The red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins are challenging the Anaheim Ducks atop SI.com's latest NHL Power Rankings.
Welcome to the newest full installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. Once again our three scribes—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak and Brian Cazeneuve—have submitted their choices for the league's Top 10 teams. The rankings for the entire 30-team league have been weighted according to how high each club came in on our writers' ballots. In some cases a purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and no doubt deplorable method was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers, and antagonize the general public. We've presented the 30 teams in groups, with the Top 10 receiving the most trenchant commentary. Overview paragraphs precede the Middle 10 and Bottom 10. Weekly movement up or down has been noted. So without further ado, commence to stew!
In the middle of the pack, we find Detroit, which has been inconsistent lately, beating the reigning champion Kings followed by a loss to the lowly Sabres. Still, the more things change, the more seasons you see the Red Wings back in the playoffs. This could be another march to the postseason. First, hats off to Detroit's penalty killing. The Wings have allowed just two goals-against in 38 times shorthanded. At home, they are 20-for-20. The NHL’s most injured team last season, the Wings are also mostly healthy enough now to do what they do best.
Another notable case can be found in San Jose, where Sharks seem to have righted themselves after a four-game skid last month, winning two of three and getting points out of every game during the past week. Brent Burns, after the failed experiment at forward, has at least retained some of the offensive flair he picked up. He leads NHL defensemen with four goals and 13 points.
Back to the East: In Boston, coach Claude Julien has a new deal and his Bruins have won three of four. Granted, their opposition has been a bit threadbare but the B's deserve credit for stockpiling a few points while half their defense is in the sick bay. And keep an eye on the Panthers. They have clawed points from six straight games (4-0-2) and given up more than two goals in regulation just twice this season. That 1.89 goals-against average looks pretty remarkable compared to the 3.20 they posted in 2013-14. And how about those Jets? Back-to-back shutouts for the first time in team history and just one regulation goal-allowed in their past three games. A brief hot streak or a sign of things to come?