NHL Power Rankings
by Matt Severance - 11/20/2008
Welcome to the first NHL power rankings of the season. With the league at nearly the quarter-pole, it seems fairly evident what teams have or don't have by this point. On to the rankings (all numbers, news, etc., entering Wednesday's play).
1. San Jose Sharks: How can the Sharks not be at the top? They are invincible at home and haven't tailed off without goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who is expected back this weekend.
2. Detroit Red Wings: The Wings actually have one fewer loss than San Jose and are doing it despite a subpar start from Chris Osgood. No team can match their forward depth.
3. N.Y. Rangers: They never lose in a shootout, it seems, and Henrik Lundqvist might be the best netminder going right now. Will they begin to miss Scott Gomez, however?
4. Pittsburgh Penguins: That 7-6 win over Detroit last week was something, but the injury to Marc-Andre Fleury is worrisome.
5. Washington Capitals: Only one regulation loss in their last 10, and Nicklas Backstrom is emerging alongside Alexander Ovechkin.
6. Boston Bruins: Dropped them lower than they are in the overall standings because of the injury to defenseman Andrew Ference, which will be felt.
7. Montreal Canadiens: Seems like they are missing a piece, especially with Alexei Kovalev being just average. Only win in past four was against lousy Blues.
8. Minnesota Wild: How is this happening with nothing from Marion Gaborik? Niklas Backstrom (the other one) has been awesome in net. I still don't believe, however.
9. Chicago Blackhawks: They can score with anyone, but do they dare trade Nikolai Khabibulin, who has been better than Cristobal Huet?
10 Vancouver Canucks: Pavol Demitra is back, but Mason Raymond has been a no-show lately on the top line and will be demoted.
11. Anaheim Ducks: Rob Niedermayer was recently a healthy scratch for the first time in his Duck career.
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Hey, Sergei Samsonov just got off the schneid, so maybe better days are ahead. Probably not.
13. Buffalo Sabres: Injuries to Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik won't help an offense that doesn't have a lot of firepower.
14. Calgary Flames: They are the most-penalized team in the league. Jarome Iginla is a stud, but Mikka Kiprusoff's GAA is alarming.
15. Philadelphia Flyers: Simon Gagne has been awesome in his return from last year's injury, and they will climb once Daniel Briere is healthy.
16. Edmonton Oilers: This team has three goalies who play, which really means the Oilers don't have a clear-cut No. 1.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets: Who is Derick Brassard!? Pascal Leclaire has a scary 3.56 GAA and was just routed by the team one spot above.
18. Nashville Predators: They are incredibly fortunate that Jason Arnott's injury wasn't season-ending. He may even play this weekend.
19. N.Y. Islanders: Joey MacDonald has saved this team's season while Rick DiPietro works his way back.
20. New Jersey Devils: Nikolai Khabibulin's price keeps going up. They should move up when Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik return from injury.
21. Phoenix Coyotes: Shane Doan has been solid as usual but the 'Yotes have dropped three in a row.
22. Toronto Maple Leafs: Mats Sundin isn't coming to the rescue, but at least Matthew Stajan looks like a building block.
23. Colorado Avalanche: They have only scored 14 goals in the past 10 games but hope to get Joe Sakic back soon.
24. Dallas Stars: Not sure that ancient Daryl Sydor will be the answer to their defensive problems.
25. Atlanta Thrashers: I'll bet you $5 you can't guess who leads this team in points (Thrashers fans, all two of you, are excluded)?
26. Los Angeles Kings: They have scored only 17 goals in their last nine games and have been shutout four times this season - only two fewer than the entire 2007-08 season.
27. Florida Panthers: They definitely need to be above the Lightning as they have beaten them twice in the past week.
28. Ottawa Senators: Just as center Mike Fisher had come on, he's out for two weeks. Sens have too much talent (although nowhere near the good ol' days) to be as bad as they are.
29. Tampa Bay Lightning: At least Steven Stamkos is getting plenty of ice time now, but this team is still cleaning up the Melrose mess.
30. St. Louis Blues: Leading scorer Andy McDonald is now out eight weeks, and top defenseman Erik Johnson was officially ruled out for the season.