The streaking St. Louis Blues are No. 1 in SI.com's post All-Star Break NHL Power Rankings.
Welcome to the latest installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the carousel at the top continues to spin with a fifth different No. 1 since the end of December. This time the rampaging Blues have displaced the Ducks who had displaced the Predators who had displaced the Canadiens who had ended the Blackhawks’ four-week stay at No. 1. Our three scribes—Allan Muir, Brian Cazeneuve, and Sarah Kwak—submitted their detailed choices for the league’s top 10, and ranked all 30 teams. Our final rankings have been weighted according to guidance from our official NHL-sanctioned ouija board, the price of pork bellies divided by the average snowfall in Moose Jaw last week and how high each club came in on our writers’ ballots. In some cases a purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and undeniably loathsome 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 both the Middle 10 and Bottom 10. Weekly movement up or down has been noted. So without further ado, commence to stew!
With two 4–0 defeats in their last three games, the Penguins are showing the wear of the season and it’s safe to say they’ve hit a slump, going 2-4-2 since mid-January. Remember their great power play that couldn’t be stopped earlier in the season? It is now down to sixth-best in the NHL, just a tick ahead of Arizona. Sidney Crosby has no goals and a lone assist to show for his last five games, and only four goals in his last 13. He's also –4 for 2015. With Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup, Pittsburgh needs its captain to avoid a long slump. With a swing through Western Canada coming up, the Pens will be looking to get for more consistent offense from him.
Three big wins last week over the Kings, the Ducks and the Blackhawks showed that the Sharks can turn it up against the big boys. We’re a little concerned about their lapses against lesser opponents, though. The shootout loss to the Oilers on Monday night wasn’t the first time that San Jose had been pushed around by a bottom feeder. It’s on coach Todd McLellan to keep his fish focused.
The Jets, having dropped their last three games (and giving up 15 goals in the process), are seeing their once rock-solid position in the West’s top 8 begin to soften. They hold a six-point cushion for the wild card, but it seems that their playoff hopes will rest on their goaltending. Undrafted rookie Michael Hutchinson has been a revelation (with a 1.90 goals-against and a .935 save percentage in his first 21 games), but in his last two starts, he’s allowed nine goals.
For Wild fans, Arizona may be considered an outpost of heaven because goalie Devan Dubnyk has been a godsend. Since he was traded from the Coyotes on January 14, Minnesota has gone 5-1-1, pulling out of what seemed to be a death spiral. Also helpful: Zach Parise has regained his scoring touch, with seven goals in his last seven games.
Alas, Los Angeles is fading. Could the defending Cup champ actually miss out on spring hockey?
With seven losses in their last eight games and an eight-point gap separating Florida from the East’s second wild card slot, this next week should pretty much tell the playoff story for the Cats. If they can secure five of six points from the Kings, the Predators and the Ducks at the BB&T Center this week, they’ll be right back in the mix. If not, will be time to strip this thing for parts.
Philadelphia is, well, not quite flying, but it’s certainly improving, with four straight wins and perhaps one last gasp at a playoff run.
Jakub Voracek said during the All-Star break that it would take 25 wins in the final 34 games for the Flyers to grab a playoff berth. Hey, only 21 to go. The penalty kill that was murder on their chances earlier in the season might be coming around after killing off 13 of its last 14 chances. If Philly can straighten that mess out, anything’s possible for this team.
Don’t look now, but the Sabres have lost 14 straight. How bad would this team be without its 6–1 record in shootouts?