at least be the closest to ever do so. Dwelling on what could have been is not what I want to do at this time however. The ageless wonder has led the surprise Panthers in points for a majority of this season. On a roster with young budding stars like Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad, Jagr is the perfect example of what they should aspire to be. Known for practicing the hardest, and the most, Jagr is the definition of work ethic. Panthers GM Dale Tallon knew what he was doing when he traded for and re-signed Jagr last year, as he is providing his youngsters with an example of how to be professional and how to take their job seriously. The veterans the Panthers have, Luongo, Jagr, and Willie Mitchell to name a few, are great people to lead this team into a new, hopefully successful, generation.

The Best of the Best (10-1):

10. Detroit Red Wings (17-9-7, 41 pts, +1 GD)

9. New York Rangers (19-12-4, 42 pts, +10 GD)

8. New York Islanders (18-11-5, 41 pts, +11 GD)

7. Montreal Canadiens (20-11-3, 43 pts, +21 GD)

6. Boston Bruins (19-9-4, 42 pts, +21 GD)

5. St. Louis Blues (20-10-4, 44 pts, +6 GD)

4. Los Angeles Kings (20-10-2, 42 pts, +10 GD)

3. Chicago Blackhawks (20-11-4, 44 pts, +13 GD)

2. Dallas Stars (24-7-2, 50 pts, +29 GD)

1. Washington Capitals (24-6-2, 50 pts, +33 GD)

Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Credit: GoHabsGo

Montreal’s injuries have finally started to take their toll on the team’s record. Previously, this team was holding its own, even with the likes of Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher in the press box. With both of them out until the New Year at least however, the injuries were bound to start having an effect on the Habs’ level of play. Montreal is 2-8-0 in their last 10 games, and in my opinion, a lot of that is due to the tired legs of the players who have been carrying this team since Price and Gallagher went down. Max Pacioretty, PK Subban, Tomas Plekanec. All of these players are being relied upon even more than usual, and for the first while, they succeeded. One thing that was obvious before Price went down, and is even more apparent now, is how much the Habs rely on their goalies. With Mike Condon in net instead of Price, the Habs really don’t have the goaltending needed to play this style, so they have been forced to change up the way they play. No longer are these the risk-taking, offensively electric Canadiens. This team now has to play defensive hockey, focusing on keeping the other team on the outside, and keeping the puck in the other end. Subban has to limit his creativity in order to minimize his bad turnovers in the neutral zone. No longer does this team have the best player in the league, – yes, I said player – Carey Price, to bail them out. This Canadiens team, if healthy, has a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup at the end of the year; but first, they have to get through this tough stretch of injuries.

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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