Anaheim Ducks soar to top of Week 6 Power Rankings as Sharks sink

Tuesday November 12th, 2013

Rookie goalie Frederik Andersen has stepped in and won six straight to begin his NHL career.
Kathy Willens/AP

It's a near total Western Conference domination of the Power Rankings this week, and even the most die-hard Eastern fan would have a hard time arguing why it should be any other way.

The records speak for themselves. The West has rolled up a cumulative mark of 73-29-11 for 157 points against the East through Week 6. Eastern teams, meanwhile, are just 40-57-16 for 96 points, and considering the slow starts of the Sabres, Flyers, Devils and Panthers, it's kind of shocking that they've done that well.

While the surprises in the East have been mostly negative, the good times keep rolling out West. The Wild, employing a new, riskier offensive style, have been thrilling their long-suffering fans and piling up the wins. The Coyotes, employing a new, riskier offensive style, are piling up the wins. The Canucks...

Well, you get the picture.

Look at all the key metrics: goals per game, shots per game, power play success...they're all dominated by Western teams who are translating those potent offenses into hot starts.

Can it continue? We'll see...but it's a lot of fun watching it while it lasts.

Here's how the rest of the league stacks up after Week 6.

Notable rise: Dallas Stars (21 to 15)

Notable drop: New York Islanders (19 to 25)

NHL Power Rankings
1Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 2
Anaheim Ducks (15-3-1)
Their Hart-candidate captain is out, they're running with their third-string goalie, and yet the Ducks keep winning. The three victories last week bumped their record at the Pond to 8-0-0, leaving them the only undefeated team at home this season. (Last week: 3-0-0)
2Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 1
Another week, another best-start record for the Avs. Even after their ugly loss to Nashville on Wednesday, they rank first in the NHL in goals-against average (1.75) and remain near the top of the league in goals-scored average (3.38) and penalty kill (88.5 percent). No telling what would happen if they could get that 19th ranked power play on track. (Last week: 2-1-0)
3Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 4
OK, so the Hawks aren't going to win every game, but they sure look like a team that will win every game it wants to. When their big guns are booming -- and they were magnificent this week, especially on Saturday against the Stars -- Chicago looks unstoppable. (Last week: 3-0-0)
4St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 8
They have quietly won eight of 10 to equal the mark for the best start in franchise history through 15 games. Kevin Shattenkirk has put it all together after a rough start. He scored his first of the season against the Penguins on Saturday to run his point streak to eight games. (Last week: 3-0-0)
5Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 7
They hemorrhaged points in the shootout last season, losing six of 10 in the skills session. Now they've taken four-of-five, including each of their last four wins. Adding the crafty Mike Ribeiro has been a coup. (Last week: 2-1-0)
6Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 6
I get that it's hard to change a winning formula, but at some point coach Mike Yeo has to ease up on his lead horse, doesn't he? Ryan Suter has played at least 30 minutes in eight games already, including each of Minnesota's last three. On Thursday, he played 36:51, including 3:53 of a five-minute OT. Crazy. (Last week: 2-0-1)
7San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 3
It's not quite a crater but it's definitely more than a bump in the road. The Sharks have now dropped five straight, and while they've pulled a point out of four of them, their inability to make simple plays in their own zone continues to be a problem. So does the shootout. Logan Couture is 3-of-5. The rest of the team? 0-for-12. (Last week: 0-1-2)
8Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 9
The surprising Bolts are holding down first place in the Eastern Conference, but it's hard to believe their stay at the top will last much longer now that superstar Steven Stamkos appears to be out for the season with a broken tibia. They also lost top-four defender Sami Salo to a lower-body injury, which will test the team's suspect blueline depth. (Last week: 2-1-0)
9Boston Bruins
Last Week: 13
Boston Bruins (11-5-1)
The B's allowed just two goals while rolling up three wins over Atlantic Division rivals, and their penalty kill has shut down the opposition on 22 consecutive chances. Sound like a familiar formula for success? (Last week: 3-0-1)
10Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 5
The offense is in a slump, with just two goals during the last two games, but getting James Neal and Beau Bennett back from lengthy stints on the IR should help. Both returned to action in Saturday's spirited loss to the Blues, but need a bit of time to get back to full speed. (Last week: 0-2-0)
11Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 14
Jonathan Quick rebounded nicely from a pair of lousy performances, shutting out the Sabres and limiting the Canucks to one goal on 26 shots. He should be able to keep the mojo going with L.A. playing four on the road against the East this week. (Last week: 2-0-0)
12Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 10
If the Canucks could have picked only one team to beat during last week's four-game road swing, it probably would have been the Sharks. San Jose had tormented Vancouver, winning nine straight, but even the thrill of the Canucks' 4-2 win was dampened by dropping two very winnable games against the Kings and Ducks. (Last week: 1-2-1)
13New York Rangers
Last Week: 18
With six wins in their last seven games, it looks like the Rangers have put their brutal start to the season behind them. Defense has been the key. Before coughing up three to the woeful Panthers on Sunday, the Blueshirts had held the opposition to two goals or fewer in nine straight. (Last week: 3-0-0)
14Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 11
Maybe James van Riemsdyk will grow into the top line center job in time, but right now the Leafs are really feeling the loss of their top two pivots. They've scored just twice in regulation during the past three games. They could really use something from David Clarkson, who has just one assist through six games. (Last week: 1-1-0)
15Dallas Stars
Last Week: 21
Dallas Stars (8-7-2)
After sweeping their three-game Eastern swing in dramatic fashion, the Stars probably didn't mind seeing the American Airlines Center filled with hordes of red-clad Chicago fans for their "homecoming" on Saturday. The road magic didn't follow them back to Dallas, but they showed enough to suggest they're on the right track. (Last week: 2-0-1)
16Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 12
It's hard to remember the last time a Red Wings team looked this out of sorts. They've lost five straight at home, dropping each of the last three in the dying seconds of overtime. Poor puck decisions are under the spotlight, but the offense needs to start chipping in as well. The power play is on a brutal 1-of-18 skid. (Last week: 0-0-2)
17Nashville Predators
Last Week: 15
Being shut out in two straight is the least of Nashville's problems right now. A team that's always prided itself on defensive integrity has allowed 28 goals against over the past five games, and rookie goaltender Carter Hutton is in over his head (3.53 GAA, .887 save percentage). With Pekka Rinne out indefinitely, the lack of depth in net is killing them. (Last week: 1-2-0)
18Washington Capitals
Last Week: 17
As Katie Carerra of the Washington Post noted, the Caps lead the league in two categories: the power play and coughing up momentum-killing goals. Washington has allowed the opposition to rally within two minutes of a Capitals goal in eight of 18 games. The inability to shut 'em down cost them another contest on Sunday. (Last week: 2-2-0)
19Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 24
It's probably too soon to say the Sens have turned the corner, but three wins are three wins. The defense is finding its way, reducing both shots and chances. The big story though is the development of Kyle Turris, who looks more and more like a legitimate No. 1 center. (Last week: 3-0-0)
20Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 16
The Habs snapped a four-game winless streak by knocking off the struggling Isles on Sunday, but that wasn't the best news of the week. They should get both Daniel Briere and Alexei Emelin back in the lineup in the coming days. Neither are gamebreakers, but both could help even out what's been and up-and-down start for Les Glorieux. (Last week: 1-1-1)
21Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 23
21. Winnipeg Jets: (8-9-2) Forget about the Evander Kane healthy scratch. Back-to-back wins for the first time since the season's opening pair have the Jets feeling good about themselves, especially since they scored nine goals in the process. Now if they could do something about the league's worst power play... (Last week: 2-1-0)
22Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 20
Was Saturday's win over the Isles a turning point? Probably best not to get too excited -- they've owned the Isles, going 11-1-4 against them all-time -- but there was lots to like in the game, including a newly formed and very effective first line and a strong effort from Sergei Bobrovsky. A few more nights like that and the Jackets are right back in it. (Last week: 1-2-0)
23Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 26
The 'Canes managed to gut out a couple of wins, thanks mostly to some strong play from third stringer Justin Peters, who's handled 77 of the last 80 shots he's faced. He's had to be big considering how little support he's getting from the league's 28th ranked offense. Carolina hasn't generated more than two goals in its last eight games. (Last week: 2-0-1)
24New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 27
They looked like the Devils of old last week, limiting their opponents to a single goal over three games. Martin Brodeur earned a pair of shutouts to run his career total to 123, and he probably hasn't had too many easier than these. He faced just 37 shots combined from the Flyers and Preds, a real testament to the defense in front of him. (Last week: 2-0-1)
25New York Islanders
Last Week: 19
It was a lost week for the Isles, who dropped four straight on the road. The 30th-ranked penalty kill was at the root of three of those losses, allowing eight goals, including four on six chances to the Caps. That unit is just giving games away. (Last week: 0-4-0)
26Calgary Flames
Last Week: 22
You can't say the Flames aren't busting their humps (well, other than Sven Baertschi), but you can't ignore that they've dropped five of six, either. At least GM Jay Feaster got a win, snatching Ladislav Smid away from the Oilers. Smid will toughen up their back end. (Last week: 0-3-0)
27Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 28
Just in case anyone got worked up by Saturday's meaningless win over Edmonton, a reminder: The Flyers' offense is on pace to set a new standard in futility, averaging 1.62 goals per game. The previous franchise-low: 2.29 in 1968-69. But hey, Claude Giroux's off the schneid! (Last week: 1-0-1)
28Florida Panthers
Last Week: 25
Two games, two losses. So much for the new-coach bump. Swapping out Kevin Dineen for Peter Horachek is a classic deck chair shuffle that does nothing to address the team's real problem: a paucity of talent. The pressure's now squarely on GM Dale Tallon to fix that. (Last week: 0-3-1)
29Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 29
So, this rock bottom? They wish. Losers of eight of their last nine games, the Oilers are playing like a bullied school kids awaiting deliverance of the next atomic wedgie. Trading Ladislav Smid -- one of the few hard-working leaders in the room -- to make space for loose cannon Ilya Bryzgalov is an act of sheer desperation. (Last week: 1-3-0)
30Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 30
Any boost to this team's self esteem arising from Buffalo's shootout win in San Jose evaporated with a pair of no-show losses to the Kings and Ducks. "That was a disaster to be a part of," said goalie Ryan Miller, inexplicably using the past tense. (Last week: 1-2-0)

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