NHL Power Rankings
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/03/2008
Over two months into the six-plus month marathon that is the NHL season and it's apparent that a few lead horses are breaking free from the pack while a few continue to fall into early season obscurity. Teams are listed with their power ranking, their previous ranking and odds to win the Stanley Cup according to Bodog.
1) San Jose Sharks (1) 3/1 - This is as much of a consensus as you will see in power rankings. Not only are the Sharks the best team in the NHL but they are also the hottest, that is a deadly combination.
2) Boston Bruins (6) 9/1 - What a November for the Bruins. They compiled an 11-1-1 record including a huge momentum boosting, 4-1, win over Detroit to secure the No. 2 spot. Phil Kessel and David Krejci have been producing right up there with Marc Savard.
3) Detroit Red Wings (2) 7/2 - Marian Hossa has been a big pickup from Pittsburgh this off-season - Ty Conklin, not so much. The backup goaltender has been a big reason why the Wings enter December slumping. Still Vegas gives the defending Stanley Cup champions the benefit of the doubt with the second best odds to bring home Lord Stanley again.
4) Pittsburgh Penguins (4) 8/1 - Head-to-head tiebreakers aside the Penguins are slightly behind Detroit this week despite a thrilling 7-6 win over Detroit on the road. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin give the Pens two very legitimate MVP candidates while Dany Sabourin and John Curry (what, you have never heard of them?) give the Penguins two very legitimate backups between the pipes after Marc Andre Fleury.
5) New York Rangers (3) 10/1 - Gary Bettman is grinning like a butcher's dog with the kind of season New York is having. Only Toronto's NHL franchise is worth more money and nobody offers the kind of exposure as a team playing in New York can. So far the Rangers have held up their end of the bargain even with Henrik Lundqvist repeatedly being benched in the midst of games.
6) Minnesota Wild (8) 25/1 - No one is quite sure how the Wild are doing it, they just are. The Power Rankings think they could be for real but don't count the Las Vegas bookmakers in that group.
7) Anaheim Ducks (11) 20/1 - This seems to be the year of goalie depth in the NHL. Former Conn Smythe Trophy winner J-S Giguere finally has a capable backup in Jonas Hiller.
8) Montreal Canadians (7) 10/1 - Alex Kovalev seems to be the only Canadian that is interested in contributing on an awful team power play. The Habs absolutely need more production out of their special teams.
9) Vancouver Canucks (10) 28/1 - Calgary showed the entire league just how much they have closed the gap with Vancouver after a recent home-and-home sweep of the Canucks.
10) Washington Capitals (5) 15/1 - The length of the injury list for Washington is starting to rival the length of the actual roster. If the Capitals continue to hang around like this they will be dangerous when they get healthy with two of the top playmakers in all the game with the two Alexander's, Ovechkin and Semin.
11) Philadelphia Flyers (15) 20/1 - Both the Flyers as a team and goalie Martin Biron have made plenty of progress since an awful slow start.
12) Calgary Flames (14) 30/1 - Talk about a turnaround, Calgary has made a complete 180 from early on thanks to a strong defense and the play of Curtis Glencross. An even bigger turnaround has been Dion Phaneuf stealing Canadian-born actress Elisha Cuthbert off of Sean Avery.
13) Chicago Blackhawks (9) 18/1 - The Arizona Cardinals clinch a playoff spot and the Blackhawks are contending this season, what's next, the Pittsburgh Pirates finish .500? Well let's not go too far.
14) New Jersey Devils (20) 40/1 - Awaiting the arrival of Brian Rolston and John Madden back to the lineup, the Devils have still played solid hockey.
15) Carolina Hurricanes (12) 40/1 - There has been nothing pretty with the Hurricanes power play lately (0-for-25) or their record (1-4-1) over the last six games.
15) Buffalo Sabres (13) 25/1 - Thomas Vanek has led the way with goals (18) and points (23) while Andrej Sekera, Derek Roy, Jaroslav Spacek and Jason Pominville have all reached double digits in assists.
17) Nashville Predators (18) 100/1 - They at least got one thing going for them; Shea Weber has been hands down the top defensemen in the league with 10 goals and 22 overall points.
18) Columbus Blue Jackets (17) 125/1 - Derick Brassard will make a run at the top rookie award this year. Through November he has 19 points and a plus eight rating from his center position.
19) Los Angeles Kings (26) 150/1 - While we are talking about rookies we might as well mention the season Kings Defenseman Drew Doughty is having. Doughty is averaging 23:18 minutes per game, which is best among rookies.
20) Edmonton Oilers (16) 50/1 - Coach Craig MacTavish is under fire and it's mostly because of his underachieving uninspired group of players.
21) Colorado Avalanche (23) 66/1 - Joe Sakic is injured once again and the scoring onus has fallen on Milan Hejduk (10 goals, eight assists) and Paul Stastny (six goals, 14 assists).
22) St. Louis Blues (30) 125/1 - Lurking around .500 the move to Chris Mason in net has paid off for the Blues.
23) Phoenix Coyotes (21) 100/1 - The slumping Coyotes are going to need to lean heavily on goalie Mikael Tellqvist.
24) Ottawa Senators (28) 45/1 - It looks like this season will continue to be the Dany Heatley, Daniele Alfredsson and Jason Spezza show with very limited supporting roles after that.
25) Toronto Maple Leafs (22) 100/1 - Brian Burke comes to town but so far it's been the same old, same old for hockey's most passionate fans.
26) Florida Panthers (27) 150/1 - Well, well another team with a pair of potential starting goaltenders. Craig Anderson leads the league with a .948 save percentage and 1.87 GAA while playing behind Tomas Vokoun. Still the Panthers are mired in mediocrity and another example of why hockey rarely works in Florida.
26) New York Islanders (19) 200/1 - Not exactly your usual suspects atop the Islanders scoring leader board with Doug Weight chipping in 17 assists and Trent Hunter a team-best 10 goals. Mark Streti also has 17 points with five goals and 12 assists.
28) Dallas Stars (24) 40/1 - Sean Avery calling Elisha Cuthbert his "sloppy seconds" is all about the only newsworthy thing a disappointing injury-riddled Dallas team has done recently.
29) Atlanta Thrashers (25) 250/1 - What are the Thrashers thankful for this season? That the Lighting have been an utter abomination and are holding down the No. 30 slot with such vigor.
30) Tampa Bay Lighting (29) 66/1 - Maybe this train wreck in Tampa Bay wasn't Barry "the mullet" Melrose's fault after all.