Power rankings: Close calls

Ross McKeon

Yahoo! Sports NHL writer Ross McKeon ranks the league’s teams 1 through 30. The power rankings will be updated every Tuesday.


1. Ottawa Senators (16-3, Previous: 1) – They're winning the close ones – 6-0 in one-goal games and four others that included empty-netters – and they're winning the blowouts, too.


2. Detroit Red Wings (14-5-1, Previous: 2) – How many times has it looked like Dominik Hasek was at the end of his career, whether it be injury or sub-par play? This time, maybe the 42-year-old is done.


3. Carolina Hurricanes (12-6-3, Previous: 3) – You don't hear a lot about Glen Wesley, but the underrated 39-year-old blueliner became just the 10th NHL defenseman to appear in his 1,400th career game.


4. Montreal Canadiens (11-6-3, Previous: 5) – Goal drought lands Michael Ryder on the third line and he responds modestly by scoring a goal and three points in three games.

New York Islanders

5. New York Islanders (11-6, Previous: 6) – Seven straight one-goal games and winners in eight of 11 decided by a single tally for the season. And check this out, six are against rival Rangers and Devils, and Isles have won them all.

San Jose

6. San Jose Sharks (11-7-3, Previous: 10) – Won four straight including three by a combined score of 15-1 over Phoenix before dropping a shootout verdict to Anaheim. That's two showdowns vs. the Ducks ending in shootout losses. It should be a close rivalry to follow all season.


7. Chicago Blackhawks (11-8-1, Previous: 7) – 4-0 vs. Original 6 rival Detroit. They're bringing back The Roar. Can the Norris Division be far behind?

New York Rangers

8. New York Rangers (12-8-1, Previous: 11) – Take two meetings with the Islanders off the schedule during their last 11, and the Blueshirts have won the other nine.


9. Minnesota Wild (11-7-2, Previous: 9) – With Josh Harding getting more playing time in net, the current 1-2 punch led by Niklas Backstrom is starting to have that Manny Fernandez-Dwayne Roloson feel to it, except the current tandem is far younger.


10. Philadelphia Flyers (11-7-1, Previous: 8) – Mike Richards: 10 goals, 12 assists, 23 points, 22 penalty minutes, 55 shots, three game-winners, 21:04 ice-time average and not on the All-Star ballot. Oops. Hello Rory Fitzpatrick?


11. Colorado Avalanche (11-7-1, Previous: 4) – Four idle nights just enough to let the rust set in as Avs score just two goals and get beat by a combined tally of 10-2 during road games at Dallas and Minnesota.

Tampa Bay

12. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-8-2, Previous: 16) – White-hot Vincent Lecavalier is league's No. 1 star for consecutive weeks, riding franchise-record eight straight multi-point games, scoring 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) to take NHL scoring lead.


13. Anaheim Ducks (10-8-3, Previous: 23) – Really, you could just watch the Chris Kunitz-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry line all night long and never feel cheated.


14. Nashville Predators (10-8-1, Previous: 13) – Preds get nothing points wise out of a game Monday for the first time in nine contests. Previously, they enjoyed a stretch of earning 18 out of a possible 22 points since Oct. 25.


15. Vancouver Canucks (10-8-1, Previous: 15) – They've made the most of their games against division opponents by going 8-0-1 and outscoring their Northwest rivals 30-15 in the process.


16. Columbus Blue Jackets (9-7-4, Previous: 12) – Jackets certainly don't want Rick Nash to make a habit of fighting, but with three career bouts he's collected two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, including one that included a tussle with Blackhawks defenseman Jim Vandermeer that helped Columbus snap a four-game winless streak.


17. Boston Bruins (9-7-2 Previous: 14) – During the first eight games in November, opponent shot totals have looked like this: 52, 36, 46, 32, 29, 36, 45 and 30. That is a problem.

St. Louis

18. St. Louis Blues (11-7, Previous: 21) – Riding streak of four straight one-goal victories, three during regulation and all against division rivals.


19. Dallas Stars (9-7-4, Previous: 19) – Youth movement afoot. New co-GM Les Jackson places tough veteran forward Todd Fedoruk on waivers to clear roster spot, cap space for younger talent. Expect more of the same as the season progresses.


20. Toronto Maple Leafs (8-8-5, Previous: 17) – Desperately looking for a stretch of positive consistency. They've managed consecutive wins only once in past 27 games spanning to late last season. Tuesday night's visit by Boston gives Leafs a chance for a second two-game streak.


21. Atlanta Thrashers (10-10, Previous: 24) – Who would have guessed after an 0-6 start this team would reach .500 by the quarter mark of the season?


22. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-10-2, Previous: 20) – Pens hoping four of month's last five games coming at home and Marc-Andre Fleury's decent recent outings will provide the spark to get the team back on the winning track.


23. Calgary Flames (8-9-3, Previous: 25) – Struggling on the power play and to find consistency from goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, they don't need Robyn Regehr to miss significant time. Defenseman was struck by puck in the head Sunday.

New Jersey

24. New Jersey Devils (8-10-2, Previous: 22) – Is there any reason to believe Martin Brodeur won't win 600, or even 700 regular-season games? Can he do it in New Jersey is the bigger question.


25. Buffalo Sabres (7-10-1, Previous: 26) – They finally snap streak of allowing first goal in 14 straight games during win over Montreal on Saturday, the team's first victory in regulation in 10 contests.

Los Angeles

26. Los Angeles Kings (8-11-1, Previous: 18) – Who on defense throws a scare into opponents? Jack Johnson is too inexperienced, Rob Blake has too many miles and everyone else falls into the category of playing too soft.


27. Florida Panthers (9-12-1, Previous: 28) – Team that blew last-minute leads 10 times in 2005-06 is struggling late in games again. Panthers have been outscored 33-17 in the third period and overtime this season.


28. Phoenix Coyotes (8-10, Previous: 27) – After getting shellacked 15-1 in three straight against San Jose, timing was perfect to pick up Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers and even better for new goalie to provide team with a shutout in Los Angeles on Saturday.


29. Edmonton Oilers (7-12-1, Previous: 30) – Stats for incumbent No. 1 Dwayne Roloson (3-9-1. 3.21 goals-against average, .890 save percentage) and offseason acquisition backup Mathieu Garon (4-3, 2.50 GAA, .911 save percentage) suggest a flip-flop of roles is in order.


30. Washington Capitals (6-13-1, Previous: 29) – Team has won 78 of 238 games and has never reached the postseason with Glen Hanlon behind the bench. Hmmm.