The NHL season is ten weeks old, so I decided to post my rankings of the 30 teams so far. Stats are through Sunday, Nov. 29.
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1.) San Jose 18-6-4
It's hard to argue against San Jose as the best team in the league, especially when you consider they've played only ten of 28 at home.
2.) Chicago 16-6-3
The Blackhawks were playing great hockey, but they ended their Circus Road Trip with lackluster effort against Anaheim and an inability to find the net against LA. Still a top team.
3.) Pittsburgh 18-9-0
The defending champs haven't lost a game in overtime or a shootout. Marc-Andre Fleury is playing better than ever, and the rest of the team is finally getting healthy again.
4.) Washington 15-5-6
The Caps are tied with rival Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference lead. They've had their ups and downs, but the youngsters that have had to step up have done a remarkable job.
5.) New Jersey 17-6-1
The Devils are led by the best goaltender in the world in Martin Brodeur and sit just one point behind Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead.
6.) Calgary 16-6-3
The Flames have one of the best road records in the league at 9-1-3, but are just barely above .500 at home.
7.) Nashville 15-9-1
Surprised? So am I. I had Nashville written off before the preseason began. The Preds have won nine of their last 11 to get here. It won't continue the rest of the season, but they can at least call themselves one of the top teams at the start.
8.) Boston 13-8-5
The Bruins aren't there yet, but they've started to pull themselves together even with starter Tim Thomas nursing an injury.
9.) Atlanta 13-7-3
Atlanta leads the league in goals per game, and aren't too bad defensively either posting 3 shutouts in their last eight games.
10.) Buffalo 14-7-2
The hot start Sabres are starting to cool off, going 5-4-1 in their last ten games.
11.) Ottawa 13-7-4
The Sens have had an up and down year so far, but things are slowly getting better. Their powerplay, once ranked last in the league, has climbed to 21st (18.8 percent) and their PK is still above 80 percent. If they can fix the inconsistency in their offense, they should prove a real threat.
12.) Vancouver 14-12-0
The Canucks are 10-4 at home and will need that magic to continue. They also need some consistency on offense after following up a 7-goal performance Saturday night against Edmonton with only two goals against San Jose on Sunday. Still, 4 goals or more in four of their last six shows signs of improvement on their slow start.
13.) Colorado 14-8-5
Craig Anderson is human after all. The Avs starter has begun to struggle, and he isn't being helped by a lack of solid defense in front of him. Avs are 2-5-3 in their last 10.
14.) Los Angeles 15-10-2
The Kings haven't done well in the absence of Ryan Smyth. John quick is starting to recover from a recent string of poor outings, but he will need his teammates to do the same if they want to reverse this cooling trend.
15.) NY Islanders 10-10-7
The Islanders are ranked this high because they are trending up from a slow start while most of the teams below them are trending down. John Tavares has emerged as advertised.
16.) NY Rangers 13-12-1
The Rangers started out 7-1-0, then lost Marian Gaborik for two games, then lost a lot of games. Gaborik is the only player with more than six goals and linemate Vinny Prospal is the only other Ranger above 20 points.
17.) Philadelphia 13-10-1
Another team with a hot start and a quick cool down. Injuries and poor teamwork have let down the Flyer faithful and led to a call for a new coach despite the endorsement of the players.
18.) Columbus 12-9-4
The Blue Jackets have been up one minute and down the next this season. It’s time for this team to step up and show that last year was no fluke.
19.) Detroit 12-9-4
The Red Wings are looking like a team that’s been to the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row, just not in a good way. Injuries haven’t helped matters for the defending conference champs, but the bottom line is that great teams find ways to win even without top players.
20.) Phoenix 15-11-1
The Coyotes are playing better than anyone expected after this summer’s off-ice drama. In truth they could probably be rated higher, but I’m just not convinced yet that this team is for real. Dave Tippett is showing what he can do with a healthy team that has a good amount of young talent
21.) Dallas 12-7-7
The Stars have been a middle of the pack team this season. Their longest streak of any kind is a three-game losing skid. Dallas is hanging in there until the end of games, though. Three of their seven losses in regulation have come by two goals or less.
22.) Tampa Bay 10-6-8
The Bolts have started this season right where they left off last year: overtime. Last year the Lightning led the league in overtime losses, and they appear to be on the same track again this season.
23.) Montreal 12-12-2
Another middle of the pack team, the Habs have no core group. The core that was there last year is gone, but the team isn’t trying to rebuild through young talent like other franchises have. So far injuries and impatience have kept this team from gelling.
24.) St. Louis 10-9-5
The Blues are searching for an identity right now. The expectations are that they will be playoff contenders, but right now the post-season appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream.
25.) Minnesota 10-12-3
It took them forever to get a win, and the Wild are still adjusting to a new system, but they look as though they are about to turn the corner and make a playoff push. A healthy Martin Havlat and Petr Sykora would really help in that endeavor.
26.) Anaheim 10-11-4
The Ducks are drowning. At least they can rely on their 24 percent effectiveness on the powerplay.
27.) Florida 10-11-4
I know I said I wasn’t including Monday’s games, but you know things are bad when your own players are swinging sticks at each other in frustration.
28.) Edmonton 10-13-4
A valiant effort against league-leading San Jose Friday night was followed by a horrendous showing Saturday in Vancouver. The Oilers were sobered even further by the loss of Ales Hemsky for the year.
29.) Toronto 6-11-7
The Leafs have been reenergized by Phil Kessel, but they are still in danger of sending the number one overall pick in next year’s draft to rival Boston if they cannot find a way to stop the other team from scoring.
30.) Carolina 5-16-5
The Hurricanes have lost every single game they have played away from home, and the term “fire sale” is being whispered all over the online rumor mills.
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