The season is young, but not too young for a Conference Finals preview. The Western Conference is extremely competitive and in order to survive until the end a team must have everything fall into place at the right time. The first leg of the 2013-14 campaign has been traveled masterfully by the 5-0-0 San Jose Sharks and the 4-0-0 St. Louis Blues. One comment that has been made when talking about either team in recent years is: It's been a long time coming. With the talent being more evenly spread across the NHL in comparison to every other major sport, every team is provided a certain window of opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup. Both of these clubs have proven worthy to be in the discussion for several years, but when push comes to shove; they are bounced from the postseason. Both teams have exploded out of the gates this season and are racing toward the same prize that can only be claimed by one. If there has been a game worth watching this season, it is this one tonight on NBCS (8:00 eastern).
San Jose and St. Louis have the hottest sticks this season. Averaging an absurd 4.80 and 4.75 goals per game, it'd be safe to say that tonight will provide a surplus of goals. On the other hand, Both teams are two of the four that have held their opponents under two goals per game. Looking at that stat alone, a low scoring affair could be on the menu tonight in the Scottrade Center. Tomas Hertl has gotten out to a blazing start for the Sharks, posting 8 points (7 g 1 a). St. Louis's Alexander Steen has matched those 8 points (4 g 4 a) and has done so in one fewer game played. Jaroslav Halak is 4-0-0 in goal this year for the Blues; stopping 93.4 percent of the pucks shot his way and has only let seven pucks into his net.Antti Niemi has been in net for all five of San Jose's victories. He has posted a 93.9 save percentage, letting in only 7 goals, with one more game played.
I have been counting down the days until these powers finally met this season and cannot wait to watch on national television. Like every game in the National Hockey League, it's plausible that either team playing could win. Tonight I am giving the edge to the home team: St. Louis Blues. I am predicting that both Niemi and Halak will receive 35+ shots tonight, but turn most of them away. The sole reason I envision the Sharks falling short is their special teams. San Jose's weakness happens to be the Blue's choice of poison this year. St. Louis is second to none when it comes to scoring on the powerplay while the Sharks are second to over half of the league when it comes to preventing powerplay units from scoring. My prediction is St. Louis over San Jose 4-3 in regulation with three of their goals coming on the powerplay. Leave your prediction in the comment box below, if it's accurate, you will receive your favorite NHL team's hat.
Post the final score prediction, your 1st star for the game, and your favorite team. Post by 8:05pm Eastern to be eligible.
#1- St. Louis Blues (Central Division) : The Blues are one of three unbeaten teams that have survived the first ten days of the season; not that they have been in survival mode. Through their first three games the Blues have outscored their opponents 14-4, including a last second win over the reigning Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks. St. Louis has been very successful in recent years although they have shared a goaltender issue that is felt by nearly every struggling team. Jaroslav Halak must be tired of sharing the ice with fellow teammate Brian Elliott as he has shot out of the gates (94.8 save percentage / 1.33 goals allowed a game). Halak's performance alongside a hot and veteran offense, there is no ceiling on St. Louis this year.
#2- San Jose Sharks (Pacific Division) : For years San Jose has sat on top of preseason ranks due to the caliber of veterans they have on their roster. With such high expectations, the Sharks have continuously fell short of expectations. The two pieces that they lacked were excellent goal tending and a strong youth. Antti Niemi has blossomed into one of the league's premier net-minders in the last two seasons and serves as a more than qualified Ace for any Cup contending team. To everyone's surprise, the veteran scorers have taken a backseat to the nineteen-year-old Czech superstar, Tomas Hertl, who is leading the team with 7 points and rocked the hockey world with his unprecedented four goal night against the New York Rangers. Outscoring their opponents 21-5, the Shark Tank is on fire and begging any team to try and slow them down. If everyone remains healthy, that will be near impossible.
#3- Colorado Avalanche (Central Division) : Colorado is one of the top contenders for teams that would like a clean slate. With brand new divisions, realignments, rivals, and to a degree an all around new league, the new look Avs are ready for the next chapter. This new team head commanded by the NHL Hall of Fame inducted and bonafide legend, Patrick Roy. Great franchises get out of slumps faster than others because they are excellent losers. Some teams stay in the basement because they struggle with losing. Colorado has spent the last three years losing; and by losing I mean resupplying themselves for another half to full decade long of success. Gabriel Landeskog remains the youngest NHL captain in the league and head the Avalanche who have an overstock of young talent, most recently highlighted by Nathan MacKennon (2013 1st overall pick) as he has posted four early season goals. If Semyon Varlamov has truly revived himself as the Ace that he has proven to be in the past, Colorado will surely return to the V.I.P section of the league for years to come.
#4- Toronto Maple Leafs (Atlantic Division) : There is no doubt that Toronto has the offensive power to swing away with the best, but as the Leafs know all to well; goals does not always lead to success. Toronto has been in the top ten the last two seasons in goals per game, but did not hold their own in the win department. The offense hasn't changed in Toronto, but between the pipes and the pairs that assist the goalie have improved significantly. During the offseason the starting goalie role seemed to be divided evenly between James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier with the hopes that one of them would evolve into an Ace at some point during the full length season. This Monday, Reimer will be a common man Marlies are thankful for while celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. It appears Mr. Reimer has already shown that he wants to take the ropes this season and guide his team deep into the playoffs. If he stays on his game, success is inevitable for the Maple Leafs; only several injuries could ever slow their offense down.
#5- Pittsburgh Penguins (Metropolitan Division) : The Penguins are taking care of business this regular season, surprised? Since winning the Stanley Cup in the 2008-2009 season, The Penguins have won 183 regular season games; 3 more than the second best Vancouver Canucks. A Penguins fan that is excited about a 3-1-0 start this year is a new Penguins fan. Pittsburgh has been the Tale of Two Teams. In the regular season there has not been a single team that could stand toe-to-toe with the Penguins in a Best of Seven series. Offensive dominance along with solid goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury has been their weapons of choice in the regular season. Come June their goaltender has gone into a shell and sucked his offense in with him. With Tomas Vokoun out for months, the Penguins will need to call on a rookie goalie to relieve Fleury if he ever shows signs of fatigue. Regardless, Pittsburgh has two of the league's biggest stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and are always one of the most entertaining teams to watch during the regular season and hardest to beat.
#6- Calgary Flames (Pacific Division) : If Calgary has had one steady piece to the puzzle over the last decade, it was their golden goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. With his offseason announcement to retire, it seemed inevitable that the Flames were doomed to another year spent watching post-season hockey. Calgary has yet to lose in overtime (3-0-2) and they will be the first to point out the fact that they have no superstars. You won't see any major individual award go to the city of Calgary this season aside from possibly the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year). Aside from San Jose's Hertl, Sean Monahan leads the league's rookies in points out of the gates. He has proven to be an instant piece to Calgary's puzzle. Although the biggest piece retired this offseason, the puzzle appears to be coming together easier with all of the little pieces. Neither Joey MacDonald or Karri Ramo are turning heads with their play in net and the Flames are not dominating the play on the ice by any means, but when push comes to shove they are getting the job done in the win column. That's what it takes to play through June.
#7- Chicago Blackhawks (Central Division) : The champs are here! And they are playing good hockey. Chicago has spent their offseason determined to not soak up their success too much. Their stars have all said their idea of satisfaction is repeating as champions, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the Red Wings repeated in the late '90s. The new salary cap sent a lot of good players from good teams to improving teams, but the damage was minimal in the city of Chicago. Michael Frolik was shipped to the Jets, aside from his departure the Hawks seem to be fully equipped and ready for another playoff run. Don't expect a 24 game point streak or anything huge out of Chicago this year. The sheet to keep your eyes on is the Injury Report. If the Blackhawks can stay healthy and keep playing all around solid play, they will be the team to beat this postseason, regardless of what seed they decide to take. 3-1-1 is how the season has started and will most likely go all year. Chicago will get a very quiet 50-55 wins this season.
#8 Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic Division) : The Lightning were my preseason sleeper pick to win the Eastern Conference. The first ten days of the season has already been a roller coaster ride. The debut in less than mediocre fashion, but have turned around to win three straight highlighted by a shootout win over Chicago. Their last game saw nine total goals, seven for them. That will be a common trend this year as arguably the most electric duo, and easily the most underestimated duo, will produce week in week out. But, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis will have little say in the post season fortunes of the Lightning. Yes, they are two of the most prolific scorers in the league, but that's been the case for years. As of now, Ben Bishop has held his own in the net. If he can manage to hold his GAA (goals against a game) under 2, he will the catalyst to Tampa Bay's potential playoff run. Two of the goalies biggest enemies are on his side; that always helps.
#9- Anaheim Ducks (Pacific Division) : An unlikely reason the Ducks have had little late season luck is the fact that they will not return to the slickest looking team in the league. Last season was a successful one for Anaheim, but with success comes higher expectations. There isn't too much more room between the Ducks's departures and the Stanley Cup Finals. With Teemu Selanne returning for one last season, it's hard not to root for this group as they inevitably return to the post-season. Bobby Ryan's departure hasn't impaired the core unit in Anaheim. The only thing holding the Ducks back is injuries, and potentially goaltending. Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have proven to be worthy of being the Ace on the team, but it seems like once one solidifies himself as the better of the two; the tables turn. Having two excellent goalies that take turns shining is definitely not the worst problem to have. As long as one of them are clicking at all times, The Ducks should easily be the runner up in the Pacific Division.
#10- Carolina Hurricanes (Metro Division) : The Hurricanes have been wheelin' n dealin' for seasons now and all of the pieces are coming together beautifully, but their strongest piece has struggled this year. Jordan Staal left Pittsburgh to play alongside his brother Eric, Alexander Semin brought the success he saw in Washington down to Carolina, Nathan Gerbe has found a new spark since arriving in his new home, and Radek Dvorak is making his potential last stop count; and of course one of the strongest young talents, Jeff Skinner, is continuing to make himself essential to the Canes. The real improvement that will make the Hurricanes a winning team is the young defensive duo Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy. If those two boys stay healthy, a playoff spot is going to be locked in Carolina; a club most have failed to recognize as a threat. Cam Ward needs to rediscover his game; plain and simple. 2-1-2 is a good start for the Hurricanes, but if Ward returns to the goalie he's been in the past, the wins will come in bulk. Anton Khudobin has taken his small window of opportunity and shined as a stand in goalie. That could come in hand in the postseason when Carolina returns this season.
#11- Boston Bruins (Atlantic Division) : The Bruins are a solid team and playing solid hockey. They finally got Jarome Iginla and he does have big shoes to fill as Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton were shipped off to improve two teams that are on the rise. Boston has an excellent mix of young talent and veteran minds along with a beast between the pipes. Because of this, they will be a participant in the postseason for years to come. The window of opportunity for another cup to go with their 2011 cup has sailed. Stars have aged and stars have left the city. The youth is promising, but not championship caliber. The Bruins could definitely see their next few season located in the worst part of the standings; too low to be contenders, but too high to benefit from losing.
#12- New York Islanders (Metro Division) : It's been quite some time since the best team in New York weren't wearing Blue and Red. The Islanders are the team of the future. Evgeni Nabokov is the goalie that the Isles have needed for years, but it's not terribly sad that it took so many seasons for New York to have a stable goalie. In the past few seasons, the youngest team has blossomed several current stars and men that will be serious threats for the next decade. It'd be disappointing for the Isles to miss the post season, but surprising if they navigated their way to the Eastern Finals. The future couldn't be brighter.
#13- Columbus Blue Jackets (Metro Division) : Nathan Horton was the biggest winner this offseason. He got out of Boston as a stagnation was in the makes and made his way west to Columbus, where the Jackets are beginning their climb to heights they have never reached as the league's youngest franchise. 3-1-0 and the season opener defeat to the Flames was a game that easily could have gone to Columbus. There is endless power on offense for Columbus, arguably the best defense/goalie combination in the entire east. The Blue Jackets have a clean slate as they transferred conferences in the off season and have endless potential this year and years to come; it's just a matter of Todd Richards figuring out where to place all of the pieces.
#14 Dallas Stars (Central Division) : The Stars are the definition of a team built from the net out. Kari Lehtonen is one of the league's best goalies and works with an offense less productive than most of the other Aces throughout the league. He has three pairs of defensemen that can hold their own against most team's defensive depth. What is holding Dallas back is puck possession and scoring goals. Tyler Seguin was brought to town specifically to assist Jamie Benn with those two categories. Through three games the Stars are 2-1-0 and Seguin is living up to his expectation and leading the team in points.
#15 Vancouver Canucks (Pacific Division) : John Tortorella moved way west from his seat in New York as the Rangers coach as he swapped jobs with the Canucks coach. He has led the Canucks to a 3-2-0 start including a win over his old team. Daniel and Henrik Sedin continue to lead the city of Vancouver and find new ways to dazzle fans. They continue to pull off moves and plays that only twins could perform as smoothly as they do. In the past five seasons Vancouver has only lost three more games than the league leading Penguins. Winning division crowns have become so easy that fans in Vancouver probably stopped counting. With the realignment the Canucks face new, better opponents and will be challenged all season. They should return to the postseason and will probably do great from the position of the cinderella team. Canucks know that earning the top seed in the playoffs has not brought any post season luck. Keep this in mind: Vancouver's only losses both came to San Jose.
#16 Ottawa Senators (Atlantic Division) : Craig Anderson has had his work cut out for him so far this season. He continues to be the best goaltender in the league, in my opinion. Because of him, the Senators are bound to return to the post season as long as the offense picks up. Daniel Alfredsson's decision to leave town was a heart breaking one and left huge shoes to fill for his unspoken replacement from Anaheim, Bobby Ryan. It will take time for the new additions to mesh with and get the ball rolling. For as poorly as the Sens have played they are 1-0-2. Once the ball gets rolling they will be hard to slow.
#17 Phoenix Coyotes- Offense and Goalie, Mike Smith, have been sluggish out of the gates. Still, 3-2-0 start.
#18 Los Angeles Kings- All around decent game from the Kings. A few misfortunes lead to a 3-2-0 start, but on the rise.
#19 Minnesota Wild- Leading the league in face-off circle. Dominating every game except goals. Goals = wins. 1-1-2
#20 Montreal Canadiens- Lars Eller making a name for himself. Once Price settles, big things await. 2-2-0
#21 Detroit Red Wings- A lot of new faces in Hockey Town, but the Wings not make the playoffs? 2-2-0
#22 Florida Panthers- Recent win over Penguins showed a glimpse of Florida's scattered potential. 2-3-0
#23 Winnipeg Jets- Trouba is the best Rookie Defenseman. Now, where's the offense? Blake Wheeler around? 2-3-0
#24 Edmonton Oilers- An absurd amount of young talent. If Ference can guide them and find a goalie... 1-3-0
#25 New Jersey Devils- Ilya Who? No, Kovalchuck's departure is still hurting, but Brunner is helping. 0-2-3
#26 Washington Capitals- Unstoppable powerplay and offense in general. Gotta keep pucks out of their own net. 1-3-0
#27 New York Rangers- If Henrik Lundqvist is the 'King' goaltender, the definition of King must've changed. 1-3-0
#28 Philadelphia Flyers- Well Steve Mason isn't doing to bad in net. Irrelevant if the Flyers never score. 1-4-0
#29 Nashville Predators- Pekke Rinne can only make so many saves. Maybe the Preds should play offense. 1-3-0
#30 Buffalo Sabres- It's okay, Ryan Miller will get better teammates when the Olympics begin. 0-4-1
My Power Ranking All NHL Roster
LW- Alex Ovechkin (Washington) C- Tomas Hertl (San Jose) RW- Damien Brunner (New Jersey)
LW- Thomas Vanek (Buffalo) C- Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh) RW- Radim Vrbata (Phoenix)
LW- Daniel Sedin (Vancouver) C- Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay) RW- Patrick Kane (Chicago)
LW- Zach Parise (Minnesota) C- John Tavares (New York Isles) RW- Jakob Silfverberg (Anaheim)
D- P.K. Subban (Montreal) D- Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg)
D- Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis) D- Justin Faulk (Carolina)
D- Dennis Wideman (Calgary) D- Brian Campbell (Florida)
G- Semyon Varlamov (Colorado)
G- Jonathan Bernier (Toronto)
With multiple trades and signings during the offseason this year will be a great for hockey. Here are my predictions for the playoffs.
New York Rangers
Last 4 in the playoffs
Nashville New Jersey
San Jose New York
First 4 out
San Jose Tampa Bay
Dallas New Jersey
1. Chicago(16-0-3)- I think it’s pretty obvious why the Blackhawks are #1 in everybody’s rankings. They haven’t lost a game in regulation so far in the season. Plus Patrick Kane is tearing it up on fantasy boards right now. He has 24 points total on the season Also, Chicago is seeing a lot of help from goalies Ray Emery(8-0-0) and Corey Crawford(8-0-3) who have save percentages of 92.7% and 94.1%. This just may be Chicago’s hockey dream team.
2. Anaheim(13-3-1)- Anaheim wasn’t a name placed with the cup a lot this year, but that definitively hasn’t slowed them down. They’re starting to remind people what happened in the 2006-2007 season when they beat the Ottawa Senators to win the cup. Ryan Getzlaf who’s posted 18 points this year, is the team’s leading scorer.
3. Montreal(12-4-3)- The Canadians are starting to look hot again. After failing to miss the playoffs last year, Montreal hasn’t let that get in there way this year. Montreal is currently 3rd in the league with only 2.1 goals against per game.
4. Ottawa(12-6-2)- Ottawa hasn’t seemed fazed by the lockout. They have jumped right back into the season and are looking alive. Only one things missing, Erik Karlsson, who was injured during February 13th’s game against the Penguins. Karlsson took an accidental blade to the back of the leg and has had season ending surgery.
5. Pittsburgh(13-7-0)- The Penguins are playing like the Stanely Cup team again. With Sidney Crosby returing to the ice after his concussion all looked well for Pittsburgh till Friday night’s game
against Florida. During that game Malkin suffered a concussion and has been placed on IR(injure reserved).
6. Boston(12-2-2)- Boston’s #1 penalty killing group has been much needed this year, due to no one player standing out in the points category. But Boston also averages 4th in goals against and 7th in goals for this year. Plus without Tim Thomas, who wanted to take the year off, but was also traded to the NY Islanders for a draft pick, Tuukka Rask has taken net and has a save percentage of
7. NJ Devils(10-5-4)- New Jersey didn’t take much time to cope with the loss of Parise this season. Patrik Elias is currently leading the team with 22 points. But at this point Broduer is day-to-day due to a back injury.
8. Vancouver(10-5-4)-This time last month, Vancouver looked a little rocky. They were ranked 16 and was looking pretty questionable at making the playoffs. They started the month off right by winning 5 straight and have went up and down since then. To make things harder, they will be without Center, Ryan Kesler, who is on IR.
9. Toronto(12-8-0)- The Maple Leafs have been working hard this past month, to strengthen last month’s start. But right now they are missing goalie, James Reimer, who’s played backup goalie, but has 10 starts. But their team is hard at work in the point’s category. They have 7 players with 10 points or more.
10. Nashville(9-6-5)- Nashville is another team who has climbed the ladder this month. From 19th place the Predators gained 9 spots, thanks to the help of their goaltending. Nashville’s goaltending currently ranks 7th in goals against. If Nashville looks to stay in the cup race, they are going to have to tune up in the scoring category. They currently rank dead last in scoring in the
11. St. Louis(10-6-2)- The month hasn’t been so hot for St. Louis though. Even though St. Louis is 5th in goals per game and 1st in power play, they have only won 4 games this month. When a team has 10 players with 10 or more points it’s usually a great thing but their goaltending hasn’t been there. St. Louis goaltending has allowed 50 goals this year.
12. Dallas(10-8-2)- Dallas is another team on the rise, rising 11 spots this month. Even though Dallas has been without starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, he is predicted to return Feb. 28 against
Edmonton. He is the team’s only goalie with a save percentage over 90%. Despite their bad goaltending they’ve only lost 4 games in regulation this month, thanks to their scoring team.
13. San Jose(9-6-3)- February has been a month to forget for San Jose. The Sharks have only won 3 games this month. Even though the Sharks currently rank 5th in goaltending and in penalty kill they rank 25th in scoring in the league. San Jose needs to step it up offensively in March if the look to get back on track.
14. Phoenix(9-7-3)- Phoenix ranks up 10 spots in the rankings this month. But for the Coyotes no one player is leading the team in points. It’s been a total team effort from Phoenix and their three goaltenders that have save averages over .900. Their 85% penalty kill has also been quite a help in getting back on track this month.
15. Detroit(9-7-3)- The Red Wings have been a team that has battled through losing key players to retirement. But thanks to Pavel Datsyuk, Henrick Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, and rookie Dan Brunner picking up all the slack, Detroit has been pressing on. All have 16 or more points so far, and have kept Detroit in playoff shape.
16. LA Kings(9-6-2)- Knock knock. Who’s there? Not the Stanley Cup 2012 champs. As far as Los Angeles goes it’s been more of a defensive year. Their offense currently ranks 19th in the league. But thanks to their goaltending and penalty kill LA is still in contention for the playoffs.
17. Minnesota(9-7-2)- If you were Minnesota you would hope dropping so much money for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would have started to bring some kind of results. In fact it has, and not good results either. Minnesota’s biggest struggle is finding the net where they are 26th in scoring. But on a good note Nicklas Backstrom has been a brick wall when it comes to guarding
18. Carolina(9-8-1)- After uniting two of the Staal brothers, Carolina is looking to be Cup worthy. In fact they currently rank 6th in scoring with 46 points belonging to Eric(25) and Jordon Staa(16)l. But with the Canes struggling goaltending and now leading goalie, Cam Ward, injured it’s up to Dan
Ellis to help keep the Canes on track.
19. Winnipeg(9-9-1)- Winnipeg is still struggling to compete in the NHL. They rank dead last in penalty kill in the NHL, 25th in goals against with an average of 3, and 14.3% powerplay efficiency. If Winnipeg can find some defense and goaltending they should finish okay but only that.
20. Tampa Bay(9-9-1)-When a team leads the NHL in scoring they are usually rock solid right? Not the Lightning. They are being drug down by their struggling goaltending(27th overall). Garon and Lindback have a combined 65 goals allowed this season. But hopefully leading scorer Steven
Stamkos (32 points) can keep driving and finding the net till the goaltending wakes up.
21. Philadelphia(9-11-1)- The Flyers have seen a lot out of Jakub Voracek, who leads the team with 25 points. The Flyers are 9th in scoring, power play efficiency, and penalty kill. No doubt Philly has struggled the past two months but they look to be gaining traction as we head into March.
22. NY Rangers(8-8-2)- The Rangers are not the same team as last year. Last year they fought to the end with Pittsburgh in standings and this year they aren’t fighting much. Although, their goaltending ranks 9th in the league and they also have an impressive 7th ranked penalty kill. And right now no one really knows the situation on Brad Richards or any injury but he took a big hit during the Sabres game at the end of February.
23. Calgary(7-7-4)- The Calgary Flames are hot offensively. They rank 11th in goals per game, averaging 3 goals a game. But their goaltending hasn’t been getting the job done. With starting goalie, Miikka Kiprusoff, out they have balanced between three other goalies. But all their goaltenders are struggling with save percentages around an even .900 or below. With the exception of Kiprusoff, Calgary’s goalie have allowed 46 goals in 15 games.
24. Edmonton(7-7-4)- With Nikolai Khabibulin and Mark Fistric on IR and Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle day-to-day Edmonton has been cursed with injuries in February.
25. NY Islanders(8-11-1)- The NY Islanders have accepted a trade to acquired goaltender Tim Thomas this month in trade for a conditional 2nd round 2013 or 2014 draft pick, but he stated that wouldn’t be ready to play anytime soon. Believe it or not the Islanders are ranked 8th in scoring and 5th in power play efficiency, but their goaltending is their biggest enemy. They average 3.4 goals against per game. If the goaltenders can stop the pucks the Islanders may still have a chance.
26. Colorado(7-8-3)- Colorado hasn’t really looked good in any one category this month. I think overall Colorado needs to step it up as a team. Ranked 24th in scoring, 19th in goaltending, 29th in power play efficiency, and 25th in penalty killing, it can’t get much worse for the Avalanche.
27. Florida(6-9-4)- After only winning four games in February, Florida is still near the bottom of the rankings. And as far as the rest of the season goes I don’t know if much will changed for the Panthers. Their scoring is little to none and as far as goaltending goes, the goals just keep piling up.
28. Washington(7-10-1)- Washington is starting to look to play a little better. Even though they finished February 6-6 they had a couple of needed wins. With wins over the Flyers and the Lightning, rookie goalie, Holtby, is giving it all he can. But in order for Washington to really get things back into the playoff race Alex Ovechkin, needs to be the award winning Winger he used to be.
29. Buffalo(8-12-1)- The Sabres have just had a bad season overall. Mid-way through the month, Coach Lindy Ruff was fired. Buffalo started the season 3-3-1 and looked to be a decent season at that but things just continued to slip away from Buffalo. But after a long February for Buffalo, and a 5 wins Buffalo dropped big in the rankings. Buffalo needs to improve both offensively and defensively to try and turn this season around.
30. Columbus(5-12-3)- Columbus is just looking horrible. Their points leader has 14 points this season. There has been very little offense in Columbus. Columbus needs to find someone to lead there team. It may be mid-season and a little late for Columbus, but they still need to find a leader, and turn things around.
Head coach of the Buffalo Sabres is out due to their 6-10-1 start.
Lindy Ruff spent 16 seasons with Buffalo, in which he became the franchises winningest coach (571-432-162) and the NHL's longest active serving coach with one team.
The Sabres, however, haven't been the same since reaching the Eastern Conference finals -- losing both times -- in both 2006 and '07. Buffalo has missed the playoffs in three of the past five seasons.
Buffalo has only made it to the playoffs 2 of the last 5 years, and have never won a Stanley Cup under Ruff.
Ruff has been replaced by AHL Rochester's Ron Rolston, Buffalo's minor league affiliate, to finish the season as intern head coach.
Rolston has helped lead the USA under 18 team to three gold metals (05, 09, 11).
Former Boston Bruins Goaltender Tim Thomas was traded to the NY Islanders last night.
The Bruins received a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2014 or 2015 draft.
Thomas, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, has played in 378 regular-season games -- all with the Bruins. He is 196-121-45 with a 2.48 goals-against average and 31 shutouts, and ranks fourth on Boston's career wins list and third in shutouts.
Assuming he does not play, Thomas will remain suspended (as he was by the Bruins), and the Islanders will not have to pay him any actual salary. Because he has a 35-plus contract, his salary-cap charge counts regardless of whether he plays.
He also has a 29-21 mark in the postseason with a 2.07 GAA and six shutouts. Thomas won the Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
1. San Jose(7-0-0)- San Jose wasn’t a team anyone projected
to win the cup, but that hasn’t stopped them yet. The Sharks are 7-0-0 and
leading the league with 14 points. Thanks to team leaders Patrick Marleau(3G,
11A) and Joe Thornton’s(9G,5A) 14 points apiece, they have wins over Vancouver
2.The Chicago Blackhawks(6-0-1)- Chicago is ranked #1 due to
their amazing start. Chicago is second in the NHL with 13 points. Chicago
started the season winning 6 straight before falling to the Wild in Minnesota in
a shootout. Chicago’s go to guys lead the team in scoring: Patrick Kane 10
points (2G, 8A), Marian Hossa 9 points (5G, 4A), and Jonathan Toews 7 points
(4G, 3A). And who can forget goaltender Corey Crawford(5-0-1) with 148 saves
3. St. Louis(6-1-0)- The Blues being a sleeper for the Cup are off to a hot start as well. The 6-1-0 Blues are 3rd in the power rankings due to their wins over Columbus, Minnesota, and Detroit; and their only loss being a 3-2 loss to Chicago.
4. Ottawa(5-1-1)- The Senators name has come up a couple of times this preseason. Ottawa is off to a 5-1-1 start with wins over Winnipeg, Washington, and Montreal. Their losses were to Tampa Bay(6-4) and Pittsburgh(2-1 SOL).
5. Boston(5-1-1)-The Bruins, a name that was strongly thrown around with the Cup in the preseason, are 5-1-1 with impressive wins over NY Rangers, Winnipeg, New Jersey, and the NY Islanders.
6. Tampa Bay(5-1-0)- The Lightning was another hot name with the Cup. Wins over Cup favorites Washington, Ottawa, and Philadelphia lands them 6th in the power rankings as they are off to a 5-1-0 start. Team captain Steven Stamkos is second in team points with 11 points.
7. New York Islanders(4-2-1)- Even though it’s still early in the season the Islanders have shocked the NHL. The Islanders are off to 4-2-1 with shocking wins over Tampa Bay, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey. Their losses are to top teams, New Jersey, Boston, and Winnipeg, which helps secure
7th place in the power rankings.
8. Minnesota Wild(4-2-1)- After acquiring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild look good. After their three game slump, the Wild are on a two game winning streak with wins over Columbus and Chicago leading them to 4-2-1. Zach Parise leads the team with 9 points(5G, 4A).
9. New Jersey(3-0-3)- After the loss of Zach Parise, no one really knew what was in store for New Jersey. The Devils earn 9th place thanks to nice wins over NY Islanders, Philadelphia, and Washington. Even though they have lost three, they were all overtime-shootout losses to Boston, NY Islanders, and Montreal.
10. Edmonton(4-2-1)- The Oilers are off to a decent 4-2-1 start. The only surprising wins Edmonton’s racked up are Vancouver and a 2-1 OT win over last years Cup winners, the LA Kings. Edmonton’s goaltender, Devan Dubnyk, has been very hot for the Oilers so far. He has a 92.1% save percentage with 199 saves.
11. Pittsburgh(4-3-0)- The Penguins were a highly talked about Cup contender during the preseason. With the return of a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin from the KHL, the Pens look good again. Pittsburgh is off to a 4-3-0 start with solid wins including Philadelphia, NY Rangers, and Ottawa. Usually people think of Sid the Kid or Malkin when you mention Pittsburgh, but the duo is soon to be a trio. James Neal has stepped up this year averaging a goal a game so far. Hart trophy winner, Malkin leads the team with 8 points(2G-6A) and Crosby with 7(3G, 4A).
12. Toronto(4-3-0)- Toronto is having a good year so far. Toronto’s 4-3-0 record includes wins over Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Washington, all of which being teams with a good shot at the Cup.
13. Montreal(4-2-0)- Montreal, a team that’s not made a strong run at the cup since the 2009-2010 season when they lost in the conference finals, has looked back on track. Montreal could be back on track after strong wins over Washington, Winnipeg, and New Jersey.
14. Buffalo(3-3-1)-Buffalo was a team that looked hot coming off the last lockout in the 2004-2005 season. They went to the conference finals back to back in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 only to fall short of their Cup dreams. This season could be another possible drive in the playoffs. Buffalo has notched wins over Philadelphia, Toronto, and Boston.
15. Winnipeg(3-3-1)-After missing the playoffs in their first season, Winnipeg is looking to turn things around. Even though they aren’t the top team in their conference they do have some good wins: Washington, Pittsburgh, and NY Islanders.
16. Vancouver(3-2-2)-Vancouver has finished 1st in the Northwest the last 4 years, but no Cup. They looked to have a shot during the 2010-2011 season but Boston thought otherwise. With the results of the last couple of years Vancouver looks to repeat but this time hoisting a Cup. But the 3-2-2 start
doesn’t look promising. Their only wins were Anaheim, Calgary, and Colorado. On top of the embarrassing record, veteran goaltender, Robert Luongo, is only 1-2 in his 3 starts.
17. Detroit(3-2-1)-Upon losing Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement, loses of Chris Conner, Garnet Exelby, and Jiri Hudler, Detroit looked downed. This was the same team that set the record for most consecutive home wins last season. With the additions of Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson, and Damien Brunner, Detroit is off to a slow start close wins over Columbus and Minnesota.
18. Anaheim(3-1-1)- Even though Anaheim has beat Western Conference foes Vancouver and Nashville, those wins aren’t saying much this year. Both teams have gotten off to a slow start as well as Anaheim has. Anaheim needs to see major improvement from both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
19. Nashville(2-2-3)- After missing 4 defensemen from last season, including Ryan Suter, Nashville’s defense has been just that, missing. Nashville’s allowed 19 goals in 7 games. After this slow start, will this be another disappointing year for Nashville? Can Nashville’s goaltenders step it up?
20. NY Rangers(3-4-0)-The Rangers wear a big name during the preseason Cup talk. With the addition of Rick Nash things looked like they couldn’t get better for the Rangers. After a disappointing loss to New Jersey in the Conference finals, this year seemed like they had a shot. This year’s losses to Boston, Pittsburgh(2), and Philadelphia look to prove they aren’t the power house this year.
21. LA Kings(2-2-2)- After winning the Cup last year, LA Kings wanted to repeat, but a slow start doesn’t look good. They’ve only gotten past Phoenix and Vancouver. But they fought to the end in a 2-1 OTL to Edmonton.
22. Colorado(3-4-0)- Colorado hasn’t been to the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years. Hoping this year could look better Colorado has spent this season spinning their wheels. Even though they’ve beaten LA and Columbus and lost to the power houses of the West, the scores just haven’t been kind. They’ve been outscored 15-3 in their 4 losses.
23. Dallas(3-4-1)- With the addition of Jaromir Jagr, Dallas thought they took a step in the right direction. But the lookouts have not been nice to Dallas, as they continue to struggle. Wins over Phoenix and Columbus aren’t saying much for Dallas. Kari Lehtonen is struggling for Dallas with an average of 3 goals a game.
24. Phoenix(2-4-1)- Phoenix is off to another slow start. With the addition of a scorer like Steve Sullivan, Phoenix was hoping for the best. But the West hasn’t been kind. Even though a win over Columbus sounds good, the truth is it’s not enough. Phoenix needs to produce offensively if they look to do much better.
25. Columbus(2-5-1)-After the loss of Rick Nash, Columbus is now without their biggest playmaker. And it shows. This team has been outscored 27-13 in 8 games. With two veteran goalies like Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason, this goaltending group has shown a tremendous amount of struggle. It’s obvious that Columbus needs to invest in a good scorer to replace the loss of Rick Nash and get back on track.
26. Carolina(2-3-0)-Carolina is looking to get back to Cup shape everyone thought during the off season when they acquired veteran Forward, Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh, and signing free agent Alexander Semin. But the truth is the only team they’ve gotten past has been Buffalo, twice. Two wins over Buffalo are good wins but a loss to Florida is embarrassing. The Hurricanes need to build on the Staal brothers combined 12 points, Eric(5G, 2A) and Jordan(0G, 5A).
27. Philadelphia(2-5-0)- The Flyers, a team who was also highly talked about when it came to the Cup, has dropped off. After losing their first three games of the season, Philadelphia isn’t looking so hot with their 2-5-0 start. Neither Claude Giroux nor Steve Hartnell have been hot in January, only scoring a combined 5 points(2G, 2A)(0G,1A).
28. Florida(2-5-0)- After a long playoff drought, Florida finally made it back to the playoffs last year, but not very far. After a disappointing lost to Philadelphia in the 1st round, Florida is looking to improve. But with both of Florida’s goaltenders troubling 90.1% and 84% save percentages,
and 27 points allowed, this season doesn’t look promising.
29. Washington(1-5-1)- With the return of veteran captain, Alex Ovechkin, from the KHL, Washington was another much talked about Cup contender this year. But Ovechkin hasn’t shown up yet, or for that matter the whole Capitals team. With a disappointing start and a win over Buffalo, the Capitals need this team to wake up and go to work for Washington to save this season.
30. Calgary(1-3-1)- Unfortunately Calgary hasn’t been a very standout team the last couple of years and this year may be the same. Calgary’s 1-3-1 start lands them at the bottom of the power rankings, but things can’t be that bad. They may have only one win, but that win was over a good Edmonton Oilers team. Hopefully that means the month of February will be a lot kinder to them.