Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Power Rankings- First Edition

We're baaaack!!! We at FAUXRUMORS2 had been quite silent this off season. After our blog vacation, we were very happy to host in Argentina, we layed low for the most part. Taking a few additional non-blog vacations in the Islands. A You're welcome to FR as well as a Thank you to our always reliable Islander source who we thank for breaking the DiPietro news for us last week!

2) Anyway, we FR again asked us to formulate our Power Rankings for the blog. It seems it has become super popular to do this that almost every other hockey blog now employs some sort of Power rankings. This of course is fine. The more opinion the better we always say. Unlike others we will only do this monthly. Any sooner in our opinion wouldn't give a full view of any possible trends. To that end we will admit that this first edition is a combination of early results with preseason predictions/rankings. Anyway here it is:

1) San Jose- The Sharks are off to a hot/impressive start. No one is surprised to see them do well. They have perennially been one of the best teams in the regular season, but their playoff disappearing act is what got Wilson fired. They won't get any respect until they win a few playoff rounds.

2) Montreal-The Habs start where they left off last year. As we predicted, they have one hell of a team that can skate with anyone. Through 10 games played they have a mere 1 regulation loss. Might the centennial season in Montreal lead to Cup 25? Long way to go, but so far, so good.

3) Detroit- No surprise to see the Cup champs in the top 3. They were in this territory for almost all of last season(deservedly so!) 8-2-2, with 8 of their first 12 games started away from the Joe the Wings are proving they're the team to beat once again

4) Buffalo- The boys from upstate NY are looking a lot like the 06-07 edition that was 'scary good'. As we figured, with the pressure of his contract reduced Vanek would flourish, and he has, big time. Miller is playing goal as good as he has in his young career. We don't see them continuing this torrid pace, but a playoff spot is certainly a possibility now.

5) Anaheim- The Ducks got off to a horrendous start, but since going winless in their first handful of games they have been the hottest team in the NHL(a majority of those games away from the Pond). Sellanne is looking like he drank from the fountain of youth. No doubt/surprise that the Ducks will be a Cup contender!

6) NY Rangers- Had we done this ranking a week ago the Blueshirts may have been in the top 2-3. However the Rangers have been quite ordinary (5-4-1) in the last 10 games. Coming back to Earth after a blazing start that began with 2 European wins. They will continue to win more than they lose and be in contention for the Atlantic all season

7) Minnesota- Despite the distractions of Gaborik (rumors of trades and his annual injury issues) the Wild have been playing good hockey. No surprise that their PK has been light's out, but can they maintain a 93% kill ratio all year? W didn't have them as a playoff team, but if they can perform this way without their best player we may have to reevaluate them

8) Boston-Like Detroit, has played 8 of their first 12 games on the road, and they have handled this quite well so far. If they play as well at home the B's will give the Habs a run for the division.

9) Calgary-It appears that after a down season Miikka Kiprusoff is back on his game and ready to carry the Flames as he has done in the past. Also reports are that Dion Phaneuf is playing the best hockey of his young career, and as important staying out of the penalty box. The Flames PP has been a big weapon and the resurgence of Bertuzzi has been a pleasant surprise

10) New Jersey- Like their counterparts across the Hudson the Devils have come back a bit and with the loss of their MVP, Marty Brodeur for as long as 4 months, they are poised to continue that descent. They were a playoff bubble team in our opinion PRIOR to that, now we don't see them as a playoff team.

11) Carolina- Injuries have ravished this team, yet they are winning! Another of the teams that has started a majority of their first dozen games on the road. The Canes have handled this robustly, going a very solid 5-1-2 away from Raleigh. If they can improve a .500 home record they might surprise some and regain the division that Washington stole last season

12) Chicago- After getting off to a slow start (one which inexplicably cost Savard his job) the Hawks are back in the mix and where most of us believed they would be. Cristobal Huet and Khabibulin have played better and the team has responded, only losing once in regulation in their last 10 contests.

13) Edmonton- The Oilers are a hard to team to assess. They look pretty dam good one night, and pretty dam bad the next. Which explains their placement here in the middle 10. Dwayne Roloson is rumored to be on the block, but the way he is playing can they afford to deal him now?. They did a respectable .500 on a long road trip and if they can run up some W's at Rexall they will rise in our poll next month.

14) Pittsburgh- Not unexpectedly the Pens have treaded water with all the injuries to key personnel. Despite those they are over .500 on the road and in the Igloo. The injuries might cost them a division crown, but if they can weather the early season storm of injuries the Pens should be just fine by spring.

15) Nashville- Barry Trotz continues to impress us with the job he is doing with a roster that many (including us) didn't see as good enough to compete for a playoff spot again. If they can improve their poor road record they will be even more likely to win a spot. Their excellent home record though has not resulted in good attendance which might mean this is the last season of hockey in The Music City

16) Toronto- Kuddos to Ron Wilson to have his team compete every night. Their recent 5 goal comeback win against the rangers(albeit against their backup goalie) was impressive. If we were Cliff Fletcher we'd pass on Sundin (if he asked to come back) and allow this team to sink or swim with the players who have been there from the start.

17) Washington- One of the early season's biggest disappointments. A horrible 2-4-1 road record will not win a playoff spot, let alone a division. Reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin and Calder runner up Backstrom have largely been MIA. Picking up the slack has been the 'other Alex', Semin. The top line best get going else this could be a big let down year in DC

18) Philadelphia- We should have seen this coming, but combined with injuries to their defense and goaltending an issue once again in Philly the Flyers are off to a poor start. They appeared to be ready to right the ship with 4 consecutive wins last week, but can they maintain this momentum with mediocre goaltending? Without a stellar PP, things could even be worse!

19) Tampa Bay- After a poor start to be in this placement is a bit of a victory in of itself. Much was expected of them, but in reality they only have 3 regulation losses in 10 games so they are still right there despite a surprising scoring problem. On the flip side goaltending (Mike Smith) surprisingly has been their strength. Rookie Steven Stamkos seems ready to emerge as the Calder favourite most forecast.

20) Vancouver- As expected Luongo and the Sedins have been the reason the Canucks have won 7 of their first 13 games. Also the threat of being waived and sent to the AHL has apparently (finally) lit a fire under the ass of Kyle Wellwood (6 goals in 8 games played) Can he continue to play well? Still the 'Nucks are as expected a.500 team. The addition of Sundin might help, but he best return soon else it could be too late in the tough West

21) Colorado- The Av's early season stumbles are the result of (as expected) less than stellar goaltending, and (not expected) sub par defense. Budaj's save % of .876 is not gonna cut it. Meanwhile on the bright side Milan Hejduk is having a renaissance of sorts and young Mr. Stastny is picking up where he left off. Ultimately if the Avalanche are to have a shot at the post season they will need to improve in their own end.

22) Ottawa- Inexplicably the Sens are 2-4-1 at home while a respectable 3-1-1 away from Kanata. Resulting in a .500 record. As expected Gerber has been an issue, and Alex Auld is now the defacto #1. We doubt he can carry the team to the playoffs. The big line of Heatley/Spezza/Alfredsson is doing as expected, scoring. Big surprise is Filip Kuba with 13 points on the backline.

23) Dallas- We didn't see this coming. The Stars look totally out of sinc. Tippet's job is certainly at stake if they don't turn things around soon. Problems start in goal where Turco has an amazingly bad .844 save %. They will not win if that continues. Sure injuries to their defense has hurt, but they overcame those last spring. Bright spots are Ribiero and Morrow.

24) St. Louis- To be 5-5 after 10 games is a small victory for the Blues. Few expected them to compete for a playoff spot, especially with the injuries they sustained early on. They did start off very well, only to fall back recently. Vets Tkachuk and Kariya playing for contracts are looking 10 years younger than they are. The real test will be how this group does once it hits the road for a long stretch. 8 of their first 10 have been home.

25) Florida- WE didn't see the Panthers as a playoff team, but we expected more than we're seeing thus far. Perennially they start slowly then miss the post season by a few points. Are they doing this again? If Jay Bowmeester wants big$ he better start playing big! The goaltending has largely been keeping the Panthers in games. Other than Stillman and Booth, few are contributing offensively

26) Phoenix- Seems every year the 'Yotes get off to a bad start and find the hole to great to dig out of. No difference this season, but the difference is that many thought they'd be better. Still being .500 isn't awful. Jovonovski and his -6 need to improve! If they can hang in there, the younger players along with Jokinen/Doan should be OK, but they best not wait too much longer.

27) Columbus- Ken Hitchcock can not be too happy with his team's start. New comer R.J. Umberger has a mere 1 goal and needs to step it up. Even Nash has yet to catch fire. Norrena will have to step up his game in the absence of #1 LeClaire. So far he hasn't been consistent. WE didn't see the Jackets as a playoff team, but their fans/management won't be happy with another cellar dwelling season in mid Ohio!

28) NY Islanders - Two recent impressive victories erase a miserable 4 goal, 3rd period collapse at the hands of the Habs. the wins 'propel' the Isles from being 30th. Without DiPietro, despite surprisingly good goaltending from McDonald, the Isles won't have many winning streaks. Too many injuries and not enough reliable offense.

29) Los Angeles - First the silver lining- Seven of the Kings' 8 losses have been by one goal. Unfortunately, being close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. We continue to say this team lacks a #1 goalie. LaBarbara is NOT a true #1 and it shows. They aren't getting blown out, but when you have trouble scoring you have to get near perfect net minding. Where is Kopitar? One goal in 11 games? Not good.

30) Atlanta- Seems this is their permanent position. They and LA "fought it out' a lot here last season. Somethings don't change. They are every bit as bad, if not worse than we figured they'd be. Like Nashville, this franchise is in trouble. Problem #1- Waddell still has a freakin job! Newly acquired Matt Schneider a -11, ouch! Guess Brian Burke knew something!

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