Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: B's take top spot

Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: B's take top spot
December 10, 2013, 1:45 am
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The holiday roster freeze is just around the corner for the NHL, so we’re not anticipating too many changes in the current natural order of things in the Eastern and Western Conference. Younger teams off to hot starts like the Colorado Avalanche are coming back to earth a little bit while still looking like a playoff team, and Eastern Conference teams in Montreal, Pittsburgh and Boston are beginning to prove they’re the only ones worth a damn.

It’s up to the next level of East hockey clubs like the Capitals, Rangers and Maple Leafs to start picking things up, and keeping pace with the elite Eastern teams beginning to break away from everybody else.

Clearly it’s still early in the power rankings season and time will tell with a lot of these teams, but here are the rankings:  

30. Buffalo Sabres (6-22-2, last week: 30) – Three losses in a row isn’t even close to the worst of times for the Sabres.  

29. New York Islanders (8-17-5, last week: 28) – A nine game losing streak? I think Jack Capuano can clear off the calendar for 2014 because he’s going to have a lot of free time. It’s just not working with the Isles.

28. Florida Panthers (9-17-5, last week: 29) – The Panthers go up a notch after wins earlier this week against the Red Wings and Jets.

27. Columbus Blue Jackets (12-15-3, last week: 24) – Curtis McElhinney has been a nice story stepping in for Sergei Bobrovsky, but there really isn’t a lot to this team at all with the big talent on injured reserve.  

26. Edmonton Oilers (10-18-3, last week: 27) – Am I crazy to think the Oilers still have a run in them before it’s all said and done? By run I mean a winning streak that gets them in the playoff picture. Yes, maybe I am crazy.

25. Ottawa Senators (11-14-5, last week: 26) – The Ottawa fans were onto this team early, and showed it by not showing up at the Canadian Tire Centre. They should be better than kicking around at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

24. Calgary Flames (11-14-4, last week: 25) – Jarome Iginla should feel right at home playing this ragtag group of Flames players beset by injuries and some very patchwork goaltending.

23. Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-2, last week: 20) – The Flyers appeared to be righting the ship before the Dallas Stars lit up their defense and goaltending.

22. Nashville Predators (13-14-3, last week: 19) – The whispers about Barry Trotz’ job security are starting to circulate, and that’s too bad. A five game losing streak will do that to you, but he should go out on his own terms in Nashville for a team that can’t spend to retain all their stars.  

21. New York Rangers (15-15-1, last week: 16) – A 20 minute players’ only meeting usually doesn’t portend a sign of great things, does it? At least they’ve got King Henrik locked up for a long, long time.

20. New Jersey Devils (12-13-6, last week: 22) – At least they’ve got young defenseman Eric Gelinas in Jersey, who has immediately made his presence felt for a Devils team in need of exciting players.  

19. Winnipeg Jets (14-13-4, last week: 22) – Is it my imagination or this Winnipeg team playing better with Evander Kane out of the lineup? The Peg took eight of 12 points on their six game road swing.  

18. Carolina Hurricanes (13-12-5, last week: 23) –The win over the San Jose Sharks definitely kicks the Canes up a few notches. Impressive three game winning streak for a team just starting to get healthy.

17. Dallas Stars (14-9-5, last week: 18) – The Dallas Stars have scored one more goal than they’ve allowed this season. How much longer can this ratio last for the offense-heavy Stars?

16. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-12-3, last week: 17) – Loss to the Bruins lets the Leafs know they’ve got some work to do with their defense and goaltending.

15. Washington Capitals (16-12-2, last week: 13) – No. 2 in the Metro Division and middle fiddle among the entire NHL. Long live the Eastern Conference.  

14. Detroit Red Wings (15-9-7, last week: 8) – Pavel Datsyuk goes out, and then Henrik Zetterberg goes out. Datsyuk comes back, but probably only until Zetterberg comes back. It’s been a tough year for the Wings.  

13. Phoenix Coyotes (16-8-5, last week: 11) – The Coyotes are getting it done offensively and still have Mike Smith. They look like a playoff team to me.

12. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-10-2, last week: 14) – Goals becoming more difficult to come by for the Lightning with four goals in last four games, including back-to-back shutout losses.

11. Vancouver Canucks (17-10-5, last week 15) – Four wins in a row might be enough to make John Tortorella giddy enough to tell the Sedin Twins they don’t have to block any shots for a game or two.

10. Minnesota Wild (18-9-5, last week: 12) – Is there a better story this season than Josh Harding quietly, defiantly punching MS in the face by playing the best hockey of his career? I can’t imagine the number of people he’s inspiring all across the US and Canada.

9. San Jose Sharks (19-6-5, last week: 1) – The Sharks have been slapped all around the East Coast, and have been outscored 13-5 in a three-game losing streak to the Penguins, Hurricanes and Wild.

8. St. Louis Blues (19-6-3, last week: 3) – Losses to the Kings and Ducks have dropped the rock-solid Blues in the rankings, but they won’t be going much lower than this.  

7. Montreal Canadiens (19-9-3, last week: 9) – The Habs have gone 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, and comfortably defeated the Bruins in an impressive showdown at the Bell Centre last week. Carey Price is playing as well as he ever has between the pipes.

6. Los Angeles Kings (19-7-4, last week: 10) – Big wins against the Blues and the Ducks, and Daryl Sutter asking himself questions in the press conferences. The Kings sound like they’ve got things in control.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (21-10-1, last week: 7) – It remains way beyond my comprehension as to why the Penguins constantly try to push the Bruins around when they play each other. It’s just not the Pens’ game.

4. Colorado Avalanche (20-8-0, last week: 4) – Reality is starting to set in for Colorado, who sits one week away from a big drop in the power rankings if Patrick Roy can’t turn it around with a red-faced tirade.

3. Anaheim Ducks (20-7-5, last week: 7) – Weekend wins over the Blues and Blackhawks have the Ducks soaring back toward the top. Jonas Hiller is locking things down between the pipes for Anaheim.

2. Chicago Blackhawks (21-6-5, last week: 2) – One win in their last four games may not be a sign of trouble as it much as it might be indifference from a stacked Blackhawks team.  

1. Boston Bruins (20-8-2, last week: 5) – The wins over the Penguins and Maple Leafs over the weekend through injuries, adversity and Shawn Thornton going berserk were quite impressive. Tough times could be ahead as more and more B’s players go down with injuries.