Blackhawks News

The NHL Power Rankings – Week 6

By Phil Bausk
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Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

9. Detroit Red Wings: 9-4-2 Does anyone else miss the Red Wings? They shellacked the Oilers and continue to play at a high-level in the Atlantic Division. Did anyone think things would change? No. Does the prospect of a Red Wings v. ‘Hawks Stanley Cup excite me? Yes.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs: 10-5-0 The goaltending has been outstanding and the play of Phil Kessel is MVP worthy.They are going to miss former Blackhawk Dave Bolland, who is out from surgery on his leg. The best team in Canada title is worth something I am sure, but the Leafs are legitimate Cup threats.

7. St. Louis Blues: 8-2-2 My pick to make it to the Cup continues to play well on both sides of the puck. Alexander Steen has been a revelation and the power play is frightening to opponents. As of now I am sticking with my prediction and I think the duo of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak continues to shut down the premiere offenses in the league.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning: 10-4-0 Who will finish the year with more goals? Steven Stamkos or the aforementioned Alexander Steen? I can bet that is a question no one thought they would be asking this year. The answer will be Stamkos, but I like the idea of Lightning and Blues fans getting into it with each other, because who thought that could ever happen!

5. Anaheim Ducks: 11-3-1 This core has been together for a few years now and seems to be a somewhat better version of the Vancouver Canucks. Corey Perry and Mathieu Perreault had good weeks and are having solid seasons as of today. The question is can they play that physical style that becomes more prevalent as the season wears on? And how is such a talented power play unit among the league’s worst at converting these chances?

4. Chicago Blackhawks: 9-2-3 They need to get better a man down, does that sound familiar? I have faith that the ‘Hawks will turn around their struggles on the penalty kill, much like they did in last year’s playoffs. Corey Crawford is getting healthier and will begin to play games on consecutive nights, which is a great sign considering how poorly the Bulin Wall has played this season. Maybe it was a mistake to sign a guy who is old enough to be my creepy uncle?

3. San Jose Sharks: 10-1-3 A two-loss week drops the Sharks down a few spots, but I don’t think they will be here for long. Close games against the Coyotes and the Kings didn’t go their way, but the balance of this roster is still very impressive. I think the play of Antti Niemi is often overlooked and if he wants some better PR, he should come back east. I have a small one bedroom in Manhattan but we can make it work! (PS I love Antti!)

2. Colorado Avalanche: 12-1-0 Semyon Varlamov is going to be very busy in the coming weeks, so it is interesting to see how much ice time he gets for the team with the most points in the NHL. If he is out for an extended period of time, I don’t see Jean-Sebastien Giguere continuing his cosmic play. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon has two straight games with a point and has been as good as advertised so far this season.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins: 11-4-0 Uh oh! Remember, this is more or less the same team that went on a winning streak that rivaled last year’s historic Blackhawks run. Four wins last week and the teams seems to be gelling at the right time. The key for them is health. Outside of an injured James Neal, everyone is in pretty good shape, making these Penguins a lot scarier than the ones in that awful James Carrey movie.

 BONUS: Click here for some of the Top Goals from the last week in the NHL.