NHL Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 14 Poll
The NHL's powerhouses remained steady over the past seven days, although the mighty Anaheim Ducks had their 10-game win streak snapped at the hands of the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. As we enter a new week, no team has a win streak longer than three games.
What does it all mean for our latest addition of the power rankings?
Our panel is back again to provide the answers. Voting this week are Allan Mitchell, Lyle Richardson, Carol Schram, Rob Vollman and myself. The criteria remain the same, and the vote will focus heavily on performances in the last week, with the overall NHL standings only serving as an anchor point for each team.
Let's see where each team ranks this week.
30. Calgary Flames
Last Week: 28
Recent Trend: The Flames have dropped seven of eight and have been shut out in their past two games, both of which were at home.
Big Picture: The season is over. It's no fun playing for next year when it's still the first half of the season, but that's exactly what the Flames will be doing from here on out.
By the Numbers: Michael Cammalleri, whose name will be bandied about as the trade deadline nears, has just two goals and four assists in 12 games this month.
29. Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 30
Recent Trend: The Oilers are 2-0-1 in their past three games, a nice improvement after losing seven straight games in regulation.
Big Picture: No matter how big you make the picture, this is another lost season for the Oilers. Coach Dallas Eakins is likely focusing on having this team ready to roll in 2014-15.
By the Numbers: Taylor Hall has been an absolute beast in December, with eight goals and eight assists in 14 games.
28. New York Islanders
Last Week: 27
Recent Trend: They haven't exactly turned things around after losing 10 straight, but they are playing improved hockey. They are 3-2-2 in their past seven games.
Big Picture: They are nine points out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan, which may as well be a million. The big story for the Islanders will be what they can get for Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline.
By the Numbers: If Kyle Okposo is selected for the U.S. Olympic team, his strong December could be the difference. He has eight goals and six assists in 14 games.
27. Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 29
Recent Trend: Believe it or not, the Sabres are on a little bit of a hot streak. They are 4-1-1 in their past six games with wins over Boston, Phoenix and Washington.
Big Picture: Despite the streak, the picture is sad. It is out of focus and sad. The Sabres' big picture is one of those puppies in the ASPCA commercials. You look at it and want to help, but really you can't do anything about it.
By the Numbers: The Sabres have nine points in their past six games; they had 17 points in their first 33 games.
26. Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 20
Recent Trend: The wheels are coming off in Carolina. The Hurricanes have lost five in a row and eight of nine.
Big Picture: That type of slump would be the death knell for most teams, but not for one that resides in the Metropolitan. The Hurricanes are just three points out of a playoff spot, which says less about the quality of the club and more about the quality of the division.
By the Numbers: The Hurricanes have allowed 20 goals during their five-game skid.
25. Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 24
Recent Trend: The Jets are doing their best to hang around in the loaded West, winning two straight and three of five.
Big Picture: The Jets' 2-1 overtime win against the Avalanche on Sunday pulled them to within six points of a wild-card spot in the West. It's a long shot for the Jets to make the playoffs, but they're hanging around.
By the Numbers: Backup Al Montoya, who has been in net for the Jets' past two wins, is making the most of his minimal playing time. He is 7-2-1 with a 2.15/.927 split this season.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 22
Recent Trend: The Maple Leafs have earned at least a point in their past five games, going 3-0-2 over that span.
Big Picture: This little surge over the past week has given the Leafs some breathing room as they try to secure one of the wild-card spots in the East.
By the Numbers: David Clarkson has more penalties taken (14) than points (8) in 29 games this season.
23. Nashville Predators
Last Week: 19
Recent Trend: The Predators snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Kings 3-2 on Saturday, but their season is heading in the wrong direction.
Big Picture: At 17-18-4, the Predators would be fighting for a playoff spot in the East. Alas, they reside in the West, where the playoffs look to be a long shot.
By the Numbers: The Predators' power play has been sensational of late, going 9-of-29 over the past eight games. Even with that ruthless efficiency, the Predators are 3-4-1 in those games.
22. Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 25
Recent Trend: Since a team meeting following a 5-2 loss in New Jersey, the Senators have been treading water. They are 2-2-1 in their past five games.
Big Picture: Despite the season-long scuffling, they are still within spitting distance of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
By the Numbers: When Bobby Ryan scores a goal, the Senators are 11-2-3. They are 11-0-2 in their past 13 games when he scores.
21. New York Rangers
Last Week: 26
Recent Trend: After dropping six of seven, the Rangers have won three of four after surviving on the road against the Lightning, 4-3, on Sunday night.
Big Picture: There are times when the Rangers have looked like one of the worst teams in the league, but they're picking up enough points to stay in contention for a playoff spot in the Metropolitan.
By the Numbers: Henrik Lundqvist has allowed at least three goals in eight consecutive starts. He allowed at least three goals 12 times all of last season.
20. Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 14
Recent Trend: The Wild are reeling like a fisherman who just hooked the big one. They have lost five in a row, including a 5-4 home loss Sunday to the New York Islanders, who were playing the second half of a back-to-back set.
Big Picture: The Wild have fallen out of the playoff picture and they need to stop the bleeding quickly. They play their next three games at home against the Blues, Sabres and Capitals.
By the Numbers: During this five-game losing streak, the Wild have allowed 24 goals. Niklas Backstrom was in net for four of them while Josh Harding was out of the lineup.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 23
Recent Trend: The Blue Jackets had their three-game win streak snapped Sunday in a 5-3 home loss to the Penguins. Despite missing a slew of key players, the Blue Jackets have been playing well of late.
Big Picture: They are sitting within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan. If they can stay close, the eventual returns from injury by Sergei Bobrovsky, Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton could push them over the top.
By the Numbers: Through 39 games, the Blue Jackets are 17-18-5. Through 39 games last season, the Blue Jackets were 16-16-7 but finished the season 8-1-0 to fall just short of the final playoff spot in the West.
18. Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 10
Recent Trend: The Avalanche have lost four straight and five of six, but they're still compiling points. They are 1-2-3 in their past six games.
Big Picture: The Avalanche have been living off their 14-2 start for quite some time, but that's a heck of a start. Despite stumbling to 9-9-4 in their past 22 games, the Avs remain in a solid playoff position.
By the Numbers: The power play hasn't faltered for the Avs of late. They are 5-of-18 with the man advantage in their past six games.
17. Florida Panthers
Last Week: 18
Recent Trend: The Panthers had lost three straight before handling the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday night. Prior to those four games, the Panthers had won five straight.
Big Picture: Despite the run of good play, the Panthers are still far back of a playoff spot. But they have a handful of young prospects who can use the rest of this season to be ready for next season.
By the Numbers: 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov has two goals and four assists in his past six games and could be playing his way onto the Russian Olympic team.
16. Washington Capitals
Last Week: 16
Recent Trend: The Captials are 1-1-1 over the past week and 6-3-3 in December.
Big Picture: While the Metropolitan Division has marginally improved, Washington should still be optimistic about its chances to remain firmly behind the Penguins in second place. The Caps have a five-point cushion on a playoff spot in the Metro, but 2-1 shootout losses like the one to the Sabres on Sunday won't help their cause.
By the Numbers: After scoring eight goals in six games, Alex Ovechkin has cooled off and gone without a point in his last three outings. However, he still has a commanding lead over the rest of the NHL with 30 goals.
15. Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 21
Recent Trend: The Flyers have been red-hot of late, going 5-1-1 in their past seven games.
Big Picture: They are beginning to make some headway in the Metropolitan Division. The third playoff spot in that division has been up for grabs all season, but they could be the ones to secure it if they continue playing like they have recently.
By the Numbers: Claude Giroux had zero goals and seven assists in his first 15 games of the season. In his past seven games, Giroux has five goals and nine assists.
14. New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 17
Recent Trend: The Devils aren't on fire by any stretch, but they are accumulating points. In their past seven games, they are 4-1-2.
Big Picture: They are beginning to get healthy, as Bryce Salvador and Ryane Clowe rejoined the lineup last week. They remain in contention for the final spot in the muddled Metropolitan.
By the Numbers: Goaltender Cory Schneider has received little to no support this season. In 18 games, the Devils have scored 30 goals, an average of 1.67 per game.
13. Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 13
Recent Trend: It's bad, but not entirely bad. The Coyotes have lost six of seven, but have earned points in five of those games by going 1-2-4.
Big Picture: The Coyotes are clinging to the final playoff spot in the West despite an impressive 19-10-9 record. They begin a six-game homestand Tuesday that offers a chance to build some distance from those chasing them.
By the Numbers: The Coyotes allowed at least 50 shots in three of 38 games this season. They had allowed at least 50 shots twice over the previous 10 seasons, a span of 786 games.
12. Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 15
Recent Trend: After losing six in a row, the Red Wings are 3-0-1 in their past four games.
Big Picture: The Red Wings are getting healthy as the first half of the season comes to a close. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are back and Jimmy Howard could return Monday. Things are looking up in Detroit.
By the Numbers: The ages of the top four scorers among forwards on the Red Wings are 35 (Datsyuk), 33 (Zetterberg), 41 (Daniel Alfredsson) and 34 (Johan Franzen).
11. Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 11
Recent Trend: The Canadiens have been hovering around .500 over the last three weeks of December. They are 4-4-0 in their past eight games.
Big Picture: Life is still pretty good in Montreal. The Habs are five points back of first-place Boston in the Atlantic and have plenty of breathing room between them and the non-playoff teams in the East.
By the Numbers: No one enjoys playing Metropolitan teams more than the Canadiens, who are 10-2-1 against the division. Based on points percentage, it's the best mark in the league against the Metro.
10. Dallas Stars
Last Week: 12
Recent Trend: The Stars are 4-1-1 in their past six and have been playing well all season. The bad news for them, however, is...
Big Picture: ...they play in the Western Conference, where their 19-12-7 mark has them outside of the playoff picture. They have games in hand on some of the teams they are chasing, but they'll need to be better if they want to crack the postseason.
By the Numbers: The Stars are on pace to miss the postseason despite finishing with 97 points. That would be the most points for any non-playoff team in the history of the league.
9. Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 7
Recent Trend: The Canucks are 3-1-1 in their past five games and 10-1-1 in December.
Big Picture: Even with their dominant month of play, the Canucks are still nothing more than a wild-card team in the West. They have a lot of work to do if they want to track down the Ducks in the Pacific Division.
By the Numbers: Eddie Lack has filled in quite admirably for the injured Roberto Luongo, going 3-0-0 while stopping 64 of 66 shots.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 8
Recent Trend: The Lightning suffered their first regulation loss in two weeks Sunday, losing 4-3 at home to the Rangers. They have gone 7-3-3 in December.
Big Picture: Tampa Bay has done more than tread water with Steven Stamkos recovering. Thanks to the Lightning's streak of five straight wins in the second half of the month, Boston and Pittsburgh are the only Eastern Conference teams with more points at the start of the week.
By the Numbers: Ben Bishop was reportedly snubbed from USA's Winter Olympics team, but he's done everything in his power recently to convince the American brass to bring him to Sochi. He has a .945 save percentage in December, allowing just 14 goals on 254 shots.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 4
Recent Trend: They are an unstoppable force in the East. They are 14-2 in their past 16, so they've been stopped twice, but that's about it. They've also done a lot of that damage with an injury-riddled defense corps and key offensive guys out as well.
Big Picture: Everyone in the East is chasing the Penguins, and that will likely be the case throughout the season.
By the Numbers: Since returning from a five-game suspension for kneeing the head of Boston's Marc Savard, left wing James Neal has four goals and six assists in five games.
6. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 6
Recent Trend: A split of a home-and-home series with the Senators has the Bruins with a 4-2-0 mark in their past six games.
Big Picture: The Bruins continue to roll and sit atop the Atlantic Division. They'll be vying for the top spot in the East throughout the season.
By the Numbers: Reilly Smith has a $900,000 cap hit this season but has delivered 14 goals and 30 points. According to CapGeek.com, he has been the fifth-best value in the NHL this season.
5. San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 9
Recent Trend: The Sharks have ripped off four straight wins after a slide that saw them lose five of seven.
Big Picture: By beating the Ducks in regulation on Sunday night, the Sharks stayed within striking distance of the division leaders.
By the Numbers: The Sharks have a busy January ahead. They play 15 games next month, eight of which will take place away from San Jose.
4. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 1
Recent Trend: The magic of Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens could be waning. The Kings lost their past two games while allowing eight goals in the process. They had won nine of 10 before this hiccup, so it's not exactly a tragedy.
Big Picture: Things are about to get dicey for the Kings, as they will visit the Blackhawks, Stars and Blues this week. It's not as if their playoff spot is in jeopardy, but this will be a brutal week for the Kings.
By the Numbers: Anze Kopitar has failed to register a point in six of his past eight games and has just three goals and three assists in December.
3. St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 5
Recent Trend: The Blues squeaked out a 3-2 overtime win in Dallas on Sunday night for their fourth win in five games. They are 8-2-2 in December.
Big Picture: The Blues are one of the elite teams in the NHL and are just four points back of the league-leading Blackhawks. The Blues are in a nice situation, as they have three games in hand on the Blackhawks.
By the Numbers: Based on point totals, the Central Division is the NHL's best. Yet the Blues are now 12-0-1 against their division rivals this season.
2. Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 3
Recent Trend: The Ducks had their 10-game winning streak snapped in San Jose on Sunday night. It was the first loss since Dec. 3 and first loss in regulation since Nov. 26, a span of 14 games.
Big Picture: The Ducks are one of the best teams in the NHL, and one road loss to another top team doesn't change that. They are one of the deepest teams in the NHL.
By the Numbers: The Ducks outscored their opponents 36-20 during their 10-game win streak.
1. Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 2
Recent Trend: They are 2-0-2 in their past four, which could be categorized as a slump for the powerhouse.
Big Picture: The only question for the Blackhawks is what their seed will be for the playoffs. They are a dominant force that will likely find themselves winning a second straight Presidents' Trophy.
By the Numbers: Since Corey Crawford went down with a groin injury three weeks ago, the Blackhawks are 7-1-3.