It's that time of week again. Time to sit down and look at the week that has transpired. Here's how it looks to me.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (12-3-0) (Last week: 1): Is it any surprise that they still are sitting pretty at the top? They went 3-1-0 over this past week. But, their armor may be showing a few dents. It took a come from behind effort against Columbus, who has been struggling lately, for them to win. No Evgeni Malkin and no Sergei Gonchar will have its repercussions. Like the loss to Minnesota, lots of shots but no one was finishing what they started.
2. San Jose Sharks (10-4-1) (Last week: 9): The Sharks are starting to resemble that team that got the President's trophy last season. In their last five games, all wins, they have outscored their opponents to the tune of 18-7. That is how you win games. They were all wins against pretty quality teams with the exception of the mightily struggling Hurricanes.
3. Buffalo Sabres (8-2-1) (Last week: 3): The Sabres got derailed a little by a hot Islanders team, that doesn't sound right to say. But aside from that its been business as usual for the Sabres. Even scoring, stellar goaltending. Ryan Miller is certainly making his case to be the starter for Team USA.
4. Colorado Avalanche (10-3-2) (Last week: 2): I've been saying it all along and I'll reiterate it again. This team will only go as far as Craig Anderson can take them. After a four game winning streak they have now lost their last two games while only scoring 1 goal in those games. Are the bounces finally turning against this team. I think so.
5. Washington Capitals (8-2-4) (Last week: 4): Back to back overtime losses to the Islanders and the Blue Jackets. Alex Ovechkin is out for an undisclosed amount of time. Team defense has to be a bone of contention for Bruce Boudreau. Oh, and by the way, anyone who claims that Mike Green should be a Norris winning defenseman please look up what Rick Nash did to him. It was just plain ugly. You have to love the offense and just hope that the defense and goalie have enough luck to scrape out a win for these guys. So far, so OK.
6. Los Angeles Kings (9-4-2) (Last week: 8): They scraped out points against a Sharks team that is pretty potent as of late and a Vancouver team that is attempting to redefine stingy. Then they lit up Phoenix backup Jason LaBarbera. How this week goes for the Kings will be pretty indicative of their hopes of being a playoff contender. Games against the Penguins, Blackhawks and an overachieving Predators team are looming.
7. Chicago Blackhawks (8-4-1) (Last week: 7): Chicago only went 1-1-0 since I last posted so they stand pat. After being shut out by Pekka Rinne they turned around and beat the Canadiens. It could've been worse. Some cause for concern in Chicagoland though. Jonathan Toews is still not even practicing. He may not have contributed a ton yet on the scoresheet, even though he's proven he can, but he was winning lots of faceoffs. Something very important that is often overlooked.
8. New York Rangers (9-6-1) (Last week: 6): The Rangers continue to slide down the rankings. Aside from an all around good effort against Boston, where Lundqvist delivered a shut out, the team has been underwhelming. They need to find their offensive game sooner rather than later. Despite the loss last night to the Canucks a few positives to take away for the Rangers: Higgins finally got a goal. The officiating robbed them of any chance of winning the game, with a horrible call against Michal Roszival. They managed to play a good game aside from a few lapses. And I'm sure Tortorella will be pointing those out and remedying them.
9. Calgary Flames (7-4-1) (Last week: 5): The reason the Flames fall even further down than the Rangers is because their offense had been working. Despite that fact the Flames are underperforming right now. They have to start showing that improved defense they were supposed to have. Otherwise they could be in for a rough road.
10. Vancouver Canucks (9-7-0) (Last week: 18): Why the big jump for Vancouver. Because despite the fact that they are completely ravaged by injuries, most notably Roberto Luongo and Daniel Sedin, they are still finding ways to win. Andrew Raycroft has stepped in admirably but is being more than bolstered by his team. Proof positive would be the fact that he was pulled in game against Anaheim in which his team was not bailing him out. Either way, Vancouver is playing good hockey despite being dinged up.
11. New Jersey Devils (8-4-0) (Last week: 10): A pretty solid week for the Devils going 2-1-0. Not exactly the stiffest competition though. Buffalo handed them their hats and then New Jersey eked out wins against an ailing Bruins team and Lightning team that could use an identity. Paul Martin is out till December, and it should be cause for concern. It's time to implement the trap...oh, wait, they all ready did. My mistake.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (9-5-0) (Last week: 14): How did Ilya Bryzgalov respond to the second period pulling against the Rangers? He put up a shut out against the Blues. Then followed that up with a strong performance against the Ducks. Phoenix is still playing well. I wouldn't surprised if they were a sleeper pick to upset someone in the playoffs. Bryzgalov has proven before that he can carry a team when needed in the playoffs. See Ducks, Anaheim.
13. Atlanta Thrashers (6-4-1) (Last week: 17): Despite losing Ilya Kovalchuk the Thrashers have managed to win two of three. One behind a stellar performance Ondrej Pavelec. The blue line on this team is formiddable. If the team can continue to win without Kovalchuk then they will be in good position to make the playoffs for just the second time in their franchise history.
14. Philadelphia Flyers (7-4-1) (Last week: 20): So far this season its been win a couple lose a couple. Not exactly how to endear yourself as a cup contender. Simon Gagne is out for a few months. Danny Briere is sidelined temporarily. James van Riemsdyk is showing that he is everything that he was touted to be. Getting time on the top line doesn't hurt either. The Flyers need to stop flopping back and forth between solid team and an Toronto-esque mess.
15. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-4) (Last week: 21): This team seems to be trying to find its identity. It's getting by on some good performances from Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. But Vincent Lecavalier needs to step it up. The coach obviously agrees considering that Vinny was demoted to the bottom half of the roster as of late. Tampa may not be a contender just yet but they should at least put up a fight.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-5-1) (Last week: 15): Columbus seems to be turning a corner. After sliding down a slippery slope with poor defensive play and not enough scoing they are beginning to look better. They had the game in hand against Pittsburgh before falling in a shootout after giving up two late goals. But they turned around and scored in the last minute or two against the Capitals to force overtime and then won the game. If this is any indication perhaps they will begin to climb back up the rankings.
17. Dallas Stars (6-3-5) (Last week: 13): Dallas has lost two in a row against struggling Florida and offensively strapped Nashville. Their only win came against the Maple Leafs. That is a given so really nothing positive to go on except that they took 3 out of 6 points this past week.
18. Ottawa Senators (6-4-2) (Last week: 11): What does it mean when you put up 51 shots on goal and only have one of them go in? Is it that the goalie played extremely well or that none of the shots were very good? Pavelec was good but Ottawa's offense is just not in swing. Their power play is tied for 4th worst in the league. That needs to improve if this team has any aspirations of a post season.
19. Detroit Red Wings (6-4-3) (Last week: 22): What else could possibly go wrong for the Red Wings? After a pretty underwhelming offseason they have now lost both Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula. Not good. They need some clutch performances from their stars if they want to even make the playoffs this year. That being said the Wings had a pretty good week. Putting up wins agains Calgary and Boston.
20. New York Islanders (5-4-5) (Last week: 29): What could the Islanders possibly do this past week? Playing against Buffalo, Washington, New York and Edmonton? If you had told me that the Isles would win every one of those games I would have told you to stop taking your pills because they obviously aren't working. But low and behold. The Isles are on a 4 game winning streak. It won't last but, hey, winning against some tough opponents drags them out of the basement for this week.
21. Nashville Predators (6-6-1) (Last week: 26): Nashville has pulled off some wins against pretty good teams. 3 in row in fact. Including an impressive showing by Pekka Rinne shutting out the Blackhawks. With good defense and steady goaltending games can be had. That is what Nashville has had for the last few games. Let's see how the next few games play out before we take this current trend any further.
22. Minnesota Wild (5-9-0) (Last week: 27): An impressive win against Pittsburgh, on the road, no less. Sooner or later this team will find its place; And things willl improve. We are getting glimpses of that. Scoring depth is a pretty obvious issue though. We'll see how well the team buys into the new system as it hasn't been any kind of offensive dynamo yet.
23. Florida Panthers (4-7-1) (Last week: 28): After their offense looked stalled out two weeks ago the Panthers put up 13 goals in three games. Winning two of them. David Booth may not be out for too long as he's all ready shown up to the practice facility. Adding him to the offense should only bolster things. He won't be back for another week but if things continue on this pace then the Panthers might actually make the playoffs this year and end the drought.
24. Montreal Canadiens (7-8-0) (Last week: 12): After peeling off 4 wins in a row the Canadiens have lost 3 of 4 only beating the lowly Maple Leafs. It looks like I jumped the gun last week. I think that this is more appropriate a place on the rankings for Montreal. They need to prove they can be more than a streaky team.
25. Anaheim Ducks (4-7-2) (Last week: 25): After lighting up Andrew Raycroft the Ducks seemed to gain some confidence. Unfortunately that had to come after a loss to the then winless Maple Leafs. The only reason that this team is ahead of the next few is because they are at least scoring goals. Corey Perry is doing his best to carry this team but Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf need to catch up with him if the Ducks want to turn this poor start around.
26. Boston Bruins (6-7-1) (Last week: 16): Boston has played 157:28 of scoreless hockey. On the bright side they aren't allowing much. On the flip side they are not scoring anything to give themselves a chance to win. Marc Savard and Milan Lucic can't come back too soon.
27. St. Louis Blues (5-6-1) (Last week: 23): St. Louis has played 120:52 of scoreless hockey. Do you see a trend here in the rankings? John Davidson said that his team is just struggling to score along with some slow starts. He says they can't keep putting themselves behind the eight ball and expect to come back.
28. Edmonton Oilers (7-7-1) (Last week: 19): The Oilers broke their scoreless streak at 212:32. They then proceeded to not score for the rest of the game against the Islanders. Apparently the Oilers have been playing sick, with many guys under the weather with the flu. But still two and half games worth of time without a goal, not good, no matter how sick everyone is. Also Edmonton has been pretty horrendous on the road accumulating a 1-5-0 record.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-7-5) (Last week: 30): Toronto gets the nod over Carolina because at least they have been showing a glimmer of possible success despite the fact that they will surely not be in the playoffs this year. Phil Kessel is now playing, giving them a legitimate scoring threat. Gustavsson is looking like he may be the answer in net. There is hope on the horizon.
30. Carolina Hurricanes (2-8-3) (Last week: 24): They have lost 9 in a row. Let me repeat that. They have lost 9 in a row. What the hell is going on. And now that Erik Cole is finally back Eric Staal is out for a few weeks. I'd say either figure out a way to turn things around or start off loading people and go for a lottery pick. They are all ready well on their way.