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
The Anaheim Ducks almost certainly don’t put a whole lot of stock into Power Rankings, nor should they. They started and ended last season at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings and what did it get them? An overabundance of bupkis when it came to cashing in that currency against the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs.
But here we go again and here go the Ducks again. After losing their first game of the season, the Ducks have knocked down five straight en route to opening this season as the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings. Since this is our first installment of the year, last season’s final ranking will be in parentheses. In the future, the previous week’s ranking will appear. Read more
After a rocky patch, the Anaheim Ducks are back for end of the regular season where they started it – as the No. 1 team in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. Now can we just get on with the playoffs already?
And while we’re at it, do you think there’s any way we can lobby the NHL head office to put all the first-round games between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings to 4 p.m. local time so we can all watch them at a reasonable hour? It’s a shame that one of those teams will be out after the first round, but we can all enjoy it while it lasts. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.) Read more
The Comeback Kids have come back to top thn.com’s Power Rankings this week. The Anaheim Ducks were down three goals in the final period Monday night against Winnipeg before capping their greatest comeback in franchise history with a 5-4 overtime win, then were down two in the third against Edmonton Wednesday night before scoring three times to take the game in regulation time.
After a brief surge by Eastern Conference teams, five of the top six spots are occupied by Western Conference teams. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. ANAHEIM (5): There’s no way Corey Perry could score 50 goals this season, is there? Well, he’ll need nine in his final six games, but the way Perry finishes his seasons, don’t bet against it. True to form, he has four goals in his past three games, including two in a 3-2 win over Edmonton Wednesday night in which the Ducks were largely outplayed.
2. COLORADO (9): It isn’t just that the Avs have won their past four games, which is in and of itself impressive. It’s that they’ve done it without Matt Duchene in the lineup. The Avs are 14-6 this season in games that go beyond 60 minutes, with three of those victories coming either in overtime or a shootout. Of the 10 overtime goals the Avs have scored this season, defenseman Tyson Barrie has three of them.
3. BOSTON (1): The Bruins suffered their first regulation loss since Jan. 9 – a span of almost three months – when Detroit took them down Wednesday night. Still, the Bruins are 8-1-1 in their past 10 and have emerged as the runaway favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup final. Patrice Bergeron’s eight-game goal streak was snapped in the Detroit game, but he had an assist to give him 8-4-12 totals in his past nine. Read more
The Boston Bruins finally lost a game when they dropped a shootout to the Montreal Canadiens Monday night, but no team in the NHL has a better goals differential, no team has more wins at home and no team is riding as hot a streak as the Bruins.
So it stands to reason that no team will usurp them in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. BOSTON (1): Despite the fact Dennis Seidenberg tore both his ACL and MCL in late December, the Bruins have not ruled out the possibility of him returning if they go deep into the playoffs. The way the Bruins are playing, they’ve actually replaced someone they thought was irreplaceable. Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski have stepped up their games and Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton have been as solid as a rock. Or a couple of rocks.
2. ST. LOUIS (2): The Blues experienced a bit of a hiccup when they suffered their first loss to a Central Division team, then lost to Philadelphia, but looked their old selves in road wins over Pittsburgh and Toronto. David Backes has had as many goals in his last six games (six) as he had during the entire lockout-shortened season in 2012-13. Read more