The Professor's NHL Power Rankings, October 30
It is time for the third weekly installment of the Professor's NHL power rankings. This week we find some rapid risers as some of the teams that had the worst starts to their seasons have turned into some of the hottest teams in the league. Find out who moved from the bottom to near the top in only two weeks.
#30 Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 27; -3)
The Ducks managed to score three goals in the first period of Wednesday night's game, only to see their lead collapse, losing 4-3 to the Dallas Stars. Ryan Getzlaf missed the game due to appendicitis, but Corey Perry finally managed his second point of the season. Those two really need to get things going.
#29 Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 28; -1)
Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk and their four goals apiece and Dion Phaneuf with his six assists look good, but little else has. This is not the beginning to the Mike Babcock that Toronto hoped for.
#28 Calgary Flames (Last Week: 29; +1)
The Flames did not move up because of their success. I just feel that the Maple Leafs are a bit worse right now. The Flames have lost three straight, and almost nothing is going their way. Was last season a fluke?
#27 Blue Jackets (Last Week: 30; +3)
Believe it or not, the Blue Jackets won a game! In fact, they have won two straght. The team is still far from being the Cup contender I expected, but at least they are now moving forward.
#26 Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 23; -3)
Ranking the Sabres this low almost seems unfair, because it is very obvious that they are better than last year. Ryan O'Reilly has been a great addition, but the goaltending is rocky, and the killer instinct is missing. That needs to come for the Sabres to move up significantly.
#25 Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 25; nc)
The Avs won their last game, but that was preceded by a four game slide. Semyon Varlamov has been brutal in net, but Reto Verra has made up for it. Even so, he will need more goal support to win. Patrick Roy needs to turn this team around soon if he wants to have any job security.
#24 Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 26; +2)
The Canucks play a lot of close games and go to overtime a lot. The problem? They cannot seem to win those games. They have lost five of their last six, and have four losses beyond regulation. That will not keep them second in the division for long.
#23 Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 18; +5)
The Oilers have dropped a bit because they lost three of their last four, but two of those losses were by a single goal to the Kings and Wild, which makes it seem not as bad. Connor McDavid is still averaging over a point per game. He seems to be the real deal. Possibly even better for the Oilers is that Nail Yakupov is still playing well.
#22 Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 26; +4)
The offense is still not there, but the team is starting to win. The Hurricanes have won three of their last five. Things still feel tenuous to me, though. Cam Ward has been okay in net, but his save percentage leaves a lot to be desired. I am not sure this team will continue to win if it means limiting shots on goal.
#21 Red Wings (Last Week: 19; -2)
On paper, this probably should not be happening. On paper, you would not expect the Red Wings to lose three games to the Oilers and Hurricanes. I think this should still be a playoff team, but they need to start taking care of business.
#20 Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 10; -10)
One rough week did not knock the Lightning down, but two definitely did. If this were purely based on record, the Lightning would be higher, but it is not, and the Bolts are ice cold right now. They are not getting blown out, but they have to start winning close games. Not doing so is certain death in the NHL.
#19 Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 12; -7)
This drop is not all about the Flyers. Part of it is that other teams just moved ahead of them, but it still was not a good week for Philly. Even so, it is not time to panic. It would be nice to see more offense from Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, but at least the offense is balanced. I think Michal Neuvirth should get more time in net though.
#18 Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 21; -2)
The are certainly not as hot as they were at the beginning of the season and they got blown out in their last game, but this still does not seem to be last year's Coyotes. I made some preseason predictions that do not look so good right now, but so far it looks like I was right about Max Domi. He seems to be the real deal.
#17 Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 14; -3)
The Senators finally broke the losing streak by defeating the Flames. If there were any positives about the losing streak, it was that the team played better as a whole even without results, and that they were at least getting points. It is hard not to love this offense too.
#16 San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 6; -10)
The wheels have come off. Getting offensive production from your veterans is good, but when a team has the young talent the Sharks do and its top five scorers are 30 or older, it may not be a good sign. That balance needs to shift a little.
#15 Boston Bruins (Last Week: 22; +7)
The goaltending still is not very good, but the Bruins are beginning to pile up goals. Their 33 on the season is the third highest total in the league. David Krejci is tied for second in the league in points, and much to my surprise, nearly everything seems to be working now. If Tuukka Rask turns back into Tuukka Rask, look out.
#14 Florida Panthers (Last Week: 15; +1)
Your weekly Jaromir Jagr countdown: he is now three goals behind Marcel Dionne for fourth all-time, and it may be time to mention that he is 13 behind Brett Hull for third. The Panthers have been up and down, but they are currently on an up. This is a good, balanced hockey team. They may surprise some folks.
#13 Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 13; nc)
The Penguins are hot. Do not let the fact that they did not move up in the rankings fool you. They were simply jumped by a couple of teams that are hotter. Still, I am a bit concerned by the fact that Sidney Crosby still has only five points through ten games. Unless that pace increases, I do not see this streak continuing.
#12 New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 20; +8)
I did not see this coming. In their last six games, the Devils have lost only once. Sometimes their scoring is the reason. Sometimes it is the defense and goaltending. The offense is a bit top heavy, and that needs to be corrected, but there is reason for hope in New Jersey.
#11 Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 17; +6)
They lost last night, but they won four straight before that. Duncan Keith is out, but somehow the defending champs are holding things together, even managing two shutouts. It looks like we cannot write them off yet.
#10 Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 5; -5)
The guys from Manitoba do not look quite as good as they did early, but they are still playing some fairly good hockey. They are still in the thick of the race in the toughest division in the league. Michael Hutchinson is leading the league in save percentage with a .949. If he stays anywhere near that, Winnipeg will be just fine.
#9 New York Rangers (Last Week: 9; nc)
The Rangers' offense has been pretty good and has been very balanced, with eight players scoring five or more points in the first ten games. The real strength of the team is still in net, however. Henrik Lundqvist has a save percentage of .941 and a goals against average of 1.98. The Rangers are a contender as long as he is around.
#8 New York Islanders (Last Week: 3; -5)
Goals everywhere! John Tavares and Kyle Okposo are leading the charge of a team that already has 33 goals. Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak have both been solid in net. The loss to the Hurricanes was rough, but the Islanders look like a real contender.
#7 Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 16; +9)
The defense and goaltending still is not up to snuff, but the offense has carried the team well enough. Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Mikko Koivu, and Ryan Suter all have eight or more points, and eight players have averaged better than half a point per game. They still need Dubnyk, though. If he reverts to last season, this will be a difficult team to beat.
#6 Washington Capitals (Last Week: 7; +1)
Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are third and fourth on the team in points. That does not look good on the surface, but it is not because they are not producing. It is because Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson have had stellar starts. The superstars are not the only players producing, and that is why the Caps are climbing.
#5 Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 24; +19)
The Kings were at the bottom of the first power rankings, and look where they are two weeks later. Six consecutive wins have made them the hottest team in the league. The locker room issues seem like a distant memory right now. If this continues, they will soon be forgotten.
#4 St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 8; +4)
You would not think a team ranked 14th in goals for and 8th in goals against would be ranked this high since those number are average or just a little better, but the results on the ice speak volumes. Only two teams in the league have more points in the standings than the Blues. Hockey is a team game, and this is a good team.
#3 Nashville Predators (Last Week: 4; +1)
The Predators may have the best defensive corps in the league. Roman Josi and Shea Weber are producing as expected, but do not discount the contributions of Seth Jones and Ryan Ellis. Barrett Jackman is not producing offense, but he has been rock solid defensively.
#2 Dallas Stars (Last Week: 2; nc)
Who leads the league in goals? Assists? Points? Jamie Been, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn. Never count this team out. They can score in bunches, and are fully capable of burying anyone in goals. They will probably need to be better defensively to be a true Cup contender, but for now, it works.
#1 Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 1; nc)
They lost their last two, and I was tempted to drop them, but the Habs still lead the league in goals and have the league's best goal differential. I could not lower them because they had so much margin. Another week last this last one and they will fall, but for now, they retain the top spot.
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