2013-14 NHL Power Rankings: Week 10
The St. Louis Blues have held the top position in our power rankings for two consecutive weeks. They are the third team to manage the feat, which was accomplished previously by Chicago and San Jose.
Can they be the first team to top the chart three times (and, for that matter, three times in a row)?
It's going to be a challenge. We mentioned the Blackhawks and Sharks; both teams posted perfect win-loss records last week and both are viable contenders for the top spot.
Will there be movement at the top? There certainly is elsewhere on this list; read on to see where your favourite team lands.
30. New York Islanders
Last Week: 29
Why They’re Here: Remember back when the Islanders were doing things like trading for Thomas Vanek because they felt they were in a position to add talent?
Right now, the team is on the road to nowhere, and it is wasting no time getting there. Last week, we noted that the Islanders had one regulation win in their last 10 games and had dropped three straight contests; this week we can up those numbers to one regulation win in the last 13 games and six consecutive defeats.
By The Numbers: A lot of the Islanders' poor play falls on the skaters, but goaltender Kevin Poulin shouldn't escape blame. He has eclipsed the 0.900 save-percentage mark in a game only three times this season and has miserable numbers over the last two weeks: 0-5-0, 0.850 save percentage.
29. Florida Panthers
Last Week: 28
Why They’re Here: The first three games of a five-game homestand could have gone much better, but then things could have been worse, too. Ultimately, the Panthers won a single contest on the back of a 38-save performance from Tim Thomas.
Goaltending was the difference again in the Panthers' two other games, but in those cases, the strong performance was at the other end of the rink. The Rangers and Penguins both lit up Thomas, while Henrik Lundqvist and Jeff Zatkoff delivered solid work for their respective clubs.
By The Numbers: Generally, bad teams struggle at the top end of their defence corps, but the Panthers have turned that on its head. The top pair of Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert has been relatively successful, but the trouble is that the rest of the defence is a combined minus-40 just under one-third of the way into the season.
28. Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 30
Why They’re Here: The Buffalo Sabres weren't bad in the season's 10th week, picking up three of a possible six points. After opening the week with a loss to Montreal, Buffalo rallied to beat Toronto in overtime on Friday and then forced overtime against the Devils the next night.
That's enough to pull them out of the cellar.
By The Numbers: Buffalo continues to struggle offensively. Aside from Cody Hodgson and (the surprisingly successful) Matt Moulson, no Sabres skater has managed to hit double digits in points yet this year.
27. Calgary Flames
Last Week: 27
Why They’re Here: Coming off a pretty easy week, Calgary suddenly faced murderers' row this time around. First, the Flames faced the Blackhawks at home, then headed out on the road to take on Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Calgary was able to come away with a single win, dropping the Kings, and finished the week with a 1-2-0 record. Given the competition the Flames faced, they don't fall, but neither do they climb these rankings.
By The Numbers: It was perhaps inevitable that somebody would break away from the scoring pack in Calgary, but the surprise continues to be that the somebody is Jiri Hudler. The long-time Red Wing has topped 50 points only once in his NHL career, yet he already has 23 points in 26 games. That's a 73-point pace over a full year.
26. Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 25
Why They’re Here: Win one, lose two. Win one, lose two. That's been the story for the Senators for virtually all of November, and the month's final week didn't deviate from that script. After winning on the road against Washington, Ottawa dropped its next two at home to Detroit and Vancouver, respectively.
By The Numbers: What a stunning reversal of fortune for Craig Anderson. A year ago, the Senators starter was the toast of the NHL with a 0.941 save percentage over 24 games played, an exceptional number that likely would have won him the Vezina if he'd had more appearances. This season, that number sits at 0.894, which is worse than one would expect from the average organizational third-stringer.
25. Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 22
Why They’re Here: The Hurricanes split a home-and-home with New Jersey with—oddly enough—the road team taking the win both times. That continued in Carolina's final game of the week, a 3-2 loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
The losses push the faltering Hurricanes further down our power rankings.
By The Numbers: Cam Ward is back, but is he back at 100 percent? His play since returning from injury suggests the answer to that question may not be "yes." Ward has allowed three-plus goals in five of his six games since returning to the Carolina lineup and has a 0.903 save percentage overall in that span.
24. Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 24
Why They’re Here: The Oilers are still a long way from perfect, but they played three of four on the road in Week 10, and the other game saw them host the Chicago Blackhawks. In that light, splitting wins and losses right down the middle seems pretty reasonable and keeps them steady at 24th overall.
By The Numbers: Ilya Bryzgalov made his first start with the Oilers on Monday and ended up playing in four games over the course of the week. The results were pretty reasonable; Bryzgalov won one game by shutout and kept Edmonton in a game against Dallas in which the team was being badly outplayed. He left that game after a collision with Ryan Garbutt but has a 0.939 save percentage four contests into his Oilers career.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 26
Why They’re Here: The Blue Jackets' week featured four games, and the team split them right down the middle, more or less the way one would expect. The Oilers and a slumping Toronto team both fell to Columbus, while strong opponents from Nashville and Boston took wins away from it.
While the gap between Toronto (a slumping 31-point team in the weaker East) and Nashville (a 29-point team in the West) is debatable, the best way to describe this week was that the Jackets won when they faced subpar opposition and lost otherwise.
The record overall pushes the Jackets up two spots; the win over Edmonton causes them to leapfrog the Oilers.
By The Numbers: Highly touted prospect Boone Jenner continues to underwhelm. He did pick up a point this week (an assist versus Edmonton) but added a minus-two rating and, with just three points in 17 games overall, looks a lot like a guy who should have started the year outside the NHL.
22. Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 23
Why They’re Here: The Jets started off a six-game road swing well, taking two of three decisions. All of the games were close; in fact, discounting empty-netters, all three were low-scoring one-goal contests, and Winnipeg happened to come out on the right side of the majority.
The record makes it difficult to slide the Jets down a notch or two, but at the same time, it's hard to have much confidence in them.
By The Numbers: Michael Frolik, once an important player for Florida, has spent the last few seasons as a role player on a (very) good Chicago team. He has emerged in Winnipeg, though, and has 15 points in 28 games so far. That figure puts him ahead of many more highly touted Jets, such as Evander Kane, Devin Setoguchi and Olli Jokinen.
21. Washington Capitals
Last Week: 21
Why They’re Here: Washington won two of the three games it played this week, but all is not rainbows and unicorns.
To begin with, the Capitals' opposition (a trio of mid-range Eastern teams) wasn't especially impressive, two of the three games were played in Washington, and the Caps won both of their games after regulation (ceding points to conference rivals).
More troubling, the Capitals allowed 39, 37 and 40 shots; it was only thanks to Braden Holtby that they won any games at all.
By The Numbers: Mike Green's strange goal-scoring troubles persist. Washington's most-known offensive defenceman fired seven more shots this week, bringing his season total up to 62. At his career rate, we would expect him to have five goals on the season; so far he has none.
20. New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 16
Why They’re Here: The Devils didn't have an especially spectacular week.
New Jersey traded wins and losses with a forgettable Carolina team, barely squeaked past the Buffalo Sabres and lost to the Winnipeg Jets. Ideally, a playoff-caliber team makes hay when given soft matchups; instead the Devils were content to just tread water.
By The Numbers: Patrik Elias had three points in four games last week and now has seven points in his last seven contests. Despite missing eight games, Elias sits second in scoring on an offensively challenged Devils team; his return to the club's lineup has been very welcome indeed.
19. Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 14
Why They’re Here: The Flyers' rapid ascension up the standings after a poor start to the year stalled badly last week.
Superficially, the team's 2-2-0 record was at least OK, but that's without taking into account the teams Philadelphia played against. For a club on the rise, contests against Florida, Winnipeg, a Stamkos-less Tampa Bay and Nashville should have represented opportunity; instead, the Flyers were mediocre against beatable teams.
By The Numbers: It feels wrong to discuss the Flyers without talking about Claude Giroux's resurgence, which coincided with his team's renewed competitiveness. Since scoring his first goal of the season (against Edmonton), Giroux has posted a lovely stat line: 11 games played, 11 points and a plus-seven rating.
18. New York Rangers
Last Week: 15
Why They’re Here: The Rangers dip slightly in these rankings after what was only a so-so week.
New York went 2-2-0 in the last seven days, winning and losing to good and poor teams alike. A 5-2 victory over Vancouver to close out the week was a nice touch, but it was needed balance after a 5-0 loss to the Stamkos-less Lightning.
The end result is a slight fall after some encouraging signs over the last few weeks.
By The Numbers: Something interesting is happening on the Rangers' blue line. While the team has a number of players who historically produce well, overall the scoring results of the defenders have been disappointing.
The exception is Ryan McDonagh, who, with 15 points in 27 games, has triple the production of any of his fellow Rangers defencemen and is on pace for a career-best season. The caveat here is that McDonagh is shooting at 14.0 percent at the moment, nearly triple his career average.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 11
Why They’re Here: It wasn't a good week for Toronto.
The Maple Leafs had four games on the schedule and lost all of them. The closest thing to a respectable decision was a 6-5 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in which the Leafs were outshot by a 2:1 ratio. Other highlights included a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Columbus and an overtime loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabres.
By The Numbers: Among the disappointments for Toronto is the play of big free-agent signing David Clarkson. Clarkson has just five points in 17 games, and while some of that is percentage-driven, one still has to worry about whether he's going to be close to good value on his current contract.
16. Nashville Predators
Last Week: 18
Why They’re Here: The Predators have a pretty good case to make that they outplayed, or at least matched, the efforts of the opposition in all four contests. They were only able, however, to split those games down the middle and earn five of a possible eight points—but that's enough to nudge them slightly higher this week.
By The Numbers: The play of rookie defenceman Seth Jones was (rightly) a bright spot for Nashville early this season, but the numbers have not been kind to him of late. In 14 November games, Jones managed three points and went minus-10, which is enough to drop him to last among Predators skaters in that category.
15. Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 17
Why They’re Here: Entering the week, Vancouver had but two wins in all of November, yet it managed to equal that total in all of four days.
Perhaps the secret was getting back on the road; after a lousy homestand (finished on Monday with an overtime loss to L.A.), the Canucks won two of three away from their home ice.
By The Numbers: Alex Burrows has been a good, productive player for Vancouver for a long time. Yet he has just three points, all of them assists, in 17 games this season, and he's now sporting a minus-seven rating.
The biggest chunk of the problem is percentages. Burrows can't seem to get a save (0.876 on-ice save percentage), and he can't buy a goal. Burrows has 49 shots but zero goals when, at his career rates, we would expect to see six.
14. Dallas Stars
Last Week: 20
Why They’re Here: The Stars took points in all three games they played last week. Only one of those games ended in a Dallas victory (a 6-3 win over Anaheim), but the other two games—a shootout loss to a very good Chicago team and another to an Oilers squad that the Stars thoroughly outplayed—were respectable results in their own right.
By The Numbers: Veteran winger Ray Whitney's numbers have taken a step back at his age of 41, but it's too early to give up on the diminutive scorer. Whitney is averaging two shots per game but is converting those shots into goals at just a 2.5 percent clip, just one-fifth of his career rate. It's a good bet that eventually those pucks start going in.
13. Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 6
Why They’re Here: There can be no doubt that the Wild faced tough opponents last week, but four consecutive losses are four consecutive losses. The team's failings knock it out of the top 10 this week and have the Wild perilously close to league average after a hot start to the year.
By The Numbers: After putting up one point and a minus-29 rating in 55 games in 2011-12 and then being banished to the minors for 2012-13, there's suddenly hope for Nino Niederreiter. Dealt from Long Islander over the summer, Niederreiter has 15 points in 28 games and is shooting the puck with far greater frequency for the Wild.
12. Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 12
Why They’re Here: The Coyotes had an iffy week, beating the Wild (them and everybody else) but losing contests to Chicago and Nashville. They're a top-10 standings team (adjusting for games played) and significantly ahead of teams like Dallas and Vancouver by those metrics, but with other Western teams pushing, there can be no room for complacency.
By The Numbers: Don't look now, but Paul Bissonnette has four assists in 16 games. His career high of six points was set last season, but the popular enforcer is on pace to crush his prior high.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 13
Why They’re Here: Tampa Bay took advantage of a return to home ice to demonstrate that it will not go quietly into the night without Steven Stamkos. Instead, the Lightning won two games (over the Rangers and Flyers) before dropping the third to Pittsburgh. It was a strong enough performance to give the team a minor boost in these rankings.
By The Numbers: No one player can replace Stamkos, and indeed the Lightning have attempted to find offence by committee. One skater who has picked up his game is rookie Tyler Johnson, who has six points and a plus-three rating in his nine games since Stamkos was hurt.
10. Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 19
Why They’re Here: And just like that, it was like the Red Wings were back. Detroit has suffered through some lean times this season—including a seven-game losing streak in the heart of November—but has bounced back to life with five wins in its last six games.
This week was particularly impressive, as Detroit outscored its opposition by a combined 15-3 margin in a trio of strong performances and earned all six available points. The Red Wings were one of just three teams in the NHL to do so.
By The Numbers: Darren Helm, who was limited by injury to only a single game last season, is a nice comeback story for Detroit. In 14 games so far, Helm has seven goals and 10 points. Those are impressive numbers for anyone, but especially so for Helm, who has never cracked the 40-point plateau as a professional.
Now, he won't keep up his current 29.2 percent shooting clip, but even so it's nice to see things going his way for a change.
9. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 8
Why They’re Here: The Kings won a game, lost a game in the shootout—an epic battle against San Jose—and lost a game in regulation last week. The last is especially troubling since the opposition was the Calgary Flames, not exactly a team widely feared around the NHL.
Combine valiant efforts against good Canucks and Sharks teams and a surprisingly vanilla one against Calgary and the Kings slide one spot.
By The Numbers: Looking to anoint the worst finisher in the NHL? Don't forget about Trevor Lewis. Lewis is 0-of-28 this year, pushing his career shooting efficiency to 3.5 percent on 342 shots. According to hockey-reference.com, that's the worst total among active forwards (minimum 300 shots) in the NHL today.
8. Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 7
Why They’re Here: The Ducks are another team that held their own but did no more this past week. Anaheim beat the easiest opponent it faced (Calgary by a score of 5-2), lost to a more challenging opponent (6-3 at the hands of the Stars) and then lost by the narrowest of margins to San Jose.
The end result is an ever-so-slight drop on this list.
By The Numbers: Teemu Selanne's numbers have dipped again this season, falling from one point every two games last year to one every three thus far in 2013-14. As it happens, most of the dip is shooting percentage-related, with Selanne converting shots to goals at roughly half his career rate; those lost goals correspond almost exactly with this season's drop-off.
7. Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 9
Why They’re Here: Admittedly, the challenge facing Montreal wasn't the toughest imaginable. A win over Buffalo was nearly automatic, and with Toronto slumping, that didn't shape up as a terribly difficult matchup either.
However, as we've seen, other teams have slipped against less-than-formidable opponents, and Montreal took those two wins. The team's other game, against Washington, was a shootout loss, but only because Braden Holtby stood on his head.
In other words, it was a decent week for the Habs and a two-spot climb reflects that.
By The Numbers: Lars Eller, who captured attention across North America with his exceptional performance early in the year, has cooled off considerably of late. Five of Eller's seven goals came in the first five games of the season, meaning he's tallied just two in his last 22 contests.
6. Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 2
Why They’re Here: Given how Colorado has played (and which teams it faced this week), it's hard to be overly critical of the Avs. Not only did the club win two of three, but it exclusively faced solid teams, with a pair of games against Minnesota and one vs. St. Louis.
The trouble is that everybody left at this point of the list has done better than win two out of three games, and so the Avs slide to sixth.
By The Numbers: Semyon Varlamov has, for various reasons, been the centre of attention in Colorado's net, but it's worth noting the strong performance put in by backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere is 6-0-0 on the season with a 0.949 save percentage and has done his part in the Avs' hot start (including recording a win this week).
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 10
Why They’re Here: The Penguins won three of the four games they played this week and picked up the point for an overtime loss to Boston in the other. Aside from the Bruins, the Pens' opponents weren't especially fearsome, but Pittsburgh manhandled Florida and Tampa Bay and outshot Toronto by a 2:1 ratio (including 19-0 from the end of the second on) in a 6-5 shootout win.
That dominant performance pushes them up five spots this week.
By The Numbers: Holy Malkin! The Penguins star has been the subject of criticism all year for his perceived faults, but he's red-hot right now. Malkin put up nine points in four contests this week and now has the following ridiculous numbers in his last eight games: four goals, 13 assists, 17 points and a plus-nine rating.
4. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 4
Why They’re Here: It's rarefied air when a team has to win three of four just to hold its spot in these power rankings, and that's where the Bruins found themselves this past week. Aside from a loss to Detroit in which Boston managed to fire only 17 shots, this was a week to be proud of.
By The Numbers: Young forward Reilly Smith, one of the less-noticed parts of the big Tyler Seguin-for-Loui Eriksson deal between Boston and Dallas this summer, has quietly been providing the Bruins with valuable auxiliary scoring. Smith has 17 points in 27 games in a depth role and has come on of late, with six points in his last eight games.
3. St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 1
Why They’re Here: Perfection is a difficult standard to maintain, and that's why the Blues fall out of the top spot in our power rankings this week.
That's not to say the Blues had a bad week—in fact, far from it. Facing Minnesota, Colorado and San Jose, St. Louis managed to win its first two games by a combined score of 7-1; not bad given the quality of the first two teams. Unfortunately for Blues fans, San Jose was able to beat St. Louis by a 6-3 score on Friday.
By The Numbers: Jay Bouwmeester is in territory he hasn't seen in years. The left-shooting defenceman is a candidate for Canada's Olympic roster, and with 19 points in 25 games, he's making the case that he can do more than simply be a smooth-skating shutdown option.
Bouwmeester hasn't topped 30 points since coming west in the summer of 2009, but it certainly looks like he'll blow past that target this season.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 5
Why They’re Here: It's awfully difficult not to rank the Blackhawks No. 1 this week, and there is plenty of ammunition for those who believe Chicago should be sitting pretty in the top slot.
For starters, the Blackhawks played four games in six days, all on the road, and won them all this week. Then there's the fact that this is a continuation of a trend, one that saw the Blackhawks win the last six consecutive games of a seven-game road-trip.
Ultimately, though, Chicago fell just short despite a perfect week because the top team could boast something the Blackhawks couldn't (which will be covered in the next slide).
By The Numbers: Few teams in the NHL can rival the depth and quality of Chicago's attack. The team has 12 players in double-digit point totals right now, and five with more than 20 points.
1. San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 3
Why They’re Here: San Jose faced three extremely tough teams last week—Los Angeles, St. Louis and Anaheim—and found ways to beat them all. Like Chicago and Detroit, the Sharks enjoyed a perfect record on the week; unlike the 'Hawks and Wings, San Jose had to go through the top team in the NHL to get there, beating St. Louis in its second contest this week.
That win not only installs the Sharks at the top of this list, but also at the top of the NHL (adjusting again for games played) and on pace for a 129-point season.
By The Numbers: Brent Burns, recently returned to San Jose's lineup from injury, was a major factor in the Sharks' win over St. Louis. Burns was named first star of the game after scoring three times and adding an assist in the 6-3 victory; he now has 14 points and a plus-12 rating in just 13 contests.