Week 11 NHL Power Rankings
1. Chicago Blackhawks (33-5-4) (up 1)
The Blackhawks are one hundred percent back to their early winning ways. They haven’t lost a game in regulation all month and have a chance to pick up a point in every remaining game this season with just one tough game left on their schedule (at Vancouver on the 22nd).
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (33-10) (down 1)
After opening up the month with back-to-back losses, the Pens have bounced back nicely, winning each of their last four games by a margin of nine goals. Pittsburgh is a lock to win the one seed in the Eastern Conference, but Sidney Crosby needs to return soon if the team wants to have postseason success.
3. Vancouver Canucks (24-12-7) (up 3)
The ever-inconsistent goaltending tandem that is Luongo and Schneider has finally developed some consistency, leading the Canucks to a 6-3-1 record in their last ten games. The return of Ryan Kesler has been huge for Vancouver also, who was riding a five-game point streak before failing to score a point in last night’s contest against St. Louis.
4. Washington Capitals (24-17-2) (up 12)
The Capitals are literally red hot right now. Led by Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading twenty-eight goals, the Caps are currently riding an eight game win streak and haven’t suffered a regulation loss since March 26th. Washington is going to win the Southeastern Division and looks poised for a deep playoff run with their captain playing like the high-volume goal-scoring superstar that he is.
5. Boston Bruins (26-11-5) (down 1)
After acquiring Jaromir Jagr at the trade deadline earlier this month, the Bruins have just been average with a 3-3-1 record. They’re going to have to pick up their play if they want to hold their lead on the Habs; I think they’ll pull away with it over the next couple of weeks.
6. Montreal Canadiens (26-12-5) (down 3)
Although the Canadiens haven’t been playing great as of late, dropping both of their last two games to the Leafs and Flyers, they’re still one of only three other Eastern Conference teams that have clinched a playoff spot thus far. Montreal is currently tied with Boston for the division lead now after losing to the Penguins tonight.
7. Anaheim Ducks (27-10-5) (down 2)
The Ducks have come back down to Earth these past couple of months, with just a 7-7-2 record in their last sixteen games after starting the season off 20-3-3. Don’t be surprised if Anaheim exits the playoffs in the first or second round this May.
8. Los Angeles Kings (24-14-5)
The Kings are so consistent, hardly losing games that they shouldn’t and often only losing on the road. It isn’t often that the defending Stanley Cup Champion returns to the finals the next year, but Los Angeles can definitely put together an impressive playoff run for the second consecutive year.
9. San Jose Sharks (23-13-7) (down 2)
The Sharks are finally consistently playing like the dominant team that they were the first month of the season, picking up a point in all but two games since March 23. They still have a chance to catch Anaheim for the Pacific division lead, but they’ll most likely just pick up the 4th or 5th seed in the Western Conference instead. Expect a 2nd round exit in the playoffs for San Jose.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs (24-14-5) (down 1)
Currently sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points, the Leafs are having their best season in years, largely in part due to the emergence of the highly-touted rookie Nazem Kadri, who has scored 17 goals thus far. They’re 7-2-1 in their past ten games and should close out the season well with pretty easy games against the Panthers and Lightning coming up to close out a successful season.
11. St. Louis Blues (24-16-2) (up 2)
The Blues are probably the league’s streakiest teams, often winning and losing games in consecutive bunches. After winning each of their first six games to begin April, St. Louis lost two straight games before beating Vancouver last night. It’s going to be tough to win a playoff series without the team’s best player, TJ Oshie, who is currently on the IR, but Ken Hitchcock should still be able to coach his team into a playoff berth.
12. Ottawa Senators (22-14-6) (down 2)
The Sens are just like the Blues, an extremely streaky team. After opening up the month with four straight regulation losses, Ottawa has won each of its last three games largely because of the return of Craig Anderson in goal. If Andy can average a 1.55 GAA in the playoffs this year, the Senators should be able to win at least one series.
13. New York Islanders (22-16-5) (up 4)
Is this really the New York Islanders? The same team that plays at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island? Yes it is, and the league needs to get used to seeing the Isles play dominantly, at least for the rest of this season. This team has a dominant first line that is anchored by John Tavares, who is already a bonafide superstar, and consistent defense and goaltending. Hopefully they can up the strong play, which will certainly be needed to make the playoffs with their final five games of the season coming on the road.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets (20-16-7) (down 2)
The Blue Jackets have only fallen two spots in the rankings because of teams like the Islanders catching fire and jumping ahead of them. The Jackets are winners of four straight games and may very well beat out Detroit, Minnesota, or St. Louis for a playoff spot. What a great success story.
15. New York Rangers (21-17-4) (down 1)
It’s starting to look more and more like trading Marian Gaborik away was just what the Rangers needed, at least for this month. The Blueshirts have failed to pick up a point in a game just once all month and should be a tough matchup for whatever team they play in the playoffs this year.
16. Minnesota Wild (24-16-3) (down 5)
Although they’re just 4-5-1 in their last ten games, I still think the Wild are a top fifteen team in the league. However, if Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu don’t receive more scoring help up front, Minnesota could be in trouble and will definitely be in danger of losing their playoff spot to a team like Columbus.
17. Detroit Red Wings (20-15-7) (down 2)
Having just five players score over twenty points in a season isn’t going to help any team fighting for a playoff spot. The Red Wings may not make the playoffs for the first time in twenty years this season due to weak defensive play and lack of depth at forward.
18. Dallas Stars (21-18-3) (up 8)
Before losing to Chicago 5-2 on Monday night, the Stars were riding a five game win streak that got them back over .500. Was trading Jagr the answer? No, but Ray Whitney’s five game point streak (eleven points in five games) certainly has helped the surging Stars play well while Kari Lehtonen has been out of the lineup.
19. Winnipeg Jets (22-19-2) (up 9)
Winnipeg started off this month with three straight road losses, but have won the first four game of their current homestand. Even though they’re tied with the Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, I think the Jets are going to have a drop off this month and will probably finish in tenth place behind Buffalo.
20. Phoenix Coyotes (18-17-7)
The Coyotes are back to being relevant again after picking up nine out of a possible fourteen points so far this month. I’m not sure if they have what it takes to make a push for the last playoff spot in the West, but at least the Yotes have made the last month of the season interesting.
21. Buffalo Sabres (19-19-6) (up 4)
Once in last place in the Eastern Conference and in the midst of a rebuilding stage, the Sabres have suddenly turned things around with three straight wins and 6-3-1 record in their last ten games. Now just two points out of eighth place, Buffalo is a team to watch going forward.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (19-21-3) (down 4)
This has just been a disaster of a season for the Flyers. With Kimmo Timmonen most likely retiring and Chris Pronger concussed, next season doesn’t look like it’s going to be any better for a defenseless Philadelphia team with poor goaltending.
23. Colorado Avalanche (14-22-7) (up 6)
The Avalanche are the only team in the bottom seven of these rankings that’s been even close to good lately, picking up at least a point in each of their past four games. Though their coach, Joe Sacco, is widely regarded as one of the best American-born coaches league wide, the Avalanche have had their worst season of their existence.
24. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-22-4) (down 3)
Tampa hasn’t even played anywhere close to well recently, but they’re one of the only teams not on a losing streak in the bottom seven teams in the league. Still, it’s unacceptable to have two of the league’s top three scorers (Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos) and have such a poor season.
25. Calgary Flames (16-22-4) (up 5)
3-2 in their last five games, the Flames are actually playing better than they did when they still had Jarome Iginla. They’d be smarter if they played their rookies and backup goaltender to try to give them experience and gain a higher draft pick.
26. Nashville Predators (15-21-8) (down 3)
The Predators are a much better team than they have played all season (currently on a seven game losing streak). It’s amazing how poor a team can play after losing a key player (Ryan Suter). Still, it doesn’t help that Pekka Rinne, who was once a shutout king, is having an abysmal season (14-16-7 record).
27. Carolina Hurricanes (17-23-2)
I don’t think the Hurricanes got the memo that losing fifteen out of seventeen games wasn’t going to help them win a division title that they once had locked up. Cam Ward is clearly not the answer anymore in net.
28. Edmonton Oilers (16-19-7) (down 9)
Who said this was the year that the Oilers made the playoffs? Goaltending and leadership are the obvious problems for this highly inexperienced club. Maybe the firing of Steve Tambellini will help things out in the future. I don’t think so.
29. New Jersey Devils (15-17-10) (down 7)
Seriously? This is not a team that should be 0-6-4 in their last ten games. Ilya Kovalchuk should stay on the injured reserve and rest for the remainder of the season at this point.
30. Florida Panthers (13-23-6) (down 6)
This is exactly what I love to see. The Panthers once again have a lock on the first pick in the draft. Refer back to these rankings when they when they win the division and rack up 95+ points next season.
Rankings by: Freddy Kasten
Updated: April 21st, 2013