As we approach week 8 of the 2013 NHL season, it is very clear that there are 5 fantastic teams in the league right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins have all looked like number one teams recently through their stunning play on the ice.
Many middle-ranked teams are starting to show their worth as they make a push towards the playoffs as we pass the halfway point of the season. The action and desperation is starting to pick up and I expect to see even bigger winning streaks and losing streaks in the coming weeks as teams decide wether or not they are buyers or sellers come the April 3rd trade deadline.
Please remember that in a shortened season where some teams are playing up to 5 games a week, there is a lot more room for drastic movement on these rankings than there would be normally.
Check back every Monday for updated power rankings!
Last Week’s Ranking: 30
Breakdown: The Florida Panthers remain one of the worst teams in the NHL after losing 6 of their last 7 games. Although the Panthers have issues from top to bottom, one of their main weaknesses has been their NHL-worst penalty kill which currently sits at 73.3%. However, even in these dark times, the Panthers can take solace in the play of rookie Jonathan Huberdeau. At the halfway point of the season, Huberdeau’s 17 points (12G 5A) make him a Calder Trophy frontrunner in many circles.
Last Week’s Ranking: 28
This Week’s Schedule: @Florida, NY Islanders, Carolina
Breakdown: The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to be a huge disappointment to their fans, losing 7 of their last 8 games as they fall farther out of contention in the Eastern Conference. The achilles heel of the Bolts has been their penalty kill which has only been 73% effective over their past 5 games. Even during their recent ineptitude, the ageless Martin St. Louis has still been playing amazingly, scoring 8 points (1G 5A) over his last 5 games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 24
This Week’s Schedule: NY Rangers, Ottawa, @Washington
Breakdown: The Buffalo Sabres still look destined for a high draft pick this season as they have lost 4 of their last 5 games. Although they have 3 points via shootout losses in their past 5 games, the Sabres can’t afford to walk away with only 1 point in the standings at this point in the season. Defenseman Tyler Myers continues to be a disappointment this season, recording only 1 point over his last 11 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 22
This Week’s Schedule: @Dallas, @Vancouver, @Calgary, @Edmonton
Breakdown: The Nashville Predators have lost 6 of 8 games as their offense continues to flounder. Over their past 8 games the Predators have only scored 15 goals including 3 straight 1 goal performances. Forward Paul Gaustad continues to be a disappointment as he has only been able to score 1 point over his last 10 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 25
This Week’s Schedule: @Colorado, Detroit, Nashville
Breakdown: Even though they were able to defeat the mighty Chicago Blackhawks this past week, the Edmonton Oilers have still lost 5 of their last 6 games. In recent games the Oilers’ penalty kill has been abysmal, stopping opponents only 63% of the time over their past 6 games. On offense, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been disappointing in his sophomore season, scoring only 1 goal in 24 games played this season.
Last Week’s Ranking: 17
This Week’s Schedule: @Los Angeles, Detroit, Nashville
Breakdown: After maintaining some consistant play for the early stages of this season, the Calgary Flames are starting to look more like a rebuilding team after losing 4 of their last 6 games. The Flames have allowed 3.60 goals per game over their last 5 games while facing stiff competition from teams like the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. In his 3 starts since returning from injury, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff has allowed 11 goals and looked very vulnerable.
Last Week’s Ranking: 26
This Week’s Schedule: Edmonton, @Minnesota, Minnesota
Breakdown: The Colorado Avalanche not only handed the Chicago Blackhawks their first regulation loss of the season, but have also won 3 of their last 6 games played. However, even with their 6 goal explosions against the Blackhawks, the Avalanche’s offense has still been struggling – scoring 2.60 goals per game over their last 5 games played. Since his return to the team, forward Ryan O’ Reilly has been very impressive – scoring 4 points (2G 2A) in just 5 games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 23
Breakdown: After losing 6 straight games and hitting rock bottom, the New Jersey Devils have since rebounded nicely by winning 2 of their last 3 games. The Devils needed 2 clutch shootouts to get their wins, but at this point the team will take anything they can get to return to the win column. Although he remains a strong asset to the team, forward Adam Henrique has yet to put up the offensive numbers that fans would like to see, scoring only 3 points in his last 9 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 27
This Week’s Schedule: @St. Louis, Los Angeles, @Los Angeles
Breakdown: Even though they have only won 2 of their last 6 games, the San Jose Sharks have still earned a point in 4 of their last 6 games. Although they are starting to climb back up the standings, the Sharks’ offense still just isn’t clicking – scoring only 2.00 goals per game over their last 6 games played. In net, goaltender Antti Niemi has allowed just 10 goals over his past 5 starts while stopping 151 of 161 shots faced. [Are the Canadiens Shark Fishing?]
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
This Week’s Schedule: @New Jersey, New Jersey
Breakdown: The Philadelphia Flyers can’t seem to get their record above .500 this season as they have lost 3 of their last 6 games. Although they have been struggling to win games, the Flyers’ powerplay has been performing very well as of late – converting 33% of their opportunities over their last 6 games played. In net, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has looked very pedestrian in net – allowing 13 goals in his last 4 starts.
Last Week’s Ranking: 19
This Week’s Schedule: San Jose, Phoenix, Anaheim
Breakdown: The St. Louis Blues remain an average team in the Western Conference after winning 3 of their last 6 games. Surprisingly, the Blues have been performing exceptionally well on offense lately – scoring 4.00 goals per game over their past 4 games played. Forward Chris Stewart has compiled 7 points (2G 5A) over his past 4 games as the entire Blues’ offense attempts to step up to fill the lasting void left by Vladimir Tarasenko.
Last Week’s Ranking: 20
This Week’s Schedule: Carolina, @Carolina, @Boston, Buffalo
Breakdown: The Washington Capitals have stabilized a bit after making an impressive surge, winning only 3 of their last 6 games. After keeping opponents scoring low during a recent 3-game winning streak, the Capitals allowed 9 total goals over their past 2 games. In net, Braden Holtby has rebounded nicely after a rough start to the 2013 season, winning 3 of his last 4 games while allowing only 7 goals.
Last Week’s Ranking: 15
This Week’s Schedule: Boston, @Montreal, @Buffalo, Winnipeg
Breakdown: The Ottawa Senators are starting to crack under their immense adversity, losing 4 of their last 5 games. In those 5 games, the Senators’ offense has struggled immensely - scoring only 2.20 goals per game on average. Team Captain Daniel Alfredsson has had a hard time finding his scoring touch with so few weapons around him, managing to score only 2 points in his last 7 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
This Week’s Schedule: Toronto, NY Rangers, @Toronto, @Ottawa
Breakdown: After making a push into the playoff picture, the Winnipeg Jets have since lost 3 of 6 games with bad losses against the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. The Jets’ offense has disappeared over their past 5 games, managing to only score 1.60 goals per game on average. However, even during their recent offensive struggles, Captain Andrew Ladd has still been producing – scoring 4 points (1G 3A) over his last 4 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 18
This Week’s Schedule: @Calgary, @Edmonton, @Vancouver
Breakdown: The Detroit Red Wings have lost 3 of their last 6 games including 2 losses at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Red Wings’ offense has become stagnant as of late, scoring only 10 goals over their last 6 games played. Superstar forward Henrik Zetterberg has been ice cold recently, compiling only 2 points (0G 2A) over his last 8 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
This Week’s Schedule: @Columbus, Nashville, Detroit
Breakdown: After looking like one of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks have since lost 6 of their last 7 games. One of the biggest reasons for the Canucks’ recent woes has been their weak offense which has only scored 6 goals over their past 4 games played. However, even during their recent offensive struggles, forward Henrik Sedin has still managed to record a point in 7 straight games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 29
This Week’s Schedule: Vancouver, Chicago, Phoenix
Breakdown: Look out NHL, here come the Blue Jackets! The Blue Jackets have made their way out of the NHL gutter by winning 5 straight games including 2 wins over the Detroit Red Wings. The Blue Jackets’ goaltending and defense have been fantastic lately, allowing opponents to score only 7 goals over their last 5 games. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been unbeatable lately, winning 5 straight starts – 2 of which were shutouts.
Last Week’s Ranking: 21
This Week’s Schedule: @Tampa Bay, @Florida
Breakdown: Even after a beat down at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, the New York Islanders remain a playoff threat after winning 3 of their last 5 games. After going stagnant for a while, the Islanders’ power play is starting to come back to form, converting 29% of the time over their past 4 games. Offensively, Mark Streit has been performing well as of late – scoring 4 points over his last 6 games played. With the trade deadline approaching, the Islanders will have a tough decision to make about whether or not to retain their Captain.
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
This Week’s Schedule: Nashville, Anaheim, Chicago
Breakdown: The Dallas Stars remain on the playoff bubble after winning 3 of their last 6 games. The Stars’ powerplay has been performing well very over their past 6 games, scoring 38% of the time when up a man. Future hall-of-famer Jaromir Jagr continues to dominate even at age 41, scoring 5 goals in his last 4 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week’s Schedule: Los Angeles, @St. Louis, @Columbus
Breakdown: The Phoenix Coyotes have lost 3 of 6 games due to a stretch of tough games against teams like the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks. Over their past 6 games, the Coyotes defense has begun to struggle – allowing opponents to score 3.50 goals per game. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to be a bright spot for the Yotes as he continues to lead the team in scoring from the blue line with 17 points thus far.
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
This Week’s Schedule: @Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg
Breakdown: The Toronto Maple Leafs remain surprisingly formidable midway through the season after winning 3 of their last 5 games.The Leafs have been getting things done through the hard work of their offense which has scored 20 goals over their last 5 games played. Forward Nazem Kadri continues to be the driving force behind the team’s offense – scoring 6 goals in his last 5 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 16
This Week’s Schedule: @Buffalo, @Pittsburgh, @Winnipeg
Breakdown: After seeming like they may never live up to expectations, the New York Rangers have finally started to look like a quality hockey team while winning 5 of their last 6 games. In recent games, the Rangers have done a spectacular job of keeping opponents from scoring, allowing only 10 goals over their past 6 games, or 1.67 goals per game. On offense, Rick Nash has looked fantastic while recording at least 1 point in 10 straight games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
This Week’s Schedule: Anaheim, Colorado, @Colorado
Breakdown: The Minnesota Wild remain playoff contenders in the Western Conference after winning 3 of their last 6 with losses coming at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks. The Wild’s power play has been clicking over their past 5 games, scoring 25% of the time when up a man. On offense, Mikko Koivu has been on fire – scoring 6 points (1G 5A) over his last 4 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week’s Schedule: @Washington, Washington, Tampa Bay
Breakdown: The Carolina Hurricanes remain atop the Southeast Division after winning 5 of their last 6 games with their only loss coming against a strong Montreal Canadiens’ team. The Hurricanes have been able to win games by peppering opposing goaltenders with a high powered offense that has scored 25 goals over their last 6 games. Team Captain Eric Staal continues to be the driving force behind the team’s successful offense, scoring 11 points (3G 8A) over his last 6 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week’s Schedule: Calgary, @Phoenix, @San Jose, San Jose
Breakdown: The Los Angeles Kings continue to climb the Western Conference leader board by winning 5 of their last 7 games. The Kings’ offense as been royally amazing as of late, scoring 4.40 goals per game over their last 5 games played. Speaking of offense, forward Jeff Carter has had the magic touch lately – scoring 6 goals in his past 4 games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week’s Schedule: Ottawa, @New Jersey
Breakdown: The Montreal Canadiens continue to be one of the premier team’s in the Eastern Conference after winning 5 of their last 7 games. The Canadiens’ offense has been on fire lately, scoring 4.43 goals per game over their last 7 games played. Forward Michael Ryder has been fantastic since arriving via a trade with Dallas, scoring 8 points (2G 6A) over his last 4 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
This Week’s Schedule: @Minnesota, @Dallas, @St. Louis
Breakdown: The Anaheim Ducks have won 5 of 7 games with their only 2 losses coming in shootouts against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Ducks’ offense has been steadily fantastic recently, scoring 18 goals over their last 5 games, or 3.60 goals per game. Team Captain Ryan Getzlaf has been fueling the fire lately, scoring 9 points (3G 6A) over his past 4 games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
This Week’s Schedule: Boston, NY Rangers, @Toronto, Boston
Breakdown: The Pittsburgh Penguins cemented themselves as an elite team in the Eastern Conference as they currently ride a 5 game a winning streak. The Penguins’ offense has been frightening in recent games, scoring 27 goals in just 5 games, or 5.40 goals per game. While Sidney Crosby continues to have an MVP worthy season, forward Chris Kunitz has been quietly phenomenal as well - scoring 12 points (8G 4A) in his last 5 games played.
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week’s Schedule: @Ottawa, @Pittsburgh, Florida, Washington, @Pittsburgh
Breakdown: The Boston Bruins are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games as they remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The usually inept Bruins’ power play has been impressive lately, converting 27% of their chances over their past 5 games played. Forward Tyler Seguin has been on an offensive tear in recent games, scoring 6 points (4G 2A) in his last 4 games.
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week’s Schedule: @Columbus, @Dallas
Breakdown: Even though they finally lost not 1, but 2 games this past week, I still believe that after going undefeated for so long that the Blackhawks have earned enough good will to remain atop the power rankings for at least 1 more week. The Blackhawks have hit their first rough patch of the season and the bulk of the blame can be placed on their defense which has allowed opponents to score 12 goals in just 2 games. On offense, team Captain Jonathan Toews has been producing lately – scoring 5 points (2G 3A) in his last 4 games played.