With the passing of another week, we took a step closer to the quarter marker for this season in the NHL. While that may not seem like a major milestone, given 82 game schedule, it all puts us a week closer to the statistically interesting US Thanksgiving. By coincidence or not, teams in a playoff position at this point in the season have an extremely high success rate, in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. But that’s still two weeks away, so without further ado, here are the Power Rankings for Week 6.
30. Buffalo Sabres (4-13-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 30
This Week’s Schedule: Sharks, Rangers, @Capitals
Breakdown: It was a new week, but the same old Buffalo Sabres. They remained at the bottom of the NHL, thanks to two major losses at the hands of the Blues and the Wild. There was a glimmer of hope for the Sabres, however, as they tripled up on division foes, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite the win, this team looks poised to be the league’s worst team at season’s end.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (5-9-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 27
This Week’s Schedule: @Stars, @Kings, @Avalanche
Breakdown: With a convincing win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night, the Hurricanes continued their climb out of the cellar. Unfortunately for Carolina, they managed to backslide with three straight losses to end the week, including two at home. Over the course of those three games, the Canes only managed to put up 2 goals, definitely not the recipe for success.
28. Edmonton Oilers (6-10-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 24
This Week’s Schedule: Canucks, Devils, Blackhawks
Breakdown: The good news for the Oilers is that they have been one of the luckiest teams in the NHL when it comes to injuries. The bad news is that their incredible track record in the health department hasn’t translated into wins. This team continues to drop winnable games, pushing Edmonton further and further out of the playoff picture.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-10-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 29
This Week’s Schedule: Red Wings, Bruins, @Flyers
Breakdown: The Blue Jackets were able to get back on track this week, winning two of three. The week was not full of good news for Columbus, however, as injuries continue to pile up. Already down Ryan Murray, the Blue Jackets lost Fedor Tyutin for a least a month with a sprained knee. The acquisition of Jordan Leopold should help, but this team is facing an uphill battle for the time being.
26. Dallas Stars (6-8-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 26
This Week’s Schedule: Hurricanes, Coyotes, Kings
Breakdown: Dallas got off to a hot start this week with back-to-back road wins, including a shutout victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Stars must have overindulged in some home-cooking, as a loss to the Wild kicked off back-to-back losses to close out the week. The icing on the cake was finding out that the team’s first line winger, Valeri Nichushkin, will miss the next four months with a hip injury.
25. Colorado Avalanche (6-8-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 25
This Week’s Schedule: Capitals, Hurricanes
Breakdown: Closing out the week with consecutive road wins helped to mask a 6-0 whopping at the hands of the Islanders. Sometimes it is easy to pinpoint what the problem is for a team, but this team hasn’t been able to score or defend, so this regression might be worse than originally anticipated.
24. Florida Panthers (6-4-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 28
This Week’s Schedule: @Kings, Sharks, @Predators
Breakdown: It was a good week for the Panthers. They were able to win two of three, with their only loss coming in a shootout, while averaging more than four goals per game for the week. Florida is still one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, but this week was definitely a step in the right direction. The Panthers already boast one of the best defenses in the NHL, so if they can right the ship up front, this season might not be lost.
23. Arizona Coyotes (8-9-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 23
This Week’s Schedule: Capitals, @Stars, @Sharks, @Ducks
Breakdown: Despite playing .500 hockey, the Coyotes looked better this week. They closed out the week winning two straight road games within the division, including a 5-0 trouncing of the Canucks. Arizona hasn’t been able to find any sort of consistency this season, as every string of wins has been followed by a more devastating string of losses. But then again, it’s tough to expect much from a team that is relying on Devan Dubnyk as their #1 goaltender.
22. Winnipeg Jets (9-7-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 22
This Week’s Schedule: Devils, Red Wings, Blues
Breakdown: The only really highlight for the Jets this week was a 3-1 win in Carolina. Winnipeg ended its five game road trip with a 2-2-1 record, which is rather impressive considering they went up against three of this week’s top ten teams. With the talent this team has up front, scoring should not be an issue. Someone needs to let the Jets know that, as they are scoring less than two goals per game, in front of only the Buffalo Sabres. They have to figure it out eventually, right?
21. New Jersey Devils (7-6-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 21
This Week’s Schedule: @Jets, @Oilers, @Flames
Breakdown: The roller coaster continued this week, as the Devils sandwiched two wins in between two losses. They scored eight goals on the week and conceded eight goals on the week. It’s just been that kind of season thus far. Cory Schneider has been the poster child for this team, looking terrible for stretches (perhaps due to being overplayed), but then looking dominant for stretches (stopping 53 of 54 in New Jersey’s back-to-back wins this week). A little consistency would go a long way for this team.
20. New York Rangers (7-6-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 20
This Week’s Schedule: Lightning, Flyers, @Sabres, Canadiens
Breakdown: The week couldn’t have started better for the Rangers this week. New York put up a 5-0 victory over the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins, ending the NHL’s longest active winning streak. The Rangers didn’t capitalize on that momentum, however, suffering back-to-back shootout losses to close the week. The good news is that Rick Nash continued to produce, putting up five points on the week. The bad news is that this team continues to struggle defensively, giving up goals in bunches, a total departure from last season’s identity.
19. Philadelphia Flyers (7-7-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 18
This Week’s Schedule: @Rangers, Wild, Blue Jackets
Breakdown: The Flyers may have been burned by the long layoff this week, as they had five days in between games. As a result, they lost their win streak and both of their games. The wait to rebound won’t be as long this week, but they do have four days off before they get back on the ice Wednesday night in New York. It’s a strange situation for a team to have this much time off in such a short span of time. Maybe all this time for practice will help the team get back on track?
18. Washington Capitals (7-7-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 19
This Week’s Schedule: @Coyotes, @Avalanche, Sabres
Breakdown: A Tuesday night win over the Blue Jackets extended Washington’s win streak to three, but that was as far as they could take it. They proceeded to lose two in a row, getting shutout at home against the Devils and losing 4-1 in St. Louis. Just as the Caps looked to be turning things around, this losing streak certainly set them back. Scoring hasn’t been an issue, so look for them to get back to their winnings way fast.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs (9-7-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 17
This Week’s Schedule: Predators, Lightning, Red Wings
Breakdown: After redeeming themselves with an emphatic 6-1 win over the Bruins, the Leafs lost their next two. Losing two straight is bad, but losing 6-2 to the worst team in the league is really, really bad. Phil Kessel has been lights out this season, tied for second in the league in goals and third in the league for points. The rest of the team might want to follow suit.
16. Ottawa Senators (8-5-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 16
This Week’s Schedule: Predators, Blues
Breakdown: Ottawa got three of six possible points this week, suffering defeats at the hands of the Canucks and the Flames. The good news for the Senators is that Clarke MacArthur continues to impress with a team leading 15 points. The bad news is that Clarke MacArthur is leading the team in points.
15. Detroit Red Wings (8-4-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 15
This Week’s Schedule: @Blue Jackets, @Jets, @Maple Leafs
Breakdown: The Red Wings started off the week with an upset over their longtime rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, that was all they had to show for the week, as they fell to their new division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Detroit is set to embark on a three game road trip, giving the team another opportunity to develop some consistency. So far, it hasn’t happened. Is this where they turn the corner?
14. Boston Bruins (11-8-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
This Week’s Schedule: Blues, @Blue Jackets, Canadiens
Breakdown: The Bruins lost their five game winning streak with back-to-back losses in the division, getting walloped by the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens. That two game stretch, which saw a combined scored of 11-2 in favor of the opponents, the Bruins experienced their lowest point of the season. The Bruins are currently operating without Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, two stalwarts in their lineup, so expect more of the same for the time being.
13. Calgary Flames (11-6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
This Week’s Schedule: Ducks, Blackhawks, Devils
Breakdown: The Flames took two of three this week and continued their impressive start to the season. They did fall to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes to start the week, but they bounced back to start off a five game home stand with two wins. I keep waiting for them to tail off, but it’s just not happening. Jonas Hiller, who has been stellar this season, wasn’t great this week, stopping just 47 of 54 shots in two games, but the Flames didn’t appear much worse for wear.
12. San Jose Sharks (10-8-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
This Week’s Schedule: @Sabres, Panthers, Coyotes
Breakdown: The Sharks won two of four this week, which might not sound too bad, but their two losses came against the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Florida Panthers. If you read the rest of this list, you’ll recognize those teams from the bottom third of the league. San Jose just can’t seem to get on a roll this season. In spite of that, if the season ended today, they’d be in the playoffs as a wild card team. When they start playing closer to their potential, the Sharks will be a force. This week looks like a prime opportunity to do just this that.
11. Los Angeles Kings (9-5-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
This Week’s Schedule: Panthers, Hurricanes, @Stars
Breakdown: Heading into the week, the home-and-home between the Kings and Ducks looked like the two marquee match-ups for the week. They certainly lived up to the hype. Both games featured bonus hockey, as the Kings lost in a shootout in Anaheim, before taking the home leg in overtime. Unfortunately for the Kings, they got shutout by the Stars at home in between these two games, in what might be the definition of a trap game. The Kings have a much easier week on tap, so expect them to climb in next week’s rankings.
10. Chicago Blackhawks (10-7-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week’s Schedule: @Flames, @Oilers, @Canucks
Breakdown: The Blackhawks took two of three this week, including a shootout win against one of the league’s hottest teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning. They got exposed against the Red Wings, but they head into this week on a high, having stomped the Dallas Stars at home, 6-2. This week, they play the first half of a six game road trip, including games against the Canucks and the Flames, which should be heavyweight bouts. This should be a solid test for Chicago, so look for them to be on top of their game.
9. Minnesota Wild (10-7-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
This Week’s Schedule: @Flyers, @Lightning
Breakdown: Minnesota won three of four this week, putting their brief hiccup in the rear-view. None of the wins were particularly dominating, beating up one weaker teams, but wins are wins. The Wild are seventh in the league in goals per game, and that’s with a single player ranking in the league’s top 75 point producers. When the offense really starts clicking, this team will be one of the NHL’s elite.
8. Anaheim Ducks (11-4-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
This Week’s Schedule: @Flames, @Canucks, Coyotes
Breakdown: After winning a battle against division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, to start the week, the Ducks seemed to run out of steam. A loss in overtime against the Kings on Saturday was followed by a thumping in Florida that saw the Ducks lose 6-2. Anaheim will have three division games this week, giving them plenty of chances to lay claim to the Pacific Division. Division games or not, the Ducks need to get back on track fast.
7. Vancouver Canucks (11-5-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week’s Schedule: @Oilers, Ducks, Blackhawks
Breakdown: The Canucks took a step back this week, squeaking out a victory at home over the Senators in overtime, then suffering an ugly defeat against the Coyotes, 5-0, at home. Much like the Canucks, Ryan Miller has been a surprise this season. He has struggled as of late, and the team has followed suit. He’ll need to get it together fast if the Canucks are to continue their hot start.
6. New York Islanders (11-6-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
This Week’s Schedule: Lightning, @Penguins, Penguins
Breakdown: The Islanders took two of three this week, with their only loss coming on the road in Tampa Bay. After starting off the week with a 6-0 shutout, the Isles defensive struggles returned, allowing eight goals over their next two games. Goals continue to come in bunches, but the defense will be an area to watch as this season progresses.
5. Nashville Predators (11-4-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week’s Schedule: @Maple Leafs, @Senators, Panthers
Breakdown: Nashville took two of three this week and have now won four of their last five. Their only loss came in a close game on the road against the red hot St. Louis Blues. The Predators continue to boast one of the league’s strongest defenses, while the offense has started to come around recently. He’s been mentioned the last few weeks, but Filip Forsberg has been remarkable. Despite being blanked in Nashville’s win on Saturday, he put up five points this week, including two goals, one of which was the winner on Tuesday. He’s now in the top ten in the league in points.
4. St. Louis Blues (12-4-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
This Week’s Schedule: @Bruins, @Canadiens, @Senators, @Jets
Breakdown: I’ll be the first to admit that I was way too low on the Blues last week. They won out this week, vaulting them into the top five. Their defense is the best in the NHL, and now their offense appears to be improving (14 goals in three games this week). They head out on a four game road trip this week, look for their success to continue.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (11–1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week’s Schedule: @Rangers, @Islanders, @Maple Leafs, Wild
Breakdown: Tampa Bay slipped a little bit this week, posting a 1-1-1 record. Their offense ranks second in the NHL with 3.61 goals per game, so don’t expect this skid to last long. The first three games of the week shouldn’t be much of a challenge, as those three teams are not playing particularly strong defense at the moment. When they face-off against the Wild on Saturday, it will be one of the games of the week. Do not miss it.
2. Montreal Canadiens (14-4-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week’s Schedule: Penguins, Blues, @Bruins, @Rangers
Breakdown: What more can a team do in a week? Montreal posted four regulation wins, extending their winning streak to six games. On top of that, they outscored opponents 18-5 this week, including major wins in the division over the Bruins (5-1) and the Red Wings (4-1). The Canadiens have one of the toughest weeks in the league, facing two of the top five teams, in addition to back-to-back road games on Saturday and Sunday. Expect to learn a lot about the Canadiens this week.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (12-3-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week’s Schedule: @Canadiens, Islanders, @Islanders
Breakdown: The Penguins lost their seven game winning streak in New York this week. Apparently, it had taken an early flight to Toronto, where it met up with the team and started a new on Friday. Pittsburgh has been incredible this season, playing superb defense to compliment their league leading offense. It’ll be tough to maintain that kind of consistency all season, but they certainly aren’t showing any signs of slowing down yet.
Check back every Monday for new rankings!