This past week has sparked major change in the league. The Chicago Blackhawks lost for the first time this season, and sticking to Chicago, the Hawks were the cover of Sports Illustrated. This week was huge for hockey, they can finally say they are something, people are actually watching. We should be prepared for the wave hockey is going to make down the stretch this season, this is going to be a fun finish. However let’s get to the Western Conference Rankings.
15. Calgary Flames (9-11-4)
Lets welcome the Flames as the official worst team in the conference. All season long the Flames have gotten themselves to the point where they can’t get that big goal, or when they get close the defense closes and they find themselves stuck. Calgary forward, and pride and joy Jarome Iginla has been way too average this season. He has 7 goals and 12 assist, but is getting killed with a -3 rating this season. We will have to see how the Flames come back this season, they need a quick turn if they hope to make a statement.
14. Colorado Avalanche (10-11-4)
Colorado may be number 14 On my power rankings, but they feel like number 1 in the hockey world. Colorado took down the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night with a huge 6-2 victory. Though they took down the Hawks they seem to not be able to overcome themselves. The team chemistry just isn’t there for the Avs, they tend to look lost, and often dont have any real veterans to turn to. Look for the Avalanche to sink down as the season moves along.
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (10-12-5)
The Jackets had a solid week winning 5 straight games. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky looked strong this week, but the team as a whole showed the promise they started the season with. Columbus needs to continue to be a physical team this season, and they will continue to see success and rise in the standings.
12. Edmonton Oilers (10-11-5)
Edmonton has shown many different faces this year, they handed the Chicago Blackhawks their second loss of the season in a 6-5 offensive battle. Edmonton started the season as a legitimate contender for a top playoff spot. However they have shown many signs of inexperience, and many goaltending questions. We should keep our eye on the Oilers to see hare they might pull themselves out of this hole their in.
11. Nashville Predators (11-9-6)
Nashville has really come around the start of the season. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has 10 wins now, with a 2.00 GAA this season. Though the offensive firepower isn’t there the defensive side of the game has been quite impressive stairs far. For the Preds to move up they need the production from the offense as well, look for the Kostitsyn brothers this season.
10. San Jose Sharks (11-8-6)
San Jose has had a very questionable season this far, they tend to show spurts of success, but can’t close games so far. The play of Goaltender Anti Niemi has been on and off, but that may be due to the defensive side. Keep an eye on how the Sharks rebound in the second half.
9. Dallas Stars (12-11-2)
Dallas has had a solid start to the season, but in their last 10 games they have gone 4-5-1. The interesting part of the play in Dallas has been the effort from the veterans. Jaromir Jagr leads the team in goals, and still he continues to impress the Hockey world.
8. Minnesota Wild (13-10-2)
Minnesota has been so interesting to watch this year, they tend to find a way to get wins, but on top of that they find good goaltending to keep them in games. After the offseason, the Wild started slow then came out with fire here at the midway point Of the season. Keep an eye on this team they can be potentially dangerous down the road this season.
7. Detroit Red Wings (12-9-5)
Detroit has a lot to prove yet this season, they need to show the hockey world they can play with the young players. As of right now we see the Wings as a playoff team, but with this mad rush of games to close the season, can the Red Wings keep up.
6. St. Louis Blues (14-10-2)
St. Louis had all the hockey world scared at the start of this season, but at the halfway point they are nearly invisible. Despite all the success they been expect to have, they seem to look flat, or even confused during games. Look for the Blues to find their way this season, and get back in the race.
5. Phoenix Coyotes (13-10-3)
Phoenix has now entered the building. After the flat start this season, the Coyotes have now shown they can still be a legitimate playoff contender. Look for the Coyotes to keep up the fire and move forward at the end of the season.
4. Los Angeles Kings (14-9-2)
Los Angeles has now started to play like their old self. We need to keep an eye out for this team, they have a good chance that they may cool off soon, but when you least expect they will come back and make another run at the cup.
3. Vancouver Canucks (12-7-6)
Vancouver as expected is near the top of the standings. The biggest question was how the goaltending was going to work this season. We all got proven wrong with Luongo, but now they are getting plenty of production out of the Sedin Twins. Keep an eye on Vancouver they have a good team, and could cause some big damage.
2. Anaheim Ducks (19-3-3)
Well everyone Anaheim is officially not going away. With only being 4 points out of first place the Ducks have a lot to look forward to. The team has gotten production from all phases of the game, but I believe the big part of the team is Coach Bruce Boudreau bringing his playoff expierience to Anaheim. Look for the Ducks to keep their sights forward close out the season.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (21-2-3)
The Blackhawks are now back down to earth after losing their first games of the season, but have yet to win after the losses. The play of Crawford has been less than good, but they need to tighten the defense as well. Lets keep an eye on how they adjust to their first loss. Look for the Hawks to keep the top spot.
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