Only two teams in the past 10 seasons have finished with 120 points or more, but the Anaheim Ducks are on pace to join the 2009-10 Washington Capitals and the ’05-06 Detroit Red Wings.
Now the bad news. Both those teams lost in the first round of the playoffs. There might be some concern the Ducks are peaking too early, but it’s tough to lose when the only playoff team you face during a seven-game winning streak is the Winnipeg Jets. Their torrid pace has put the Ducks at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.) Read more
The Chicago Blackhawks are playing so well lately that Patrick Sharp was demoted to third-line duty. His indiscretion? Well, he got injured a month ago and the Blackhawks can’t find a place for him on their top two lines at the moment.
Sharp is lucky he can find a place at all when the Blackhawks visit the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. The Blackhawks have won six straight and nine of their past 10 and are beginning to look like the Stanley Cup champion we picked them to be at the beginning of this season. It should come as no surprise that the Blackhawks are the top team in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
Prior to this season, the Nashville Predators had employed only one GM, one coach and one point-per-game player in their franchise history. We know the coaching ranks have swelled to two, and so could the point-per-game club with rookie Filip Forsberg.
The young Swede, whose rights were acquire from Washington for Martin Erat, has 23 points in 23 games and is a major reason why the Predators are the No. 1 team in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.) Read more
The New York Islanders are not in first place in the NHL today. They’re not even in the top five of the NHL standings. But is there a team in the league any team would like to meet less than the Islanders at the moment?
We doubt it. The Islanders have won eight of their past nine, including back-to-back wins over the team most consider to be the best in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve scored at least four goals in each of their past five victories and are playing with a swagger we haven’t seen from this team in years.
And that’s why they’re on top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. N.Y. ISLANDERS (9): “This is a new hockey club with a new attitude,” said coach Jack Capuano after a home-and-home sweep of Pittsburgh. Coming up: Four Metro division games.
2. ST. LOUIS (1): Jay Bouwmeester’s Ironman streak ends at 737, Ryan Reaves’ consecutive goals streak starts at one. Coming up: Three winnable games at home to Ottawa and Edmonton, on the road to Minnesota.
3. ANAHEIM (5): Rene Bourque played 9:54 and had three shots and three hits in his Ducks debut against Arizona Sunday night. Coming up: Two more at home and a trip to San Jose Saturday night.
4. MONTREAL (3): In the seven games Montreal has lost this season, they’ve been outscored by a margin of 33-5. Coming up: Home-and-home against suddenly hot Buffalo, then a four-game western road trip. Read more
People are beginning to compare Vladimir Tarasenko to Alex Ovechkin (in a good way), the STL Line is producing at a mind-boggling rate, T.J. Oshie is back in the lineup and the St. Louis Blues are starting to sell out their games. Things are truly looking up in the Show Me State.
Whether or not the Blues can parlay that success into the franchise’s first Stanley Cup remains to be seen, but if the playoffs started today, they’d be a consensus choice to win it all. That’s why they’re at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings for this week. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses).
1. ST. LOUIS (6): The Blues start a four-game road trip Tuesday night coming off a stretch in which they’ve won 10 of their past 11. They’ve scored 49 goals this season and the line of Jori Lehtera between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko has accounted for 24 of them.
2. PITTSBURGH (1): Penguins coach Mike Johnston told me last Friday night that the Penguins are far more comfortable in tight-scoring games than they were early in the season. That was after they defeated Toronto 2-1 and the night before they vanquished the Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Power play, good.
Yes, it’s early, but has anyone noticed that Sidney Crosby is on pace to post the highest single-season scoring total in almost two decades? With five assists against Buffalo Saturday, Crosby has seven goals and 24 points in just 13 games, which puts him on a pace for 151 points, which would be the highest total since Crosby’s boss scored 161 points in 1995-96.
Not surprisingly, the Penguins have been dominant of late along with their captain. So for the second straight week, they top thn.com’s Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
Consider this: The Pittsburgh Penguins scored two power play goals in a game recently, and it brought their power play percentage down. The Penguins are the class of the league right now and the only thing keeping them from the top of the standings is the fact they’ve only played 10 games so far.
Going into a five-game road trip that starts Tuesday night in Minnesota, the Penguins have scored 15 unanswered goals and chalked up consecutive shutouts. When defenseman Olli Maatta misses Tuesday night’s game to have a tumor removed from his thyroid, it will be the first game missed by any Penguins player this season.
And that is why the Penguins find themselves at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings this week. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)
The Los Angeles Kings are blowing their cover. In previous seasons, the Kings never seemed terribly interested in blowing the doors off the NHL during the regular season, instead being content to watch teams raise their division championship and President’s Trophy banners while they hoisted a Stanley Cup pennant.
That’s all changed in 2014-15. The Kings are taking the regular season seriously in the early going and are steamrolling their way through the league. If this keeps up, expect to see them at or near the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings for most of the season. (Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.) Read more