By Dave Turner
Another week in the books. The Islanders are hot again and the Vancouver Canucks are looking less and less like a fluke and more like a legitimate playoff contender. Not too much change at the top, where the elite teams have begun to rise.
1. Anaheim Ducks (10-3-3) [No. 1 last week] – Despite an overtime loss and two shootout losses last week, Anaheim hangs on at number one. They play a home-and-home with the Kings this week, which should be some great hockey.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-3-1) [No. 3 last week] – Three more wins for the Lightning last week. They’re playing excellent hockey right now and they’ll only continue to get better.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (10-2-1) [No. 2 last week] – The Penguins have a league low two regulation losses to this point. Sidney Crosby is playing as well as he ever has, with 24 points, (7g, 17a) in just 13 games.
4. Nashville Predators (9-3-2) [No. 4 last week] – They cooled down the red-hot Blues last week. For those who are expecting an eventual crash back down to earth from the Preds, it might not happen. This is a good hockey club, right now.
5. Montreal Canadiens (8-3-1) [No. 5 last week]– The ongoing saga of Rene Bourque may have finally hit it’s endpoint in Montreal. The 32-year-old winger was assigned to the AHL. Despite his excellent playoff run last year, Bourque has done next to nothing, with just two assists and a minus-nine rating.
6. St. Louis Blues (9-4-1) [No. 6 last week] –The biggest weakness for this team over their last two playoff failures was the lack of a big-time netminder. Though he still has a lot to prove, Jake Allen might be that guy. He’s been stellar in net so far for the Blues, with a 1.40 gaa and a .944 save percentage.
7. Vancouver Canucks (11-5-0) [No. 8 last week] – I think it’s time to give the Canucks their dues. They grabbed six of eight points on a challenging road trip, with their only blemish coming against the Kings.
8. Winnipeg Jets (8-5-2) [No. 13 last week] – They might be the surprise team of the season so far. They just keep finding ways to get it done. They got a big road win over the Senators, but they’ll play the next four on the road, as well.
9. Los Angeles Kings (8-4-3) [No. 9 last week] – They drubbed the Canucks and now have their sights set on the Ducks twice in one week. They’ll play the struggling Stars, as well.
10. Detroit Red Wings (7-3-5) [No. 10 last week] – Detroit is staying afloat in what is an extremely tight Atlantic Division. Pavel Datsyuk has been a force since his return, with 10 points (5g, 5a) in eight games.
11. New York Islanders (9-5-0) [No. 17 last week] – I don’t want to call the Islanders a surprise, because their offseason acquisitions really did make them better. Now, the only question is if their success will last.
12. Calgary Flames (9-6-2) [No. 15 last week] – If you haven’t watched this team play yet, you’re missing out. Who knows how long their success will last, but this team is playing fast, exciting hockey right now. Sean Monahan is growing every game.
13. Chicago Blackhawks (8-6-1) [No. 14 last week]– get the sense that the ‘Hawks are running a race where they let an overzealous runner go out and set a pace they know he can’t keep, only to save their own energy. Yes, they’ve started a bit slow, but they’ll ratche
14. Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-2) [No. 16 last week] – They still give up too many shots, but the defense and the penalty kill have been better. David Clarkson already has four goals this season. Last year he managed to score only five.
15. Minnesota Wild (7-6-0) [No. 6 last week] – Not only did the Wild lose three games last week, but they lost 4-1 to the Penguins, 3-0 to the Senators and 4-1 to the Canadiens. Where did the offense that scored four-plus goals in four straight games go?
16. Boston Bruins (10-6-0) [No. 21 last week] We saw some real positive signs from the Bruins this past week. With the rest of their division playing well, there will be no easy nights. They play at Montreal and Toronto this week for a big divisional road test.
And the rest…
17. Philadelphia Flyers (7-5-2) [No. 23 last week]
18. San Jose Sharks (8-6-2) [No. 12 last week]
19. Washington Capitals (6-5-3) [No. 22 last week]
20. Ottawa Senators (7-4-3) [No. 19 last week]
21. New York Rangers (6-6-2) [No. 20 last week]
22. New Jersey Devils (6-7-2) [No. 11 last week]
23. Dallas Stars (4-6-4) [No. 18 last week]
24. Florida Panthers (4-4-4) [No. 24 last week]
25. Carolina Hurricanes (5-6-3) [No. 29 last week]
26. Colorado Avalanche (4-7-5) [No. 26 last week]
27. Arizona Coyotes (6-7-1) [No. 28 last week]
28. Edmonton Oilers (6-8-1) [No. 26 last week]
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-9-1) [No. 27 last week]
30. Buffalo Sabres (3-11-2) [No. 29 last week]