clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Around the West: is Nashville’s lead in the Central sustainable?

and the Avalanche are pulling themselves out of a rut.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche
Nov 7, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) and Nashville Predators right wing Ryan Hartman (38) battle for the puck in the second period at the Pepsi Center. 
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Apologies for missing week five of the power rankings last week. Someone told me I had to spend time with family and everything just fell apart from there. But hopefully without another hiccup, here is week six! The changes in ranking are over the past two weeks, since I don’t have the standings data from last week, but I’ll only talk about the past week for most teams. Let’s get to it.

Week Six

1. Nashville Predators (Points per game: 1.500) +0

The Predators were able to take back-to-back losses to Anaheim and San Jose on the chin and still have a commanding lead at the top of the NHL. Some of their underlying numbers indicate the Preds are running a little lucky and exceeding their own personal shot and goal expectations. Perhaps these two losses to the California teams are a sign of things to come? They blew a four-goal comeback to the Sharks in the third one night after finding a way to get out-shot by the Ducks.

2. Winnipeg Jets (Points per game: 1.353) +2

The Jets returned from their trip to Finland a week ago and it almost felt like they restarted their season. They dominated Colorado and Washington on the shot-clock, and ended up outscoring their opponent 13-5 in those three games. Oh, and let’s not forget that all of this is without Patrik Laine scoring an even-strength goal this season (seven power play goals, and one empty-netter). To all the haters, (Tom), I think this sniper is too scary to joke about just yet. Laine could have a hot month and immediately find himself on pace for 50 goals and the Rocket Richard.

3. Minnesota Wild (Points per game: 1.333) -1

Ugh, why are you good!? Devan Dubnyk is the correct answer, by the way. Dubnyk has put up a .927 save percentage in 14 games. In November, Dubnyk has only given up 13 goals in five games and in those games, the Wild are 3-2-0. The offense has also started to come around. Mikael Granlund had five points (4g, 1a) in four games this week, and has 10 goals and 18 points in as many games so far this year to boot.

4. San Jose Sharks (Points per game: 1.210) +0

It’s been milestone week for the Sharks. Joe Thornton hit 1500 career NHL games, and 400 career NHL goals. This goes along with his 1000 assist milestone from last year makes him only the 11th player in NHL history to score 400 goals and 1000 assists in a career. And yes, SJS, he should’ve been in the NHL100, and will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame someday.

Oh, and Erik Karlsson hit 400 assists in his NHL career. It’s crazy to think about how long Karlsson has been in the NHL, and Jumbo Joe still more than doubles him in every counting stat.

T5. Colorado Avalanche (Points per game: 1.167) -3

The Avs finally ended a five-game losing streak with a pair of wins against the Oilers and Boston Bruins. For a team that couldn’t stop giving up four or more goals, the Avs held the Bruins to only three goals while scoring six themselves. Mikko Rantanen extended his lead in NHL scoring with a goal and two assists in the game. The tide will start turning around for the Avs soon.

Or, you know, just trade for William Nylander.

T5. Calgary Flames (Points per game: 1.167) +2

The Flames are a good team, for the most part. The only question mark has been goaltending. This season, a combination of David Rittich getting hot in eight games and Mike Smith not being terrible have kept the Flames in the conversation. Whether they’ll be able to sustain this precarious peak, time will tell.

Also, what’s going on with Calgary’s scoring winger that they just signed for five years? Are they doing this because they like him?

7. Dallas Stars (Points per game: 1.111) +2

Dallas have been dealing with a hoard of injuries. They currently have six regulars, most on defense, on the IR. On the back-end, John Klingberg has an upper-body injury, Mark Methot has something lower-body ailing him, Connor Carrick is dealing with a foot innjury, and Stephen Johns is dealing with concussion-like symptoms. At forward, Martin Hanzel is out until December after getting back surgery, and Nick Shore is out for another week with a lower-body injury.

Despite losing so many key pieces, the Stars have still found a way to stay even (1-1-1 this week) and keep themselves above water.

8. Vancouver Canucks (Points per game: 1.100) +3

The Canucks had a rough road trip. They beat Boston, but lost to the Red Wings, Sabres, Rangers, and Islanders. They will be home for a few days before heading on a California road trip that has been great news for a lot of teams this season with the way Anaheim and LA have been playing

Vancouver has a great young core, but it’s been nice to see the secondary scorers putting goals on the board as of late even if the team doesn’t win. Jake Virtanen, Loui Eriksson, Nikolay Goldobin, and Brendan Leipsic have all started scoring recently. If those guys can put up some decent numbers, it’ll go a long way for the Canucks.

9. Edmonton Oilers (Points per game: 1.056) -1

The forwards only started to get their shit together against Montreal on Tuesday after a 6-2 pounding of the Habs. The skaters have always found a way to out-shoot their opponents, it’s just mostly up to McDavid whether the team gets those scoring chances or not.

The goaltending has been the biggest issue for this team. Cam Talbot has been terrible, posting only an .895 SV% through 13 games this year, and now people are asking (but mostly hoping) Mikko Koskinen can take the reigns of the starter’s job. The Finnish netminder from the KHL has a .918 SV% in five starts this year. Is that sustainable? Who knows.

10. Arizona Coyotes (Points per game: 1.000) -1

The biggest piece of news out of the desert was that the Coyotes has extended still-injured 20-year-old defenseman Jakob Chychrun to a six-year contract worth $4.6 million AAV. A pretty risky gamble for the team, but it will be a great contract if Chychrun pans out. Getting those uber value deals out of kids on their second contract is probably the best way to go for the cash-poor Coyotes.

11. Anaheim Ducks (Points per game: 0.950) +1

The Ducks are terrible. I don’t really know what else to say about these guys. They can’t out-shoot their opponents for the life of them, and the only reason they get any points is because John Gibson makes more saves than the other guy. The Ducks will play Toronto’s John Tavares, Mitch Marner, (and possibly Auston Matthews and William Nylander), Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (and co.), and Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson over their next three games. It’ll be interested to see how bad things could get.

12. Chicago Blackhawks (Points per game: 0.947) -8

The biggest drop from these past two weeks, the Hawks are starting to see their strong early season shooting numbers fall back down to Earth. They were consistently getting out-shot and chanced every night, and it was bound to catch up to them at some point.

Before Wednesday night, they had lost eight in a row. Eight losses spanning three weeks must’ve been tough for the fans in Chicago...

*Checks notes*

Three Cups? F*** off, Hawks fans. You deserve this.

13. St. Louis Blues (Points per game: 0.938) +1

Still humming along at a pretty mediocre pace. Really thought the addition of Ryan O’Reilly would make this team a lot better. Jake Allen has struggle significantly this season. I wonder how long before coach Q finds a spot in the middle of the Blues bench? I know goaltending shouldn’t have anything to do with the employment of coaches, but you look at the NHL and tell me to think differently.

14. Vegas Golden Knights (Points per game: 0.895) -1

Another in the category of positively mediocre as a result of their horrible PDO combined with consistently out-shooting their opponents. This is the payback year for going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Maybe the Hockey Gods give mercy later in the year, but it’s PDO jail for the Knights right now.

15. Los Angeles Kings (Points per game: 0.647) +0

So the Kings are going to be bad for a while, eh. We all know about the Tanner Pearson for Carl Hagelin trade, but my biggest question is what are the Kings going to do with Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar? They have a combined $21 million in salary till 2024. Will they want to stay? If they want to go, can a team afford them? Those two are also only part of the problem here; the Kings have $55 million locked into eight players (and Mike Richards) for the next three seasons. Those players have an average age of 32-years-old TODAY.