The Professor's Power Rankings, November 5
New week, new power rankings. Some of the teams who have surprised early seem to be returning to form. Some things still do not make sense. But if everything made sense, there would be no point in playing the games, and no point in having power rankings. Read on to find my latest attempt to cut through the weeds and see the current state of all 30 NHL teams.
NOTE: These rankings do not include the results of tonight's games.
#30 Calgary Flames (Last Week: 28; -2)
Prepare to have your mind blown. The Flames have allowed the most goals of any team in the league (56). On average, they allow 4.31 pucks into their net every game. Their -26 goal differential is the worst in the league by a eight goals. This is a long way from last year's Flames.
#29 Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 29; nc)
Give credit where credit is due. The Leafs' 4-1 win over Dallas was very impressive, but their two wins are still a league low. The goaltending situation still looks turbulent. The team does not need to continue with two defensmen as their leading scorers, but Morgan Reilly and Dion Phaneuf deserve credit for their performances. The problem is, few others do.
#28 Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 27; -1)
The only reason the Blue Jackets are still this low is that they dug themselves such a deep hole at the beginning of the season. The reason they fell is that the team ahead of them is also getting its act together. More recently, they have won three of their last five, with the two losses being by a single goal to the Capitals and Jets. If that trend continues, they should begin a rapid rise soon.
#27 Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 30; +3)
Corey Perry finally got his first goal of the season. That is big news for such an offensively starved team. As bad as the Ducks looked early, however, they have won their last two. They still need to find some more offense, but the ship looks like it is beginning to right.
#26 Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 25; -1)
Generally speaking, the Avs are still struggling offensively. but they have nine goals in their last two games, so maybe they are about to turn the corner. Their top scorers are doing quite well. Nathan MacKinnon, Jarome Iginla, and Gabriel Landeskog have 13, 11, and 11 points respectively.
#25 Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 19; -6)
Last week, the decline of the Flyers had as much to do with the success of other teams as Philly's struggles. This week it is all about Philly. The Flyguys have now lost five in a row, and have scored a only a single goal in three of those.
#24 Florida Panthers (Last Week: 14; -10)
The Panthers have fallen quite a bit because there are a lot of teams with similar records, and losing three straight will tend to make a team drop sharply in power rankings when that happens. While they are currently sixth in the Atlantic division, this is no time for panic. The division is so tightly bunched that they are only one point behind the second place Senators.
#23 Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 26; +3)
Believe it or not, last season's last place team is just two games below .500 and have won three of four. Granted, two of those wins were against the Flyers, but that is still an impressive stat for Buffalo, especially when their last outing was a victory over the Islanders. If Ryan O'Reilly continues to play the way he is for the rest of the season, he could be a Hart contender. Yeah, I said it.
#22 Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 22; nc)
The Hurricanes dropped their last outing, but they won three in a row before that. Last week, I said things felt tenuous for Carolina, and I still think they do. Nonetheless. the team is winning some games. Key stat: the Hurricanes are 3-3 in one goal games. Last season, they were 13-27.
#21 Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 23; +2)
The bad news is that Connor McDavid is sidelined long term with a broken clavicle. The good news is that Leon Draitsail has been playing out of his mind. In three games, he has three goals, and four assists. Maybe Edmonton will try him out on the top line. I do not think it is a foregone conclusion that the Oilers will collapse.
#20 Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 18; -2)
The Coyotes have been falling ever since their hot start ended. As of right now, they sit just below .500, which is certainly much better than nearly anyone expected. Max Domi is still in the thick of the Calder race. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
#19 San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 16; -3)
The Sharks are another team that have been on the decline for a while. The same story applies from the last couple of weeks. Martin Jones still has good numbers, and a large percentage of the offense is coming from the "older guys." The Jones part is good; the aging scorers part is a bit concerning.
#18 Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 20; +2)
The situation the Lightning are in seems a bit dark. They had a great start which was not surprising, but the number of games they have been losing lately is. The only real positive is that they are not getting blown out. They really need to find a way to win the close games, and for their sakes, I hope they do it soon.
#17 Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 24; +7)
The Canucks went through a rough patch, but right now, they look pretty good. Their two most recent losses are to Pittsburgh and Dallas, each by a single goal. Meanwhile, they have won three of five. They are just below .500, but with the weakness of the Pacific Division, that is good enough for second.
#16 Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 21; +5)
This is a team that really seems like it should be better than middle of the pack, and yet, right now, that is exactly where they are. To ensure that their playoff streak continues, the Wings need to pick up the pace a bit in the long term.
#15 Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 17; +2)
Mark Stone was suspended for two games, but the Sens got Mike Hoffman back. Ottawa survived the first game of the suspension, beating the Habs 2-1. Kyle Turris scored his eighth goal in that game, and he now has 13 points. How long can he continue this pace? The longer the better for the Senators.
#14 Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 11; -3)
Immediately after the Duncan Keith injury, the defending champs won three straight. Since then, things have gone south, with three out of four going against them. Two of those losses were one-goal affairs, and I cannot help but wonder if Keith would have made a difference. They are not in dire straights, but it is clear they will miss their star blueliner.
#13 New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 12; -1)
I keep expecting them to fall off, but the Devils are hanging strong. They have Cory Schneider to thank for that since his stats are reminiscent of the franchise's most famous goalie. I am beginning to think they may not go anywhere.
#12 Boston Bruins (Last Week: 15; +3)
The Bruins may be the biggest surprise so far in my book. Everything they did in the offseason looked wrong, yet they are competitive. So far, they are unbeaten on the road. If nothing else, they can score. Keep that in check, and you beat them. Let the offense roll... start planning your own funeral.
#11 New York Islanders (Last Week: 8; -3)
I am not going to be too harsh on the Islanders over their recent slide because John Tavares missed a few games with flu-like symptoms. They lost a couple of those games, but they were at least in them. Tavares is due back, so they should rebound soon.
#10 Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 7; -2)
The Wild have played 11 games, and nine of them have been decided by one marker. They have won six of those. Still, the team looks much different than last season. Dubnyk still looks bad. The offense is still being forced to carry the load. I think they can continue to score, but they still need Dubnyk to be better. Otherwise, they will not move forward.
#9 Nashville Predators (Last Week: 3; -6)
The Predators have fallen back because they lost their last two games, but this is still a very dangerous team. To beat them, the odds are you will need a strong defensive performance, because the Preds are almost certain to have one. Only two teams have allowed fewer goals than Nashville. Look at their roster, and you will quickly see why.
#8 Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 10; +2)
As things stand now, I do not see how Blake Wheeler would not be a Hart Trophy finalist if the season ended immediately. There are several reasons the Jets look so good instead of the collapse many predicted, but he is probably top on the list. Get used to the Jets being high on this list. You will probably continue to see it.
#7 Washington Capitals (Last Week: 6; -1)
The Capitals have a couple of recent losses, but there is more reason to be pleased than worried. Alex Ovechkin is beginning to pick up the scoring pace, which is an obvious must. Of course, the regular season is seldom a question for Washington.
#6 New York Rangers (Last Week: 9; +3)
When you have Henrik Lundqvist in net, success is nearly guaranteed. King Henrik has the best save percentage in the league. He does not need a lot of goal support to win, but he is getting it anyway.
#5 St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 4; -1)
Balance is the name of the game. The Blues are solid across the board and getting contributions from a lot of sources. Scoring, defense, and goaltending are all there, and they are unlikely to beat themselves. Any team that wants to win against the Blues will have to earn it.
#4 Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 5; +1)
If you want to reverse the Kings and the team just ahead of them, I understand. They are the two hottest teams in the league, and it is a coin flip. Neither scores much, but they are extremely hard to score against. It works, as evidenced by eight wins in nine games.
#3 Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 13; +10)
See the Kings for my general comments. There is not a lot to add because the two teams are so similar at the moment. I gave the nod to the Penguins to honor their allowing the fewest goals in the league. I would not want to face this team right now.
#2 Dallas Stars (Last Week: 2; nc)
Had they beaten one of the worst teams in the league, they would be number one. That said, they lost to Toronto and missed their chance. All else is good. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are both on pace for 126 points. Let that sink in.
#1 Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 1; nc)
Yes, they lost to Ottawa in their last outing, but they won two consecutive games by four goals before that. Maybe demolishing Calgary is not all that impressive, but doing that to Winnipeg definitely is. They are first in goals for and in goal differential. This team is a +25 so far.
For more of the Professor's musings on the game of hockey, visit thesmacattack.com!