Western Conference Power Rankings–The Hawks Remain Number One
Jan 24, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate the win over the Dallas Stars during the overtime period at the American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The dash to the end of the season continues this week where, still the offensive side of the puck was dominate, but goaltenders are starting to adjust. The regulation loss category still remains a 0 for the Blackhawks, and an elite team in San Jose has lost 2 straight. Age is still a factor for the Red Wings showing fatigue, and wear after their loss to the Calgary Flames. The surprising Anaheim Ducks are sticking around after they handed the Sharks their first lost. This week we should watch how teams react to the amount of games they are playing, and in how little of time they will be played. Keep a close eye on the veterans to see how their energy is effected, and see how the young players adjust to such a fast paced schedule.
15. Colorado Avalanche (3-6-1)
Colorado gets my vote for 15 despite being 13th in the standings. Their constant flat play makes it hard to find energy. The less that good play from star Paul Stastny with a horrible -6 this season. Despite losing to good teams, the Avs tend to show signs of weakness in their 3rd and 4th lines leading to low production throughout the line-up. The Avalanche take on the Coyotes Monday.
14. Calgary Flames (2-3-2)
The Flames are a confusing team, despite having young players, the Flames still depend on the veteran players like Jarome Iginla. Calgary just came off an impressive win over Detroit, and a thrilling loss against Chicago in a shootout. Calgary has potential, but need to balance the veterans, and young players throughout the roster. Calgary takes on Columbus Thursday.
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-6-1)
Columbus is beginning to become Columbus again, after the energy they carried at the beginning of the season is now gone. The Jackets have struggled lately, but dodged a huge bullet with Brandon Dubinsky, avoiding suspension, but receiving a fine for his hit on Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. The Jackets take on the Flames Thursday.
12. Dallas Stars (4-5-1)
Dallas is one of the teams showing their age this season, the acquisition of Jagr, and Whitney can only get you so far in this short season. The stars are starting games well, but are having trouble finishing them this year. They need to see the Phoenix like production out of Whitney to help boost play. Dallas takes on Anaheim Friday.
11. Los Angeles Kings (3-3-2)
The Kings are off to a slow start this season after winning the cup. They are still adjusting to the loss of Matt Greene in the defense. Quick still looks good, but the Kings should watch him after he came off back surgery in the offseason. Watch out for the Kings to start a roll in the near future, this team is way better than what they are showing. The Kings take on Nashville Thursday.
10. Phoenix Coyotes (4-4-2)
Phoenix is beginning a comeback this season, after a slow start. Mike Smith is starting to show phases of the elite playoff goaltender he was last year. Captain Shane Doan is starting to lead his team to victory, with stellar play from Hanzal, and Vrbata. The Coyotes take on the Blackhawks Thursday.
9. Detroit Red Wings (4-4-1)
Detroit is off to a risky start this year. This team is going to have issues going down the road with their age. The team is not only old, but lost without Lindstrom, and Holmstrom who both retired. The Red Wings take on St. Louis Thursday.
8. Nashville Predators (4-2-3)
Nashville is back to being the team the used to be, but I am not yet impressed with their play this season. I believe the loss of Ryan Suter is going to continue to hurt them this season. The Preds still have a lot to prove after the loss of Suter. Lets see if they can keep they’re solid play rolling this season. The Predators play the Kings Thursday.
7. Minnesota Wild (4-4-1)
The Wild are off to an average start this season, but I can see a lot of potential for a powerhouse team. The additions of Suter, and Zach Parise are showing great promise with a stellar play. The wild handed the Chicago their first loss in a shootout, but tend to look weak against the small teams. The contribution from Captain Mikka Koivu is showing contributions in the Wild wins this season. The Wild take on Vancouver Thursday.
6. Edmonton Oilers (4-3-2)
The only thing you can say this far about Edmonton is “wow”. This team is quick, good, and young. The potential for this team is through the roof, all they need is time. When this team gets the experience they need they will be a big hockey powerhouse. Not only Taylor Hall, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going to be a force in the years to come. The Oilers take on Detroit Saturday.
5. Vancouver Canucks (5-2-2)
The Canucks are back to the same team they used to be, but the big difference is the goaltending. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are both showing solid play in net, while the Sedin Twins, and Ryan Kessler continue to be good in the offensive zone this season. The Canucks take on the Wild Thursday.
4. St. Louis Blues (6-3-0)
St. Louis looks flat after the crazy good opening they had this season. After the loss to Chicago, The Blues are showing they are unable to recover, or finish games. Despite the amount of bad bounces they get, they still remain 6-3. The Blues take on Detroit Thursday.
3. Anaheim Ducks (6-1-1)
Anaheim is off to the most surprising start of all teams this season, after the handed the San Jose Sharks their first loss of the season. The Ducks have been strong this year with great play by goaltender Hiller, and veteran Teemu Selanne. The Ducks take on the Stars Friday.
2. San Jose Sharks (7-2-1)
It looked like San Jose was going to blow Chicago out of the water Tuesday, but they uneven defense led Chicago to get the win. Their first regulation loss was against Anaheim on Monday. San Jose has lost 2 straight but, still are an elite team. The crazy play of Patrick Marleau has passed, but still the offense keeps generating points this season. The Sharks take on Phoenix Saturday.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (8-0-2)
Chicago has been the top team the first 2 weeks of the season. They have yet to lose in regulation, but have lost in a shootout twice, once to Minnesota, and another time to Vancouver. The Hawks have been solid all season long, but what sets them above other teams they have played on the road for most of their games. The Hawks return home Tuesday to start a 2 week home stand but need to get by Phoenix Thursday to begin the journey to Tuesday.