NHL Power Rankings: New York Rangers rise to top spot for first time this season, bumping Montreal Canadiens.
Welcome to the newest installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. After a week on top, Montreal’s beloved Canadiens have been displaced by another Original Six team, the Rangers, who are making their first appearance at No. 1. The surging Blueshirts, who are locked in a tight Metro Division race with the arch-rival Islanders and pesky Penguins, are the eighth different team to lead the field this season.
Our three sage scribes—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak and Sam Page—submitted their detailed choices for the top 10 and dutifully ranked all 30 teams. Our final order has been painstakingly weighted according to results on the ice during the week, strength of competition, a quick glimpse at a pile of burnt entrails (future schedule, injuries), input from random people on the street and how high each club came in on each of our writers’ ballots. In some cases another purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and deplorably unethical method was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers, and inspire you, gentle reader, to angrily question our sanity.
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!
Since Patrick Kane went down with a broken clavicle, the Blackhawks have managed to go 3-1-1. But that hasn’t stopped coach Joel Quenneville from demanding more intensity from his team. Aside from a five-goal explosion against Carolina, the Blackhawks' offense has averaged just a goal per game since Kane’s injury and been shut out twice.
It's easy to forget that the Canucks are sitting in second place in the Pacific. That's amazing enough, but they're also doing it without their No. 1 goalie. Eddie Lack has done everything in his power to keep them clear of the teams that are nipping at their heels, posting a .935 save percentage and stealing more than a few games since stepping into the breech. With Ryan Miller (leg injury) out for another week or two, it's up to Lack to keep them in the hunt.
No Mark Giordano, no problem? Since their captain and once-leading scorer went down with a season-ending biceps injury, the Flames have gone 3-1-1—all on the road—and maintained their (albeit paper-thin) two-point lead over the Kings in the Pacific. Jiri Hudler has carried the bulk of the burden, scoring eight points in Calgary’s last four games.
It's easy to undervalue the Senators, but a team that's allowed only 14 goals while rolling up an 8-0-1 mark in its past nine games deserves a nod. Nice to see them hold off the resilient Flames in that 5-4 shootout win on Sunday, but you have to think that's the last we see of Craig Anderson between the pipes for a while. When you've got someone as hot as Andrew Hammond, you ride him until the wheels fly off.
It might have come too late to save their season, but the improbably early return of Tyler Seguin from a sprained MCL ensures that Stars fans will at least have something to cheer for down the home stretch. Seguin made an immediate impact in his return against the Lightning on Saturday, scoring a pair of goals—his 30th and 31st of the season—and sparking a power play that stumbled badly during his absence.
Goalie Michal Neuvirth had the audacity to play well for Buffalo as the trade deadline neared, going 3-4-2 with a .938 save percentage in February. So he was shipped to a contender in Long Island, seemingly ensuring that not even a hot hand in net could get in the way of the Sabres’ dismal run for the Connor McDavid-Jack Eichel sweepstakes.