Sunday, October 16, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of October 16th, 2011

We're now over a full week into the 2011-12 NHL season, and every team has played at least a handful of games already, so let's take a look through DGA's first ever NHL Power Rankings.

1. Detroit Red Wings - Red Wings are 4-0 this season, including a pair of shutouts against Colorado and Vancouver, and those two teams have been strong offensively.  I just have one question: if Nicklas Lidstrom wins the Hart Trophy, Norris Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup this season, will he retire?  I doubt it.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins - Pittsburgh may have lost their first game in regulation last night, but in case you haven't heard, they do have two superstars expected to return to their lineup pretty soon.  And then there's this: if you mess with Pittsburgh's superstars, Arron Asham will most definitely ruin your face.

3. Washington Capitals - The Caps haven't lost yet, although they tried to hand Ottawa a win last night.  Of course, with Ottawa being Ottawa, they refused.  If Tomas Vokoun stops doing his best Washington Capitals goalie imitation, the Caps may be on their way to a deep playoff run this season: at least 8 games.

4. Philadelphia Flyers - The Flyers have only used one goaltender so far this season, which is remarkable, considering they've played more than one period this season.  Jaromir Jagr and "Baby Mario" have been exciting to watch, but what happens when Michael Leighton sneaks into the Flyers' locker room and decides that he's back?  It'll be all downhill from there.

5. New York Islanders - The last time I saw the Islanders fifth in anything, it was fifth in the Atlantic Division, but now, that's not the reason.  Sure, "franchise goaltender" Rick DiPietro is injured again........again, Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov have done the job so far.  And then there's John Tavares, who thinks he's Wayne Gretzky.  Who knows, maybe he is...

6. Colorado Avalanche - The Avs have been storming through eastern Canada this week, following a win against the defending champs.  Their offensive firepower was aided by Carey Price doing his 2009 Carey Price impression and facing the Ottawa Senators, but give the Avs credit.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs - Not to pick on Ottawa anymore, but the Leafs nearly let a 5-goal lead slip away in the third period against the Sens recently.  Nonetheless, the Leafs are 3-0 and Phil Kessel looks like he bought himself a supercharger over the summer.  Perhaps this is the year the Leafs make it back to the playoffs?  Well, winning 79 more games would certainly help their cause...

8. Dallas Stars - The Stars are 4-1.  Who needs Brad Richards anyway?  The young sensation return of Sheldon Souray has stabilized Dallas on the back end, too.  Still, the Stars got off to a terrific start last season and then collapsed down the stretch.  It's way too early to buy into them as far as playoffs are concerned.

9. Buffalo Sabres - The Sabres bounced back from a tough loss to Carolina Friday to win in Pittsburgh Saturday.  It seems like Christian Ehrhoff plays the entire game, and Tyler Myers plays the rest these days...if that made any sense at all.  If Thomas Vanek decides that he wants to score 40 goals this season, Buffalo is going to be tough.  Oh yeah and their goaltending isn't that bad, either.

10. New Jersey Devils - The Devils have faced Bryzgalov, Ward, Quick and Rinne this season, yet they've lost just one game.  That's quite an improvement from last season.  Ilya Kovalchuk isn't likely to be a healthy scratch this season, but he is likely to play more minutes per game than Mattias Tedenby will play all season.  The problem is, the Devils are only the 4th best team in their own division right now.

11. Los Angeles Kings - Philly West beat Philly East last night in the return of Mike Richards (and Simon Gagne again) to Philadelphia.  The Kings will finally get a chance to play at home on Tuesday, but the injury to Drew Doughty is concerning.  Let's hope he doesn't use his time off to start working on a new contract...

12. Anaheim Ducks - If hockey teams were made up of two forward lines and two defensive pairings, Anaheim might be the best team in hockey.  Well, except for the fact that none of their top three forwards (Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan) have recorded a point this season.  In all likelihood, those three will have to get going, because it is unlikely that Maxime Macenauer is going to carry Anaheim offensively this season.

13. Boston Bruins - So the Bruins have Stanley Cup hangover...  They edged the Blackhawks last night in Chicago, so perhaps they're on the right track.  If they aren't, I wouldn't recommend firing Peter Chiarelli or Claude Julien to bring in Theo Epstein or Terry Francona.  Or John MacLean for that matter...

14. Minnesota Wild - Dany Heatley resembles Marian Gaborik in many ways: both take games off whenever they feel like it, both are completely unaware of the defensive zone and both possess tremendous offensive skill.  Heatley, Koivu and Setoguchi may be Minnesota's best offensive threat in years.  They better hurry up and win, though, because you never know when Dany Heatley's annual trade request may come.

15. Nashville Predators - Sure, Suter and Weber are a dangerous duo back of defense, but once you get to their forwards, there isn't much to admire.  Let's put it this way: Cal O'Reilly and Matt Halischuk were Nashville's two shooters in their shootout loss to New Jersey last night.  I think you get the point...

16. Chicago Blackhawks - If you're taking this power ranking seriously, you're probably mad that I've ranked the Hawks this low.  Also, if you're taking this seriously, well there's your problem.  The Hawks are eventually going to have a strong season.

17. Vancouver Canucks - The Canucks have been far from dominant to start this season.  Roberto Luongo is still convinced that the playoffs are going on, and his performance this season proves that. 

18. Phoenix Coyotes - Shane Doan has played his entire career with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise.  He also beat Winnipeg last night.

19. Carolina Hurricanes - Cam Ward isn't off to the greatest of starts to this season, but Jeff Skinner is playing very well.  Skinner seems absolutely determined to win his second straight Calder Trophy.  He's so innocent, isn't he?

20. Florida Panthers - The Panthers signed more free agents than Glen Sather and Paul Holmgren combined this past off-season, which is great, but losing Tomas Vokoun in the same off-season has to off-set some of the signings.

21. Edmonton Oilers - Gotta show the Oilers a little love after beating the Penguins and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' first career hat trick.  It'll take a really bad season for the Oilers to land Nail Yakupov this coming June.

22. St. Louis Blues - Jason Arnott got off to a good start in St. Louis.  Give him a few weeks, and Jamie Langenbrunner will ruin him.  Again.

23. Tampa Bay Lightning - The Lightning are among the worst defensive teams in the NHL so far this season, joining teams such as Carolina and Columbus.

24. San Jose Sharks - San Jose just got shut out by the Anaheim Ducks, and this isn't even the playoffs...

25. Montreal Canadiens - Erik Cole isn't Montreal's least yet.  Carey Price must be having 2009 nightmares, because he was downright awful last night against the Avs.

26. Calgary Flames - Not much to say here.  It's eventually going to be a long and painful rebuilding process in Calgary.  In Toronto, it's taken 40 years, just to put things in perspective...

27. New York Rangers - Brad Richards has clearly saved the NY Rangers.  Okay, so it's been a tough start.  They'll be fine this season, but geez, they take more penalties than Zenon Konopka per minute.

28. Ottawa Senators - Well, they're coached by MacLean, which could be part of the problem.  Or they're just downright awful right now...

29. Columbus Blue Jackets- Jeff Carter's stint with the Jackets isn't off to a great start, because well, he's not playing right now.  Getting James Wisniewski back will help, but not enough to actually make a difference.

30. Winnipeg Jets - I wonder when the Jets' fans honeymoon phase will end and they start to become frustrated, if not already.  On the bright side, they're the early favorites to land Nail Yakupov next summer.