Sunday, December 18, 2011

NHL Power Rankings Dec 18/2011

With the half way point of the season quickly approaching, where do the NHL's teams rank? Rather than make subjective decisions, my rankings are based on a simple mathematical equation accounting for points per game and goal differential. Included in these rankings are the unsung heroes for all the NHL's teams, at least those teams who have any heroes at all...

1. Boston (last rank #1): Unsung Hero: Rich Peverly. While few likely predicted Seguin would be leading the team in scoring, Peverly's 24 points in 29 games is more unexpected. 6 more PTS than Krejci.

2. Detroit (last rank #2): Unsung Hero: This is a tie between Valterri Filpulla and Jiri Hudler. 30 GP into the season, they have a combined 55 PTS. Jimmy Howard is having a great season, hence why this team has scored 35 more goals than they've allowed.

3. NY Rangers (last rank #3): Unsung Hero: Ryan McDonagh, someone few were talking about heading into the season is leading Rangers D in ice time. 14 PTS in 30 games.

4. Philadelphia (last rank #6): They have earned this rank mathematically, but going forward with all these concussions is going to be very difficult for Philly to sustain current success. Unsung Hero: Matt Read has 20 PTS in 28 GP as an undrafted rookie. Scotty Hartnell 27 PTS 2nd on team in scoring. Karma works in mysterious ways, Chris Pronger's career likely ends in the same manner as Scott Stevens.

5. Chicago (last rank #12): Unsung Hero: Ray Emery. It is hard to find a top producer on this team that have not had their praises sung by the pundits, but Ray Emery 8-1 as the back-up goaltender is creating a goalie controversy in Chicago. Nick Leddy is stepping into the void left by Brian Campbell.

6. Vancouver (last rank #7): Unsung Hero: Chris Higgins has been playing terrific hockey for what he was signed to do, scoring 21 PTS in first 30 GP. Jannik Hansen's 10 goals was not sung prior to the season, as this player would be a valuable addition to any line-up in the NHL.

7. Minnesota (last rank #8): This is not the best team in the NHL. Unsung Hero: Mike Yeo. Not sure the coach should be labelled as the team's most valuable piece, but he is getting the most out of an otherwise unimpressive line-up. He's running away with coach of the year.

8. St. Louis (last rank #10): Don't look now, but the young upstart St Louis Blues are climbing up the charts. Unsung Hero: Brian Elliot 16 GP 13 W 1.43 GAA. That's your team MVP and unsung hero as no pundits were predicting this guy to be a Vezina candidate.

9. Pittsburgh (last rank #4): Sid the Kid back on IR with concussion symptoms as this team has been devastated by injuries the last few weeks. Does James Neal qualify as unsung? If so, he's been playing like a hero this season, with Malkin easily the team's MVP.

10. San Jose (last rank #5): Only 4 wins in their last 10 GP, this team is slipping ever so slightly. Nobody producing on this roster is truly unsung, but Joe Pavelski is having a very strong season. Havlat's 2 goals in 26 GP has been a disappointment.

11. Florida (last rank #11): Unsung Hero: Kris Versteeg's 33 PTS in 31 GP is one of the league's biggest surprises this season. Then again blue liners Jason Garrison, Dmitri Kulikov, and Brian Campbell all deserve enormous credit for this team's early success with 58 PTS between the 3 of them.

12. Nashville (last rank #18): The Preds have quietly won 5 in a row as they climb into contention. Unsung Hero: Craig Smith has 24 PTS in 32 GP and is second on the team in scoring. Even Tootoo's 13 PTS in 30 GP is a pleasant surprise from the agitator/goon.

13. New Jersey (last rank #20): This team has won 4 in a row and 6 of their last 10. Unsung Hero: Adam Henrique! 25 PTS in 29 GP easily their biggest surprise. Johan Hedberg has played a lot of games this year and he has outplayed legend Martin Brodeaur.

14. Dallas (last rank #16): A short 3 game winning streak on the back of rookie goaltender Richard Bachman has helped stop the bleeding. Eric Nystrom's 10 goals has to qualify as their top unsung hero, but there haven't been any quality surprises so far this season. Jamie Benn is the early candidate for team MVP.

15. Phoenix (last rank #9): Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata are having great seasons for the Coyotes who have lost 4 of their last 5 games. They did get good value for Kyle Turris.

16. Buffalo (last rank #14): Luke Adam's 20 PTS in 32 GP is probably a bigger surprise than Pominville's 35 in 32. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Ryan Miller is having the worst season of his pro career. They have lost 3 of their last 4, giving up 19 goals in that span.

17. Toronto (last rank #13): They have lost 4 of their last 5, including a loss at the hands of Alex Burrows. Unsung Hero: without question Joffrey Lupul has been the biggest surprise on the roster, and a big reason for Jonas Gustavsson's 9 wins despite a 3.36 GAA. McCarthur and Grabovski have been disappointments.

18. Washington (last rank #19): Playing like a slightly better than .500 team, which might be all that they are. Semin and Ovechkin major disappointments, with D-man John Carlson being the closest thing they have to an unsung hero.

19. Winnipeg (last rank #26): Don't look now but this team is climbing the charts with a fury. They have won 6 of their last 8 games thanks in part to unsung hero Kyle Wellwood, who is having a career year. The Canucks should never have let him go. Evander Kane will finish his career with about 400 points more than Nazem Kadri.

20. Edmonton (last rank #17): This team is regressing to who we thought they were. The future is bright, and the biggest surprise this young season are Eberle, Hopkins, and Smyth

21. Montreal (last rank #22): Unsung Hero: David Desharnais. Not a lot of heroes on this team, but Max Paccoriety deserves a tip of the hat for a strong season.

22. Los Angeles (last rank #15): Blown out by Detroit yesterday, the Kings are struggling mightily with a solid line-up. The Unsung Hero: nobody.

23. Ottawa (last rank #21): Erik Karlsson's 29 PTS in 33 GP would have to earn him their Unsung Hero award, though Milan Michalek's 19 goals have been a surprise. Jason Spezza team MVP. Sens have serious goaltending issues.

24. Calgary (last rank #25): It might be tough to call Olli Jokinen an unsung hero, but given the criticism hurled at him over the years by Flames fans, the fact that he's having a great year and leading the team in scoring is noteworthy.

25. Colorado (last rank #24): Unsung Hero: Ryan O'Reilly. Leads the team in scoring and has been their best surprise. Semyon Varlamov on the other hand has been a huge disappointment for the price they paid.

26. Tampa Bay (last rank #23): Unsung Hero: Marc Bergeron's 22 PTS in 32 GP has been one of the few bright spots for this team. Unfortunately the rest of their D and their goaltending has been terrible. Stamkos is the MVP.

27. NY Islanders (last rank #29): Unsung Hero: Matt Moulson's 15 goals leads the team, and Al Montoya has been respectable in goal. They have the potential to be a good team.

28. Carolina (last rank #27): Unsung Hero: none. This is not a good team, coaching change has not helped one bit.

29. Anaheim (last rank #28): At least Perry and Getzlaf have been producing, but this is a seriously underachieving roster. Selanne is the leading scorer on a team without any truly unsung heroes. In fact lack of secondary production is a big part of the team's struggles.

30. Columbus (last rank #30): Unsung Hero: Vaclav Prospal is suddenly having a great season, lost in the malaise of the worst achieving roster in the NHL. Curtis Sandford is having a career year, though it isn't helping the team move up the standings.

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