The Nashville Predators, perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2014-15 season, have held on to their No. 1 spot in SI.com's NHL Power Rankings.
Welcome to the newest installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. After six weeks of change at the top the Predators, perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2014-15 season, have held on to their No. 1 spot.
Our three sage scribes—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak and Sam Page—submitted their detailed choices for the top 10 and ranked all 30 teams. Our final order has been carefully weighted according to results on the ice during the week, strength of competition, astrological forecasts (future schedule), a series of tosses at the newsroom dart board, spiritual guidance from The Great Beyond via our official NHL-sanctioned ouijaboard, and how high each club came in on each of our writers’ ballots. In some cases another purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and undeniably shameful method was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers, and elevate your blood pressure to dangerous levels.
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 duly noted. So without further ado, commence to stew!
No one's calling the Flames a team of destiny yet ... but it feels like almost a matter of time, doesn't it? This ragtag bunch continues to amaze with a resiliency that's led to a +34 differential in third period goals and a league-best 10 wins when trailing after two periods. You can pick this team apart all day long, but Calgary is proving to be more than the sum of its parts. Don't sleep on these guys.
Is it time to start believing in the Kings again? Five straight wins may signal the start of their seemingly annual march. And a march it will have to be. With 16 of their last 26 games on the road, Los Angeles will have to be a much better away team (currently 7-12-6) if it has any chance of making it to the postseason. Of course, long odds never seem to phase this team. This is still the one that clawed its way back from a 0-3 playoff series hole, won three Game Sevens all on the road last year and almost went undefeated on enemy ice during the 2012 playoffs.
When it comes to the Wild, I wish there was something else to talk about other than the healing powers of goaltender Devan Dubnyk, but come on. Looking at its past couple of games, this is a team that moves the puck with the dexterity of squirt house leaguers and gives up way too many shots. And yet there's Dubnyk, making all the stops he should be making and a few he shouldn't.
When it comes to the nightmare scenario of losing their top center and best player, the Stars are better situated than most teams. They are deep, deep, deep down the middle. Jason Spezza is an experienced and capable No. 1 and has some chemistry with Jamie Benn. Cody Eakin brings a strong two-way game to the second unit while crafty veterans Vernon Fiddler and Shawn Horcoff can lock down the third and fourth lines. But while those four can handle the minutes, they can't replace the shots. Seguin at his best is a volume shooter, someone who can and will score from anywhere on the ice. None of the other guys is anything close to a sniper, so they need to generate shots. A lot of 'em. And pray that the next month goes by fast.
Toronto's playoff hopes have all but died, but now begins the rebuild. It begins with stockpiling first-round draft picks, which G.M. Dave Nonis got from Nashville for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli from. You get the sense that he's not done selling yet, and with enough moves, could the Leafs put themselves in a position to go for top draft prospects Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel? Sitting in 26th place in the league, and having won just one of their last 15 games, you get the sense that maybe it’s an achievable goal.