Sports Illustrated NHL Power Rankings Week 2: Caps are #2
Sports Illustrated, as they do every week, has released their NHL power rankings. Here’s their top ten, and my opinion on each team. Generally, their rankings are fairly accurate, and this week’s rankings are no exception. For the whole article, click here.
#1 Detroit Red Wings. One of the two undefeated teams left in the NHL (Capitals are the other one). The Wings have been extremely efficient so far this year. They are without a doubt the team to beat in the West right now.
#2 Washington Capitals. After a roller-coaster start to the year, with three of their first four games having to go to overtime, the Capitals have dominated the past two games. They beat the Panthers 3-0, and they dominated the Flyers 5-2. Tomas Vokoun has been extremely impressive so far.
#3 Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are playing terrific hockey right now. It looks like the Sabres no longer need Ryan Miller to have to stand on his head on a nightly basis to win games. If Ryan Miller only has to face about 20-30 shots a night, the Sabres have a pretty good chance at winning. Thomas Vanek has had a great season so far.
#4 Philadelphia Flyers. Ilya Bryzgalov has been a great pickup, and has lived up to his contract thus far. They are still looking to stabilize their defense since they did trade underrated hard-nosed center Mike Richards, but once they do, they should be a very tough team to beat.
#5 Toronto Maple Leafs. It appears that being a Phil Kessel apologist is finally starting to pay off for me. He’s really taking his game to the next level so far this year. James Reimer is the goalie of the future for the Leafs. Brian Burke is quietly getting all his pieces together to complete the turnaround of this franchise.
#6 Anaheim Ducks. When your first forward line includes Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Corey Perry, scoring is not going to be an issue. Jonas Hiller has been very solid for them so far. The Ducks are my sleeper pick in the West. Why you ask? Because just when you think they’re about to break apart, DUCKS FLY TOGETHER!
#7 Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have been playing a bit shorthanded lately, thanks to Sidney Crosby, Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, and Brooks Orpik. Once they can get everyone healthy, the Penguins will definitely be up there. I hate reminding people of this, but even without Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins had a strong second half last year and still made the playoffs.
#8 New York Islanders. You know what happens after getting a few years of getting high draft picks? Assuming you draft the right guys, you find your team’s looking pretty darn good. Such is the case with the Islanders. John Tavares is having a breakout year, and Evgeni Nabokov has been doing a great job so far. Of course, Rick DiPietro is injured, but is anyone really surprised at this point?
#9 Boston Bruins. While the Bruins are certainly suffering from a Stanley Cup hangover, they have far too much talent to not improve their game and be contenders. Their offense is slowly starting to come together. And of course, with Tim Thomas between the posts, the Bruins don’t have to worry about their defense.
#10 Colorado Avalanche. Caps fans should watch this team. Why you ask? You’ll actually see what Semyon Varlamov can do when he’s healthy and gets consistent playing time. In all seriousness, the Avalanche are much improved from last year. I know this is a cliche, but the Avs are really playing as one cohesive unit. Completely unselfish hockey. And when you’re playing unselfish hockey with a team that is as young and exciting as the Avs, good things are going to happen.
Next week, I will release my first power rankings on the year. This has been an extremely exciting and fun NHL season so far, and I hope it continues.