2013-14 NHL Power Rankings: Week 8
This week's edition of the power rankings sees a changing of the guard at the top, as a difficult week sees the Anaheim Ducks tumble out of first place.
But while the team at the top changed, there's a distinct flavour to the teams at the top that has only gotten stronger. The top seven teams on the list, and nine of the top 10, come from the Western Conference.
That's too be expected, of course. These rankings are calculated using a team's overall position in the standings as an anchor point, and the West has been dominant. Seven teams in the league are on pace for seasons of 117 points or more; all of them come from the West.
Overall position isn't everything, though; weekly performance is the other half of the rating, and there have been some shocking ones at both ends of the spectrum. Read on to see how those performances have shifted our list.
30. Calgary Flames
Last Week: 27
Why They’re Here: The Calgary Flames managed to salvage a single point out of a rocky week. That came in a game against San Jose where Calgary was outshot 35-13 but managed to make it to overtime. It was the team's best performance; Calgary fell 7-3 to Dallas Thursday and then lost 4-2 to a 30th-ranked Oilers squad.
By The Numbers: No team in the NHL wins fewer faceoffs than the Calgary Flames. The Flames have won just 44.9 percent of their draws this season, and outside of veteran Matt Stajan (51.1 percent), no regular centre on the team has managed to break even.
29. Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 28
Why They’re Here: Edmonton continues to plummet down the standings, but they did manage to end the week on a positive note, beating the Flames by a 4-2 score in Calgary. That win snapped a five-game losing streak that had briefly placed the Oilers in last place in the NHL standings.
By The Numbers: Starting goalie Devan Dubnyk seems to have found his form, at least somewhat. Since bottoming out in his fourth game of the year (allowing a season-high six goals in a loss to Toronto), Dubnyk has posted a .908 save percentage (and a 4-7-0 record).
28. Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 29
Why They’re Here: The Sabres climb another spot in a week that saw the team's coach and general manager fired. The moves in hockey operations were perhaps less surprising than Buffalo's on-ice performance; the Sabres won two of three games.
By The Numbers: Buffalo's wins required yet more heroic play from goaltender Ryan Miller. In Miller's two starts, the Sabres were outshot by a combined margin of 78-43 but outscored their opponents 5-3. A lot of teams can win games in weeks where their goaltenders manage a .962 save percentage.
27. Florida Panthers
Last Week: 30
Why They’re Here: It could have been a very rough week for the Panthers, given that they played the Ducks at home Tuesday before embarking on a five-game Western Conference road swing. Instead, Florida won two of three, beating the red-hot Ducks and Avalanche but falling to Minnesota.
Tim Thomas was the difference in all the games; he stopped 64 of 67 shots (.955 save percentage) in the two wins but allowed three goals on just 20 shots (.850 save percentage) against the Wild.
By The Numbers: A big part of the Panthers' struggles this season has been a misfiring power play. Florida is the only team in the league below 10 percent on the man advantage (9.5 percent). That has to be one of new coach Peter Horachek's top priorities, but it's worth noting that his previous team, the AHL's San Antonio rampage, have scored on only 11.2 percent of their opportunites.
26. Nashville Predators
Last Week: 18
Why They’re Here: Nashville had a weird week.
The team slides after losing two of three games in week eight, falling to the Islanders and Penguins by a combined score of 7-2. The team's lone win, however, managed to even the goal differential, as Nashville spanked Chicago by a 7-2 score Saturday.
By The Numbers: No team in the NHL can boast a better record on faceoffs than the Nashville Predators' 55.1 percent win rate. Paul Gaustad leads the way with 61.3 percent efficiency on draws, two other centres are over 55.0 percent and only Mike Fisher (48.3 percent) wins less than half his draws.
25. Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 15
Why They’re Here: It wasn't an overly successful week for Ottawa.
The Senators' lone win came at home against a Boston team that had played the night before, and even that required a third-period flurry of goals. On either side of that win were losses: one a 5-0 rout at the hands of the re-energized Flyers, the other a 4-2 defeat courtesy of Columbus.
By The Numbers: Shockingly, the Senators are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for dead last in the NHL in shots against per game, at 36.0. It's an astonishing number for people (such as yours truly) that still instinctively associate the Sens with Jacques Martin's brand of defensive hockey.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 26
Why They’re Here: The Blue Jackets climb slightly after a strange week that saw them lose three of four games but pick up points in all of them. Columbus dropped overtime decisions to Washington and Boston, then it lost in a shootout to Montreal before toppling Ottawa by a 4-1 score Sunday.
By The Numbers: The Blue Jackets' somewhat surprising scoring leader is none other than defenceman James Wisniewski, who with 16 points has already topped his production from all of last season. Wisniewski hasn't performed as expected since signing a big-money deal in Columbus, but he's performing very well early.
23. New York Rangers
Last Week: 16
Why They’re Here: As long as the opposition didn't score in week eight, the New York Rangers got along just fine. In three games, the Blueshirts managed a paltry three goals, winning a game against Montreal Saturday when the Habs proved unable to post any offence.
In all fairness, some of the blame lies with the opposing goalies New York faced. The worst goaltending performance the team saw came from Martin Brodeur, who turned aside 33 of 35 shots for a .943 save percentage. Carey Price stopped 33 of 34 for Montreal, while Ben Scrivens allowed no goals on 37 shots for Los Angeles.
By The Numbers: If there is one thing the Rangers have been good at this year, it's doggedly holding on to the lead when scoring first. New York is 9-1-0 in those situations on the season, tied for the third-best record in the NHL.
22. Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 24
Why They’re Here: The Flyers climb again after winning two of three games in week eight. The team has rebounded solidly in the month of November and now has a 4-1-2 record in its last seven games. That achievement is especially impressive given that it was 3-9-0 in the 12 contests before that.
Philadelphia claimed wins over Ottawa and Pittsburgh before losing 3-2 in the shootout against Winnipeg to conclude its three-game road trip.
By The Numbers: Steve Mason's solid play continues. The reclamation project stopped 60 of the 62 shots he faced in his two starts this week, raising his save percentage on the season to 0.931. That total, if sustained, would far and away represent a career-best performance.
21. New York Islanders
Last Week: 25
Why They’re Here: The Islanders entered week eight the losers of four straight, but they rebounded a bit with two wins in three games. New York played Nashville and Los Angeles basically to a draw, winning the former contest and losing the latter. Then New York beat Detroit in the shootout in a game where the Islanders had a 41-23 shot advantage.
By The Numbers: The Islanders sit last in the NHL with a 72.3 percent success rate on their penalty kill. Interestingly, the primary trouble may be in net. While New York is actually above average at preventing shots in four-on-five situations, its save percentage is a miserable .795.
20. New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 21
Why They’re Here: The Devils climb one spot on the back of a pretty decent showing in week eight. The team's lone loss came at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in a game where the opposition was held to only 20 shots all night and no goals for more than 50 minutes; if New Jersey had been able to beat Ben Scrivens even once, they might have finished with a perfect record.
On either side of that loss to the Kings came wins, one over the Rangers and the other over Pittsburgh, with Martin Brodeur playing a starring role in both and continuing to confound Father Time.
By The Numbers: The Devils are one of only two teams in the NHL (Minnesota is the other) to allow fewer than 25 shots against per game. Unfortunately for New Jersey, that defensive proficiency has come at the cost of scoring. Only the Buffalo Sabres (25.4) average fewer than the 25.6 shots per game the Devils do.
19. Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 23
Why They’re Here: Three close decisions left the Canadiens with three points on the week. The lone win came with backup Peter Budaj between the pipes against Columbus; Montreal outshot the opposition 40-25 but was unable to secure the victory until the shootout.
The two losses were a different story. In Carey Price's two starts, the Habs were outshot 79-51, with Price allowing only a single goal in each game. Once, that meant suffering a 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers; the other time, it meant a shootout loss to Tampa Bay.
By The Numbers: Price's performance last week raises his save percentage on the season to an extremely respectable .936. Price was a preseason candidate for a job with the Canadian Olympic team in Sochi; today, he ranks ahead of all the other likely contenders and trails only Josh Harding (.945 save percentage) and James Reimer (.938 save percentage) among Canucks with 10-plus starts.
18. Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 22
Why They’re Here: The Winnipeg Jets won two of the three games they played this week, thanks to shootout proficiency and, at times, heroic goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec.
Both were at play in a 3-2 win over Detroit. The Jets never would have made it out of regulation if not for Pavelec's performance, which saw him turn aside 41 of 43 shots, while the Jets barely broke 20 the other way. Games against Philadelphia and Minnesota were more evenly fought, and the Jets split decisions.
By The Numbers: If the shootout is, as some claim, essentially a coin flip, it's been coming right side up for the Jets all season. Winnipeg won two shootouts in week eight and have a 6-0 record on the season in the skills competition.
17. Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 14
Why They’re Here: The Canucks slide again after dropping both games this week, but sometimes there just isn't much to be done about hot goalies on the other side. First, it was Kari Lehtonen for Dallas, turning aside 42 shots in a 2-1 Vancouver loss, then it was Antti Niemi making 34 saves in a loss to San Jose by the same score.
By The Numbers: Vancouver's power play has dipped even from last season's disappointing 15.8 percent efficiency, falling to 11.6 percent this year. It would be a mistake to go after John Tortorella, though; the Canucks are firing more pucks than ever but have an NHL-worst 5.8 shooting percentage in five-on-four situations. That problem should fix itself, given enough time.
16. Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 19
Why They’re Here: It's no secret that the Western Conference has dominated the East this year, and Carolina had a chance to see three of the most potent teams in the other conference this week. It did quite well.
First, on Tuesday, the Hurricanes handed Colorado its first road defeat of the year by a narrow 2-1 score. They needed the shootout to beat the Ducks Friday but managed that trick, too. They finally lost the next day, playing a rested Blues team in St. Louis, but even that game was in doubt until T.J. Oshie's last-minute empty-netter.
By The Numbers: Pint-sized Nathan Gerbe, who was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres over the summer, has already matched his point total (10) from last season. For a paltry $550,000, he currently sits behind only Eric Staal in the Hurricanes' scoring race.
15. Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 12
Why They’re Here: The conundrum of the Red Wings is this: The team has lost six games in a row but has points in five straight contests.
It didn't seem to matter what it did in week eight; the result was the same. The Wings heavily outshot the Jets and lost in the shootout. They essentially matched the Capitals and lost in the shootout. They let the Islanders take it to them and still lost in the shootout.
By The Numbers: Detroit hasn't been the team it once was at even strength, instead heavily relying on special teams to generate wins. A year ago, the Red Wings were an elite even-strength team by the shot metrics; this year, they sit right around the league average, barely breaking even with a 50.2 percent Corsi ratio in score-close situations.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 10
Why They’re Here: The Penguins tumble a few spots after dropping two of three decisions this past week. Pittsburgh lost a close 2-1 game to the resurgent Flyers to start the week, despite holding a heavy edge in shots. The same thing would happen against New Jersey to end the week, though; in that case, the score (4-1) was a little more exaggerated.
Marc-Andre Fleury did manage to make 17 saves for the win against Nashville midweek, however.
By The Numbers: Fleury has still put in some solid performances, but overall, his play has slipped significantly since the start of the year.
Pittsburgh's starter won his first seven games and posted a .930 save percentage in that span. He suffered his first loss October 21 and since then has gone 4-7-0 with a .909 save percentage—those are virtually identical numbers to Edmonton's Devan Dubnyk over roughly the same span.
13. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 13
Why They’re Here: In a week where the Leafs were gifted two games against the worst team in the NHL, they managed to come away with only a single win.
Toronto leaned hard on Jonathan Bernier to earn a point for a shootout loss against Minnesota to start the week, then swapped wins with the Buffalo Sabres.
By The Numbers: Only two teams in the NHL trail their opponents by more than 10 shots/missed shots per hour of even-strength time. The Buffalo Sabres, with a minus-14.4 shots/missed shots differential rate are dead last in the league; Toronto, at minus-14.0, is just a hair behind them.
12. Washington Capitals
Last Week: 20
Why They’re Here: Washington had a very nice week, winning all three games it played.
Oddly enough, the two close wins were probably Washington's strongest games; the team needed extra time to beat Columbus and Detroit but played well.
A more convincing-looking 4-1 win over St. Louis, on the other hand, saw the Capitals manage 20 shots but get away with the win thanks to 46 saves from Braden Holtby.
By The Numbers: Alexander Ovechkin just keeps rolling. He scored four goals in three games this week and moved into a tie for the NHL goal-scoring lead with Alex Steen. Both players have lit the lamp 17 times, though Ovechkin has fired 110 shots to Steen's 67.
11. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 7
Why They’re Here: The Bruins slip a few spots this week despite winning two of three games, mostly thanks to exceptional performances from the teams around them in the standings. Boston's week was fine but nothing spectacular. The club needed overtime to beat Columbus and lost in Ottawa to end the week.
On the bright side, a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay to start the week was a convincing against a strong opponent.
By The Numbers: If there is a rookie skater emerging as a threat to Tomas Hertl for the Calder Trophy in the season's first quarter, it is Boston blueliner Torey Krug. Krug's 12 points tie him for third in rookie scoring and just one back of second-place Sean Monahan. No other defenceman is in double digits.
10. Dallas Stars
Last Week: 17
Why They’re Here: A perfect week pushes the Stars nearly 10 spots up this edition of the power rankings.
Dallas needed a lot of help from goalie Kari Lehtonen (42 saves) to beat Vancouver at the end of the week, and two empty-net goals inflated the score against the Oilers, but the team also had one really nice outing on its Canadian road trip, running up the score in Calgary to the tune of seven goals.
By The Numbers: There is a lot to like in Jim Nill's re-imagining of the Dallas Stars, but one of the team's most important pieces is a holdover. Goalie Kari Lehtonen has a 10-3-2 record and a .934 save percentage; those are good numbers in any context but particularly given the struggles of the team's other goalies.
9. Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 4
Why They’re Here: The Avalanche sat first in these rankings two weeks ago. Last week, they fell thanks to some perfect work from their rivals; this week, the drop is entirely on Colorado, the only team in the NHL to fail to record a point on the week.
Colorado didn't even have the excuse of strong opposition. The club posted losses to Florida and Carolina and got blown out 7-3 by the one top team it faced (St. Louis).
By The Numbers: One bright spot in an otherwise lamentable run was rookie Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon fired a remarkable 19 shots over three games and recorded a goal and an assist. His nine shots against Carolina more than doubled his previous high of four in a game, and he nearly did it a second time with seven shots against the Panthers.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 5
Why They’re Here: Tampa Bay managed to go .500 on the week, winning two of the four games it played, and as of today still, the Lightning boast the best record in the Eastern Conference (and the eighth best in the NHL).
After losing both the game and Steven Stamkos Monday against Boston, the Lightning held on to beat Montreal Tuesday, convincingly defeated Anaheim Thursday but then dropped the first game in a Pacific Division road trip versus the Coyotes.
By The Numbers: Stamkos had 14 goals, 23 points and a plus-11 rating in 17 games. He easily leads the Lightning in all of those categories and still sits just three points back of the NHL scoring lead. His loss isn't one that can be mitigated.
7. Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 1
Why They’re Here: It's been a bad week for some top teams early. Colorado had the league's worst record, while the Ducks tied Calgary for second worst and consequently tumble six spots.
Worse still: The losses all came against old Southeast Division teams. Florida, Carolina and a Stamkos-less Lightning team all beat Anaheim.
By The Numbers: Anaheim's losing streak brought an end to the personal winning streak of rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen, who had won his first six NHL contests. Andersen posted a .880 save percentage in the Ducks' loss to Florida, making it only the second time in seven starts that he posted a sub-.925 save percentage.
6. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 11
Why They’re Here: The Kings took a four-game road trip to the East Coast in week eight. Weirdly, they dropped the first game to the miserable Buffalo Sabres before convincingly winning three contests in four nights against the Islanders, the Devils and the Rangers.
Then again, perhaps the results aren't that strange. It's difficult to blame L.A. for a shootout loss in a game where it outshot the Sabres 45-17. It wasn't that the Kings were any worse against Buffalo than the other teams—it's just that the other teams didn't have Ryan Miller.
By The Numbers: Jonathan Quick is out for three to six weeks with a groin strain suffered against Buffalo, according to Jon Rosen of Kings Insider. Not to worry, though: Ben Scrivens allowed only two goals on 88 shots in week eight and now has a .955 save percentage over eight games this year. To date, he's been the team's best goalie by a healthy margin.
5. Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 8
Why They’re Here: The third-best record in the NHL today belongs to...the Phoenix Coyotes?
The Coyotes have enjoyed a phenomenal start to the season, and they kept right on rolling in week eight, at least as far as the record goes. As a practical matter, the Coyotes were lucky to come away with three points in games in St. Louis and Chicago; they surrendered 91 shots in those two contests while managing only 49 the other way.
By The Numbers: For most goalies, a 52-shot night like the one Mike Smith had against Chicago Thursday would be a shocking aberration. Hockey-Reference.com, however, notes that it's the fifth time that Smith has faced 50-plus shots in Phoenix; interestingly, the goalie's record is a respectable 2-2-1 in those contests.
4. San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 9
Why They’re Here: The Sharks wrapped up a swing through Western Canada in week eight before rushing to Chicago to face the Blackhawks. The first part of the week went fine, with San Jose beating Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton before falling 5-1 to the Blackhawks.
By The Numbers: Tomas Hertl scored two more goals this week and continued to consolidate his position as the runaway rookie scoring leader. He leads all NHL rookies with 18 points; even without any assists, his 12 goals alone would tie him for second in rookie scoring.
3. Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 2
Why They’re Here: Chicago tumbles a spot this week, but it managed to arrest the fall early thanks to a particularly convincing performance Sunday.
A 7-2 loss to Nashville blackened the week, and the Blackhawks further needed the shootout to topple Phoenix Thursday. But they came up big in their final contest against the mighty Sharks, winning by a lopsided 5-1 score.
By The Numbers: It wasn't all that long ago that Patrick Kane was taking grief for a minus-nine rating on the incredibly successful Blackhawks. Not only is Kane plus-six in his last six contests, but he has four goals and 11 points amid a seven-game point streak to boot.
2. Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 6
Why They’re Here: Minnesota was granted a week at home against Toronto, Florida and Winnipeg and did what any team would love to do with that kind of week. They ran the table.
The perfect week is just a continuance of a strong November that has seen the Wild go 7-0-1 and outscore its opposition 24-13. In the last 12 games, Minnesota has only one regulation loss, that coming at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.
By The Numbers: No team in the NHL has a more impressive five-on-five goal differential than the Minnesota Wild. Scoring 1.74 five-on-five goals for every one against, the Wild are one of just three teams (Anaheim and St. Louis are the others) that can boast three goals or more for every two the opposition scores at even strength.
1. St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 3
Why They’re Here: The Blues' 2-1-1 record in week eight dramatically understates the team's strong performance.
Let's start with the losses. St. Louis lost a 3-2 overtime game to Phoenix in a contest where it held a 39-19 edge in shots. At the end of the week, the club lost in regulation in Washington after playing the night before in St. Louis; in that game, it held a 47-20 shots edge.
The wins saw less ridiculous shot advantages, and less ridiculous goaltending performances at the other end of the rink. One of those victories was a 7-3 win over Colorado.
By The Numbers: As of today, the NHL's scoring leader is not Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin or John Tavares. Instead, Alex Steen leads the way with 17 goals and 26 points in 19 games, leading the league in both categories. He had 27 points in 40 games last year and has topped 50 only once in his career.