The Anaheim Ducks have landed at No. 1 in SI.com's NHL Power Rankings for the first time since early November, the Anaheim Ducks.
Welcome to the latest installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. For the first time since early November, the Ducks hold the top spot, becoming the fourth different No. 1 of the past month. Our three scribes—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak and Brian Cazeneuve—submitted their choices for the league’s top 10, and ranked all 30 teams. The rankings have been weighted according to guidance from a ouija board, the mean barometric pressure in Saskatoon during the week and how high each club came in on our writers’ ballots. In some cases a purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and no doubt despicable method was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers, and antagonize you, our gentle readers.
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!
The Penguins fell out of the top 10 for the first time all season. Having won just four of their last 12 games, they suddenly look a bit ordinary in the competitive Metropolitan Division. After blowing a lead and losing 6–3 to the Islanders last Friday, followed by a 5–2 loss to the Rangers, Pittsburgh’s division record fell to 6-8-3. One bright spot, though, is David Perron, who has five goals in six games since he came over in a trade with the Oilers.
Even after suffering consecutive road losses in Nashville and Dallas, Washington still looks like a team that is capable of inflicting serious damage. Alex Ovechkin has scored four goals in his last four games and has even been spotted backchecking with some consistency. The puck all but follows Nick Backstrom around the ice. And Braden Holtby—for our money, the most egregious of All-Star Game snubs—continues to make a case for Vezina consideration. He went 2-1-0 last week, with a 1.69 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage—and a shutout of Colorado. Time to pay attention, people.
The Flames have rebounded from a tough stretch with four straight wins, including one over the Kings, which begs this question: Is it really an automatic that L.A. will grab a playoff berth in the West? Maybe not. That 1-2-4 record that the Kings posted during their season-long seven-game homestand is a pretty fair reflection of a team that’s getting inconsistent goaltending from Jonathan Quick, struggling to find its defensive identity and is flat-out brutal on the penalty kill (78.7%, 25th in the NHL). You have to believe that GM Dean Lombardi will look to get some help for the blue linesoon, if only to give this group a hard slap across the face. Los Angeles is a point out of playoff position, but the hockey world fully expects that the Kings will eventually wake up and then subsequently own the postseason. It’s happened before. But when should we expect this revival? Of their 35 games after the All-Star-break, 23 are against teams that are currently in playoff position, and ten are against Western Conference teams that are now at least four points ahead. If I had to make a bet, I’d say that an Eastern Conference road trip at the beginning of February might be the best chance for the Kings to get their act together.
The collapse continues, as Toronto dropped its fifth straight game on Monday, a 4–1 loss to the Hurricanes. Now seven points out of eighth place, the Maple Leafs’ postseason hopes are crumbling with every game. They’ve already ticked off their fans and gotten their coach fired. What’s an organization to do? Momentously huge decisions await this franchise during summer—if not sooner.
Buffalo has dropped 11 straight games, but would another league take the Sabres if they wanted to abandon the NHL for easier competition? And this is how bad things are: According to SportsClubStats.com, the Sabres could finish the season on a 26-4-5 tear—an .814 winning percentage—and still place no better than 10th in the East. Our prayers go out to the sales staff at First Niagara Center.