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NHL Power Rankings – Week 1

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Dave Turner

With the first week of an exciting new NHL season in the book, we’ve begun to learn a little about the teams throughout the league. The new divisional format if fun, at least when it comes to the idea of seeing Detroit take on Boston. Alexander Ovechkin’s four goals are more than a few teams have scored thus far. The week came to a conclusion on Mike Santorelli’s overtime goal, which lifted the Vancouver Canucks over the Calgary Flames in overtime.  A frentic end to a great week of hockey.

Let’s jump in to my first power rankings for the year:

(Note: My power rankings don’t include a preseason rank. I don’t believe in ranking teams based on last year’s merit. That being said, teams will be ranked solely on what they’ve done so far this year.) 

1. Boston Bruins (2-0-0) - The Bruins make it to the top based on two solid wins. Beating the Red Wings at home in their inaugural game as division opponents by three goals was a nice way to start the week. Only two goals allowed by Tuukka Rask so far.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-0) - Two dominating wins out of the gate, the Penguins are looking to put last season’s playoff failures in the rear view mirror very quickly. Marc-Andre Fleury is doing his best to shut up the critics that hounded him after another bad playoff campaign.  He’s surrendered only one goal so far.

3. St. Louis Blues (2-0-0) - Is this the year that St. Louis takes a step forward? They’ve dismantled the Panthers and Predators so far, but then again, it’s the Panthers and the Predators. They get Chicago this week. That’s when you can take out the measuring stick.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-0) - A nice comeback against the Senators capped off a strong week for the Leafs. James Reimer’s GAA, 4.62. Jonathan Bernier’s GAA, 0.64. You have to think that there is a goalie controversy, or hostile takeover coming soon in Toronto if that keeps up.

5. San Jose Sharks (2-0-0) - The department of redundancy department might not like me to say this, but is this the year that the Sharks finally break through? Antti Niemi seems poised for a Vezina-caliber season. If he’s good enough, the scoring will be there for the Sharks to win a lot of games.

6. Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0) - The Patrick Roy era has gotten off to a fantastic start. By fantastic start, I mean what could possibly be more fun than seeing Roy rock the pane of glass separating the two teams. All jokes aside, their young talent is going to be fun to watch this season.

7. Chicago Blackhawks (1-0-1) - Not exactly the greatest start for the defending cup champs, but they’ll take it. They began the season with a spirited 6-4 win over Washington which included a tremendous late third period 5-on-3 penalty kill. They outshot the Lightning 39 to 16 on Saturday, but fell in the shootout.

8. Winnipeg Jets (2-1-0) - The Jets were an Anaheim Ducks comeback away from starting the week 3-0. Their 5-3 victory over the Kings was impressive. They chased Jonathan Quick from the net after he surrendered four goals on 23 shots.

9. Vancouver Canucks (2-1-0) It’s definitely not the sort of John Tortorella hockey we’re used to, but it seems to be working, thus far. In their two wins this week against divisional opponents, they scored 11 goals. They get a matchup with former netminder Cory Schneider on Tuesday.

10. Detroit Red Wings (2-1-0) - They won a pair of games over teams they should beat in Buffalo and Carolina, but got thoroughly beaten in Boston in the first of what should be some excellent games between the two original six clubs.

11. Anaheim Ducks (2-1-0) - The Ducks rebounded from a putrid effort in Colorado on opening night to tally two big road wins against the Wild and Jets. Jakob Silfverberg with two goals already. He’s going to be a very worthy return for Bobby Ryan.

12. Calgary Flames (1-0-2) - A week in and no regulation losses for the Flames. It’s most likely going to be a long season in Calgary, but they’ve given the fans something to cheer about thus far.

13. Ottawa Senators (1-0-1) - A nice 1-0 win was followed up by the Sens blowing a 4-2 lead against the Maple Leafs en-route to a 5-4 shootout loss. They get quite a test this week, with a road trip that features at Los Angeles, at San Jose and at Anaheim, where Bobby Ryan makes his return.

14. New York Islanders (1-0-1) - The shootout was good and bad to the Islanders this week. What stands out is their inability to protect third period leads. The Isles blew a 3-2 lead to the Devils and a 2-0 lead to the Blue Jackets, which resulted in their two shootouts.

15. Phoenix Coyotes (1-1-0) - A tale of two games so far for the Coyotes. One, a resounding 4-1 opening night win against the Rangers, followed by a 4-1 loss to the Sharks. This team has more offensive talent than they’ve had in years past, but it’s still on Mike Smith if this team hopes to return to the playoffs.

16. Carolina Hurricanes (1-0-1) - A solid start for the Hurricanes, getting a point against Detroit and beating the Flyers. It’s not out of the question for Anton Khudobin to assert himself as the starter. Cam Ward is coming off of an injury and Khudobin held the Flyers to just one goal in his first start.

17. Montreal Canadiens (1-1-0) - The Canadiens dropped a tough 4-3 game against Toronto to start the season, but looked very good in beating the Flyers. Lars Eller is off to a fantastic start, with five points (three goals, two assists) so far.

18. Minnesota Wild (0-0-2) - There might not be another team with more pressure on them to perform than the Wild. Mike Yeo has to prove that he can do more than just make the playoffs.  With a full season of Jason Pominville and the return of Dany Heatley, this team should score, but do they have enough in goal?

19. Dallas Stars (1-1-0) - The Stars followed up a weak performance against Florida with a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Capitals. They held Washington off the scoreboard for fifty-plus minutes after Alexander Ovechkin scored in the first.

20. Washington Capitals (1-2-0) - Speaking of the Caps, they gave the Blackhawks all they could handle in their opening game, but couldn’t put it together against Dallas. Ovechkin has four goals to start the season. We know they can score, but it’s going to be on Braden Holtby to take another step forward this year.

21. Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0) - A loss to the Sabres, but a win at Chicago. At a time where down is up and up is down for the Lightning, Ben Bishop had a tremendous game against the Blackhawks. If he’s able to carry the load, the Lightning will push for a playoff spot this year.

22. Los Angeles Kings (1-1-0) - The Kings are notoriously slow starters, but they’ll be just fine. LA has potted three power play goals in two games this season. If they can keep the power play going, they’ll be just fine.

23. Columbus Blue Jackets (1-1-0) - A lone shootout win for the Jackets in their first two games. It doesn’t get much easier for Columbus. After games at Buffalo and home against the Bruins, they go on the road to face the Red Wings, Canadiens and Capitals. Welcome to the Eastern Conference.

24. New Jersey Devils (0-1-1) - Pete Deboer said that he thought the team played better in their 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh than they did in their 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders. With so many new pieces to sort out, it will take the Devils some time to get going. They begin a five game, West Coast road trip tonight against Edmonton.

25. New York Rangers (0-1-0) - It’s hard to judge the Rangers on just one game so far, but they didn’t look good in their 4-1 loss to Phoenix. The extended road trip due to the refurbishing of Madison Square Garden, coupled with the task of learning the system of a new coach, the Rangers will most likely struggle to get their footing over their first few games.

26. Florida Panthers (1-1-0) - They followed up a somewhat surprising opening night win over the Stars with a 7-0 stinker against the Blues. Aleksander Barkov became the youngest player to score a goal since 1944. The future may be bright in Florida, but it’ll be tough sledding this year.

27. Edmonton Oilers (0-0-2) - The Oilers welcome back Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the lineup on Monday. Without a win yet, he’s a welcomed addition. Edmonton has surrendered eleven goals in two games. Is this team ever going to take a step in the right direction?

28. Nashville Predators (0-0-2) - The Predators just can’t score. Pekka Rinne is an excellent goaltender and Seth Jones will continue to develop, but without the ability to puck the biscuit in the net with any sort of consistency, it’s going to be a long season in Nashville, once again.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (0-0-3) - To some, this putrid start for the Flyers might be surprising. With a lack of depth scoring and no clear-cut number one goaltender, it seems about right. Philadelphia has managed a total of three goals in their first three games.

(EDIT 9:55 am) Well, there goes Peter Laviolette. The Flyers are left searching for answers.

30. Buffalo Sabres (0-0-3) - Will we see Ryan Miller and/or Tomas Vanek moved sometime soon? The clock may already be ticking on Ron Rolston. Just two goals scored by the Sabres in three games.

 

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rankings: Tough To Watch

This criticism of the Power Rangers Movie is pretty much the only thing harsher than the Devils’ last week.

ESPN
This week: 24
Last week: 13
Reasoning: The Devils are winless in seven after a shootout loss to Buffalo on Sunday and have scored 12 times over that period. They begin the week in ninth place in the East and there’s no way this team makes the playoffs with its current level of play.

CBS
This week: 21
Last week: 15
Reasoning: Good news: Ilya Kovalchuk has to come back at some point, right? But seriously, they’re still in the race for a playoff spot. Bad news: They’ve lost seven games in a row. That and they have the fewest goals in the East.

Sports Illustrated
This week: 20
Last week: 14
Reasoning: Thank goodness for those three-point games, otherwise Lou Lamoriello’s lads would be making plans at golf courses across the globe. Fact is, though, the Devils have been playing bad hockey for a while now, with their last happy ending on March 23, a 2-1 win over the sadsack Panthers. Ilya Kovalchuk, out since March 23 with a shoulder injury has started skating, but it may be too late. New Jersey is on the outside looking in at the top eight. The year has not been kind to the defending Eastern champs.

FOX Sports
This week: 19
Last week: 12
Reasoning: Martin Brodeur’s return certainly wasn’t a panacea. The Devils have won two games — the veteran starting goalie’s first two games back, to be precise — since his return on March 21 and have fallen from seventh place to ninth with seven losses in a row.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rankings: A Look Back

ESPN
This week: 15
Last week: 16
Reasoning: The Devils are tied with the Leafs in points and, like the Leafs, are trying to dig their heels in before sliding completely out of the playoff picture. The absence of Martin Brodeur and paucity of scoring loom large for the Devils, who have won just four of 15.

CBS
This week: 16
Last week: 17
Reasoning: They haven’t been the same since Martin Brodeur went down. Johan Hedberg is not a No. 1. That said, they’re also 23rd in goals per game. Brodeur isn’t at the point that he can make up for low scoring often.

Sports Illustrated
This week: 19
Last week: 22
Reasoning: Martin Brodeur practiced for the first time since his last game, Feb. 24, and could return to his rightful throne in the Devils net on Thursday. “I’ve skated for the last week or so, but this is the first time I’m doing it as hard as that,” he told reporters. “It’s definitely the best I’ve felt so far on the ice, but I don’t know how my body will react, so we’ll go from there.” The Devils haven’t played well in his absence, but are hanging in there for a playoff spot. Obviously, Brodeur’s return would give a boost to the defending Eastern Conference champs and not a moment too soon.

FOX Sports
This week: 15
Last week: 14
Reasoning: New Jersey was leading the Atlantic and had the second-best record in the East on Feb. 21. By no coincidence, that’s the last time goalie Martin Brodeur (back) played.

With the Rangers on the docket Tuesday night and Martin Brodeur finally ready to return, a history lesson seems appropriate.

Mighty Morphin Power Rankings: Is This The End?

ESPN
This week: 16
Last week: 9
Reasoning: Tough times for the Devils without Martin Brodeur as they have only one win in their past seven games. They have only 12 goals in that seven-game stretch.

CBS
This week: 15
Last week: 9
Reasoning: Boy, Martin Brodeur can’t come back fast enough. Since injured a little more than a week ago the Devils have played four times with Johan Hedberg and lost all four. Overall that’s five losses in the last six games and they’re getting close to no-playoff land.

Yahoo! Sports (3/1)
This week: 9
Last week: 4
Reasoning: They’ve hit the skids with losses in five of six games, a span that basically coincides with Martin Brodeur’s time on the sidelines with a sore back.

FOX Sports
This week: 11
Last week: 9
Reasoning: New Jersey has lost four in a row minus veteran goalie Martin Bordeur, the last by way of a shootout to the lowly Sabres on Saturday. His ailing back can’t get better soon enough.

Times certainly appear dire for the Devils, but nothing is as bad as it seems, right Alpha?

Mighty Morphin Power Rankings: Real Or Fake?

ESPN
This week: 4
Last week: 4
Reasoning: The Devils were stung by the Islanders on Saturday but are still within a point of the top spot in the conference. Impressive 6-1-1 home record.

CBS
This week: 3
Last week: 13
Reasoning: OK, so losing 5-1 at the Islanders is ugly, but they stay up here because they’ve still won six of their last eight … all in regulation, too.

Yahoo! Sports (2/16)
This week: 4
Last week: 6
Reasoning: David Clarkson’s power forward prowess is (deservedly) the hot topic in Jersey, but 36-year-old Patrik Elias is leading the team in scoring (18 points in 14 games) and plus/minus (plus-10). Not to mention, the octogenarian goaltending tandem of Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg are playing like they’re half their age.

FOX Sports
This week: 4
Last week: 2
Reasoning: Penalty-kill troubles, including allowing three goals Saturday in a loss to the Islanders, need to be solved quickly. David Clarkson also has yet to have back-to-back multi-point games this month.

Sports Illustrated
This week: 5
Last week: 3
Reasoning: A 5-1 spanking by the Islanders and a 2-1 shootout loss to the Senators on Presidents Day has cooled some of the buzz in Newark. Alexei Ponikarovsky was brought back last week for a second stint with the team and scored a goal in his first game. The Devils could use a bit more offensive punch, particularly from their defense, which has contributed just three goals this season. “You’re not going to win many hockey games scoring just one goal,” Devils veteran Patrik Elias told reporters after the loss to the Sens.

This week’s video is a sign of when I started to realize what I was watching and became more realistic about my childhood heroes. The same goes for the Devils at this point — are we seeing bumps in the road or legitimate cracks in the armor? Time will tell.

Mighty Morphin Power Rankings: Megazords

After a week off, the Mighty Morphin Power Rankings are back! After a week in which they won five straight games, the Devils, are unsurprisingly near the top of everyone’s rankings. There’s no “1″ ranking though — stupid Blackhawks.

ESPN
This week: 9
Last week: 5
Reasoning: A home-and-home sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins is the perfect way to inform the world that the 2012 Stanley Cup finalists can contend despite the loss of Zach Parise. Pete DeBoer for the Jack Adams? He’s my pick right now.

CBS
This week: 3
Last week: 12
Reasoning: Can you have a better weekend than the Devils just had? Taking four points in two games from the division-rival Penguins to extend their winning streak to five games? They are two points head of the Bruins for the top spot in the East but have also played two more games.

Yahoo! Sports (2/8)
This week: 6
Last week: 8
Reasoning: Patrik Elias leads the team in scoring and Martin Brodeur keeps winning and winning. In other news, grunge is back and did you hear about Monica Lewinsky?

FOX Sports
This week: 2
Last week: 6
Reasoning: In the span of eight days, New Jersey knocked off the Penguins (twice), Islanders, Rangers and Lightning — allowing just five goals in those six games.

And as for this week’s video, I chose it because the Devils may not seem like much when you look at their individual talent, but they are much stronger under Pete DeBoer’s system and coaching. SYMBOLISM!

Mighty Morphin Power Rankings: Devils On The Move

With a week of the season gone by, it’s time to evaluate those completely meaningless forms of measuring which teams have suddenly won or lost a couple games within a week, it’s POWER RANKINGS TIME!

ESPN
This week: 5
Last week: 16
Reasoning: OK, I know they lost in Montreal on Sunday, but I want to give the Devils their due. Missing 52 goals after the exits of Zach Parise and Petr Sykora, New Jersey made a statement in the opening week that life will go on. It’s the Devils’ way.

CBS
This week: 11
Last week: 14
Reasoning: They’ve picked up points in every game so far. Perhaps they could be higher, but I’m still in wait-and-see mode. … If early indications say anything, Martin Brodeur’s tank still isn’t empty.

Yahoo! Sports
This week: 5
Last week: N/A
Reasoning: This perpetual winning machine captured the Stanley Cup the last time the NHL force-fed us a 48-game season &ndash: and with the very same goalie, if you can believe it.

FOX Sports
This week: 6
Last week: 21
Reasoning: It’s way too early to talk about a repeat trip to the Stanley Cup Final. The Devils haven’t lost yet in regulation, but they’ve faced either non-contenders (Canadiens and Islanders) or sputtering teams (Flyers and Capitals).

As for the clip above — Since the only thing more ridiculous than these rankings and the outsized uproar they cause was everyone’s favorite 90′s super heroes, expect a different Power Rangers clip every week. The awesome intro seemed the best fit for the first run.