NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Oilers Ascend While the Wings, Avs Regress

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent IOctober 30, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Oilers Ascend While the Wings, Avs Regress

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    Edmonton is on a roll while Detroit and Colorado have fallen back to earth.

    Buffalo is a top-10 team in offense, defense, power play and penalty kill, but have lost three of their last four.

    Florida is in the bottom half of the league in everything but power play and have won three of their last four.

    Fans in Montreal can take solace in their team’s three wins to finish up October.

    On the opposite coast Los Angeles and San Jose may not have gotten off to the starts they wanted, but the Kings have dominated the division-leading Stars and the Sharks have won fight-straight on the road.

    The NHL is full of surprises right now.

    The following are all 30 NHL teams ranked on recent performance.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets

1 of 30

    Last week: 30

    Columbus won their first game of the year—against Detroit.

    Then proceeded to lose their next two games by a combined score of 9-4.

29. Winnipeg Jets

2 of 30

    Last week: 28

    The Jets began their seven-game road trip with a 9-8 win over Philadelphia, then lost to Tampa 1-0.

    It’s difficult to explain what’s going on in Winnipeg.

28. Boston Bruins

3 of 30

    Last week: 10

    The Bruins have lost three straight since crushing Toronto 6-2.

    Two of those losses came to division-rival Montreal.

    Boston has an opportunity to turn things around in November. Only one of their next seven contests is away from Beantown.

27. Calgary Flames

4 of 30

    Last week: 25

    Two-straight regulation wins against Colorado and St. Louis are an indication that things could be getting better in Calgary.

26. New York Islanders

5 of 30

    Last week: 16

    The Islanders are playing great defense and are solid on special teams.

    They’ll have to score more than two goals a game, however, if they want to snap their current five-game losing streak.

25. New Jersey Devils

6 of 30

    Last week: 21

    The Devils have lost four of their last five and have struggled to find their scoring touch.

    They have scored three goals in only two games this season.

24. New York Rangers

7 of 30

    Last week: 23

    The Rangers had a tough October schedule—they played only three games in the Garden.

    Losses to Toronto and Ottawa at home indicate that their struggles cannot be attributed exclusively on scheduling.

    The Blueshirts must have a better November. This team is underachieving. 

23. St. Louis Blues

8 of 30

    Last week: 15

    Patching up the special teams will go a long way for the Blues, who are looking to find consistency after wins in Philly and Vancouver, but a loss in Calgary.

    Things don’t get easier. The Blues have a tough November schedule that features the Canucks, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Bolts and Wings.

22. Montreal Canadiens

9 of 30

    Last week: 29

    Just when it looked like all hell had broken loose in Montreal, the Habs won three straight to finish up October.

    Their wins came against quality opponents, too. They beat the defending champs twice and crushed Philly 5-1.

21. Vancouver Canucks

10 of 30

    Last week: 14

    It’s been a tough month for the Canucks.

    A 7-4 win over Washington is promising, but Vancouver will be tested early in November with a six-game road trip at the beginning of the month.

    Perhaps it will be a panacea for this talented squad like it was for the Sharks.

20. Minnesota Wild

11 of 30

    Last week: 19

    As always, the Wild are playing solid defense, but can’t score and are really struggling on special teams.

    They squeezed out a 1-0 win against Detroit on Saturday, but lost four of their last five prior to the contest.

19. Carolina Hurricanes

12 of 30

    Last week: 18

    Losers of four of their last five, Carolina was crushed by Philadelphia 5-1 on Saturday.

    In the middle of all the losing, the team was able to shut out Chicago in Raleigh.

    The Canes need to play more consistently if they’re going to make a splash in the Southeast Division this year.

18. Florida Panthers

13 of 30

    Last week: 24

    Behind the league’s fifth-best power play, the Panthers have won three of their last four.

    Their only big win, however, came against Buffalo—both the Islanders and Habs are struggling—and the team did lose in Ottawa.

    In order for Florida to build off this momentum, they need to play more consistently in other facets of the game.

17. Anaheim Ducks

14 of 30

    Last week: 9

    After a hot start to the season, the Ducks have dropped four of their last five—including two home games to division rivals.

    During that time, the Sharks had a successful road trip and the Stars remained hot, meaning that Anaheim suddenly has some ground to make up in the Pacific Division.

16. Ottawa Senators

15 of 30

    Last week: 27

    With five-straight wins, the Senators have moved to No. 2 in the Northeast Division.

    Their offense is on fire, but Sens must play some defense (they give up a league-high 3.9 goals per game) in order to continue winning.

15. Detroit Red Wings

16 of 30

    Last week: 6

    The Wings have lost four straight by a combined score of 16-4 since starting the season with five-straight wins.

    Something is wrong in Motown.

14. Nashville Predators

17 of 30

    Last week: 17

    The Preds picked up wins against Tampa and Anaheim last week—a positive sign for a team that came into last season with a lot of promise.

    They play their next five games away from Tennessee, however, and have a lot of travel, going all the way to the West Coast to face all three California teams on that trip.

13. Phoenix Coyotes

18 of 30

    Last week: 20

    A middle-of-the-road team that often gets lost in the Pacific Division mix, the Coyotes have impressive wins this season over both LA teams.

12. Tampa Bay Lightning

19 of 30

    Last week: 22

    A team that averages three goals a game will usually win the contests they play in…unless they give up three goals a game.

    Boucher’s unique defensive scheme has not worked so far this season, and the Lightning have been mediocre on special teams.

    Tampa has won four of their last five, however, including two straight over Buffalo.

11. Philadelphia Flyers

20 of 30

    Last week: 12

    Starting the game six-on-five might be the best option for the Flyers, who have only played in two contests where the winner scored less than four goals.

    Seventeen total goals were scored in their loss to Winnipeg on Thursday.

    This has led to many lopsided scores. Only four of Philly’s 11 games have been determined by one goal.

    It also makes it difficult to project how the Flyers will do this season.

10. Los Angeles Kings

21 of 30

    Last week: 5

    The Kings have had an up-and-down October, but have established themselves against the Stars—a red-hot team in their division.

    Los Angeles will have to wait until Nov. 7 to face the Sharks and Nov.16 when they play a home-and-home against the Ducks in order to see how they stack up against California’s other clubs.

    They open November with six of their first seven games at home—a great opportunity to build momentum before facing their Golden State opponents.

9. Colorado Avalanche

22 of 30

    Last week: 2

    Losses to Calgary and Edmonton, two teams that are supposed to be Northwest Division bottom feeders, indicate that the Avs may be regressing.

    They still own the league’s best power play, however, and have the personnel to turn things around before it gets out of hand.

8. Edmonton Oilers

23 of 30

    Last week: 26

    Edmonton, yes Edmonton, is leading the Northwest Division.

    By stringing wins over four formidable squads—the Rangers, Canucks, Caps and Avs—indicate that they belong at the top of their division.

    The Oil will be tested, however. They begin November with six-straight games away from Alberta.

7. Buffalo Sabres

24 of 30

    Last week: 7

    Buffalo is a top-10 team in offense, defense, power play and penalty kill.

    They’ve lost three of their last four, however, including a nationally-televised game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs

25 of 30

    Last week: 11

    Is this for real?

    The Leafs lead the Northeast Division with a 7-2-1 record and are finally rewarding their fans for their loyalty.

    They have a favorable schedule in November. The only two formidable teams in the first half of the month are the struggling Bruins and the inconsistent Blues.

    Toronto has a chance to generate bona fide excitement around their team early in the season.

5. Dallas Stars

26 of 30

    Last week: 3

    Stingy defense has allowed the Stars to ascend to the top of the Pacific Division.

    Los Angeles has their number, however, and Dallas will have to prove they can beat their division rivals if they’re going to become the class of the Pacific.

4. Chicago Blackhawks

27 of 30

    Last week: 8

    The power play is abysmal, but otherwise, the Central Division-leading Blackhawks are on a roll.

    Chicago finishes October with a contest against Nashville and then plays four of the next five away from the Windy City.

3. Washington Capitals

28 of 30

    Last week: 1

    Owners of the NHL’s best offense and the third-best power play, Washington started October off with seven-straight wins…

    Then lost two in a row in Edmonton and Vancouver.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

29 of 30

    Last week: 4

    A top-10 team in offense, defense and special teams, Pittsburgh had a five-game win streak going before losing in Toronto on Saturday.

    Things can only get better for the Pens when they get healthy.

1. San Jose Sharks

30 of 30

    Last week: 13

    After a slow start to the season, the Sharks have won five-straight on the road and will play in a nationally televised game against New York on Monday to finish up the trip.

    Following Monday’s game, San Jose has six-straight games at home—an opportunity to get back to the top of the division and allow their fans to forget about the 1-3 start to the season.