Power Rankings: Blackhawks still No. 1 with Ducks, Pens in hot pursuit

Tuesday December 23rd, 2014
NHL
NHL's best impact moves of 2014
 and Sam Page—submitted their choices for the league's Top 10. The rankings for the all 30 teams have been weighted according to ancient Babylonian accounting principles as well as 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!
1
1Chicago Blackhawks
last week:  1
record: 23-9-2

Last week: 2-0-1

2
2Anaheim Ducks
last week: 2
record: 23-8-5

Last week: 2-2-0

3
3Pittsburgh Penguins
last week: 4
record: 22-6-5

Last week: 2-0-1

4
4Nashville Predators
last week: 5
record: 22-8-2

Last week: 3-0-0

5
5New York Islanders
last week: 8
record: 23-10-0

Last week: 2-0-0

6
6St. Louis Blues
last week: 3
record: 21-9-3

Last week: 1-1-1

7
7San Jose Sharks
last week: 7
record: 19-11-5

Last week: 2-0-1

8
8Detroit Red Wings
last week: 9
record: 17-8-9

Last week: 0-1-2

9
9Tampa Bay Lightning
last week: 6
record: 20-11-4

Last week: 1-1-1

10
10Montreal Canadiens
last week: 11
record: 21-11-2

Last week: 2-1-0

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Nash a smash: With 20 goals, Rick Nash has helped the Rangers recover from their stumbling start.
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

After the last couple of seasons, nothing could be funnier than the 2014-15 Canucks, who have has everything except goaltending. I think Ryan Miller will figure it out, but until then, keeping laughing, Roberto.

Also causing mirth, at least in New York, is Rick Nash, one of the league’s great comeback stories. He ranks second in the NHL with 20 goals and is just six points shy of his output for all of last season. Now the Rangers are starting to look like a comeback story, too. New York did not have the feel of a Stanley Cup finalist last season, but the team rolled at the right time. This year, the club opened the season like a tired team that had exhausted all of its bullets last spring. Both Nash and keeper Henrik Lundqvist have picked up their games–Nash from the outset and Lundqvist after a slow start. With that, the Rangers are currently wielding the league’s longest win streak, at six games. This club probably won't reach the final again, but it should return to the playoffs.

NHL
SI's favorite hockey stories of 2014

Let’s give some love to the Jets for taking points in 10 of their last 11 games, including six wins. It’s especially impressive when you consider the injuries to the team’s hobbling defensemen. Winnipeg recently picked up Jay Harrison from Carolina after placing Jacob Trouba on IR. He joins Mark Stuart, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian on the long injured list that hasn’t seemed to slow the team.

In Los Angeles, center Anze Kopitar has jolted awake, it seems, after plodding along through most of the first two months of the season. He followed a five-point game against St. Louis with three assists against Arizona, and with nine points in his last three games, he almost doubled his season output last week. His re-awakening is pivotal for the Kings.

And as they get ready to host their first Winter Classic, the Capitals are coming off their best stretch of the season, taking points in nine straight games. Braden Holtby turned in a gem of a game against Ottawa on Monday night in which he turned back 38 of 39 shots and made a highlight-film glove snare of Clarke MacArthur’s blast from the right circle in the first period. Holtby has been playing with confidence lately. He gave up four goals in three straight games back in early November, but has done that in only two other games since then, a span of 19 appearances.

 

11
11Vancouver Canucks
last week: 13
record: 20-11-2

Last week: 2-1-0

12
12New York Rangers
last week: 17
record: 17-10-4

Last week: 3-0-0

13
13Winnipeg Jets
last week: 16
record: 17-10-7

Last week: 2-0-1

14
14Los Angeles Kings
last week: 12
record: 17-11-7

Last week: 2-1-1

15
15Washington Capitals
last week: 19
record: 17-10-6

Last week: 3-0-1

16
16Toronto Maple Leafs
last week: 10
record: 19-12-3

Last week: 1-3-0

17
17Florida Panthers
last week: 21
record: 15-9-8

Last week: 3-1-0

18
18Boston Bruins
last week: 18
record: 17-14-3

Last week: 2-1-1

19
19Dallas Stars
last week: 23
record: 14-13-5

Last week: 3-0-0

20
20Minnesota Wild
last week: 14
record: 0-1-2

Last week: 0-1-2

Calgary, one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the early season has now unceremoniously tumbled from fourth in the West to ninth, with one win in its last nine games. The Flames' superb comeback against the Kings on Monday night kept them from falling further, but has this team’s early success run dry? Perhaps reality has caught up; certainly the Calgary's scoring hasn’t kept pace. Can the Flames right their sinking ship? They’d better hope that coach Bob Hartley knows how, given that they just renewed his contract last week. 

As clubs at the very bottom gear up to watch the start of the World Junior Championship, the temptation to play their assistant coaches in goal to make it easier to land one of those top draft picks next June will only intensify. If any other set of circumstances had led us to this point, it would be super cool to dream of McDavid's 97 joining Gretzy's 99 in Edmonton's rafters one day. But in this reality, we'd rather the Oilers have their draft pick taken away for consistent, egregious bungling.

21
21Calgary Flames
last week: 15
record: 18-15-3

Last week: 1-2-1

22
22Philadelphia Flyers
last week: 25
record: 13-14-6

Last week: 2-1-1

23
23Columbus Blue Jackets
last week: 20
record: 14-16-3

Last week: 2-1-1

24
24Ottawa Senators
last week: 22
record: 14-14-6

Last week: 2-2-0

25
25Colorado Avalanche
last week: 27
record: 12-13-8

Last week: 2-0-1

26
26New Jersey Devils
last week: 26
record: 12-17-6

Last week: 1-2-0

27
27Buffalo Sabres
last week: 24
record: 13-18-3

Last week: 0-2-1

28
28Carolina Hurricanes
last week: 29
record: 9-20-4

Last week: 1-2-1

29
29Phoenix Coyotes
last week: 29
record: 11-18-4

Last week: 1-2-0

30
30Edmonton Oilers
last week: 30
record: 7-20-7

Last week: 0-1-2

 

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