It was a fun week with the Stadium Series outdoor games that were a rousing success in Los Angeles and New York, and gave us Jeremy Roenick hamming it up with Kiss and Henrik Lundqvist in pinstriped pads.
It also gave us another piece of evidence that the Anaheim Ducks are in the midst of a monster season that’s making Disney finally rue the day that they vacated the franchise, and cementing California as a legitimate place to be in the hockey world. I am of the opinion that too many outdoor games can water down the entire concept, but there is little doubting the Stadium Series success when the games are packing 50,000-plus people into ballparks to watch hockey games.
It really is a novel way to break up some of the monotony in the dog days of January, when so many hockey teams are going through the motions.
Clearly, it’s not yet too late in the power rankings season and time will tell with a lot of these teams. Here are the rankings:
30. Buffalo Sabres (14-30-8, last week: 29) – Back in the basement again for Buffalo with two wins in their last 10 games.
29. Edmonton Oilers (17-32-6, last week: 30) – Owner Daryl Katz sent out a letter apologizing to fans. I’m sure some of the Oil Faithful were hoping for some of their money back too.
28. Calgary Flames (19-27-7, last week: 28) – The Flames have won three games in a row, but it’s not getting them anywhere. It will be interesting to see which names get sold off by Brian Burke at the trade deadline.
27. New York Islanders (21-26-8, last week: 25) – The Isles have lost three in a row, but hope that the return of Lubomir Visnovsky and Evgeni Nabokov will spark another win streak for a team that’s still in it.
26. Florida Panthers (21-25-7, last week: 26) – The Panthers have actually had a couple of pretty good weeks, but the Bruins dropped the hammer on them Tuesday night.
25. Nashville Predators (24-23-8, last week: 23) – The Preds are sinking in the West, and Shea Weber suffered an upper-body injury on Tuesday night. Not good times in Music City.
24. New Jersey Devils (22-21-11, last week: 22) – Hope the Stadium Series performance isn’t the last note that we remember from Martin Brodeur’s fabulous career.
23. Winnipeg Jets (25-25-5, last week: 24) – The Jets are 6-2 under new head coach Paul Maurice, and Blake Wheeler is going ballistic with the offense.
22. Washington Capitals (24-21-8, last week: 18) – The Capitals are in some serious turmoil, but managed to pull out of it with a pair of wins over the Habs and Sabres. That came on the heels of a seven game losing streak.
21. Dallas Stars (24-21-8, last week: 27) – The Stars have pulled out of the tailspin with wins in three of their last four games with W’s over Pittsburgh, Toronto and Minnesota. Tyler Seguin finally ended the great Texas scoring drought of 2014.
20. Ottawa Senators (23-20-10, last week: 19) – The Sens have lost four of their last six before stopping the Blue Jackets, and still don’t seem to know whether they’re buyers or sellers.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (26-23-4, last week: 16) – The Blue Jackets went from one of the NHL’s hottest teams to a three-game losing streak just like that. It’s a good thing they’re in the Metro Division.
18. Phoenix Coyotes (25-18-10, last week: 20) – Five of their last six points against the Oilers, Kings and Canucks have the Desert Dogs trending upward again.
17. Detroit Red Wings (23-19-11, last week: 17) – Detroit has to be wondering if they’ll ever get healthy this season. Henrik Zetterberg has gone down once again.
16. Philadelphia Flyers (24-22-6, last week: 15) – Three wins in their past 10 with some leaky defense, and Steve Mason crashing back down to earth after getting his contract extension. It’s never boring in Philly, is it?
15. Carolina Hurricanes (24-20-9, last week: 20) – Four wins in their past five games before the offense crapped out against the Habs. Anton Khudobin is the guy now down in Carolina.
14. Vancouver Canucks (27-18-9, last week: 13) – The Canucks will go up or down significantly based on this week’s measuring-stick tilt against a Blackhawks team ripe for the picking.
13. New York Rangers (28-23-3, last week: 10) – One has to wonder how the trade rumors around Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi are going to affect the psyche of this team.
12. Montreal Canadiens (28-20-5, last week 12) – Loved hearing Marc Bergevin forcing his players to sit at their respective stalls when the media entered the room after an embarrassing loss last week. That’s the way to do it.
11. Minnesota Wild (29-20-6, last week: 11) – Three wins in a row including a Metro Division contender/pretender win over the Washington Capitals last weekend. The Blueshirts are hitting their stride.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-21-6, last week: 14) – Seven victories in their past nine games have quelled many of the rumors, whispers and worries in the Big Smoke.
9. Los Angeles Kings (30-19-6, last week: 10) – The Kings just don’t have enough offense to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents right now. They’re a tough out, but not dangerous enough. They need another sniper.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning (31-17-5, last week: 8) – Nobody say the word “setback” and Steven Stamkos. Too many different entities need him to be back full strength and fancy free.
7. Colorado Avalanche (33-14-5, last week: 7) – The Avs have won seven of their past 10, and continue to show they’re for real under Patrick Roy. Their activity at the trade deadline should be fascinating to watch.
6. San Jose Sharks (34-13-6, last week: 5) – Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau took the leap together in San Jose with matching contract extensions, and now they just need to justify it by finally winning.
5. Boston Bruins (34-15-3, last week: 6) – They’ve outscored the Flyers, Islanders and Panthers 18-6 in their last three games while going 5-0-1 in their best stretch of the regular season.
4. Chicago Blackhawks (32-10-13, last week: 1) – A four-game losing streak for a Blackhawks team that appears to have down-shifted in the month of January. They’ll find another gear prior to the playoffs.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-14-2, last week: 3) – The Penguins have weathered all kinds of injury storms, and you know that Ray Shero has a few cards up his sleeve for a gunslinger winger at the trade deadline.
2. St. Louis Blues (36-11-5, last week: 4) – The Blues had a healthy run through the East taking three out of four. They have another rumble with the Bruins at home next week just prior to the Olympic break.
1. Anaheim Ducks (39-11-5, last week: 2) – The home-and-home sweep of the Kings culminated with the Stadium Series victory and continued Anaheim’s season of being awesome. They’re just too good right now.