NHL Power Rankings: An eye for an eye …
Why is everyone in such a bad mood? Daniel Briere suspended three games for a cross-check. Brent Sutter really hates his Calgary Flames. And any fans sitting near the visiting bench in St. Paul, Minn.? Well, let’s just say they better come equipped with a tie-down strap.
One team that’s not in a bad mood is the Los Angeles Kings, who are fulfilling those expectations right off the bat. They’re not necessarily a surprise like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators or even the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it again underscores the parity that exists in the NHL.
1. Los Angeles Kings (8-3-0, Previous: 5) – They’re starting to talk long-term contract for Drew Doughty(notes), who’s close to returning from a concussion issue. It’s good to be a young superstar and in need of a new deal.
2. Washington Capitals (7-4-0, Previous: 1) – With all the video watched by coaches, how is it when Alexander Ovechkin drifts without the puck to the left circle that no one shadows him there?
3. St. Louis Blues (6-1-2, Previous: 15) – Jaroslav Halak(notes) ran his personal scoreless streak to more than 160 minutes before a puck finally slipped past him on Saturday. Repeating what was written in this corner before the season started: Halak will be the most significant offseason player transaction in the league.
4. Detroit Red Wings (6-2-1, Previous: 3) – Two more wins and Chris Osgood(notes) will have 400 for his NHL career. Combined with his Stanley Cup rings, there’s really no denying him entrance into the Hall of Fame someday.
5. Philadelphia Flyers (7-4-1, Previous: 18) – The Flyers and Isles dropped gloves and felt shame for a combined total of 120 minutes last Saturday. The good news for you fight fans? They get to do it all over again this Saturday.
6. Chicago Blackhawks (7-6-1, Previous: 2) – Jake Dowell(notes), Bryan Bickell(notes), Viktor Stalberg(notes) and Jack Skille(notes) aren’t household names, but they’re off to a pretty good start in helping to replace those nine regulars that departed the Stanley Cup roster.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-2-1, Previous: 6) – Why is Don Meehan the most powerful agent in the NHL? Steven Stamkos(notes), coming off a 50-goal season, leads the NHL in scoring and the agent wants to kick-start long-term contract talks immediately. Imagine that?
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (6-5-1, Previous: 7) – So one could own a bottle of melted ice from The Igloo at $40 a pop. How much are they charging for the urinals?
12. San Jose Sharks (5-3-1, Previous: 17) – Don’t look now but Antti Niemi(notes) is the backup goalie in Silicon Valley while Antero Niittymaki(notes) continues to outplay last year’s Stanley Cup champion netminder.
13. Nashville Predators (5-2-3, Previous: 8) – Seriously, how does this team do it every year? For one thing, that goalie combo of Pekka Rinne(notes) and first-year NHLer Anders Lindback(notes) ain’t bad.
14. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-4-1, Previous: 4) – The scoring drought – 122:24 without a goal – continues, and frankly, is quite predictable considering the lack of offensive firepower.
15. New York Rangers (6-4-1, Previous: 28) – Ya know, I’m not a big fan of this roster, but you have to give it to them after beating the defending Stanley Cup champs when it would have otherwise been easy to mail in a fourth game in six nights.
16. Colorado Avalanche (6-4-1, Previous: 13) – In the great timing department, Craig Anderson(notes) gets hurt on that stupid 15-on-none drill that the goalie dressed as a backup is tortured to play at the end of the pregame warm-up at the same time he’s trying to convince management to open the bankroll for an extension.
17. Calgary Flames (6-5-0, Previous: 19) – It’s assumed Brent Sutter was singling out Jarome Iginla(notes) when he went on and on about how the team’s top players needed to buy into the system or the Flames will flounder. Believe what you want, but it’s a fall ritual for any Sutter to recite virtually the same message anywhere they’re coaching.
18. Dallas Stars (6-4-0, Previous: 14) – Two-for-25 on the power play in six games before Saturday, and ranking last on the penalty kill had to have the Stars pining for a Sergei Zubov(notes) in his prime or even a Dave Tippett behind the bench.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-4-0, Previous: 25) – This team had a decent record after 10 games, especially considering the fact they were averaging a 29th-worst 2.3 goals per those 10 contests.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (5-6-0, Previous: 26) – The Hurricanes had to wait until Oct. 27 to play their first game in Raleigh, and after duplicate 3-0 losses on home ice to Washington and Pittsburgh, the team will have to wait until at least November to score a goal as hosts.
22. Minnesota Wild (4-4-2, Previous: 27) – The Wild went, well, wild on the power play the first 10 games of the season. But what is Minnesota going to do for offense when the unit fails to keep up a 30-percent clip on the PP?
24. Phoenix Coyotes (3-4-3, Previous: 23) – Shane Doan(notes), Ray Whitney(notes), Wojtek Wolski(notes) and Radim Vrbata(notes) – accounting for $14 million of salary – have a combined one goal over a combined 32 games. Ouch.
25. Ottawa Senators (4-6-1, Previous: 30) – There is no truth to a rumor the Sens have petitioned the league to reschedule their remaining Saturday games to any other day or night of the week. Ottawa is 0-4 and has been outscored 16-4 on Saturdays thus far.
28. Edmonton Oilers (3-4-2, Previous: 20) – Is there a decision to make about Taylor Hall(notes) and whether he should be returned to junior hockey? Not after his four points in two games. Welcome to the big leagues, kid, you belong.
29. Anaheim Ducks (4-7-1, Previous: 22) – Don Cherry says George Parros(notes) should play on Anaheim’s third line, that he should get more than six minutes a night and, if that happened, he would score 20 goals. He’s still getting paid to say these things. Really, he is.
30. New Jersey Devils (3-9-1, Previous: 29) – The model franchise in hockey for many years, copied by so many around the league, and now we’re wondering if Lou Lamoriello has suddenly turned into Al Davis.