It was another action packed week around the NHL and I think you’re really starting to see the cream rise to the top.
After the top few spots, things get very muddled. You can almost make the case that some of the teams in the middle of the pack have yet to show what they’re made of. The next two weeks should start to result in some separation.
1. Chicago Blackhawks 10-0-2 (22 points) [#2 last week]
There’s no doubt that they’re #1. We know they can score, but it’s Corey Crawford who has been the backbone so far. How good has Crawford been? His 1.62 goals against and .937 save percentage are unreal. If he can keep it up, the sky is the limit for the Hawks.
2. New Jersey Devils 8-1-3 (19 points) [#11 last week]
Their sweep of the Penguins in a home-and-home series capped off a 4-0 week. David Clarkson has 9 goals on the season so far. Adam Larsson has continued to impress in his sophomore season as well.
3. Boston Bruins 8-1-1 (17 points) [#3 Last week]
They gave up a total of two goals in three games against divisional opponents this week. Tuukka Rask looks every bit like a goaltender who could be a Vezina finalist this season.
4. Anaheim Ducks 8-2-1 (17 points) [#7 last week]
The Ducks showed they can tussle with the big boys when they cooled off the Sharks early in the week. They have two lines that are producing at a big-time level and have they found a legitimate goaltender in rookie Viktor Fasth?
5. Vancouver Canucks 7-2-2 (16 points) [#10 last week]
They capped off the week with a three-goal win over the Wild and a four-goal win over the Flames. Corey Schneider had a strong week, which leaves both goaltenders playing well. That’s a good problem to have and they’re scoring too.
6. Detroit Red Wings 7-4-1 (15 points) [#17 last week]
The Wings look like they’re starting to find their mojo. Getting that regulation win over the Kings was a solid win. Jimmy Howard was excellent, stopping 45 shots in the win. A 5-1 win over the Blues and a 2-1 win over the Oilers equals a very solid week.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs 7-5-0 (14 points) [#20 last week]
This team can score. The more I watch them, the more I think they have a good chance at contending for a playoff spot. Phil Kessel has shown signs of life and James Reimer (2.30 gaa, .929 save %) has been steady in goal. I like what I’ve seen from them so far.
8. Nashville Predators 5-3-4 (14 points) [#15 last week]
They seem to have righted the ship in Smashville. Aside from the loss to the Blackhawks, they’ve looked pretty good as of late. The Preds have still been scoring-by-committee; someone needs to step up.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins 8-5 (16 points) [#6 last week]
Losing both ends of a home-and-home is never good. They looked out-classed by New Jersey over the weekend. Are they as good as the team that won five in a row of late, or closer to what we saw against the Devils?
10. San Jose Sharks 7-2-2 (16 points) [#1 last week]
It was a rough week for San Jose as they came crashing back down to earth. Can they get back to something close to the type of scoring we saw from them in the first two weeks?
11. New York Rangers 6-5-0 (12 points) [#13 last week]
Henrik Lundqvist seems to have his mojo back and that’s a good sign for the blueshirts. They’re beginning to get some scoring outside of their top line, with Carl Hagelin and rookie J.T. Miller chipping in.
12. Dallas Stars 6-5-1 (13 points) [#25 last week]
The Stars are starting to play well and their 3-1 win over the Ducks was impressive. Jamie Benn has instantly added some offense and with Kari Lehtonen playing well between the pipes, they should continue to improve.
13. Edmonton Oilers 5-4-3 (13 points) [#14 last week]
Sure, there will be growing pains, but this team is starting to compete well night-in and night-out. Devan Dubnyk has actually been pretty good as of late.
14. Ottawa Senators 6-4-2 (14 points) [#9 last week]
They’ve struggled to score for the most part and without Jason Spezza, they’ll be hard-pressed to turn it around. If Craig Anderson can keep it up, they should at least stay in the playoff picture for a while.
15. St. Louis Blues 6-4-1 (13 points) [#5 last week]
The Blues hot start is a thing of the past. They’ve given up 22 goals in their past four games, while managing only 10 goals for in that same span. Games this week against the Kings and Red Wings will be a big test.
16. Montreal Canadiens 6-4-1 (13 points) [#8 last week]
That was a real dud against the Maple Leafs. They did have two close losses against the Bruins and Sabres this past week. With two consecutive road games against struggling Tampa Bay and Florida, this is their chance to snap out of their recent slide.
17. Phoenix Coyotes 5-5-2 (12 points) [#23 last week]
They’ve been better after their rough start. The most important thing for the ‘Yotes is that Mike Smith seems to be turning things around. If Phoenix is going to be a playoff team, it’ll be because of Smith.
18. Carolina Hurricanes 5-4-1 (11 points) [#22 last week]
The Canes are slowly starting to put it together. They have scoring, but can they get enough consistent play out of Cam Ward? A back-to-back against the Islanders and Devils will be a good test.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5-0 (12 points) [#4 last week]
What happened to Tampa Bay? They’re not scoring and they’ve looked poor defensively as of late. A four-game losing streak erases what was a very strong start.
20. Minnesota Wild 5-5-1 (11 points) [#12 last week]
It’s been hard to get a read on this team. Zach Parise has been good, but where is the rest of the scoring going to come from? Are the Wild destined for another year as a middle-of-the-pack team?
21. Philadelphia Flyers 5-6-1 (11 points) [#27 last week]
The Flyers have been playing better, paced by a great effort from Ilya Bryzgalov (2.27 goals against, .921 save percentage) so far. We’ll get to see what this team is made of over the next two weeks. They begin a six-game road trip on Monday at Toronto.
22. Winnipeg Jets 5-5-1 (11 points) [#21 last week]
The Jets have been up and down so far and they’ll get a huge test next week, with their next three games coming against the Flyers, Penguins and Bruins. For a team that doesn’t play great defense, do they have enough offensive firepower to make up for it?
23. Los Angeles Kings 3-5-2 (8 points) [#19 last week]
Quite frankly, they belong here. Jonathan Quick has been nowhere near his 2012 playoff form and they’ve struggled to score. If they don’t break out of this slump soon, they’ll be looking at another tough road to make the playoffs in what is a good Pacific Division.
24. Calgary Flames 3-4-2 (8 points) [#30 last week]
The Flames have started to ignite, as they won two of the three games they played last week. They’ll get a three game home-stand next week, which could push them over the .500 mark. They’ve played only nine games so far, the fewest in the league.
25. Buffalo Sabres 5-7-1 (11 points) [#24 last week]
This team has been confusing. On some nights they look good and then the next they look out-classed. They need Ryan Miller to play better if they expect to contend for a playoff spot.
26. Florida Panthers 4-6-1 (9 points) [#28 last week]
Right when the Panthers seemed to be turning it around, they laid a major egg in a 5-0 loss to the Capitals. When will we see the grit that this team had en-route to a Southeast Division title last year?
27. New York Islanders 4-6-1 (9 points) [#16 last week]
Just when the Islanders started hot, they came crashing back down. Yes, they can score, but they MUST be better in their own end if they expect to contend for a playoff spot in a deep division. They’ve lost four in a row.
28. Colorado Avalanche 4-6-0 (8 points) [#18 last week]
P.A. Parenteau has been a bright spot, but they’re struggling, winning only two of their last seven games. They need Gabriel Landeskog back.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets 3-7-2 (8 points) [#26 last week]
They followed up a big win over Detroit with three straight losses. There are a lot of growing pains in their future.
30. Washington Capitals 3-8-1 (7 points) [#29 last week]
What a train-wreck the Caps have been so far. There’s too much talent for them to be THIS bad. Maybe their 5-0 win over the Panthers is the beginning of a turnaround.