With week 9 of the 2013 NHL season now complete here are my updated "Power Rankings". These rankings are the result of a statistical formula based primarily on Regulation-Overtime Wins (1 point for overtime loses, shootout wins, shootout loses) and goal differential. Shootouts are no measure of future playoff success. Chicago has been #1 all season, but the Penguins are closing in fast.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (last rank 1): Chicago has been the best team in the NHL this season, but have been slowing down recently (lsoing 4 of their last 10). Regardless, they are still one of the favoured teams to win the Stanley Cup, and with the solid core of young talent on this roster, they will be a contending team for several years to come.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (last rank 5): The Pens are currently riding a 13 game winning streak, and what's incredible about it is that Malkin and Letang have missed the past few games due to injury. Crosby has already won the Hart Trophy. It's over. No need to count the votes.Years from now when historians are looking back at the 2013 NHL season, it will be regarded as the year of Sidney Crosby returning to the rank of best hockey player in the world.
3. Anaheim Mighty Ducks (last rank 3): The Ducks have lost 3 in a row since re-signing Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to monster contracts, but they hold on to the #3 spot. Their best two defensemen have been Beauchemin and Souray, and at the beginning of the season I did not think it possible for a team to be this good with those two players anchoring the blueline. Kudos to Bruce Boudreau, who has to be in the conversation for coach of the year, despite my belief that he is the dumbest coach in the NHL.
4. Montreal Canadiens (last rank 4): I'm still waiting for the clock to strike midnight and for Cinderella's chariot to turn back into a pumpkin, but it is 2am and Cinderella is still partying hard. The most troubling aspect of the Habs success this season is my steadfast belief that Michel Therien is a terrible coach. The fact that his name is mentioned in Jack Adams conversations causes me physical discomfort.
5. Boston Bruins (last rank 2): The big bad Bruins have started to slip, but still remain one of the toughest teams that nobody wants to play in a 7 game series. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have been this team's best players as they and Tyler Seguin are a combined +60, while Horton, Lucic, and Krejci are a combined +4.6. Ottawa Senators (last rank 9): When Spezza, Karlsson, and Anderson all went down with significant injuries, I wrote this team off for dead. They keep winning hockey games, and proving everybody wrong. Kyle Turris and Sergei Gonchar have both been having very strong seasons, while Bishop and Lehner have been great in goal.
7. Los Angeles Kings (last rank 6): After week 3, the Kings had zero players in the top 100 of my player rankings, and after week 9, they have 5 (Kopitar, Carter, Brown, Stoll, Richards). They have been great in the last month, and are doing so with only 3 good defensemen (Voynov, Doughty, Muzzin). They could really use a healthy Willie Mitchell, who continues to rehab a lower body injury.
8. Minnesota Wild (last rank 14): Mike Yeo's job is no longer in jeopardy, after rumblings early in the season that he was on the hot seat due to high expectations. Suter and Parise have been the difference. In the last 2 weeks, Devin Setoguchi has 9 points. They have won 6 in a row and are among the hottest teams in the league right now.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (last rank 7): The biggest story on this team this season is Nazem Kadri, who came in as the 14th best player in the NHL this season in my latest player rankings. They suffered a 5 game losing streak, but have since rebounded and sit comfortably in a playoff spot with a 7 point cushion. It really looks like this is the year that the Leafs break their playoff drought and finally return to the playoffs.
10. Vancouver Canucks (last rank 12): I'm not sure the Canucks could even give Luongo away at this point, and they are going to have to do something in the offseason with the salary cap going down. They sit 6 points ahead of the 9th place team in the West, despite a painful lack of scoring depth at the forward position. They might have "2 number one goalies", but they have allowed the 2nd most goals against of any Western Conference team (1 behind St Louis).
11. St. Louis Blues (last rank 15): Don't look now, but suddenly this team's MVP is Chris Stewart, who is finally starting to show the promise that many expected of him. The team is in the 7th spot in the West, and are battling to make the playoffs, a significant decline for a team that nearly won the President's Trophy last season.
12. Detroit Red Wings (last rank 11): Back to back wins against the Mighty Ducks has made a huge difference for this team, which would be in a perilous position had they lost those games. You can start engraving Pavel Datsyuk's name on the Selke Trophy. He should be nominated for the Hart, an award that Sidney Crosby has already won. Jimmy Howard has been great in net, and you never hear anyone talk about him being a pending UFA.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (last rank 8): Alex Semin gets a 5 year $35M contract? Yes he's playing great hockey right now, but 5 years is a lot of term to give to a guy with a history of giving up on his team. They are currently sitting outside of a playoff spot, and if they miss, the Cam Ward injury will be the biggest reason.
14. New Jersey Devils (last rank 19): Losing Ilya Kovalchuk is going to hurt this team significantly, as his 30 minutes of ice time per game is going to be tough to fill. They are currently sitting 4 points up on the 9th place team in the East, which will be difficult to sustain without their best player.
15. Washington Capitals (last rank 23): Don't look now, but Alex Ovechkin is once again one of the league's best players. He has slowly been getting better each week of the season, after a sluggish start, and suddenly this team is once again contending for a playoff spot. One thing is for certain, they are better than Philly.
16. Dallas Stars (last rank 13): For a team fighting to make the playoffs, they sure seem eager to trade active assets for draft picks and prospects. How good would this team be if they still had Mike Ribeiro? Erik Cole still isn't earning his salary, while Michael Ryder is a top player in Montreal. If they fancy themselves a playoff team, it would make sense to hold on to your top players. Maybe I'm just stupid.
17. New York Rangers (last rank 10): John Torterella might be the next coach fired (unless Laviolette beats him to it), as this team has not responded well to Torts last public thrashing of his players. He might have lost the room with those words. Rick Nash is not the problem, as he has easily been the Rangers best player this season. It is Gaborik and Richards who have been serious disappointments. They need Marc Staal back, and they need him bad.
18. Tampa Bay Lightning (last rank 18): The coach got fired, if for no other reason because he can be fired. In reality Anders Lindback probably deserved to fired more than Boucher, but clearly this has been an under-achieving team. They need a goalie badly. Yzerman should be talking to Mike Gillis about Roberto Luongo. They sit 3rd worst in the NHL for points, but still 18th in my Power Rankings because they have scored the 4th most goals in the league.
19. Winnipeg Jets (last rank 20): Just when it looks like the Jets have a one-way ticket to the playoffs, they lose back to back games to Washington and are suddenly looking vulnerable. Fortunately they are on top of a division where all 4 of the other teams are sitting outside the playoffs looking in. Carolina has been slipping, which has allowed the Jets some breathing space.
21. San Jose Sharks (last rank 16): Sitting in the 8th playoff spot in the West after such a tremendous start, speculation is that the Sharks are going to be a seller at the trade deadline. They just shipped Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh, and are rumoured to be shopping Ryan Clowe. It's weird how a playoff team will start unloading assets that can help them in the playoffs. Do they want to make the playoffs?
22. Phoenix Coyotes (last rank 17): They will not make the playoffs, attendance will continue to dwindle, the NHL will continue to own the team losing millions of dollars, and eventually this franchise will leave Arizona. Guaranteed.
23. NY Islanders (last rank 25): The Islanders are battling for a playoff spot, just 2 points behind the Rangers. They are 8-4 on the road, and 6-11 at home. There is no shortage of talent on this roster, if they can ever get their shit together, they could be a dangerous team.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (last rank 27): Sergei Bobrovsky probably won't win the Vezina, but the discussion makes me look smarter for drafting him in my 20 team fantasy league. Goalie Bob has been the biggest story on this team this season, as I have their best player being Vinny Prospal, ranked at 150th overall in my latest NHL player rankings. Mark Letestu came in at #165. The goalie deserves 98% of the credit for any success this team has had.
25. Philadelphia Flyers (last rank 24): They are not as good as last year, and their weakness on the blueline is the reason that this team will miss the playoffs in 2013. They are a Shea Weber or a Ryan Suter away from being a top 10 team, sadly there are no such players currently available.
26. Calgary Flames (last rank 26): Sell sell sell sell sell sell sell!!!!!!
27. Edmonton Oilers (last rank 28): So much talent, so little time. They should consider shopping RN Hopkins for a Marleau or Thornton type player. They need more effective veterans to lead this young team. They also need a goalie badly. Devan Dubnyk will never be a legit #1 goalie in this league.
28. Buffalo Sabres (last rank 29): With the return of Ville Leino they have won 3 in a row and sit 3 points out of the turtle race for 8th in the East. They might be better than Philly, but that might not be saying much.