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Mighty no more

JC Lipon and his Blazers are still one of the top teams in the WHL standings, but their standard has slipped. (Getty Images)

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JC Lipon and his Blazers are still one of the top teams in the WHL standings, but their standard has slipped. (Getty Images)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Back when we started the CHL Power Rankings in September, Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts were the top-ranked team, led by the scoring of Mikhail Grigorenko. Over the following four weeks, the Kamloops Blazers, led by the astounding scoring line of JC Lipon, Tim Bozon and Colin Smith, climbed up the charts and on Oct. 18, these teams were ranked 1-2.

Now, they’re nowhere to be found.

The Remparts ran into an overflow of European talent and decided to trade Nikita Kucherov to Rouyn-Noranda in favor of keeping Grigorenko and Nick Sorensen on board. Since then, Kucherov has seven goals and 14 points, while Sorensen struggled in the WJC and has slipped with six points in his past 10 games. Grigorenko, meanwhile, graduated to the Sabres and is unlikely to return. Quebec has lost five of its past seven, including and embarrassing 11-2 defeat against Halifax.

Kamloops no longer dominates the WHL scoring race. Smith has only seven points in his past 10, while Lipon has one goal since returning from the WJC. The Blazers have been a .500 hockey team this month, but still hang on to third in the WHL’s Western Conference.

This is why they play the games. With the playoffs drawing ever closer, races are tightening. Here is this week’s look at the top teams across the Canadian League.

 

THE HOCKEY NEWS CHL POWER RANKINGS
1.
Halifax

Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

OVERALL: 38-4-2-1 LW: 1

The Mooseheads posted a cool 11 goals against the punchless and Grigorenko-less Quebec Remparts. In five games since returning from the WJC, Nathan MacKinnon has four goals and eight points and Jonathan Drouin has three goals and 10 points.

2.
Kamloops
Portland Winterhawks (WHL) OVERALL: 37-7-1-2 LW: 3

The Ty Rattie scoring machine was fueled by an assist frenzy coming back from the WJC. It took Rattie six games to record his first post-WJC goal, but he’s registered four goals and 15 points in eight games since finishing fourth in Ufa.

3.
Portland
London Knights (OHL)  OVERALL: 36-8-1-2 LW: 2

A minor hiccup and the Knights have suddenly lost three of their past four. No problem, though, as they still lead the league by 11 points. Centers Ryan Rupert (Maple Leafs draft pick) and Alex Broadhurst (Blackhawks) received three- and one-game suspensions for incidents in last week’s game against rival Windsor.

4.
London
Kelowna Rockets (WHL) OVERALL: 35-10-2-1 LW: 8

With a win at home against Seattle last night, the Rockets extended their franchise record home winning streak to 20 games. Undrafted Carter Rigby scored his second consecutive hat trick in the game for Kelowna, who sit behind only Portland in the Western Conference.

5.
BB
Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)  OVERALL: 31-12-2-2 LW: NR

A 4-2 loss to Gatineau ended the Drakkar’s regulation unbeaten streak at 11. Baie-Comeau is in a head-to-head charge to the finish line with division rival Rimouski, but still sit 13 points back of league-leading Halifax.

6.
OS
Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) OVERALL: 33-11-2-3 LW: 6

With only nine of their remaining 23 games at home, the Oil Kings will look to hang on to the Eastern Conference lead on the road. Considering they have a .682 winning percentage away from Rexall, there’s no reason to believe this will be a difficult task.

7.
Barrie
Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) OVERALL: 31-11-1-4 LW: 7

Not only are the Oceanic in a close heat with Baie-Comeau, but Rimouski’s draft eligible Frederik Gauthier sits second to the Drakkar’s Valentin Zykov in rookie scoring. Gauthier is on a tear this month, scoring 14 points in eight games. He’s also on a six-game point streak.

8.
Quebec
Owen Sound Attack (OHL) OVERALL: 30-12-1-3 LW: 4

Jarrod Maidens, who has been dealing with post-concussion syndrome, returned to Owen Sound after working with doctors from his NHL team, the Ottawa Senators. Maidens hasn’t played since November of 2011 and coach Greg Ireland cautioned expectations of a return: “I don’t want the fans to get unrealistic expectations here. He may not be back this year,” he told the Owen Sound Times. Also, landing Cody Ceci at the trade deadline was a huge get for this dangerous team.

9.
Barrie Colts (OHL) OVERALL: 31-14-0-2 LW: 10

The Colts got Mark Scheifele back for one game after the WJC…then lost him to the NHL’s Jets. Whether or not he ever returns again will be determined in the coming days, but without him, Barrie has won nine of 16 and have maintained a six point cushion in the Eastern Conference.

10.
Kamloops
Calgary Hitmen (WHL) OVERALL: 31-12-1-3 LW: NR

Victor Rask hasn’t been with the Hitmen for too long this season, but his presence has been felt whenever he’s been in the lineup. After starting the year in the AHL, Rask rejoined his junior club in November, then hooked up with Sweden’s silver medal effort in Ufa. All told he has four goals and 14 points in 13 WHL games.

 

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