For the third straight week, the Nashville Predators hold the top spot in SI.com's NHL Power Rankings.
Welcome to the newest installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. For the third straight week, the Predators hold the top spot, the second time in a row they've been our unanimous choice. But there's been some scuttling about below, particularly the rise into the top 10 of the reigning Stanley Cup champions who seem to making one of their patented late season charges after sleepwalking through much of the schedule.
Our three sage scribes—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak and Sam Page—lovingly 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, a quick glimpse at the tea leaves (future schedule, injuries), spiritual guidance from The Great Beyond via our ouijaboard handcrafted from old WHA sticks, a coin toss or two, and how high each club came in on each of our writers’ ballots. In some cases another purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and certifiably criminal method was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers, and make veins bulge on your forehead and neck.
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!
Sidney Crosby is averaging 1.09 points per game this season, a career low for the vaunted Penguins captain, and his 49.2 face-off percentage hasn’t been lower since his rookie season in 2005-06. And the Penguins’ season has mirrored his—inconsistent and frustrating for a perennial power. Crosby frustration of late seemed to reach a boiling point when the star dropped the gloves in a 2-1 loss to Columbus last week. A light week—just two games until March 4—should give Pittsburgh a chance to regroup. But maybe the best thing that could happen to the Penguins would be sliding into a wild card spot and a possible first-round meeting with an Atlantic Division foe. Pittsburgh has devoured the Atlantic this season, running its mark to 14-2-3 after crushing the Panthers on Sunday. Then again, it might not matter who the Pens face. Patrick Hornqvist scored in consecutive games last week to wake a dormant power play. If they start clicking with the extra man, watch out.
What more can you say about the Wild? They are 13-2-2 since the trade to acquire Devan Dubnyk from Arizona, and 11-1-1 since the All-Star break, they're the hottest team in the game right now. Granted, they've faced a creampuff schedule, but you can only beat the teams the schedulemaker puts at the other end of the ice. And while Dubnyk is getting all the credit, here's a tip of the cap to coach Mike Yeo whose decision to break up his top line a week ago has resulted in a more balanced and effective offense.
Detroit's Jimmy Howard has looked pretty poor since his return from injury. And his breaking-in period needs to comes to an abrupt halt on Tuesday night as he stares down the ultra-hot Kings. Meanwhile, someone tell coach Mike Babcock to #FreePulkkinen.
The Bruins finally snapped their six-game winless streak with an emphatic win over Chicago, but they are still a far cry from where they want to be. And with David Krejci back on injury watch, Boston will have to fight hard to hang onto the second wild card spot—or make a move to fill in gaps in their uncharacteristically iffy defense.
And it's pretty much church for the Stars, sports fans. Needing to win two-of-three over the weekend to remain in playoff contention, Dallas managed to grab just a single point against the Red Wings—and it only earned that one after a third-period collapse so epic that nothing like it had been seen in the NHL since 1934. Expect the Stars to go into sell mode this week, moving Erik Cole, Shawn Horcoff and possibly even the recently acquired Jhonas Enroth.
With the March 2 trade deadline just around the corner, Carolina could make for an alluring trade partner. Defenseman Andrej Sekera’s name has been tossed around, as has forward Jiri Tlusty. But reports suggest that center Jordan Staal is attracting some serious interest from his former team, Pittsburgh. Though Staal has just 14 points in 22 games this season, his former team knows his worth. The Penguins have missed the two-way center since trading him in 2012.