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The Professor's Power Rankings, November 20


ScottM

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I wrote these this afternoon, but I'm just now getting to post them, so they don't reflect tonight's game. Because of that, some things are going to be off, but hey, if it didn't change day to day, what would the fun be? Btw, this time, you guys are getting this before the readers of the website.

We finally have a shakeup at the top of the rankings. We also see the apparent reversal of some previous trends. Who is the new number one? How far did the Canadiens fall? Who has seen their luck change? Read on to find out!

#30 Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 22; -8)

The wheels finally came off for the Oilers. The combination of struggling teams surging and their losses in five of their last six have landed them at the bottom. There can be no doubt that McDavid is missed, but his absence has killed Nail Yakupov's resurgence. On the bright side, Taylor Hall is still among the league's points leaders, and Leon Draitsaitl is still on fire.

#29 Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 23; -6)

Every time I think the Hurricanes are getting things together, they prove me wrong. If you want to put them at the bottom, go ahead. The only reason that they are ahead of the Oilers here is that they are slightly better off in the standings. It is quite hard to find anyone completely praise worthy on this team at the moment.

#28 Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 27; -1)

The good news is that Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek finally seem to have woken up. The bad news is everything else. Michael Neuvirth is due back from his injury, so he could add another plus. I think it is time for the change in net.

#27 Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 28; +1)

Believe it or not, the Avalanche have won three out of their last four games. The one loss was to the Maple Leafs. (Yeah, the Leafs were 30th last week, but have you noticed you have not seen them yet). I cannot fault a team for losing to a hotter one. Now, the Avs just need to prove they can continue the trajectory.

#26 Calgary Flames (Last Week: 30; +4)

The Flames are improving, but they dug themselves a very deep hole, and they have been overtaken by some hotter teams to limit their rise. While things are better, however, they are not where I think they should be. This defense is simply underperforming. Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell have the worst plus/minus ratings on the team. That speaks volumes.

#25 Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 19; -6)

For a while, the Canucks seemed to earn just enough points to keep me from dropping them down the rankings. That has now changed. Teams that have been below them have heated up and surged, while the Canucks continue to stagnate. This team can score, but Ryan Miller is not playing to his standards.

#24 Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 29; +5)

The Jackets dropped to the Senators last night, but had won three straight before that. They are gaining here because of that, but the fact that all 13 of their losses have come in regulation is preventing them from gaining in the standings.

#23 Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 25; +2)

The Ducks remind me of an on again off again dumpster fire. They have stretches where they look great, and then at other times, they look horrible. Right now, they look okay enough to climb a bit. You have to wonder how long the Ducks can remain in the bottom third before it becomes panic time.

#22 Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 30; +8)

Are we sure this is the same Toronto we saw earlier in the season? The Leafs have won four out of five with their only loss in that span coming to the New York Rangers by a single goal. If you are still criticizing Dion Phaneuf, just stop already. He is playing like the leader Toronto needs right now.

#21 Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 17; -4)

This team is dropping like a rock. The fast start is now long forgotten, and the Jets are a team that desperately need to get back on track. There are rumors that Travis Hamonic may be traded here, so maybe that would give them a much-needed spark.

#20 Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 18; -2)

The Sabres have hit a rough patch lately, looking more like what most of us expected. Ryan O'Reilly has definitely cooled off, but Rasmus Ristolainen looks great recently. I think there's virtually no chance that they will have the league's worst record again.

#19 Florida Panthers (Last Week: 24; +5)

The problem with the Panthers is a lack of consistency, but I think that is to be expected with the amount of youth the team has. With a core of under-24 players like Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and of course, Aaron Ekblad, this team will come around. Maybe not this year, but soon.

#18 Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 21; +3)

Well, they did beat the Rangers last night. The Lightning seem to own the Blue Shirts. That aside, I am still scratching my head about this team. They should not be this low. I expect to hear more Stamkos rumors if things do not change.

#17 Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 10; -7)

Last week I said the Red Wings had turned things around. Well, now they have done it again, heading back in the wrong direction. Pavel Datsyuk is back, but he only has one point in four games. They really need him to be a factor. Otherwise, thwy will probably continue to languish mid-pack.

#16 Boston Bruins (Last Week: 14; -2)

I feel like a broken record, but Tuukka Rask needs to step up. The offense is doing its part, but too many pucks are making it into the Bruins net for them to be consistent winners. The goaltending is the final piece of the puzzle, I believe.

#15 Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 9; -6)

These guys just will not go away. Every time you think they are about to collapse, they shock you. They had a couple of recent bad losses, but then they turned around to beat Montreal. The fact that they are in the Pacific Division might open some doors for this team late in the season.

#14 Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 7; -7)

The Wild have lost three straight. This is a team heading in the wrong direction right now. They are in a steep decline in the rankings, mostly because they had worked their way up so high. They are beating teams they definitely should, but not "stealing" any games. If you want to stay high up, you have to do that.

#13 Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 15; +3)

The only thing Erik Karlsson was not doing was scoring goals. Now, he has five goals in five games. I think he may be fully back to form. The Senators have not looked pretty on the ice at times, but they are earning enough points to keep them from dropping in the standings and these rankings. The shutout win against the Blue Jackets was nice. We shall see if it turns into something bigger.

#12 New York Islanders (Last Week: 16; +4)

The Islanders have fared well against the Pacific division. Their last four games have been against teams from that division, and the only one of those teams to beat them were the Kings. Not bad. That is a sharp reversal from the stretch before, so things look a bit better in Brooklyn this week.

#11 New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 12; +1)

It is becoming harder and harder to believe that the Devils are a fluke. Cory Schneider continues to excel, and if the play of Damon Severson is any indication, they have a nice anchor for their blue line for the future. If the Devils can find a way to generate more offense, they will be a serious threat.

#10 San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 20; +10)

Close game? No pressure. The Sharks have had four consecutive one goal games, and have won them all. Right now, they seem like the clear #2 team in the division, and that ability to win close games will be a major asset should they advance to the playoffs. I would not suggest taking your eye off of this team.

#9 Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 6; -3)

Sidney Crosby scored last night, but he is still not giving the Penguins what they need. I think he alone may be the key. If he starts playing better, the team will be fine. If not, they will collapse eventually.

#8 Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 13; +5)

The team has salary cap issues and have to "dismantle." Patrick Kane has offseason legal issues. Duncan Keith goes down with an injury. You should write this team off. Not so fast! I have only one word: wow...

#7 St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 3; -4)

The Blues are still in second place in the Central Division, but they look a little shaky right now. Of course, the Predators have three games in hand, so St. Louis will likely drop to third soon. This is still a good team, and no one should sleep on them, but a drop was inevitable this week.

#6 Washington Capitals (Last Week: 5; -1)

I am a huge fan of hockey history, so I want to take this opportunity to reflect on it. Alex Ovechkin is now the all-time leading Russian goal scorer. That surprises no one, but it is still an accomplishment worthy of mention. As long as he is there, the Caps are dangerous.

#5 Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 11; -6)

All is once again right, because the Kings have rebounded. Drew Doughty might be the most underrated defensemen in the NHL. He does not pile up a lot of points, but he was a deserving Norris finalist last season. The loss of Slava Voynov was huge, and he has taken up the slack very nicely. I feel sure that Jonathan Quick would agree with me.

#4 Nashville Predators (Last Week: 8; +4)

If you had any doubts about the Predators' ability to score, those should be gone. They have scored seven goals twice recently. If they can get a bit more consistent with the offense, they will be an extremely legitimate Stanley Cup threat.

#3 Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 1; -2)

The Habs are mortal! Even so, this is still an outstanding team, and they may return to the top soon. Carey Price is returning. If he is up to his old form, good luck scoring on this team.

#2 New York Rangers (Last Week: 2; nc)

Had this come out yesterday, the Rangers would have been ranked #1. The loss last night to the Lightning changed that, but the fact that they had a nine-game winning streak before that is impressive. If the season ended now, Henrik Lundqvist would be a no-brainer for the Vezina.

#1 Dallas Stars (Last Week: 4; +3)

They finally made it! Thirty-two points in the standings and 71 goals scored are both league best marks. It is hard to believe that this team missed the playoffs last year. If they miss them this year, it would be an epic collapse.

For more of the Professor's musings on the game of hockey, visit thesmacattack.com!

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Great piece, Prof. 

 

As a Leafs fan I am glad to see them getting their due. I also point out that they made the biggest move of all the teams, and in the correct direction.

 

Carey price is back and I bet next month will find the Habs on the top (bottom) of this list.

 

The biggest surprise so far, to me, is the Buffalo Sabres. I was sure they'd finish dead last this year but it doesn't look that way at the moment..

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@BluPuk I fully believe that the Leafs deserved that last place ranking I gave them last week, but they deserve this rise just as much. I say that to point out just how stark the turnaround has been. A little over a week ago, most fans would have seen Toronto on the schedule and assumed it to be a win. Now that they're one of the hottest teams in the league, that can no longer be done.

 

I believe the Habs are much more dangerous this year than last. Last season, if Max Pacioretty had gone down, the offense would have gone down with him, their scoring is far more balanced this year. It's nox Max, PK, Price, and then everybody else.

 

I knew the Sabres would be better, but in flashes, they've been better than I thought. I still don't believe they'll make the playoffs, but it may be closer than I expected.

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