On Monday, Mr. Rob Pizzo and I have taken to doing our power rankings on the podcast. However, today is the high holy holiday “Family Day” in Ontario (all of Canada, maybe?), so there won’t be a podcast. In light of this, I thought I’d present my print version.
Here’s where I see the top 10 teams in the NHL. Even I’m weirded out by the order chosen, and I wrote the piece. The NHL landscape is changing.
1. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings have won six straight games, pushing them ahead of the Rangers in the race for the President’s Trophy by three points (though it’s worth noting the Rangers have three games in hand). They haven’t shown they can win on the road, but when you can’t lose at home, you don’t have to. Joey MacDonald has been a great fill-in, but once they get Jimmy Howard back they’ll be even better.
2. New York Rangers
The Rangers didn’t lose the #1 billing on this list so much as the Red Wings took it. These guys are still bombing along on cruise control, piling up a 7-2-1 record in their last ten games. Henrik Lundqvist is a rock, their back-end is extremely solid, and they can score. Oh, and with Prust, Rupp and Boyle, they can play tough. If they stay healthy, you have to believe in this team come playoffs.
3. Vancouver Canucks
It’s always good when there’s a “0″ in the middle of your teams “last 10 games” column, and the Canucks can be proud that they do (8-0-2). While not the League’s most popular team, it doesn’t matter – they just keep winning, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll stop. They’re two points behind Detroit for first in the League (with a game in hand), and currently boast a +50 goal differential.
4. St. Louis Blues
This is the third straight season that I’ve claimed St. Louis is going to break out, and it seems I may finally be right. This team has grown up over the past few years, and now find themselves defensive superstars with some offensive pop and great leadership. Their team depth and consistent play (save for a tough loss yesterday) has them cracking the top 5.
5. New Jersey Devils
Marty Brodeur continued his dominance in Monreal (21-12-1 there lifetime) as the Devils downed the Habs in the Bell Centre this weekend. The Devils find themselves tied with the Bruins (did not see that coming) after their most recent stellar run in which they’ve won three straight, which adds to their 8-1-1 last 10.
6. Boston Bruins
The Bruins have nine regulation wins in their last 20 games, and really let the wolf pack back in it this year. It looked like they were going to runaway with the league for awhile, but man – they’re only three points up on Ottawa, who are 7th in the East. Still: they’re the Boston Bruins, and we know how good that team can be. I’m not writing them off in any way.
7. Nashville Predators
I said this on Twitter last night: looking towards playoffs, the Predators remind me of Boston last year. Depth at forward without a true stud (they have nine players with 10+ goals), rock-solid goaltending, some great shutdown defenders and a good coach. They’ve been battling it out in a tough division all year, but still sit 5th in the West.
8. Chicago Blackhawks
After the Blackhawks disastrous nine-game losing streak, the’ve finally righted the ship. They’ve won three consecutive games (including a win over the tough Blues on Sunday), and just have too much talent on their roster to overlook. If they can patch that hole in net for playoffs, I sure wouldn’t want to play them.
9. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers are 3-5-1 in their last 10 games, which includes coming out on the losing end of a game against division-rival Pittsburgh on Saturday night. But them still being in the top-10 shows you what I think of their team. I like the moves they’ve made to shore up their D, I think Bryzgalov has been underachieving and could snap out of it at any time, and I like their firepower. They’ll be alright.
10. Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes just continue to find a way to get it done. They’re 7-0-1 in their last eight games, and suddenly Mike Smith is a star – look at the goals they’ve given up to opponents in their past seven games: 1 (Detroit), 1 (Dallas), 1 (Calgary), 0 (Chicago), 1 (Vancouver), 0 (Los Angeles), and 1 Dallas). Yep, five goals in seven games. And THAT gets you in the top 10.