December NHL Power Rankings

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Ballantyne of section 329 continues with his monthly contribution here at Eyes On Isles as he takes a look back at the December 2013 NHL power rankings of all 30 teams.

Bear in mind, we are almost halfway through January and these stats are as of 12/31/13. With everyone getting caught up in getting back to ‘normal’ after the holidays, we gave Tom some extra time to prepare his post for this month.

Starting with January’s edition, we will be more on schedule.

December NHL Power Rankings

The holiday season has come to a close, as has another month in the NHL season. With Santa bringing presents for all the good boys and girls, some teams also gave some presents in wins to their fans while others gave coal, losing games and falling back to the pack. Power rankings for this month are based off of the January 1st standings.

#1 Anaheim Ducks (4) (29-8-5 = 63 pts)

The Ducks picked up their game in December, winning 12 of 15 games this month. They continue to look strong both offensively and defensively and Jonas Hiller has made it look easy most nights since he came back from injury.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks (1) (28-7-7 = 63 pts)

The Blackhawks won ten games for the second straight month to keep pace with the Ducks and continue to show their strength to the rest of the league. Nobody can slow down the red-hot Blackhawks right now.

#3 St. Louis Blues (2) (27-7-5 = 59 pts)

The Blues took a step back, only winning 9 of 15 games this month. Nothing to get down about though, as the Blues will probably get back to their dominating ways in January.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins (11) (29-12-1 = 59 pts)

Oh, look who finally decided to show up. The Penguins finally have started to run away with the division and are starting to play like the team everyone thought they were and hated. Now, it’s just a matter of if they can stay in the top five in the league. You know, since they kind of are part of the top five best teams in the league.

#5 San Jose Sharks (3) (25-9-6 = 56 pts)

The Sharks won 9 of 16 this month, losing six in regulation. Niemi, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton keep the Sharks looking strong most nights, anyway. They most likely will pick their game up again in January.

#6 Boston Bruins (7) (26-12-2 = 54 pts)

The Bruins won 10 of 15 to continue to show their strength to the league, and stay red-hot. Leading the Atlantic Division and playing just as well as they did to reach the Stanley Cup Final, tough team to beat right now.

#7 Los Angeles Kings (5) (25-12-4 = 54 pts)

The Kings also won 9 of 15, just to keep pace with the teams ahead of them. Only a matter of time til this squad gets hot again.

#8 Vancouver Canucks (13) (23-11-7 = 53 pts)

Tortorella’s Canucks were on fire in December, going 10-2-2 in the month and quietly playing some of their best hockey. I wonder if Rangers fans are regretting this move right now. Torts may have overstayed his welcome, but still knows how to get the best out of his team.

#9 Colorado Avalanche (6) (24-11-4 = 52 pts)

The Avs continued to fall down the rankings, going 7-5-4 in December. Varlamov has been sharp though, for the most part. Only a matter of time til Patrick Roy gets the team going again.

#10 Tampa Bay Lightning (10) (23-12-4 = 50 pts)

The always-seems-to-be-consistent Tampa Bay Lightning, held on to the 10th spot in the rankings, going 7-4-3 as they continue to stay in it despite the loss of Steven Stamkos, who is even closer to returning at this point. Jon Cooper is one of my favorites for the Jack Adams, keeping this team in contention without their star player is huge.

#11 Montreal Canadiens (14) (23-14-4 = 50 pts)

The Habs won 9 of 16 to gain ground and tie the Lightning in the division and overall standings. Carey Price has been great at times, not sure if the Habs can keep this going for much longer though.

#12 Phoenix Coyotes (7) (20-10-9 = 49 pts)

The Coyotes were a disappointing 5-4-5 in December, dropping out of the top ten for the first time all season. They were without Shane Doan for a while, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for their poor play this month. I blame Road Runner for this, as they have to get back to focusing on the ice and picking up wins in January.

#13 Dallas Stars (18) (20-12-7 = 47 pts)

Stars won 8 of 16 as they continue to climb the power rankings, thanks to Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Kari Lehtonen.

#14 Washington Capitals (20) (20-15-5 = 45 pts)

Oh, look at that. The Caps decided it was time for them to play hockey too, going 8-4-3 in December in an attempt to surge and catch the Pens. Second in the Metropolitan, so they have that going right now.

#15 Detroit Red Wings (12) (18-14-9 = 45 pts)

The Red Wings had a rough December, falling back in the pack as they went 6-7-2, and lost ground on the Bruins. Jimmy Howard has struggled lately this year, could be why the team had a lackluster December.

#16 Toronto Maple Leafs (15) (20-16-5 = 45 pts)

Goes 6-7-3 in December, still not buying in to the Leafs, but Bernier and Reimer still look sharp most nights.

#17 Minnesota Wild (9) (20-17-5 = 45 pts)

Boy, the Wild were tamed this month as they went 5-10-1 in December, falling way back and losing ground on the top teams in the West and in the Central Division.

#18 Philadelphia Flyers (24) (20-16-4 = 44 pts)

The Flyers are starting to get hot, which is bad news for the rest of the division as they are a tough team to beat, going 10-4-2 in December. Teams chasing are going to have to beat them t catch up in the Metro Division race.

#19 Winnipeg Jets (17) (19-18-5 = 43 pts)

The Jets went 7-7-1 in December, as they continue to fall further and further back in the playoff race. Jets are starting to crash and burn like they did in their Thrashers’ days.

#20 New Jersey Devils (23) (17-16-8 = 42 pts)

Felix Hernandez, err, Corey Schneider still can’t get any offensive support, but Marty Brodeur has, and the two of them have led the Devils to a 8-5-3 December. Not terrible, but doing just enough to keep pace with the Flyers.

#21 New York Rangers (19) (20-19-2 = 42 pts)

The Rangers have fallen a bit, going 7-6-1 in December, but kept pace with the Flyers and Devils in the race for the extremely important third spot in the Metro Division. Vigneault hasn’t been able to get the best out of the Rangers yet. (Good for everyone who hates this team)

#22 Ottawa Senators (22) (17-18-7 = 41 pts)

The Sens went 7-6-3 in December, as they try to climb back into the Atlantic race. It’s an uphill battle, but Craig Anderson has started to get hot, so the Sens could be getting hot soon.

#23 Nashville Predators (16) (18-18-4 = 40 pts)

Collapsing without Pekka Rinne and lack of offense, I think that pretty much sums up the Preds’ 5-7-2 record this month.

#24 Carolina Hurricanes (21) (15-16-9 = 39 pts)

The Hurricanes have faltered and they’ve lost ground because of it, going 5-6-4 in December. Still not far out of the race for third in the Metro though.

#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (26) (17-19-4 = 38 pts)

The Blue Jackets went 8-6-1 in December, but went absolutely nowhere in the power rankings. They’re still in it, somehow, in the Metro division, but not sure for how much longer.

#26 Florida Panthers (28) (15-20-6 = 36 pts)

The Panthers went 8-6-1 in December, at this point just to separate themselves from the Sabres, but can’t really go much further as the Atlantic Division is that good this year.

#27 Calgary Flames (26) (14-20-6 = 34 pts)

The Flames extinguished themselves further, going 6-8-2 in December. It’s been an ugly year in Calgary.

#28 New York Islanders (27) (13-21-7 = 33 pts)

The good news: The Islanders cut ties with Jon Sim, and started to play better. The bad news is that they didn’t til the end of the month. The Isles went 5-7-4 in December, not terrible, but isn’t going to cut it as the rest of the Metro Division has started to attempt to run away from the Isles. The Isles ended the month winning four of their last six, so it looks like they may have found their game and will look to continue their great play as of late into the new year as the climb out of the Metro basement begins.

#29 Edmonton Oilers (29) (13-24-5 = 31 pts)

Buried in the basement of the 1000% better than the East, Western Conference, the Oilers are essentially just trying to stay ahead of the god-awful Sabres. Oilers went 5-8-3 in the month, as the young guns just can’t put their game together and compete for the playoffs again.

#30 Buffalo Sabres (30) (11-25-4 = 26 pts)

Had more wins this month than they had entering it, going 6-5-3. Even though their season’s essentially over, Ted Nolan may be winning the players and fans over with how the month went for them.