Friday, January 23, 2009

Power Rankings-All Star Break Edition

1) Its been about a month since our last edition of our Power Rankings poll. Its The All-Star Break! Five days without any meaningful hockey to watch.(Yes, that includes the charade on Sunday night!) A great time for us a FAUXRUMORS2 to publish our monthly Power Rankings.

1) San Jose- (1) The Sharks maintain their top spot in our rankings. Continuing to beat anyone not named Calgary. Ryane Clowe has been on fire helping the Sharks hold off the Wings in a great match up with Detroit last week. Question remains if the promotion of a 43-year-old right winger Claude Lemieux will help or hurt

2) Boston- (3)- The Bruins continue to way out pace any other Eastern Conference rival(although 2 losses to the Caps have to make them a bit uneasy) Great home/road records as well as potent PP, great PK make them a lethal team to oppose. Break came at great time as injuries were piling up. Still with Vezina candidate Thomas between the pipes, and Norris candidate Chara in front of him the B's are a threat to win every night

3) Detroit- (2)- Only slightly edged out by Boston to 3rd position. Pavel Datsyuk has been the difference recently, so the Wings are hoping his injury is minor (he's missing the silly game Sunday). Conklin has also regained his form that carried the Pens last season when M-A Fleury got hurt. Which is good since the Wings continue to give up a ton of shots each game!

4) Calgary- (9)- The Flames have vaulted up our rankings as well as in the West Conference standings. Beating the Sharks always gets one noticed! Mike Cammalleri is making his off season acquisition by Sutter look great! Where did Rene Bourque come from! A great PK and home record are among the reason the Flames are where they are. If they can improve on the road, they will be a significant Cup contender!

5) New Jersey- (6)- Never would we have thought that the Devils would be here, even with a healthy Brodeur! As FR wrote, Brent Sutter deserves Adams consideration! The addition of Brendan Shanahan seems to thus far been a positive. There is also no doubt that Zac Parise is a legit NHL star! If the playoffs started tomorrow we wouldn't want to face this team! Will the return of Marty in a few weeks be a good or bad thing? ; )

6) Philadelphia- (5)- Amazing that the Flyers have done so well without their highest paid player, Danielle Briere. In act some are saying his injury is being embellished for salary cap reasons. No matter, the Flyers appear to be for real. Being led by Carter their PP is deadly! Another surprise is the goaltending of Antero Niittymaki. Another team made for playoff hockey!

7) Washington- (7)- A bit of an enigma. Second best East team, but under .500 on the road, very poor PK, and only a +14 goal differential.(Boston is +52) Have the best player in the NHL, have had numerous injuries, and Theodore appears to be coming back into form, but we wouldn't be planning a DC Cup Parade just yet! However, like Chicago perspective is needed as this team wasn't even in the playoff hunt this time last year!

8) Chicago- (4)- The Hawks seem to have struggled somewhat since their home/home beatings by the Wings (the second in the Winter Classic) Overall they have to be pleased with Cristobal Huet who has been very sharp and is earning the big payday he received this past July. Still have to recall like the Caps above how far/fast this team has come in the past year.

9) NY Rangers- (8)- The BlueShirts continue to stay good enough to stay in the top 10, yet haven't returned to their form from the first few weeks of the season. Their PP continues to struggle. Henrik Lundqvist, as usual, is the difference on most nights. We would need to see more offensive consistency to give this team Cup consideration.

10) Buffalo- (16) The Sabres have propelled themselves from mediocrity to respectability with a solid month, resulting in their back in the top 8 in the East. Tim Connolly's return from (yet another) injury has infused needed offense that will hopefully overcome recent injuries to key defensemen, and hopefully improve a weak PP.

11) Montreal- (10) Montreal stays about where they were when we last ranked teams. Despite having their entire roster on the All Star team the Habs are hardly what we would call an elite team. Markov is one player who deserves to be there. Also, Andrei Kostitsyn appears to be heating up at the right time. We also should note the key injuries to Higgins, Koivu and Tanguay as hurting the team recently. Despite their record we don't see them as legit Cup contenders right now

12) Edmonton- (25) The Oilers have rocketed up our poll 13 spots with a very solid month. Now right on the precipice of playoff position. Ales Hemsky's return to the line up was a nice shot in the arm. They are now more or less healthy, and hope that off season acquisition Cole can regain his scoring touch Still, there PK continues to struggle big time. McTavish will need to right that issue if the Oil is to make the playoffs.

13) Phoenix- (15) Gretzky's bunch continues to stay in the hunt for the playoffs and at the break are in the top 8. They have a tough part of their schedule upcoming with tilts with the Ducks, Sharks and Wings. So they better hope that their leader Shane Doan snaps out of a slump. The young 'Yotes will also have to improve their anemic PP if they want to stay in the playoff hunt

14) Florida- (18) The Panthers continue to climb up both the standings and our rankings. Now a mere point behind the second place Canes and also very close to the East's top 8, having lost only 2 games in regulation in their last 10. Impending UFA Jay Bouwmeester and young sniper David(The assassin)Booth are the biggest reasons why. Biggest question is will they trade J-Bow, or retain him before the deadline?

15) Dallas- (22) The Stars may have finally gotten their groove, going 8-3-3 in their past 14 games and find themselves but a few points out with games in hand going into the second half. No one saw them as playoff possibilities before X-mas. Mike Ribeiro's finally playing like last season, and surprisingly Loui Eriksson is on pace for a 40-goal season. If Tippet can improve his team's specialty teams the Stars might be in good shape to get into the playoffs when anything is possible

16) Anaheim- (11) The Ducks limp into the break, going a poor 4-6 in their previous 10 games falling on the precipice of missing the playoffs. Ryan Getzlaf is having a great offensive season, but takes too many penalties for his/his teams own good. The team as a whole would appear to be 'less than the sum of its parts'. Meaning they are underachieving!

17) Minnesota- (20) The Wild move up a couple of spots as they continue to sputter along in the west. If they were in the other conference they'd possibly be challenging the Bruins for supremacy; the Wild are 10-2-1 against the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for them, they have to play a majority of their games against the tougher West. Continue to be offensively challenged, yet do have a decent PP.

18) Columbus- (23) The Jackets continue to hang in there largely on the shoulders of rookie sensation goalie Steve Mason. Kristian Huselius along with star Rick Nash continue to be the lone offensive bright spots. A recent improvement in their road game has helped the team stay in the race. Can a rookie continue to carry a relatively weak offensive team into the post season in the tough West?

19) Carolina- (12) Haven't exactly set the league afire since hiring Paul Maurice. In fact one can say there has been no change whatsoever. Keeping the canes in the playoff hunt, but barely so. Is Cam Ward getting fatigued playing so much? As has been the case most of the season, special teams are not doing well. If that continues the Canes may be looking at yet another near playoff miss. ..and yes the -29 in Rod Brind'amour's stat sheet is not a misprint!

20) Pittsburgh- (13) The Pens continue to sink (down 7 spots in our rankings) despite having the NHL's top 2 scorers in Crosby/Malkin. Surprising they are a better team away from the Igloo. Marc-Andre Fleury is playing adequately, but unspectacular. Problem is they don't have a Ty Conklin this season to push him. Evidently the still injured Sergei Gonchar is the true team MVP? Additionally, anyone esle think that despite his points Sid the Kid doesn't look like 'himself' this season?

21) Vancouver-(14) Roberto Lunongo is back in a nick of time. The 'Nucks went from leading the NW to falling out of playoff position, having won a mere 2 of their past 10 games. The addition of Mats Sundin has been anything but a tonic.(3 points in 7 games so far) Even a slew of home games couldn't help the team. They are missing good secondary scoring after the Sedin line. Will the return of Pavol Demitra make the difference? No.

22) Colorado- (19) One step forward two steps back for the 'lanche. Have recently been on a backward streak, going 4-6 in their past 10 to fall into last place in the NW, and a full 4 pts from playoff position. Special teams, especially their PK continues to be woeful. How bad is the goalie situation? Andrew Raycroft has outplayed Peter Budaj recently! Of course losing Sakic, and more recently Stastny doesn't help.

23) Los Angeles- (24) The Kings more or less stand pat from our last rankings. They are not a basement team like last season, but have yet to break free of the bottom 1/3 of the league quite yet. Unfortunately the team will soon undertake its longest road trip of the season. They should have more scoring with the talent they have up front. On the bright side top defensive prospect Jack Johnson returned to action this week.

24) Tampa Bay- (29) Climb from near the bottom back to life despite the persistent Lecavalier rumors. To his credit he's stepped up his game as of late. The Bolts actually have a winning record (6-4) in their last 10 contests. They have the horses to make a playoff run, but will the roster uncertainty sink them before they get going?

25) St. Louis- (27) A slight move upward this time around, though still on the bottom in the West. Glass half empty or full? In their recent 6 losses they have all been by one goal. Indicating competitiveness or lack of talent to get the job done? Its likely they will be big 'sellers by the trade deadline. The biggest (booby) prize being Keith Tkachuk. (Ask Don Waddell how that worked out for him)

26) Ottawa- (26)- How the mighty have fallen. Started off last season like they might break the 77-78 Montreal record for fewest losses. Now they are almost assured of missing the post season. How does Brian Murray still have a job? Well, probably not for long. Unfortunately for Sens fans the immediate future doesn't look good. Even sniper Dany Heatley has a mere 5 goals in his past 18 or so games. Most of those this past week.

27) Nashville- (17) The wheels have apparently come off in Music City with the Preds losing 7 of their most recent 10 games to fall out of the West playoff race. Winning only 8 of their 24 road games and a PP that can barely score doesn't help. Losing 7-2 to the Thrashers last week has to be the teams low point(so far). The bright spot continues to be Shea Weber who is having a superb season. Is Barry Trotz's job on the line? Actually the entire franchise is!

28) Atlanta- (28) First, Don Waddell still is employed. That in itself sums up why the Thrashers are where they are. Despite a recent surge (for them) going 5-5 in their last 10, they remain well out of playoff contention. Might this be the beginning of the end of hockey in Atlanta?

29) Toronto- (21) With only 2 wins in their past 10 games it appears that Brian Burk's squad is attempting to get into 'Tavares drafting position', or among the bottom 5 NHL teams. We believe they will achieve that 'goal', and if the NHL has something to say they will 'win' the lottery and get the prized forward to rebuild the NHL's premier franchise.

30) NY Islanders- (30) Biggest news came off the ice where the team finally hinted that they are losing patience concerning the snails pace of the new arena process with an exhibition game in KC and the team to start its 09 training camp in Saskatoon (out west). On the ice the Isles have won twice in their past 10 and are solidly dead last 30th (by 8 points) in the entire NHL. Without their franchise goalie, and likely trading of vets like Weight/Guerin last overall is all but assured


The Puck Stops Here said...

The west is better than the east - their record against one another shows that. So why are the majority of your top 10 teams east teams?


1) Puck: We strongly agree that the West is overall stronger, thus we have:
a) Three of our top 4 teams all hail from the West
b) Four of our Five bottom teams all come from the East

Contact the Media