Authored by: contributor Tom Ballantyne (@tbone31592)
Well, another month has come and gone in the NHL season, and luckily for us Isles fans, that month was November. Although it wasn’t as terrible as Novembers past, the Isles took a beating, winning only four games this month.
The rest of the league had their ups and downs as some teams crashed back down after a hot October, and others climbed the standings to reclaim their spots. Let’s get right to it, shall we. Power rankings are as of the end of the last game played in November.
Last month ranking in parenthesis.
#1 Chicago Blackhawks (4) (18-4-4 = 40 pts)
The defending Stanley Cup Champs took back the number one spot after dominating their way to a 10-2-1 November. No question that the Blackhawks are the best team in the league right now.
#2 St. Louis Blues (8) (18-3-3 = 39 pts)
The Blues continued to show their dominance with an 11-2-1 November. Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak continue to be the best tandem goalies in the league.
#3 San Jose Sharks (1) (16-3-5 = 37 pts)
Sharks struggled a bit in November, going 6-3-5, but kept their stretch of points in at least 11 games for the second straight month. A couple of bounces the other way and they could’ve retained the number one spot. Niemi keeps the Sharks going strong.
#4 Anaheim Ducks (3) (17-7-3 = 37 pts)
The Ducks cooled down as well, going 7-4-3 in November, but now tied with the Sharks for the division lead. Hiller, Fasth, and Andersen have been one of the strongest goaltending groups in the league and the offense hasn’t had to do much very often to get a victory.
#5 Los Angeles Kings (12) (16-6-4 = 36 pts)
The Kings had themselves a strong showing in November, thanks in large part to Ben Scrivens, who took over the goaltending duties when Quick went down earlier in the month. With an 8-1-4 showing, the Kings have found themselves right in the thick of things early on.
#6 Colorado Avalanche (2) (17-6-0 = 34 pts)
Patrick Roy’s squad fell back down to earth a bit, posting a 7-5-0 November record. The Avs, behind the great goaltending of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, continue to stroll their way through, keeping pace with the other teams.
#7 Boston Bruins (14) (16-7-2 = 34 pts)
It was only a matter of time before the Bruins got hot, and that’s exactly what happened in November, as they posted a 9-4-2 record for the month. Reclaimed first place in the Atlantic Division and started to show how they played to get to the Stanley Cup Final last year.
#8 Phoenix Coyotes (7) (15-6-4 = 34 pts)
The Coyotes continue to be one of the bigger surprises in the league, posting an equally consistent 7-3-2 November. Mike Smith continues to show the Coyotes didn’t make a mistake with their investment in him with his extension. As long as they don’t chase after Road Runner, they should be fine. (Nothing like a funny Looney Tunes reference, am I right?)
#9 Minnesota Wild (13) (15-7-4 = 34 pts)
The Wild kept pace in the Central yet again, as they went 9-3-1 in November. Within striking distance of the Blues, Avs, and Blackhawks if any or all falter. Josh Harding continues to be a feel-good storyline in the NHL, dominating between the pipes for the Wild, especially at home.
#10 Tampa Bay Lightning (10) (16-8-1 = 33 pts)
The Lightning, despite losing Steven Stamkos early in the month, stayed consistent, going 8-4-1 to maintain the tenth spot in the rankings. The question is how long they can stay like this while Stamkos is out. St. Louis will continue to play his best hockey, but will Ben Bishop continue to be this good?
#11 Pittsburgh Penguins (9) (16-9-1 = 33 pts)
After an 8-5-1 November, the Pens find themselves out of the top ten, but still leading the pitiful Metropolitan Division. The rest of the division has gotten hot though, for the most part, and the Pens inability to create some distance while the teams were struggling may cost them in the long run.
#12 Detroit Red Wings (15) (12-7-7 = 31 pts)
Only three points back of the Bruins after a 6-3-5 November, the Red Wings have struggles continued. The surprise playing of Jonas Gustavsson is a big reason why the Red Wings have been able to keep pace with the Bruins while the offense has struggled this month for Jimmy Howard, who went 2-3-4 in the month, while allowing more than three goals in only three games.
#13 Vancouver Canucks (5) (13-9-5 = 31 pts)
The Canucks struggled in November, going 4-5-4 after a hot start under John Tortorella. They’ve been able to keep themselves in it, though, and look to bounce-back in December.
#14 Montreal Canadiens (11) (14-9-2 = 30 pts)
Still in it after a 6-5-2 November, but how long is it until the Bruins, Red Wings and even the Lightning start to pull away as the Canadiens struggle.
#15 Toronto Maple Leafs (6) (14-9-2 = 30 pts)
After a 5-5-2 November, the Leafs definitely don’t have me buying into last year being a fluke yet, but they’re still in it. Bernier and Reimer continue to make a case for second best tandem behind Halak/Elliot, though, so the Leafs have that going for them still.
#16 Nashville Predators (16) (13-11-2 = 28 pts)
Losing Pekka Rinne hasn’t hurt the Predators that much, as they are still sixteenth as they went 7-6-1. Marek Mazanec took on the task of replacing Rinne with a 5-4-1 record in the month as the rookie goaltender shined for most of the month only allowing four goals to the potent Pens’ offense.
#17 Winnipeg Jets (18) (12-11-4 = 28 pts)
The Jets went 7-4-2 in November, solid enough to keep them in it, but there’s more work to be done if the Jets want to have a shot at the playoffs by the end of the year.
#18 Dallas Stars (19) (12-9-2 = 26 pts)
#19 New York Rangers (26) (13-12-0 = 26 pts)
The Rangers looked to have righted the ship after going 9-5-0 in November. The biggest surprise is that this is thanks, in large part to Cam Talbot, the backup goaltender who’s shown Henrik Lundqvist that you can win in this new system Vigneault has. Talbot won four of the Rangers’ nine, including a pair of shutouts, in his first full month in the NHL.
#20 Washington Capitals (24) (12-11-2 = 26 pts)
The Caps turned things around in November, going 7-4-2 while keeping pace with the Rangers as both teams look to catch the Penguins for the top spot in the division.
#21 Carolina Hurricanes (20) (10-10-5 = 25 pts)
Justin Peters helped keep the Hurricanes in it while Cam Ward was out, leading the Canes to a 6-5-2 November. The Hurricanes keep pace with the Rangers and Capitals as they try to catch the Pens. Oh, and DP was granted his release from his PTO, after putting up mind-numbingly bad numbers in the five games he played. (In case you haven’t heard yet, or still care about what DP’s up to.)
#22 Ottawa Senators (23) (10-12-4 = 24 pts)
The Sens upped their game a bit, going 6-6-2 in November, still far behind the rest of the Atlantic, but slowly climbing their way back into contention.
#23 New Jersey Devils (25) (9-11-5 = 23 pts)
The goaltending still hasn’t been an issue; the offense, on the other hand, has been. At least that’s been the case for Cory Schneider, who continues to put up lights out numbers, but can’t buy a win with the offensive support he’s gotten as of late. Devils went 6-6-1 in November; perhaps if the offense wasn’t as anemic for Cory Schneider as the Mariners’ offense is for Felix Hernandez, they’d be in better shape.
#24 Philadelphia Flyers (29) (10-12-2 = 22 pts)
The Flyers went 9-4-2 in November climbing their way up the Metropolitan Division standings and have pulled closer to the Rangers, Hurricanes, and Caps as they try to make up for a pitiful October.
#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (22) (9-13-3 = 21 pts)
The Blue Jackets have fallen and I don’t know if they’ll be able to get up. Luckily for them, the Metropolitan Division is so bad that a nice run can get them back in the middle of things.
#26 Calgary Flames (17) (8-12-4 = 20 pts)
Just when you think the Flames are going somewhere, they’re extinguished. Ugly month by them drops them into the bottom five.
#27 New York Islanders (21) (8-14-3 = 19 pts)
It was yet another November to never remember, despite the great start with wins over the Sens and Bruins. Then the Islanders had to go out and sign Jon Sim to a PTO and it’s been downhill ever since, as they only won two more games in the month. (Seriously though, Isles’ struggles can be linked back to the day they signed Jon Sim to that PTO, check the stats yourself). The offense has been inconsistent, the defense has been consistently bad at times, and good at some points. Nabby, Poulin and Nilsson have all been unable to steal games, as the Isles still have yet to win a game in which they score less than three goals. All of this on top of poor special teams, along with some questionable moves made or not made by Capuano, has the team falling further and further down. Can they right the ship and turn it on while they still have a shot at making the playoffs and contending in the division? My heart says yes, my brain, skeptical, but all it takes is one big win to start the turn around. That and cutting ties with Jon Sim. Seriously, release him from the PTO and see where the team goes from there. Things might change that quickly.
#28 Florida Panthers (27) (7-14-5 = 19 pts)
The Panthers are who we thought they were, the team that just gets beaten up and buried at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, yet again.
#29 Edmonton Oilers (28) (8-16-2 = 18 pts)
The Oilers continue to show that they just can’t go anywhere, especially when the West is as phenomenal as it is this year.
#30 Buffalo Sabres (30) (5-20-1 = 11 pts)