NHL Power Rankings (Feb. 4)
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (39-15-2)
The Penguins aren’t the frontrunners to win the President’s Cup, but they are the point leaders of the Eastern Conference by seven points. Anytime Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are healthy at the same time, like they are right now, Pittsburgh is a top three team in the show and can contend with the best of them. Still my favorite to win the Cup.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (34-10-14)
Chicago struggled for a little bit towards the end of January, but since dropping four games in a row, the Hawks are 2-0-1. Almost at the February 8th Winter Olympics break, the team has six players who have scored 40 points or more, including Norris Trophy favorite Duncan Keith.
3. Anaheim Ducks (40-13-5)
Anaheim hasn’t been great lately, 5-5 in its last 10 games, but still leads the NHL in points and is one of the most defensively minded teams in the league. Having a more than capable backup goaltender like Frederik Andersen (14-3 record, 2.06 GAA) on the roster doesn’t hurt either.
4. St. Louis Blues (37-12-5)
The Blues are arguably the deepest team in the NHL; they don’t have a superstar, but receive scoring help from all four lines and their top three defenseman who are all Olympians. If the Notes can trade for Ryan Miller, which would probably require sending a first rounder and a high-valued prospect like Ty Rattie to Buffalo, they’d easily become, if they weren’t already, a favorite to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
5. Colorado Avalanche (36-14-5)
Patrick Roy is clearly a superhuman. On paper, this Avs team doesn’t stack up against any of the West’s best teams, let alone the East’s, but the team has 79 points and is virtually a lock to be a top five seed in the playoffs. 8-2 in its last ten games, Colorado is absolutely rolling right now.
6. Boston Bruins (35-16-3)
The B’s definitely challenge St. Louis for the NHL’s deepest team; the team has THIRTEEN players who are at least a +10 or higher, including five who are a +20 or higher. With the emergence of Reilly Smith as one of the team’s premier point scorers, Boston’s forward lines have some of the best chemistry we’ve seen the team have in years.
7. San Jose Sharks (35-16-6)
The Sharks are one of the league’s streakiest teams; before losing four its last five games, San Jose had won six in a row. However, Joe Pavelski is on pace to set a career high in points and when Logan Couture comes back from his hand injury, the Sharks should get back to their winning ways.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (30-21-6)
The league’s current hottest team, Toronto has won eleven of its last twelve games largely because of the play of Phil Kessel, who has 23 points and 10 goals in his last 12 games. David Clarkson returns from an elbow injury tonight and Dave Bolland should be back soon, so things should stay positive for this scorching Leafs team for, at least for the near future.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (32-18-5)
It’s an absolute wonder how John Cooper’s team has been able to not only hold it together, but also play ridiculously well in the absence of Steven Stamkos. Captain (and should’ve been Olympian) Marty St. Louis has only upped his play and leadership since the injury and Ondrej Palat (16 points in his last 15 games) just won Rookie of the Month, rightfully so. If Stamkos is able to return to the lineup on Saturday as expected, the Lightning should only come closer to catching the Bruins for the Atlantic Divison’s top seed.
10. New York Rangers (30-23-3)
Finally! It’s about time that the Blueshirts start to play efficient, smart hockey, playing with skill and grit. Alain Vigneault’s squad has won nine of its last twelve games including both of its Stadium Series games against the Devils and Islanders and should, hopefully, continue to play its best hockey of the season. However, don’t be surprised if the team’s play digresses if captain Ryan Callahan is traded.
11. Columbus Blue Jackets (29-23-4) – Columbus is the NHL’s most exciting team right now to watch.
12. Minnesota Wild (29-21-7) – Minnesota needs a healthy Josh Harding quick before Darcy Kuemper keeps losing games.
13. Los Angeles Kings (30-22-6)
14. Montreal Canadiens (29-21-6)
15. Vancouver Canucks (27-21-9) – Henrik Sedin is finally back from injury and John Tortorella is back from suspension, two things that will help the struggling Canucks break their current four game losing streak.
16. Phoenix Coyotes (26-19-10)
17. Dallas Stars (25-21-9)
18. Winnipeg Jets (27-25-5)
19. Philadelphia Flyers (28-23-6)
20. Detroit Red Wings (25-19-12)
21. Carolina Hurricanes (25-20-9)
22. Nashville Predators (25-23-9)
23. Ottawa Senators (24-21-11)
24. Washington Capitals (25-22-9)
25. New Jersey Devils (23-21-13)
26. Calgary Flames (21-27-7) – The Flames are somehow currently on a five game winning streak, but are still 14 points out of a Wild Card playoff spot.
27. New York Islanders (21-28-8) – Though his numbers have been pretty impressive since being traded to New York, Thomas Vanek (38 points in 41 games played, +7 rating), who just rejected a contract extension, has to be traded before the Sochi deadline.
28. Florida Panthers (21-27-7) – Florida need a major shakeup. New owner Vincent Viola apparently claims that Dale Tallon has the green light to empty his pockets, but the team hasn’t made any moves yet. Dmitry Kulikov needs to be traded and no one other than Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sasha Barkov, Brian Campbell, Erik Gudbranson, Mike Weaver, and Tim Thomas should be safe.
29. Edmonton Oilers (19-33-6)
30. Buffalo Sabres (15-32-8) – Just trade Ryan Miller and put him out of his misery already.
Hockey Tracker Rankings are prepared weekly by hockey writer Freddy Kasten.