There has been some movement in the latest power rankings as we enter the month of November. While most traditional powers muddle around during this early period of the season, the other teams are trying to come out of the gate and possibly surprise these stalwarts before they “flip the switch” when it matters the most.
With that, here are the power rankings for the week ending November 5th:
1. Detroit (Last Week – LW: 1) – The Red Wings were surprisingly pounded by the Phoneix Coyotes late last week when starting netminder Jimmy Howard was sidelined with back spasms. Howard returned to the lineup against the Calgary Flames and the result was a 2-1 win in Calgary. After the Red Wings complete their Northwestern Canada road trip they enjoy a six-game homestand that should further solidify their place atop the standings.
2. Boston (LW: 7) – Tim Thomas continues to be an absolute beast in net for the Bruins. Thomas’ record stands at a perfect 7-0 and his Goals Against Average of 0.72 and his Save% of .977 is other-worldly. It also certainly helps having his teammates outscore their opposition by a combined total of 25-5.
3. Los Angeles (LW: 2) – Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams continue to lead the Kings’ in scoring which in quite encouraging given that their first line hasn’t quite yet gotten untracked. The Kings also received great news that premier defenseman Drew Doughty passed his baseline test and will return to the lineup against Tampa Bay.
4. St. Louis (LW: 5) – Note to the rest of the NHL: This team is legit. Impressive victories against the likes of the Penguins, Blackhawks, Predators and the improving Thrashers serve notice that this team will contend for the remainder of the season and for the future
5. Tampa Bay (LW: 6) – Dan Ellis appears to have established himself as the starting goaltender in Tampa and with one of the most prolific scoring teams in the NHL (3.36 goals per game), Ellis just has to be good enough between the pipes as the Lightning to continue to impress.
6. Washington (LW: 9) – Here come the Capitals (as if anyone was really concerned). While Semyon Varamov continues to struggle with injuries, Michael Neuvirth is holding the fort down quite well. Having one of the stingiest defenses in the league, along with a prolific offensive arsenal certainly doesn’t hurt.
7. Vancouver (LW: 18) – The Canucks have started to emerge from their usual October slumber and have gone on a 4-0-1 run. Roberto Luongo has also kicked it into gear by winning his last two starts, one of which was a shutout against the struggling New Jersey Devils. The return of Alex Burrows from injury should help with some much needed secondary goal.
8. Philadelphia (LW: 13) – The Flyers are also starting to come alive after reeling off four straight wins. Claude Giroux is leading the Flyers in points and all key goal-scoring categories. The concern down the road for the Flyers is their ‘goaltender by committee’ carousel.
9. Montreal (LW: 4) – I witnessed the Habs, first-hand, after they were easily defeated by the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. What I should have done prior to ranking them fourth last week was to see who they’ve beaten. Upon further review none of their victories came against teams with a winning record with the exception of Pittsburgh. Will Carey Price actually be the answer in net for the Habs?
10. Columbus (LW: 11) – I wish I could figure out which Blue Jackets team I am ranking, but as they say, “That line goes around the corner”. Are they the repeat of last year’s disappointment as evidenced by three of their four losses being of the blowout variety, or are they the scrappy team that has won almost all of their games by one-goal margins, which are shades of their 2009-10 playoff team? I do know one thing: Mathieu Garon should remain as the starting netminder until he falters as he provides a steadying presence behind the net.
11. Dallas (LW: 15) – The Stars are getting solid goaltending by both Kari Lehtonen and backup Andrew Raycroft, who posted a shutout win against Buffalo. Brad Richards is pacing their scoring assault as he (+7) and defenseman Stephane Robidas (+10) have posted impressive plus/minus figures.
12. Colorado (LW: 17) – I don’t know how, but the Avs are continuing to win despite the loss of starting goaltender Craig Anderson. A team with great youth, speed and overall grit, the only concerns are for how long can Peter Budaj keep the Avs afloat and how long can the Avs struggle with their penalty kill, currently at a paltry 74% success rate?
13. New York Rangers (LW: 24) – As much as I hate to rank them this high with their injuries to key players, their legacy of horrid personnel moves and their overall butchering of salary cap, I also have give them credit with the play of their young defensive corps led by Dan Girardi, who is logging over 24 minutes to go along with his +6 rating.
14. Atlanta (LW: 19) – The team coined “Blackhawks South” has been hanging in there, posting victories in three of their last four games (3-0-1). The welcome return of starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from that horrid opening night collapse on the ice should help. If only the team’s defense could stop giving up enormous shots on goal totals it would help even more.
15. Nashville (LW: 3) – What an enormous drop in the rankings. Then again, a three-game losing streak contributes to that drop. The Preds problems aren’t in net, with Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback leading the way. Their lack of offensive, however, has contributed to the slump as the Preds have only scored 12 goals in seven games.
16. Chicago (LW: 12) – Memo to Blackhawks’ fans: I don’t want to hear about how your team should be ranked higher. A 7-7-1 mark, not to mention losing at home to the struggling Devils, is inexcusable. The return of Brian Campbell and eventually Marian Hossa should certainly help matters, but the shaky play of their goaltending tandem of Marty Turco and Corey Crawford should be a concern for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
17. San Jose (LW: 16) – The Sharks appeared to have gotten themselves in gear, having scored 10 goals over two games, only to be shutout by the Minnesota Wild, 1-0. It does appear, however, that Antero Niittymaki is their starting netminder, at least for the moment. The Sharks need consistent production out of their big line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley to continue their ascent in the Western Conference standings.
18. Minnesota (LW: 21) – A team similar to the Blue Jackets, the Wild have also benefited by playing the majority of their early-season games in the Xcel Energy Center. Mikko Koivu is paying immediate dividends with his contract re-signing by leading team in points (12) and registering a plus/minus rating of +6.
19. Pittsburgh (LW: 14) – It doesn’t bode well for the Penguins when three of your top point-getters are defensemen, particularly when you have the type of offensive firepower in your forward lines that they possess. Their inept power play continued to worsen with a 0-for-22 skid. Their performance so far doesn’t speak of a top-tier team.
20. Carolina (LW: 20) – While the Canes’ No. 1 pick Jeff Skinner has been a pleasant surprise, the rest of their veteran scoring support has been nonexistent.
21. Phoenix (LW: 22) – The mediocrity continues for the Coyotes as they cannot seem to get on any kind of roll. If their offensive ineptitude continues — particularly from their top line of Shane Doan, Ray Whitney and Wojtek Wolski — then last season’s Cinderella story may have merely been an aberration.
22. Calgary (LW: 8) – After losing three in a row, the Flames are starting to dimmer. Could Flames captain Jarome Iginla actually be on the trading block?
23. Toronto (LW: 10) – Losers of four straight, the Leafs were dealt a serious blow when team captain Dion Phaneuf suffered a lacerated leg, and will be out for four weeks. Their hopeful start could have been a mirage for another possible long season in the most frustrated hockey fan base in the NHL.
24. New York Islanders (LW: 23) – The good news: Rick DiPietro has finally returned from an endless odyssey of injuries. The bad news: DiPietro has finally returned, but has a horrid Save% of .854 and a GAA of 4.27.
25. Ottawa (LW: 27) – The Senators can play defense and are generally solid in net, but their once-prolific attack is a thing of yesteryear. Beyond ageless wonder Daniel Alfredsson, the Sens’ offensive attack is nowhere to be found.
26. Florida (LW: 26) – Talk about inconsistency – the Panthers defeat Montreal and Tampa Bay, but lose to Toronto and Ottawa. They will need Tomas Vokoun to be stellar on most nights to make up for an offensively-challenged bunch, as David Booth leads the way with only four goals in their first ten games.
27. Anaheim (LW: 25) – The Ducks cannot play defense in front of elite goaltender Jonas Hiller and coach Randy Carlyle is considered to be on the hot seat.
28. Edmonton (LW: 29) – There is room for optimism in Edmonton as evidenced by their routing of the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. But until they can score that prolifically on a consistent basis, they will need far more defensive support than has been shown to date.
29. New Jersey (LW: 30) – The Devils did look impressive in their 5-3 victory against the Blackhawks, but the injury to Zach Parise may have put an end to this once-dominant organization’s playoff chances.
30. Buffalo (LW: 28) – The Sabres cannot score, Ryan Miller has been average and they are equally putrid on their special teams. Does all of this put Lindy Ruff on the hot seat?