Power Rankings: Predators chase down No. 1 spot

Ken Campbell
By: Ken Campbell
Dec 2, 2014

Filip Forsberg (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News


Power Rankings: Predators chase down No. 1 spot

Ken Campbell
By: Ken Campbell
Dec 2, 2014

Filip Forsberg has put himself in the running for rookie-of-the-year honors and is on pace to become only the second players in Nashville Predators history to be a point-per-game player. The first and only one was Paul Kariya.

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 Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)

1. NASHVILLE (5): Forsberg was rookie of the month for November and Pekka Rinne was the third star of the month and the goals keep coming in Nashville. Coming up: Quick trip to Carolina before two key intra-division games against St. Louis and Chicago.

2. TAMPA BAY (6): Well, we know these guys can beat the Rangers. Their 6-3 win Monday night completed the season sweep in which they outscored Gotham 15-7. Coming up: Home-and-home against Buffalo, then Columbus. Watch for complacency.

3. DETROIT (14): Yes, we picked the Red Wings to miss the playoffs this season and, yes, it looks as though we’re going to be wrong. Coming up: Florida, Dallas and Rangers at home, where they’re 9-2-2 this season.

4. PITTSBURGH (7): Defenseman Kris Letang missed the Penguins game on the weekend and is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury. Coming up: The Devils tonight at home, then Vancouver and Ottawa later in the week.

5. N.Y. ISLANDERS (1): Denis Potvin compared the current Islanders to the team in 1975, one that was five years away from becoming a dynasty. Coming up: Home-and-home against Ottawa and a home game against St. Louis.

6. ST. LOUIS (2): The Blues have gone to extra time in three straight games, winning and losing one in a shootout and winning another in overtime. Coming up: Three very difficult road games against Chicago, Nashville and the Islanders.

7. CHICAGO (7): The Blackhawks have won three straight for only the second time this season. Brandon Saad is back on the top line and finding his game. Coming up: Home games against St. Louis and Montreal, then back on the road for another four games.

8. MONTREAL (4): The Habs signed Brendan Gallagher to a six-year extension at an average salary of just $3.75 million. Brilliant. Coming up: Three more on the road against Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas.

9. ANAHIEM (3): Clayton Stoner is the third Ducks player to go down in The Great Mumps Epidemic of 2014. With all the injuries/illnesses on the blueline, they acquired veteran Eric Brewer. Coming up: Philadelphia at home and Minnesota and Winnipeg on the road.

10. CALGARY (9): The Flames have 20 goals from their defense corps, which is the highest total in the NHL. What’s interesting is only three players have scored them. Coming up: Home dates with Arizona, Colorado and San Jose.

11. VANCOUVER (8): The Canucks are in the midst of their longest road trip of the year and have an impressive 9-4-0 mark away from home already. Coming up: The next five on the road, all against Eastern Conference opponents.

12. TORONTO (10): The Leafs completely dismantled Washington Saturday night, but may have lost one of their most effective players in Leo Komarov. Coming up: Four straight at home, kicked off by a visit from Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.

13. LOS ANGELES (11): Defenseman Drew Doughty said the Kings aren’t living up to their potential. And he’s right. Coming up: Boston and Philadelphia at home, with a quick trip to Arizona in between.

14. BOSTON (12): The Bruins have won only one of their past four and haven’t scored more than two goals in any of those games. Coming up: The last three games of a tough western trip with visits to Los Angeles, San Jose and Arizona.

15. WINNIPEG (20): The Jets have been remarkably healthy and look to have dodged a bullet with Bryan Little, who missed the third period of a 2-1 overtime loss to Boston Sunday, but is not expected to miss any time. Coming up: Edmonton, Calgary and Anaheim at home.

16. MINNESOTA (16): With the 29th ranked power play in the NHL this season, the Wild is losing close games because of its inability to score with the extra man. Coming up: Three at home, with two of them against Eastern Conference opponents.

17. SAN JOSE (19): The Sharks finally won a game on Sunday after losing four in a row, but they almost blew a big lead to Anaheim before winning 6-4. Coming up: Two eastern opponents at home, but the Sharks have won only four of 13 against Eastern Conference foes.

18. N.Y. RANGERS (15): The Rangers will be happy to see Tampa Bay in their rear view mirror. They last all three games to the Lightning, including two in less than a week. Coming up: On the road in Detroit and home to Pittsburgh, then a four-game road trip.

19. FLORIDA (22): First overall pick Aaron Ekblad, obviously ruled out for the World Juniors, is proving to be worthy of the hype, leading all rookie defensemen in scoring. Coming up: Road game in Detroit before coming home to play against fewer than 10,000 against Columbus and Buffalo.

20. WASHINGTON (24): The Capitals suffered their worst loss of the season when they fell 6-2 in Toronto on Saturday and have won three straight only once this season. Coming up: Vancouver at home, then a three-game road trip.

21: BUFFALO (21): The Sabres are in very, very real danger of taking themselves out of the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel derby the way they’ve played of late. Coming up: Home-and-home against Tampa Bay and a visit to Florida.

22. OTTAWA (17): Daniel Alfredsson is expected to be in the warm-up Thursday night for the Senators, then hang up his skates for good. That’s so cool. Coming up: Home-and-home with the Islanders and on the road in Pittsburgh.

23. ARIZONA (27): They move up on the basis of beating Edmonton, which is a slightly more lofty accomplishment than winning a intrasquad game. Coming up: At Calgary, then five straight at home.

24. DALLAS (18): Just when the Stars look as though they’re going to put things together, they take two steps backward. Coming up: In Toronto and Detroit before hosting Montreal Saturday night.

25. COLORADO (25): The analytics guys were bang-on in their assessment of this team. Their play with (and mostly) without the puck is dreadful. Coming up: Road games in Calgary and Winnipeg.

26. NEW JERSEY (23): We want to see the compromising photos Scott Gomez has of Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. Then again, maybe not. Coming up: No easy games. Pittsburgh and Toronto on the road and Washington at home.

27. COLUMBUS (28): No team was happier to see November end than the Blue Jackets, who are now without Mark Letestu for six weeks. Coming up: Two in Florida and home to Philadelphia.

28. CAROLINA (29): An unexpected win in Pittsburgh was a rare bright light in a stretch in which the Hurricanes have lost seven of nine. Coming up: They face former coach Peter Laviolette and Nashville at home, then Washington and Detroit.

29. PHILADELPHIA (26): Given the Flyers historical penchant for firing coaches, Craig Berube would be well-advised to start polishing his resume. Coming up: Three straight on the road in California.

30. EDMONTON (30): Losers of 10 in a row, the Oilers have spun completely out of control. Dallas Eakins, see Craig Berube. Coming up: The Oilers will make it a full month without a win if they fall to Winnipeg on the road and in a home-and-home against San Jose.

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Power Rankings: Predators chase down No. 1 spot