NHL Power Rankings: B/R Experts' Week 16 Poll
Two of the best and hottest teams—not surprisingly—reside in the Western Conference in the form of the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. The Ducks are 15-1 in their past 16 while the Blues are 9-1-1 in their past 11.
The Ducks held the top spot in last week's power rankings, so have the Blues or anyone else done enough to supplant them this week?
Our friendly group of experts is back again to do the ranking of NHL power. Voting this week are Adrian Dater, Allan Mitchell, Carol Schram, Rob Vollman and myself. The criteria remain the same, and the vote will focus heavily on performances in the last week, with the overall NHL standings only serving as an anchor point for each team.
Read on to see where every NHL team ranks this week.
30. Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 28
Recent Trend: The Sabres remain the worst team in the league with 31 points in 44 games, but they're not the pushovers they were at the start of the season. After starting the year 5-20-1, they are 8-6-4 in their past 18 games.
Big Picture: All that matters to this team is the future. The Sabres will be looking to trade some of their pending UFAs this summer and will likely still have a great chance at the top pick in the 2014 draft.
By the Numbers: Ryan Miller has a .928 save percentage, the fifth-best mark among goaltenders with at least 25 starts.
29. Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 29
Recent Trend: Since a 6-0 home loss to the Blues on Dec. 21, the Oilers are 4-4-2. It's a modest accomplishment for a team that has dealt with an abundance of inconsistency all season.
Big Picture: With the Sabres coming on strong, the Oilers could be staring at their third 30th-place finish in the standings in five seasons.
By the Numbers: The Oilers' penalty kill has faltered over the past four games, giving up four power-play goals in 12 shorthanded situations.
28. Calgary Flames
Last Week: 30
Recent Trend: Sadness and despair continue to be the trend in Calgary. In their past 13 games, the Flames are 2-9-2. They have lost three straight and seven of eight, all in regulation.
Big Picture: The Flames will be in contention for last place in the league standings and have a great chance for the first pick in the 2014 draft all season.
By the Numbers: Rookie Sean Monahan had six goals and three assists in his first eight games, and the Flames decided to keep him in the NHL this season. In his past 30 games, the 19-year-old has six goals and three assists.
27. Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 25
Recent Trend: The Jets are 0-for-2014, losing all five games they've played in January in regulation. The skid—along with years of futility—cost coach Claude Noel his job on Sunday.
Big Picture: It would take a historic run coupled with an equally historic collapse by a team ahead of them to make the playoffs. New coach Paul Maurice will have to be a magical wizard to turn this team around.
By the Numbers: Since 2008-09, Ondrej Pavelec has the worst save percentage (.906) of any goaltender to play at least 250 games.
26. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 23
Recent Trend: The Leafs snapped a four-game regulation losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win Sunday against the Devils. They have one regulation win in their past 13 games.
Big Picture: They're hanging on for dear life in the East, but remain in playoff contention. They have a tough road matchup with the Bruins on Monday.
By the Numbers: In 28 starts this season, goaltender Jonathan Bernier has faced at least 35 shots on 17 occasions.
25. Florida Panthers
Last Week: 20
Recent Trend: Since winning five straight in late December, the Panthers are 3-4-2 and fading in the Atlantic Division.
Big Picture: They're not completely dead in the playoff race, but their vitals are slipping and the nurses are bringing in the crash cart. Their death is almost inevitable.
By the Numbers: Brad Boyes has 37 career shootout goals, most in the NHL since the skills competition was used to break ties during the 2005-06 season.
24. New York Islanders
Last Week: 27
Recent Trend: The Islanders have won four in a row and seven of eight to keep their playoff hopes on life support. Five of the wins have come against the Western Conference, with another coming against the Bruins.
Big Picture: Even with their sizzling-hot play, the Islanders are still quite the distance from a playoff spot. But anything is possible in the Eastern Conference.
By the Numbers: The Islanders have won seven straight on the road, the second-longest streak in franchise history. They won eight in a row during the 1980-81 season.
23. Dallas Stars
Last Week: 10
Recent Trend: If the Stars were a movie, they'd be Titanic or Poseidon Adventure. Their ship is sinking and sinking fast. They have lost six straight games—all in regulation—and that may have caused their playoff hopes to capsize.
Big Picture: They are eight points out of a playoff spot with a couple games in hand, but they are looking less like a playoff team with each passing game.
By the Numbers: During their six-game slide, the Stars have been outscored 26-10.
22. Nashville Predators
Last Week: 26
Recent Trend: The Predators are 1-3-3 in their past seven games, with the one an impressive victory at home against the Sharks. But with Pekka Rinne still rehabbing from his hip infection, the Predators are heading in the wrong direction.
Big Picture: With no timetable on Rinne's return, things are looking bleak in Nashville. If the Predators don't string together some wins—and quickly—they could be sellers at the trade deadline.
By the Numbers: The Predators are 1-of-12 on the power play in seven January games.
21. New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 22
Recent Trend: The Devils have points in four straight games (2-0-2). They have essentially been a .500 team since the middle of November.
Big Picture: A .500 mark was good for a playoff spot in the Metro a few weeks ago, but with teams beginning to get hot, the Devils are slipping. They have three tough road games this week with Montreal, Phoenix and Colorado.
By the Numbers: The Devils are 0-of-7 in shootouts this season. The only team to go winless in shootouts in an 82-game season was the Carolina Hurricanes, who went 0-of-5 in 2006-07.
20. Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 21
Recent Trend: The Hurricanes, like almost every team in the Metropolitan of late, are heating up. They have won five of six and will begin a three-game homestand Monday against the Flames.
Big Picture: The Eastern Conference is like The Matrix in that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. The Hurricanes dodged bullets early and now have themselves contending for a playoff spot.
By the Numbers: Goaltender Anton Khudobin has been the backbone of this recent run, going 5-1-0 with a 1.99/.939 streak since returning from injury at the start of the month.
19. Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 17
Recent Trend: The Coyotes have been in a month-long tailspin and are showing no signs of coming out of it. They are 3-6-4 in their past 13 games and have lost four of five, all in regulation.
Big Picture: The slide has pushed them out of a playoff spot in the West. In a conference as competitive as the West, if they don't turn things around soon, they'll be in trouble.
By the Numbers: Coyotes captain Shane Doan has a goal and two assists in four games since returning from a bout of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
18. Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 18
Recent Trend: The Flyers have followed a 7-1-0 stretch with two losses by a combined 10-3 score. They've been hot of late, so they can absorb a hiccup, but with Metro teams beginning to play well, it can't be an extended slump.
Big Picture: They're right in the mix for a playoff spot after a dreadful start to the season. They have a big opportunity to make some headway with their next four games coming against teams out of a playoff position.
By the Numbers: Steve Mason's save percentage in four January starts is .887. Since December, it's .895. He had a great first two months, but it appears Mason's regression is in full swing.
17. Washington Capitals
Last Week: 19
Recent Trend: An overtime loss to the Sabres on Sunday snapped a two-game win streak but gave the Caps points in three straight. They've been surviving on loser points of late, going 5-4-4 in their past 13 games.
Big Picture: The Capitals are sitting in a playoff spot in the East, but they could be paper tigers. They have 14 regulation wins in 45 games, tied with the New York Islanders.
By the Numbers: The penalty kill has been brutal in January. The Caps have allowed six power-play goals in their last 18 times shorthanded.
16. Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 16
Recent Trend: It took nearly half the season, but the Senators seem to have found their game. They are 6-1-1 in their past eight games, winning five of those six games by one goal.
Big Picture: They are knocking on the door of a wild-card spot in the East. After facing the Wild on Tuesday, the Senators' next seven games come against teams that are within a stone's throw of them in the standings.
By the Numbers: Erik Karlsson has one goal in his past 12 games after scoring nine goals in his first 34 games.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 24
Recent Trend: Just as they did at this time last year, the Blue Jackets are heating up. They've won four of five and seven of 10 to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot in the East.
Big Picture: The Blue Jackets are getting healthy and trending upward. They're currently seventh in the Metropolitan, but not far off from a wild-card spot.
By the Numbers: In two starts since returning from injury, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is 2-0 and has stopped 76 of 79 shots.
14. Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 11
Recent Trend: The Red Wings continue to toe the line between great play and underwhelming performances. They are 3-3-1 in their past seven games after losing in Anaheim in Sunday.
Big Picture: They have been clinging to a playoff spot while dealing with a slew of injuries, but their improved health hasn't resulted in improved play. The bottom of the East is playing better and nipping at Detroit's heels.
By the Numbers: The Red Wings' power play is 0-of-21 in five games in January.
13. Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 14
Recent Trend: After losing six in a row, the Wild have gathered themselves in impressive fashion. They have won five of six after winning in Nashville on Sunday night.
Big Picture: They currently hold the final wild-card spot in the West and have a four-point cushion on ninth-place Phoenix. A potential problem for the Wild, however, is the Coyotes have four games in hand.
By the Numbers: Since Zach Parise went on injured reserve with a foot injury, the Wild are 5-5-0 and averaging 3.10 goals per game. That's about 0.85 more goals per game than their season average before Parise left the lineup.
12. New York Rangers
Last Week: 15
Recent Trend: After much mediocrity throughout the first half, the Rangers appear to have found their way. They're 6-1-1 in their past eight games and have power-play goals in each of their past five games.
Big Picture: The Rangers are four games above .500, their best mark at any point of the season. They've moved into third place in the Metropolitan and are beginning to assert themselves as a playoff team.
By the Numbers: Rick Nash has four goals in four games since being named to the Canadian Olympic team on Monday.
11. Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 13
Recent Trend: The Canucks snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 home victory against the Blues on Friday. Before the slump, the Canucks had a 10-1-1 run.
Big Picture: The Canucks are still nestled comfortably in a playoff spot. It would take a lot more losing for the Canucks to be in the danger zone for missing the postseason.
By the Numbers: Since Roberto Luongo went down with an injury in Dallas on Dec. 19 and another in his first game back in Los Angeles on Jan. 4, Eddie Lack is 4-1-3 in net.
10. Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 12
Recent Trend: The Habs have been hovering around .500 for about a month. They are 7-6-2 in their past 15 games and have been outscored 42-31 over that time.
Big Picture: A stretch like that is perfectly acceptable for staying in the top eight in the East. They are only three points back of the Bruins for the top spot in the Atlantic.
By the Numbers: Daniel Briere has two goals and one assist in his past 13 games. He compiled those numbers all in one game.
9. Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 9
Recent Trend: The Avs were skidding in December, but they've steadied themselves of late. They are 5-1-1 in their past seven games.
Big Picture: With the way the West is trending, the Avs look pretty secure in a playoff spot. They'll need to heat up in a big way if they want to win the Central or even earn home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff series.
By the Numbers: Backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere started 7-1-0, but hasn't won since Dec. 6. It's only a four-start span over that time, but he's allowed 17 goals in those starts.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 7
Recent Trend: It's business as usual for the Penguins, who continue to run roughshod over the NHL. They are 4-0-1 in January with their only loss coming in overtime with backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff in net.
Big Picture: The top spot in the East appears to be in their future. The question will be if they can capture the Presidents' Trophy by virtue of playing in the weaker East.
By the Numbers: With a .918 save percentage, Marc-Andre Fleury is having his best season in that category since he had a .921 save percentage in 2007-08. He made just 33 starts that season.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 8
Recent Trend: The Lightning have won four of six and have been quite successful despite losing Steven Stamkos to a broken leg on Nov. 11. They are 15-9-4 without Stamkos.
Big Picture: They sit two points back of Boston for first in the Atlantic and have a real chance to overcome the deficit when Stamkos potentially returns before the Olympics.
By the Numbers: Surviving without Ben Bishop could be a whole other problem. Anders Lindback is 2-2 in Bishop's absence due to a hand injury, but has an .866 save percentage in those games.
6. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 5
Recent Trend: The Kings have two wins in their past nine games. They have scored 15 goals over that time. Since Jonathan Quick returned from injury, the Kings are 2-2-0 with nine goals scored.
Big Picture: The work done while Quick was out just about secured the Kings a playoff spot. Their main focus over the rest of the season will be getting into the No. 2 spot in the Pacific for home ice in the first round of the postseason.
By the Numbers: Mike Richards has zero goals in his past 21 games. However, he has had 11 assists over that time.
5. San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 6
Recent Trend: It's been a .500 month for the Sharks, who are 3-3-0 in six games in January. They've been decidedly average since the end of November, going 10-9-1 in their past 20 games.
Big Picture: It seems crazy to say with nearly half the season left, but the Sharks appear to be in no man's land. They are too far back of Anaheim to make a run at the division lead and have plenty of distance on the ninth-place team in the West. They seem destined to play the Kings in the first round of the playoffs.
By the Numbers: Joe Thornton was held without a point—like every Shark—in a 1-0 loss to Boston on Saturday. It was just the third time in the past 15 games he was kept off the scoresheet.
4. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 4
Recent Trend: The Bruins have been in a bit of funk of late, going 3-4-0 in their past seven games. That could change with Loui Eriksson back from a 15-game absence due to a concussion.
Big Picture: They remain in the lead in the Atlantic and appear to be the favorites to win the division. As long as they can stay healthy, they can push the Penguins for the top spot in the East.
By the Numbers: Tuukka Rask has 10 shutouts in his past 70 starts. He leads the league in that category over the past two seasons.
3. Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 2
Recent Trend: The Blackhawks have begun to look human of late. They have lost four of six, but have managed to earn a point (2-1-3) in three of those losses.
Big Picture: A slide as insignificant as this one shouldn't have a major effect on a team as good as the Blackhawks, but it has them on the verge of slipping out of the lead in the Central.
By the Numbers: The Blackhawks have 15 goals in their past seven games, an uncharacteristic slump for a team that has averaged more than 3.5 goals per game all season.
2. St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 3
Recent Trend: The Blues had their seven-game winning streak snapped in Vancouver on Friday, losing 2-1 to the Canucks. It was the first time in 11 games the Blues failed to earn at least a point.
Big Picture: The only thing keeping the Blues from the top spot in the Central is the fact they've played three fewer games than the Blackhawks. They also have a chance to run down the Ducks for the Western Conference lead over the rest of the season.
By the Numbers: The Blues have scored 46 goals over their past 11 games, an average of 4.18 per game.
1. Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 1
Recent Trend: Their trend is nothing but a series of wins and points. They have won seven in a row and 16 of 17. They are without question the best team in the NHL right now.
Big Picture: The Pacific is all but wrapped up for them, which means they'll need to hold off Chicago and St. Louis for the top spot in the conference and league.
By the Numbers: Teemu Selanne has 253 career power-play goals, the third most in NHL history.