The Professor's Power Rankings, December 4
This week we have a couple of teams making huge surges to crack the top ten. We have some teams holding on to high rankings because of others around them falling or because of gaps in the standings. Are we starting to see a shakeup taking place?
#30 Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 25; -5)
The Hurricanes have lost their last three games, losing two of them by three or four goals. They are in a four-way tie for the fewest points in the standings, and they are the coldest of those four teams, guaranteeing them the bottom spot.
#29 Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 30; +1)
From 1984-1990, the Oilers won five Stanley Cups in seven years. If their luck with injuries this season does not change, they could get the number one draft choice five times in seven years. That is a dynasty of a different sort, and one no one wants.
#28 Calgary Flames (Last Week: 24; -4)
This Flames team really does not make a lot of sense. Last season, they had a strong season despite injuries. This season, they have been relatively healthy, but cannot get things going. I give up on trying to understand what is happening in Calgary.
#27 Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 23; -4)
Toronto has been struggling lately, but you cannot pin that on James Reimer. The 1-0 loss last night clearly explains the problem: the Leafs cannot score. If they want to make another charge, they need to start lighting the lamps.
#26 Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 29; +3)
After a bad slide, the Sabres are on the right track again, earning twin 4-1 wins over the Hurricanes and Predators and a shootout loss to the Red Wings. There is plenty of reason to believe this is not their year, but it may come soon.
#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 20; -5)
Three straight losses means that there is once again little to celebrate in Columbus. Guys like Justin Faulk and Victor Rask give hope for the future, but the present looks quite dim.
#24 Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 21; -3)
Would someone be so kind as to explain the Ducks to me? There have been a few occasions in which they seemed to have righted the ship, and then they collapse again. They should be faring much better. I just do not get it.
#23 Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 19; -4)
Okay, this looks more like where the eye test would put the Canucks than their six spot rise last week did. Outside of the Sedin twins, there are few players carrying their wait. Ryan Miller certainly is not.
#22 Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 26; +4)
No one scored more goals in the month of November than Matt Duchene. The strong offense has begun to overpower the lack of defense. Then again, the Avs have allowed just one goal in each of their last two games. Right now, they look like a pretty good hockey team.
#21 Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 22; +1)
The Jets’ last outing, a 6-1 win over the Maple Leafs was quite impressive. Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little are leading a decent offensive attack, but only one team has allowed more goals. I think it would be wise to give Connor Hellebucyk an extended look.
#20 Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 28; +8)
The Flyers still have the league’s fewest goals, but they have won three straight, and they have done it against some quality teams. Philly fans may not be able to breathe easy yet, but things look much better than they did a week ago.
#19 Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 17; -2)
I expected Max Domi to have a good season, and I predicted him to be a Calder finalist, but what he has done is nothing short of incredible. He is leading the team in scoring with 21 points and is a +5 so far. He is a big reason that the Coyotes are still in playoff position.
#18 Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 14; -4)
Even though the Lightning have not played up to expectations this year, we know they have their coach, as Jon Cooper just signed a contract extension. No such deal has yet been reached with Steven Stamkos. I will leave it to you to decide what that means.
#17 Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 9; -8)
The Hawks lost to the Senators last night but it was not Patrick Kane’s fault. His three-point game has him tied with Bobby Hull for the longest point streak in Chicago history. He is on a pace for 129 points. MVP, anyone?
#16 New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 18; +2)
The Devils have been treading at around .500 for a while, but they are still on the edge of a playoff spot. I know I talk about Cory Schneider a lot, but he deserves it. He has been one of the best goalies in the NHL.
#15 Nashville Predators (Last Week: 10; -5)
Things have been rough lately in Smashville. As good as Pekka Rinne had been, his numbers have taken a tumble. I still like the looks of the defensive unit, but Rinne’s play has been very uninspired lately.
#14 Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 11; -3)
Could we get a round of applause for Evgeni Malkin? He deserves it, but Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel certainly do not. Can we put to rest the idea that playing in Pittsburgh will make Kessell a 40 or 50 goal scorer? And yes, Crosby is looking better, but there still appears to be something wrong.
#13 Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 13; nc)
Devan Dubnyk now looks more like he did after the trade last season. He earned his fourth shutout of the season last night. He has also been a workhorse, appearing in 22 of Minnesota’s 25 games.
#12 Florida Panthers (Last week: 27; +15)
Four straight wins can do amazing things in a crowded field. Aleksandr Barkov is back, and the drama of Jagr’s chase for goal-scoring history has not been a distraction. There is some great hockey being played in Sunshine right now.
#11 Boston Bruins (Last Week: 8; -3)
The six-game winning streak was nice, but a loss to the Oilers to snap it hurt. Even so, the Bruins would make the playoffs as things stand now, and that looked highly unlikely before the season began.
#10 St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 7; -3)
The Blues have alternated losses and wins in their last nine games, and that is simply not enough to keep them among the elite teams in the league. St. Louis will need to right the ship quickly if they want to stay in the thick of the Central Division race.
#9 San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 6; -3)
The Sharks drop a bit because of a couple of big losses, but do not be fooled. This is a good team. I was not too sure about Martin Jones as a starter, but he has earned his keep. He looks like a good one.
#8 Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 12; +4)
Jonathan Quick has not been bad, but he is not the primary reason for his team’s allowing the fewest goals in the league. If Drew Doughty is not a Norris finalist this year, either something went horribly wrong, or the voters had a brain cramp.
#7 Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 16; +9)
The Red Wings have continued the trend that cause me to say that they had stabilized last week. Righting the ship has turned into an upswing. With all of the pieces back in place in Detroit, this should continue to be a highly competitive team.
#6 Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 5; -1)
The Senators would have fallen more, but other teams around them stumbled as well, allowing them to minimize the drop. Right now, Erik Karlsson looks like a lock for the Norris, and he looks like a strong Hart contender as well. Oh yeah, Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman are on fire as well.
#5 New York Islanders (Last Week: 15; +10)
Four wins in five games have helped the Islanders climb, and they are doing it as a well-balanced team. They have not always been consistent, but there are not many weaknesses on this team.
#4 New York Rangers (Last Week: 3; -1)
The only think keeping the Rangers afloat now is a gap in the standings. This team is ice cold, and if there were not five points between them and the next team in the standings, they might be much lower. If their recent trend continues, expect to see that next week.
#3 Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 2; -1)
The Habs have lost two out of three, causing them to fall a bit. Mike Condon has been okay in net, but I cannot help but feel that Carey Price might have made the difference in some of the recent close games. PK Subban’s play has fallen off lately too. A resurgence by him would be nice for Montreal.
#2 Washington Capitals (Last Week: 4; +2)
The red-hot Capitals have won six straight games. They are doing just about everything right. Braden Holtby has worked his way into the thick of the Vezina conversation, and nine guys have double-digit points.
#1 Dallas Stars (Last Week: 1; nc)
The Stars manage to hold on to the top spot for at least one more week. John Klingberg’s offense has declined a little, but Tyler Seguin and Jamie Been each have 35 points. To beat this team, you have to bury them in goals.
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