NHL Power Rankings: Kings, Wild Start to Play to Their Capabilities

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent IMarch 4, 2013

NHL Power Rankings: Kings, Wild Start to Play to Their Capabilities

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    Things are beginning to normalize in the National Hockey League.

    By that, I mean that the teams I thought would be good are winning games and the ones I thought would be bad are starting to lose more.

    In the west, Minnesota and Los Angeles have stepped their games up after a rough start to the season. The Wild are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. The Kings? 7-3-0.  

    The Ducks are the only team that’s making me look really stupid right now. Chicago is far and away the best team in the Western Conference (and the league), but the Ducks are a close No. 2. I don’t see them dropping off unless they really get the injury bug.

    Out east things are a little more scrambled. The Rangers have yet to find their stride, while New Jersey and Montreal continue to tear things up. Be cautious, though, Devils fans. Your team is 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.

    I am a little surprised that Tampa Bay hasn’t played better. With names like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Victor Hedman on their roster, it is probably the most talented team in its division and should be able to compete with the east coast teams.

    Carolina leads that division right now, and that’s no surprise. It went out and made moves this season and they are paying dividends. And, hey, even the Winnipeg-what-are-we-doing-in-the-Southeast-Jets are ahead of the Lightning.

    I’m still curious to see if Toronto can put themselves in the playoffs this year. The Canadiens look like they are for real and I would love to see those two teams square off in the first round. That would also mean that Boston has to be the runner-up in the Northeast Division, which is still unlikely at this point. That team is talented and knows how to win.

    We’re almost halfway done and we’re beginning to see who’s who in the NHL.

    NOTE: I am adding each team’s record in their last 10 games to the slideshow.

    Last week Valterri J Murtonen suggested that I include the weekly record of each team, which is logical, but I’d like to widen the scope a bit. This is a weekly ranking, of course, but I’d like to widen the lens a bit in order to show trends rather than making a knee-jerk reaction to a team’s performance in any given week.

    Thanks again, all of you, for your comments on these slideshows. They are much appreciated.

30. Florida Panthers

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    Last week: 29

    Record: 6-11-5 (2-5-3)

    I think Florida is going to be happy it is done playing the Hurricanes for a while.

    That won’t be the panacea for this club, however. At this point, they look like the worst team in hockey.

29. Colorado Avalanche

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    Last week: 22

    Record: 8-8-4 (4-2-4)

    The losses to the California teams on the road are understandable, but that defeat in Columbus in overtime is pretty bad.

    It looks like it might be another year before this young team puts it all together.

28. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Last week: 30

    Record: 6-12-4 (3-5-2)

    That win over Colorado has to be nice, but I’m not sure if it gets much better from here on out.

    The Jackets will face Edmonton at home and then have to play Vancouver and Detroit twice in their upcoming games.

27. Edmonton Oilers

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    Last week: 25

    Record: 8-9-4 (4-5-1)

    This could be a bit of a tough nine-game road trip for the Oil.

    After that 5-1 win over Dallas, I thought they might be fine, but St. Louis and Minnesota really had their way with them.

    Then again, there’s really no such thing as an easy nine-game road trip.

26. Calgary Flames

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    Last week: 23

    Record: 8-8-4 (5-4-1)

    I think it’s a testament to this team’s home-ice advantage that they lose to Minnesota and Colorado on the road and beat Vancouver at home.

    They might be in trouble in the near future, however. They have to go all the way to Southern California to take on an impressive Ducks team and the resurgent Kings after a Wednesday contest against San Jose.

25. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Last week: 15

    Record: 9-11-1 (3-6-1)

    Yikes, Tampa…

    Arguably one of the most talented teams in the league, let alone their division, the Bolts have been absolutely slaughtered in their last four games against Pittsburgh, Buffalo, the Rangers and Boston.

    The combined score? 14-7.

24. Buffalo Sabres

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    Last week: 28

    Record: 9-12-2 (4-5-1)

    The Sabres continue to sit in the Northeast Division cellar.

    That win over New Jersey has to be satisfying, but a loss to a struggling Rangers squad before a four-game road trip has to be of some concern to hockey fans in Western New York.

23. New York Islanders

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    Last week: 21

    Record: 9-11-2 (5-4-1)

    If I’m an Islanders fan, I look at Rick DiPietro’s demotion as a general win for the team and stop worrying about what happens with the season as a whole.

    I’m sorry, but it’s kinda true.

22. Nashville Predators

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    Last week: 19

    Record: 9-8-5 (4-5-1)

    If only this team could score…

    That’s always the case with Nashville, though.

21. New Jersey Devils

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    Last week: 12

    Record: 10-6-5 (3-5-2)

    Uh oh…

    New Jersey has dropped its last four games against, gasp, Washington, Winnipeg and Buffalo.

20. Detroit Red Wings

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    Last week: 10

    Record: 10-8-4 (3-4-3)

    The Red Wings have hung tough after that amazing win over Vancouver.

    They lost to LA, but that team is playing better, and took San Jose and Chicago to a shootout.

    Of course, we always expect that from Detroit.

19. San Jose Sharks

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    Last week: 27

    Record: 10-6-4 (3-4-3)

    San Jose really needed to return to the Bay Area. Things were starting to get really bad.

    Its schedule gets a little easier from here on out though. The Sharks have a tough one in Vancouver, but then get Calgary, St. Louis at home and Colorado before having to play the Blues on the road and both SoCal teams.

18. New York Rangers

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    Last week: 14

    Record: 10-8-2 (5-3-2)

    If you had told me the Rangers were going to struggle like this at the beginning of the season, I would have laughed in your face.

    Well, I’ll tell you this, nobody in New York thinks this is a laughing matter (everyone else finds it quite comical, though).

17. Vancouver Canucks

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    Last week: 11

    Record: 11-6-4 (4-4-2)

    That win over LA is starting to look better and better, but otherwise Vancouver has been putrid.

    How do you get blown out by Detroit and lose to Phoenix and Calgary?

16. Dallas Stars

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    Last week: 13

    Record: 11-9-2 (5-4-1)

    This is the most confusing team in the league.

    The Stars barely beat Columbus, got killed by Edmonton at home and then ran over St. Louis.

    Somebody tell me what’s going on in the Big D.

15. St. Louis Blues

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    Last week: 9

    Record: 11-8-2 (5-4-1)

    Somebody please tell me what is going on with St. Louis.

    I get the loss to Chicago, they are the best team in the league, but how do you lose to a struggling Sharks squad, Colorado and Dallas?

    I was buying into the system last year, but now I’m starting to question whether the league has figured them out. 

14. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Last week: 26

    Record: 10-8-3 (6-3-1)

    I’m not really sure what is going on with the Coyotes either.

    How do you lose to Edmonton and Calgary and then go beat Vancouver and Anaheim?

    I’m really, really looking forward to seeing how they fare in their next two games against the Ducks.

13. Ottawa Senators

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    Last week: 5

    Record: 12-7-4 (5-3-2)

    Okay, I put the Senators way too high last week…

    Sorry about that.

    This team has lost three straight, although they got a point in two of those games and the team is in the middle of a five-game road trip.

12. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Last week: 23

    Record: 12-8-1 (6-4-0)

    You know what? I get that they lead arguably the worst division in hockey, but the Canes are a good team.

    They just beat Pittsburgh 4-1 and last I checked they were the Atlantic Division leaders. Oh yeah, and they also womped the lowly Panthers over the weekend by a combined score of 9-4.

11. Winnipeg Jets

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    Last week: 16

    Record: 10-10-1 (5-5-0)

    The Jets have stealthily moved into second place in the division and, unlike their Southeast brethren, they have no problem dispatching east coast teams.

    Oh yeah, that’s right, they’re not really a Southeastern team…

10. Washington Capitals

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    Last week: 18

    Record: 8-11-1 (6-4-0)

    You know what, the Capitals suddenly aren’t looking half bad.

    They beat Carolina and Winnipeg 3-0 and, in traditional Southeast Division fashion, also lost to Philadelphia 4-1.

    Hey, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.  

9. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Last week: 7

    Record: 11-11-1 (6-4-0)

    Nobody in Philly is going to be happy about those losses to Toronto and especially Florida, but the Flyers are looking a lot better than they did earlier in the season.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Last week: 6

    Record: 13-9-0 (6-4-0)

    Okay, I jumped the gun on the Leafs a bit…

    That win in Philly was nice, but recent losses to the Senators and Habs—two teams in the Northeast Division—were pretty bad.

    If only this team could get some points in extra time...

7. Los Angeles Kings

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    Last week: 20

    Record: 10-7-2 (7-3-0)

    Oh, hello there Kings. Glad you realized the hockey season started.

    Hey, a sub-par regular season worked out just fine last year, didn’t it?

6. Minnesota Wild

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    Last week: 24

    Record: 11-8-2 (6-3-1)

    It’s nice to see you too Wild. For some reason you guys must have thought you had the same personnel as last year.

    Yeah, no, you signed the two best free agents last year and have a plethora of talent that is capable of finding the back of the net. Glad you’re beginning to realize that.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Last week: 8

    Record: 14-8-0 (6-4-0)

    Those losses to Florida and Carolina have to sting, even if they came on the road.

    Beating Montreal in the best game of this season almost makes up for it, though.

4. Boston Bruins

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    Last week: 4

    Record: 14-3-2 (7-2-1)

    That good ol’ Habs-Bruins rivalry should be great all season long.

    Both of these teams appear to be battling for a division title. Montreal got the best of Boston in the last game, but otherwise this Bruins squad has been incredible.

    They had won their last six games, including four on the road, before that contest.

    Boston has some work to do on the power play, however.

3. Montreal Canadiens

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    Last week: 3

    Record: 14-4-4 (7-0-3)

    That Saturday contest against Pittsburgh might have been the best hockey game I’ve seen this season. Too bad somebody had to lose it.

    And, hey, things aren’t all that bad for Montreal. It started its five-game road trip with a win over Boston.

2. Anaheim Ducks

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    Last week: 2

    Record: 15-3-2 (8-1-1)

    I’m sure that hockey fans in Anaheim are upset about that 5-2 loss in the STAPLES Center and I’m still not sure how they let Phoenix score four goals against them, but otherwise this has been one hell of a season for Ducks fans.

    Hey, at least the Ducklings have a chance at redemption. They play their next two games against Phoenix. Honestly, they do.

    The Kings loss is a bit more of a stinger. The Ducks host them on April 7.

    Want to know something crazy? Anaheim plays back-to-backs against Detroit and San Jose and has another three-game series (against Dallas) before that.

    Oh, the joys of a wacked-out 48 game schedule.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Last week: 1

    Record: 19-0-3 (9-0-1)

    Serious question: Are the Blackhawks going to lose a game this season?

    After a matchup with Minnesota on Tuesday, the Hawks have six games in a row that are very, very winnable.

    You can’t say enough about how this team has done in the first half of the season.

    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com and contributes to Hockey’s Future and Stadium Journey.