Each month, contributor Tom Ballantyne, @Tbone31592 on Twitter, takes a look at the NHL power rankings and gives you his opinion on where each of the teams stand.
With another month already in the books and time seemingly just flying by, let’s revisit January and see what Tom thinks this month.
January NHL Power Rankings
2014 is officially underway, and most teams looked to continue their great play while others looked to turn things around and battle back into the race. As the month went on, many teams entrenched in battle looked to stop each other in their tracks. Let’s see which teams were successful, and which teams continued to dominate their way through the season for yet another month. Standings are as of the last game played on January 31st.
1) Anaheim Ducks (1) (40-11-5 = 85 pts)
The Ducks kept the top spot for the second month in a row, dominating their way to 11 wins in 14 games. They are nearly unstoppable at home and just a fantastic team to watch.
2) Chicago Blackhawks (2) (33-10-13 = 79 pts)
Blackhawks faltered a bit in January, going 5-3-6 in 14 games, but they’ve managed to stay within striking range of the Ducks, if the Ducks ever cool down.
3) Pittsburgh Penguins (4) (38-14-2 = 78 pts)
Safe to say the Pens are back to their old selves, I hate having to say that, dominating their way to a 9-2-1 January record and right in the mix for the President’s Trophy after a slow start. Have they clinched the Metro Division yet? It’s easily theirs, unless they crash and burn down the stretch.
4) St. Louis Blues (3) (36-12-5 = 77 pts)
The Blues took 9 of 14 this month, and played well enough to keep pace with the Blackhawks to stay within striking distance of the Central Division crown.
5) San Jose Sharks (5) (34-15-6 = 74 pts)
The Sharks took 8 of 14, keeping pace with the rest of the top five, despite being 11 points out of the Ducks in the Pacific race. Niemi and the boys keep the Sharks strong, and in solid position in what’s sure to be a great battle for a playoff spot out West.
6) Colorado Avalanche (9) (34-14-5 = 73 pts)
The Avs picked up their play in January, going 10-3-1 in 14 games. Varlamov has gotten some well-earned money with the extension he signed this month, and Patrick Roy’s squad is only three games out of the Central crown.
7) Boston Bruins (6) (34-16-3 = 71 pts)
The Bruins went 8-4-1 this month, keeping the red-hot Lightning at bay and still lead them by four points in the division. Playing tough hockey and on a roll right now.
8) Tampa Bay Lightning (10) (31-18-5 = 67 pts)
The Bolts went 8-6-1 this month, keeping pace with the Bruins and jumping a few spots in the power rankings. “Stammertime” is close to starting up again and the Lightning are in a position to become a force when Stamkos returns. Jon Cooper continues to show why he’s one of the Jack Adams contenders, and my number one contender for it.
9) Los Angeles Kings (7) (30-20-6 = 66 pts)
The Kings went 5-8-2, easily their worst month so far this season, as they dropped two spots in the power rankings. The offense has struggled lately, but Quick has been his usual, dominant self most nights, so when the offense starts clicking again, heads will roll out West and bow down to the Kings.
10) Minnesota Wild (17) (29-21-6 = 64 pts)
The Wild went 9-4-1 this month as they tried to battle their way back into the Central Division race. Still in great position playoff-wise, but need to improve more to have a guaranteed spot in the Division.
11) Toronto Maple Leafs (16) (29-21-6 = 64 pts)
The Leafs went 9-5-1 and battled their way back into the Atlantic race. Bernier and Reimer continue to go save for save in the battle for playing time while keeping the Leafs in it.
12) Montreal Canadiens (11) (29-20-5 = 63 pts)
The Habs went 6-6-1 and didn’t lose much ground because of it. They are only a point back of the Leafs for that crucial third spot in the Atlantic Division, especially since the Metro Division has played better as of late.
13) Vancouver Canucks (8) (27-20-9 = 63 pts)
The Canucks suffered a big setback this month, going 4-9-2 and dropping out of the top 10. Tortorella’s going to have to get the team going again after this pitiful showing.
14) New York Rangers (21) (29-23-3 = 61 pts)
Hot off a Stadium Series sweep, the Rangers catapulted themselves up the power rankings, thanks in large part to resurgence in play of Henrik Lundqvist. Now in the second spot in the Metro Division, the Rangers seem poised for another playoff berth. (Hated writing that)
15) Phoenix Coyotes (12) (25-19-10 = 60 pts)
The Coyotes went 5-9-1, dropping even further down the power rankings. The Coyotes still haven’t been able to focus lately, or perhaps haven’t gotten the right ACME products to turn it around.
16) Columbus Blue Jackets (25) (27-23-4 = 58 pts)
When you’re hot, you’re hot, and the Blue Jackets are on fire, winning 10 of 14 and clawing their way back into it. En fuego.
17) Ottawa Senators (22) (24-20-10 = 58 pts)
The Sens went 7-2-3 behind solid goaltending from Craig Anderson. The uphill battle continues, but their only a point back of the Red Wings, so the run isn’t just a waste so far.
18) Philadelphia Flyers (18) (26-23-6 = 58 pts)
The Flyers went 6-7-2 this month, and fell out of prime positioning for the playoffs. They’re still in it for the third spot in the Metro, though, and in the mix for a wild card spot.
19) Carolina Hurricanes (24) (24-20-9 = 57 pts)
The Canes went 10-4 in 14 games and climbed their way into the race for the third spot in the Metro Division. They can’t get too comfortable, though, as they’ll continue to fight with the Blue Jackets for the third spot for at least a few weeks.
20) Detroit Red Wings (15) (23-19-11 = 57 pts)
My, how the mighty have fallen as the Red Wings dropped even further down the power rankings to kick off the new year. With the rest of the division starting to creep away, the Wings have to turn things around and get hot, or they’ll have to hold off the rest of the East for a wild card spot.
21) Dallas Stars (13) (24-21-9 = 57 pts)
The Stars have plummeted down the power rankings and are falling to the outside of the Western playoff picture. The Stars are going to have to turn things around if they want to have a shot at the playoffs this year.
22) New Jersey Devils (20) (23-21-11 = 57 pts)
The Devils were average this month, thanks to great goaltending from Schneider and Brodeur, and yet again a lack of offensive support. Not terrible and right on the edge of the playoffs, both wild card and in the Metro race.
23) Washington Capitals (14) (24-22-8 = 56 pts)
The Caps have fallen down the power rankings hard, though they’re still in the playoff picture.
24) Nashville Predators (23) (24-23-8 = 56 pts)
It was a solid month for the Preds. Not too far out of the playoffs and the addition of Devan Dubnyk should pay off in the long run.
25) Winnipeg Jets (19) (25-25-5 = 55 pts)
The Jets went 6-7-0 this month in which led to the hiring of Paul Maurice as head coach, which has started the turnaround for this squad as of late.
26) New York Islanders (28) (21-28-8 = 50 pts)
After such a dominant start to the month, the Isles have lost five straight and all momentum they had going has come to a screeching halt. The offense lives and dies off of the TVO line, as the secondary scoring has been inconsistent as what seems to usually be the case for this squad. Kevin Poulin was great while Nabokov was out, but the boys just can’t keep momentum going. Is the season over? Baseball has shown me to never say never lately, but it’s been such a tough ride for the fans, I’m not surprised some have quit. Just hoping they put up a fight and see where the dust settles at the end of the year.
27) Florida Panthers (26) (21-26-7 = 49 pts)
The Panthers had a decent month, going NHL .500, continuing to separate themselves from the Sabres, but can’t really go any further up the Atlantic Division standings.
28) Calgary Flames (27) (20-27-7 = 47 pts)
The rebuilding phase has begun in Calgary this year, even though they started off hot. With a decent showing in January, the Flames created some more distance between themselves and the Oilers.
29) Edmonton Oilers (29) (18-32-6 = 42 pts)
Still in the basement out West, the Oilers can’t do anything to end their “rebuild”. The addition of Ben Scrivens should pan out well in the long run, if the team can do anything right up front.
30) Buffalo Sabres (30) (15-30-8 = 38 pts)
Only four wins from Ted Nolan’s squad this month, a setback in their quest to not be a complete laughing stock. The season’s over for them, but Ryan Miller has been phenomenal in his quest to show that he deserves the shot to start in net for the U.S. in a few weeks at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.