NHL Power Rankings (October 26 to November 7)
by Jason Schwartz - 11/09/2006
Buffalo finally suffered its first loss, but that did not deter me from ranking them first overall instead of Anaheim. With their recent injuries, however, can Buffalo stay No. 1 for long? The Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames continue to disappoint, as the Philadelphia Flyers start to turn into the joke of the league. The teams that took the biggest leap in the rankings were the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, the Edmonton Oilers took the biggest downward spiral in the rankings.
1. Buffalo Sabres 12-1-1 (1) - Their winning streak may have been stopped but they are still the most resilient team in the NHL. They came back from a three-goal deficit to beat the Boston Bruins, and then came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the New York Rangers, both on the road. That gives the Sabres an incredible 5-1-0 record in games when they trailed by two or more goals. Sabres have taken an injury hit though, as one of their top and top scorers, Maxim Afinogenov, should be out 3-4 weeks with an upper body injury.
2. Anaheim Ducks 11-0-4 (5) - Anaheim is one game away from setting a new NHL record for most consecutive games without a loss in regulation to start a season. To accomplish the feat they will have to get it done on the road against a very hungry Vancouver Canuck hockey club. Anaheim has had it pretty easy on the road so far. Their only tough test was against Minnesota (in which they lost in a shootout).
3. San Jose Sharks 11-5-0 (4) - Getting outstanding goaltending from both Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov. Offense has had some trouble capitalizing on some good scoring chances though, and it cost them against the New York Rangers. Their lethal power play was just 1-for-14 during their three-game homestand.
4. Dallas 11-4-0 (2) - After equaling the best start in franchise history, Detroit came to town and once again beat the Dallas Stars. Marty Turco is now a career 1-7-5 against Detroit. Dallas also recently suffered their first two-game losing streak of the season with back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Calgary.
5. Nashville 9-3-1 (10) - After a slow start to the season, the Predators are now one of the hottest teams in the league. They have won seven games in a row on the road, and most of them against tough opponents. They have a huge game coming up on Nov. 10 against their division rival, the Detroit Red Wings.
6. Minnesota Wild 10-4-0 (3) - Have lost three out of their last four games as they seem to be cooling down. The Wild were absolutely dominated in their last game against the San Jose Sharks (Nov. 7), if it were not for the strong play of goaltender Manny Fernandez this would have easily been a blowout. Hopefully forward Marian Gaborik can return within a week.
7. Atlanta Thrashers 11-3-3 (7) - The Thrashers played spoiler to the Buffalo Sabres' bid to set a record of 11-straight wins to start the season. The Thrashers continue to struggle against the Carolina Hurricanes however, a team that they are winless in three games against this season.
8. Detroit Red Wings 9-4-1 (14) - After a bit of a disappointing start, the Red Wings are now riding a six-game winning streak. Offense still is not where it needs to be, but their defense continues to keep the opposition away from their net.
9. Montreal Canadiens 8-3-3 (8) - Both goalies have been excellent, and the Canadiens have been getting scoring from a number of different sources. Unfortunately, they recently lost their leading goal scorer Chris Higgins (eight goals) to an ankle injury, he should be out for at least a month.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins 7-4-1 (16) - The future is now for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are the most surprising team so far this season, and laid a huge beating beat on the road against the Flyers in an 8-2 win. Hopefully their offensive firepower can keep it going.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs 9-5-3 (12) - the Leafs picked up impressive wins against the Atlanta Thrashers and the Buffalo Sabres. Things have been looking good in Toronto, but it is now expected that they will be playing without their captain (and best player) Mats Sundin for the next month. This will be tough test for them, and you got to wonder how much it will hurt their momentum.
12. Vancouver Canucks 8-7-1 (9) - Have a bit of a long homestand coming up in which they can start racking up some points. The Canucks recently picked up a huge win over Dallas to end a three-game losing streak. Their offense really needs to start picking it up though as Roberto Luongo was not expected to bail them out every night.
13. New York Rangers 7-6-1 (13) - Had two huge road wins over the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks, only to come back home and lose to Buffalo in overtime. The Rangers' defense has just been terrible compared to last season, and they need to start getting scoring from their 2nd and 3rd line. Coach Tom Renney believes the Rangers have been beating themselves mainly, and thinks they will really start getting hot soon.
14. New Jersey Devils 8-5-1 (17) - The Devils have not played as well as their record shows. Offense has not helped out too much, although their offense is usually below average; they are still capable of producing more.
15. Carolina Hurricanes 7-6-3 (15) - Captain Rod Brind'Amour is doing his best to try and lead Carolina back to its winning ways, and they are slowly coming back to form. Cam Ward seems to be getting better, as he should soon start stealing some games for the Hurricanes like he did in the playoffs.
16. Washington Capitals 6-4-4 (23) - Very impressed with the Capitals this season. They don't quit, and their offense is showing that they are more than just Alexander Ovechkin. Brent Johnson has also looked impressive lately, he will get some more playing time if he continues to outplay start Olaf Kolzig.
17. Edmonton 7-6-1 (6) - Edmonton looked great to start the year, but it is becoming clear that they are going to struggle on the road this season. The Oilers saw former teammate Chris Pronger and the Anaheim Ducks embarrass them in a 6-2 loss, and then they followed it up by taking a beating from the Phoenix Coyotes.
18. Tampa Bay Lightning 7-7-1 (20) - The Lightning's offense has really come alive in the past two weeks, and no one has played a more important role in that respect than Martin St. Louis (nine goals in last seven games). Tampa Bay has a tough schedule the next couple of weeks, their offense needs to keep rolling.
19. Colorado Avalanche 7-6-2 (18) - Colorado had a couple of losses to weak teams like the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings, however, they did pick up an impressive 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Before the game against the Kings (Nov. 7), Jose Theodore was looking very strong in goal for the first time this season.
20. Ottawa Senators 5-7-1 (11) - Just when I thought the Senators were about to turn it around and go on a hot streak, they go back into a slump. The lowest point was blowing a 3-0 lead to the Washington Capitals.
21. Florida Panthers 6-7-2 (21) - Offense could suffer setback as star forward Todd Bertuzzi will be sidelined for quite a while because of back surgery. Goaltender Ed Belfour has improved vastly in goal, which was a big worry for the Panthers after the Roberto Luongo trade.
22. New York Islanders 6-6-2 (24) - Islanders are still managing to stay at .500, and they had a big 5-2 win on the road against the New Jersey Devils. They were manhandled in the next two games however by the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Atlanta Thrashers. They should be below .500 after they have completed their upcoming five-game road trip.
23. Calgary Flames 5-7-2 (19) - With their win over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 7, the Calgary Flames finally had a winning streak for the first time this season. Mikka Kiprusoff was brilliant in net against Dallas, if he keeps playing at that kind of level the Flames might find themselves back in the thick of things soon.
24. Boston Bruins 4-6-2 (29) - Blew a 4-1 lead over Buffalo with less than 10 minutes to play, and ultimately lost in the shootout. Even with Zdeno Chara in the lineup, the pucks continue to find the back of their own net way too often.
25. Los Angeles Kings 5-9-3 (25) - Kings have had some trouble capitalizing on scoring chances. After a 6-4 loss to Phoenix, their offense gave them a good performance in a 6-5 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets 4-7-1 (28) - Fell to an unbelievable 1-18-2 all-time vs. the Colorado Avalanche (after a 5-3 loss to them recently). Whenever Columbus gets good defense they have problems scoring, and when they get scoring their defense fails them, and as a result they continue to struggle.
27. St. Louis Blues 4-6-3 (26) - Have been on the wrong end of a couple of close games. Considering the injuries to their defensive unit, the Blues have not been that bad. They could see themselves climb the ranks once they get healthier.
28. Phoenix 4-10-0 (30) - Injuries continue to pile up as things just get worse for the Coyotes. Goaltender Curtis Joseph is having an awful so far, and if he does not step up his play he will probably lose his job soon. Leading scorer Mike Comrie is expected to be out until mid-December with a foot injury.
29. Philadelphia Flyers 3-10-1 (27) - Absolutely humiliated in front of their fans by Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in an 8-2 loss. From top contender last season, to the basement this season, the Flyers are very close to hitting the panic button.
30. Chicago Blackhawks 4-9-0 (22) - As expected, Chicago took a nosedive in the standings once their top players got injured. They have lost six in a row since Martin Havlat got injured, and it has definitely affected their offense as they have only averaged a goal a game during that span.