We are now in the holiday season and the standings are gaining separation as the NHL regular season progresses. Tampa Bay and St. Louis have been two of the strongest teams since the regular season began. Are they both still at the top of the power rankings?
Let’s look at the new power rankings this week:
1. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (1)
2. LOS ANGELES KINGS (10)
3. ST. LOUIS BLUES (2)
4. WINNIPEG JETS (7)
5. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (5)
6. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (6)
7. NEW JERSEY DEVILS (3)
8. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (8)
9. VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (4)
10. DALLAS STARS (NR)
Note: These rankings will change every week
*(#) indicates last week’s ranking
*“NR” indicates “Not Ranked”
THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEK’S TOP 10
-Can anyone stop the Tampa Bay Lightning? They only have 6 regulation losses on the season, which is tied for fewest with the Winnipeg Jets. Only two of those regulation losses happened in Tampa. Those two regulation losses were against the New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks. Nikita Kucherov has 19 goals so far this season, and he is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the NHL’s goal lead.
-The Los Angeles Kings have recovered a little bit on the road. They swept their 4-game road trip, as they defeated Detroit, Washington, St. Louis, and Chicago. The Kings have let in only 61 goals this year, which is 2nd fewest in the NHL. The Kings’ low goals against number is a reflection of how well goaltender Jonathan Quick has played this season. Quick is having a Vezina Trophy caliber season, as he has recorded 13 wins, a 2.21 goals against average, and .930 save percentage. The Kings strong performance is even more impressive considering they are missing star center Jeff Carter. Carter has not played since October 18.
-It appears the Winnipeg Jets finally have consistency in goal. Connor Hellebuyck, 24, has 15 wins this season, and has propelled the Jets to the top of the Central Division. The 2012 5th round pick of the Jets has taken some time to develop, but it appears that the Jets patience is paying off. The Jets have a big lineup at all positions, but they are still one of the most penalized teams in the league.
-The New Jersey Devils made a big trade with the Anaheim Ducks last week, as they sent forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi to Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Sami Vatanen and draft picks. The Devils have been looking for a right-handed shot defenseman since they flopped Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall. Vatanen will come in to the Devils lineup, and he will be able to absorb a lot of minutes for them. Vatanen will likely see plenty of powerplay time for the Devils too. The Ducks needed to make a move at center, since Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler are both on the shelf with injuries. The Devils helped their blueline tremendously, and did not have to pay too much to get what they needed. It was a good trade for both clubs involved.
-The Dallas Stars are new to the rankings this week. On paper, this team is good. They are finally hitting their stride as they have won 5 in a row. The Stars are an excellent team at home, as they have a 10-2-0 record there. While the Stars may not be deep on the blueline, they present a major threat to their division rivals that are slightly ahead of them. Ben Bishop is gaining confidence, and is probably the best goaltender in the Central Division right now. I like their chances to make the playoffs, but they might need to make a move for a defenseman somewhere down the line.
By: George Foussekis