|NHL Power Rankings 11/18||11.19.09 at 7:47 am ET|
As the NHL nears the quarter mark of the season, the WEEI power rankings sort things out.
1. 14-5-0 The Devils are tough on the road (9-1) and just rounding into form under Jacques Lemaire, posting an 8-2 mark in their last 10. Strong start for forward Zach Parise, 24 points in 19 games, a plus-13. Martin Brodeur has started 17 of 19 and posts a .920 save percentage.
3. 13-4-4 Return of MVP Alex Ovechkin gets high-powered Caps offense (league-best 83 goals) back on track.
4. 12-5-2 The Blackhawks are starting to click on all cylinders. Cristobal Huet is getting things done in goal, (2.25 GAA). They have the best penalty-killing in the league. Duncan Keith (15 points in 19 games) is sixth in the league in scoring by defensemen.
5. 13-6-3 The Avalanche may be coming back to earth after a surprising start. The Avs are just 5-4-1 in the last 10 games. Center Ryan O’Reilly is third in rookie scoring (15 points) but was minus-3 in a loss Wednesday.
6. 12-5-1 Look out, the Sabres are starting to settle into the division lead. And wrestling it back from 6-foot-8 rookie defenseman Tyler Myers (averaging 21 minutes of ice time) could be a tall order.
7. 12-5-2 The Flames’ leading scorer is Rene Bourque (21 points). Enough said. Specials teams is in the middle of the pack. Must be the goaltending — as in, Miikka Kiprusoff and his .921 save percentage.
8. 13-8-2 Decent (3-2) road trip, then a stumble at home Wednesday to the Flyers. Anze Kopitar is atop the league in scoring, but he was shut down in a loss to the Flyers.
10. 14-7 The Penguins’ last-second comeback and OT win against Bruins gets the defending champs back in the groove. Getting that Malkin guy back doesn’t hurt.
11. 12-5-1 Nice win Wednesday in LA to start a West Coast swing for the Flyers, who had been 7-3 in their last 10. Steady as it gets for defenseman Chris Pronger — 17 points in 18 games, a plus-14.
12. 11-6-2 Rick Nash is getting it done offensively (13 goals, 11 assists) for the Blue Jackets, but a minus-7 rating? Calder winner Steve Mason, with a horrific 3.67 GAA and .879 save percentage, is being badly outplayed by Mathieu Garon (2.46, .923).
13. 8-4-6 The talent is starting to shine in the Sunshine State. All those who said Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki would post anything near a 1.93 GAA and .939 save percentage, please step forward.
14. 8-6-7 It’s Matt Moulson time on the Island. His 10 goals rank as tops on the team. Number 1 pick John Tavares leads the team and all NHL rookies in scoring (19 points in 21 games). Gritty win against the B’s.
15. 10-6-1 Ilya Kovalchuk returns, and the Thrashers take flight. Maxim Afinogenov (17 points in 17 games) was a nice under-the-radar free agent signing. In goal, Ondrej Pavelec (.917 SP) has been solid. You knew that, right?
17. 9-5-6 No one dances into securing one standings point like the Stars. Just don’t lose in 60 minutes, baby. Second-year winger James Neal already has 11 goals.
18. 12-9 Ilya Bryzgalov (2.04 GAA) and a veteran defense keep things level for the Coyotes in the desert. Offense still is a problem. Two defensemen, Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin, are among the team’s point leaders. Not a good thing.
19. 11-10-0 Meandering along at .500 is not where the Canucks want to be, but playing without Roberto Luongo in goal for two weeks makes it not so bad.
20. 10-8-1 They’re starting to find the right chord in Music City, as the Preds are 7-3 in their last 10. Solid second season for goalie Pekka Rinne (2.40 GAA, .914 SP)
21. 9-6-3 The Senators are not the power they once were. But they’re no pushover either. Daniel Alfredsson is generating his usual point per game (19 points, 18 games), but Johnathan Cheechoo (1 goal) is hardly making fans forget about Dany Heatley.
22. 8-8-4 The Bruins have been treading water until their top-line players return, but that project is just about complete. Considering the scoring woes and stretches of lackluster play, .500 is not a bad place from which to get back into winning form.
23. 10-11-1 Looking for offense, the Habs added Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez. The result? Tomas Plekanec leads the team in scoring. Defensively, Roman Hamrlik sets the tone, logging a team-high 25:26 of ice time. Au revoir.
24. 8-9-2 You could do a lot worse than counting on Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun (.921 SP) to carry you into the playoffs. You probably could do a lot better than expecting leading scorer Steven Reinprecht (15 points) to do the same. Just saying.
25. 7-12-2 Those boring wins under former coach Jacques Lemaire are not looking so bad now for the Wild. Derek Boogaard is still looking for his first point of the season. To the extent he looks for points.
26. 6-10-3 Who would have thought that trading monster Chris Pronger and other key defenders would result in an awful defensive team. Couldn’t see that one coming. Corey Perry‘s current 12-game point streak (17 points) is the best in the league this season. It could win him a trip to the Vancouver Olympics.
27. 9-10-3- A third-period rally allowed the Oilers to end a four-game losing streak Wednesday. It was just the third win for Edmonton in the last 13 games. Much-maligned offer sheet signee Dustin Penner finally is showing his worth, leading the team in scoring (23 points).
28. 3-11-5 Toronto still is waiting for that Phil Kessel infusion (5 goals, 3 assists in 7 games) to lead to wins. The Leafs are just 2-5 since No. 81 jumped into the lineup. Then again, they have twice as many wins with him as without.
29. 6-8-4 The hottest team in the league after December last season is frozen in a bad place so far this year. Fewest goals scored in the league — on a team with Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes? Them’s the Blues.
30. 3-12-5 The Hurricanes are heading south, probably farther than Aaron Ward (minus-11) had in mind.