NHL Power Rankings: Minnesota Wild and Philadelphia Flyers Take NHL by Storm

James Harrison Jr.Contributor IIDecember 13, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Minnesota Wild and Philadelphia Flyers Take NHL by Storm

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    It has been an interesting week in the NHL; it is becoming evident what teams may be contenders and what teams are pretenders. The Minnesota Wild have been on a complete tear of the West, winning seven straight, and the Flyers are topping the East, winning five straight.

    Please post your top-5 in the NHL in the comments section so everybody can see where other fans stand.  Without further adieu, here are the NHL Power Rankings as of Dec. 13, 2011.

30. Anaheim Ducks

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    8-16-5 (Last in Pacific)

    Referring to the photo above, the not-so-Mighty Ducks have to be banging their heads against the boards every single night.  Since hiring new coach Bruce Boudreau, the Ducks have lost four out of five games and are struggling to score goals.

    On a two-game losing streak, the Ducks are in 14th place in the Conference, 29th in the NHL and own the 29th-ranked offense in the NHL.

29. Carolina Hurricanes

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    9-18-4 (Last in Southeast)

    The Hurricanes also hired a new coach, Kirk Muller, and are disappointed in their performance so far. Under Muller, the Canes are 1-5 with their only victory being in Edmonton last week.  Trading Tomas Kaberle was the first step in trying to purify the team, but the Carolina Hurricanes have an incredibly daunting season ahead of them and shouldn't expect much.

28. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    8-17-4 (Last in Central)

    The Blue Jackets have improved slightly from their horrible 0-7-1 start this season.  But the bottom line is, the Jackets are the worst team in the NHL according to points, and they aren't getting any offence going despite effort from the goaltender position.

    Looking forward, the Blue Jackets will look to pass the Ducks, pushing the struggling team into last place and starting to build some momentum and chemistry throughout their program.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    12-16-2 (No. 4 in Southeast)

    Tampa Bay is so frustrated that they're starting fights over celebrations.  This isn't the first time the Lightning have made the news in a negative way this season.  After getting called out by the Flyers on their 1-3-1 trap system, the Lightning have been in a steady free-fall out of playoff contention.  Losing two in a row, the Bolts need to turn it around—now.

26. New York Islanders

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    9-12-6 (Last in Atlantic)

    The Islanders had a tough November, and they're trying to work through multiple injured goaltenders. However, New York has showed some signs of life early in December.

25. Colorado Avalanche

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    13-16-1 (Last in Northwest)

    The Avalanche have lost their last three in a row, and their defense continues to be the problem.  Their goalie trade with Washington has completely backfired, and they will most likely be surrendering a top-10 draft pick for the mistake. 

24. Ottawa Senators

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    13-13-4 (Last in Northeast)

    The Ottawa Senators are probably the streakiest team in the NHL thus far, and if their defense doesn't play better in front of their goaltenders, they will continue to lose.

23. Calgary Flames

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    14-13-2 (4th in Northwest)

    I'm sick of hearing about the Jarome Iginla trade rumors—mostly because the Flames have won three in a row and are turning up the heat (that was bad).  If the team can stay focused on and off the ice, look for it to find some momentum and continue its winning ways.

22. Los Angeles Kings

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    13-12-4 (4th in Pacific)

    The Kings are losing it. They have lost their last four games, and if they don't pick it up quickly, they're going to be out of the playoff picture—and a coach—early.

21. Montreal Canadiens

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    12-11-7 (4th in Northeast)

    The Montreal Canadiens are making it more than difficult on themselves this season.  Montreal has lost four straight home games, only winning four home games all season.  That's an NHL worst.  Montreal can't expect to have success on the road all season, so if it doesn't start winning in front of its fans soon, this season could be over.

20. New Jersey Devils

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    15-13-1 (4th in Atlantic)

    The New Jersey Devils just haven't produced offensively this season.  Despite a win last night over the also struggling Tampa Bay, the Devils are giving up nearly half a goal more than they are scoring per game.  One bright spot is the Devils' penalty kill, which is making strides.

19. Edmonton Oilers

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    14-13-3 (3rd in Northwest)

    The Oilers have just flat-out failed to produce in the easiest parts of their schedule, and it is hurting them because they aren't beating the better teams consistently. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are a few of the young guns that Edmonton is producing, and the Oilers won't be on the bottom of this ranking for long.

18. Winnipeg Jets

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    13-12-4 (3rd in Southeast)

    The Jets are performing well for a new franchise.  Though they aren't doing great in the point category, they are winning their fans over by dominating at home.  They Jets have won seven out of their last eight at home and are looking to get it going in December.

17. Nashville Predators

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    14-11-4 (4th in Central)

    The Predators are getting the job done often enough to feel confident that they still have a shot this season.  However, with trade rumors swirling around Shea Weber and the defense lacking in front of Pekka Rinne, the team is on the verge of losing control.

16. Phoenix Coyotes

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    15-11-3 (2nd in Pacific)

    The Phoenix Coyotes are tied for first place in points in their division, but with Kyle Turris doing literally nothing in the last six games, the Coyotes have lost two straight and need to rebound fast.

15. Dallas Stars

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    16-11-1 (1st in Pacific)

    The Dallas Stars remain on top of the Pacific Division because the division as a whole is struggling tremendously.  The Stars are 5-8-1 in their last 14 games; if they don't pick it up, they'll be passed by the Sharks and the Coyotes by the end of December.

14. San Jose Sharks

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    15-10-2 (3rd in Pacific)

    I'm going off sheer talent here, because the Sharks have only won one game in regulation in their last eight. With the talent that the Sharks have, they should be able to edge out Dallas and Phoenix by the end of December. 

13. Buffalo Sabres

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    15-12-2 (3rd in Northeast)

    The Sabres have been playing well considering all of the injuries they've had to deal with.  With Corey Tropp and Jochen Hecht now out with injuries, this talented team could see themselves drop through the NHL until some players return.

12. Washington Capitals

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    15-12-1 (2nd in Southeast)

    Washington has won three of their last four games, and they will face off against the Flyers next.  It looks like the Capitals are starting to recover offensively; as soon as they do, they will pass the Panthers in the standings.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    15-11-3 (2nd in Northeast)

    Despite losing four of five and giving up 19 goals, the Maple Leafs are right where they'll finish, between the Sabres and Bruins.  The return of James Reimer should end up helping the team in the coming weeks.

10. Florida Panthers

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    16-9-5 (1st in Southeast)

    The Panthers have a pretty easy stretch of games coming up this week, but I don't see the Panthers staying on top of this division for the rest of the season.  The team chemistry is great, and the Panthers are looking forward to making the playoffs this season.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    17-9-4 (3rd in Atlantic)

    The Penguins are looking fantastic right now and are right in the race in the Atlantic Division.  With the loss of Crosby, possibly for a very long time, it will be interesting to see if the team steps it up in his absence of completely falls off.  This is the point in the season (already) where the Penguins will have to prove what they're made of.

8. St. Louis Blues

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    17-9-3 (3rd in Central)

    The Blues are tied with the Detroit Red Wings, one of the hottest teams in the league, and in position to take over the Blackhawks if they slip up.  The Blues have won seven of their last eight, but there is still room for improvement. 

7. New York Rangers

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    17-6-4 (2nd in Atlantic)

    The Rangers have won two games straight and have to be upset that they're still behind the Flyers despite their great play.  The Rangers' defense lately has been beyond outstanding.  For the record, that celebration in the picture is fantastic—I don't care what the Bolts have to say about it.

6. Vancouver Canucks

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    18-12-1 (2nd in Northwest)

    The Canucks are one of the hottest teams in the league.  Their No. 1 ranked power play is outstanding and they've scored at least four goals in their last six games.  The Canucks have finally picked it up and are becoming the team we saw last season.

5. Chicago Blackhawks

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    18-8-4 (1st in Central)

    The Blackhawks are hot, but the Red Wings are hotter. Chicago cannot afford to slip right now.  There's not much out of the ordinary here; the Blackhawks just have tremendous talent throughout their roster and they're utilizing it.

4. Boston Bruins

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    18-9-1 (1st in Northeast)

    The Bruins continue to have one of the highest-powered offenses in the NHL, and they have spent several weeks atop this list for that reason.  As long as the Bruins stay consistent and avoid detrimental injuries, they will enter the playoffs as one of the top teams in the NHL.

3. Philadelphia Flyers

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    18-7-3 (1st in Atlantic)

    Ilya Bryzgalov has been absolutely incredible for the Flyers in the last five games, and he will have to continue to play this way as seven of their next eight will be on the road.  The Flyers are playing some of the best hockey they have in years and will continue to battle the Wild and Blackhawks for the best record in the NHL.

2. Detroit Red Wings

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    18-9-1 (2nd in Central)

    The Red Wings have been unstoppable at home, and they haven't lost in Detroit since Nov. 3.  Over that month long stretch, the Red Wings have won nine of 11, winning nine straight home games.  It will be hard to overtake the Blackhawks on top of the Central, but if they play like this, it's more than possible.

1. Minnesota Wild

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    20-7-3 (1st in Northwest and NHL)

    The Minnesota Wild have just been unstoppable.  Surprisingly, the Wild have played well all season and deserve the No. 1 ranking more than any team in the NHL.

    With numerous injuries to outstanding goalies Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, rookie goaltender Matt Hackett stepped up going 2-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .974 SV% in two games against the Sharks and Kings. The Wild have showed their depth all season and have been winning games without multiple starters a night. 

    The Minnesota Wild have won seven games in a row, and have also won their last seven straight road games.  Look for Koivu, Heatley and Setoguchi to step up and try to carry this team beyond most fans' expectations.

Playoff Predictions Thus Far

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    West:

    1. Chicago

    2. Detroit

    3. Minnesota

    4. Vancouver

    5. Dallas

    6. San Jose

    7. St. Louis

    8. Phoenix

    East:

    1. Philadephia

    2. Boston

    3. New York Rangers

    4. Pittsburgh

    5. Toronto

    6. Florida

    7. Washington

    8. Winnipeg