My version of Scott Cullen’s TSN “Power Rankings”. Like Cullen’s item, it isn’t meant to indicate the top team in the standings, but rather the team(s) I feel are most equipped to make a serious playoff run. (Although the two will naturally tend to overlap).
Written Monday, October 31st
This month: 1 | Last Month: 1
Current Record: 6-4-0
After a 1-3 start to the season, the Sharks have come on strong, winning 5 straight games. (Thogh they lost tonight). The losing streak itself was a bit deceptive, as the Sharks essentially lost all 3 games by only one goal (lost 4-2 to St. Louis with an empty netter). Joe Pavelski is getting a big opportunity centering the top line between Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. He’s responded in kind, leading the team with 11 points (7G, 4A). As a whole, the Sharks’ top-6 (which also includes Clowe, Couture, and Havlat) is the best in the league, and their defence – led by veteran Dan Boyle and newcomer Brent Burns – is also very well balanced. Throw in solid goaltending from Antti Niemi, and this team is ready to challenge for its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
*Cullen ranked them 12th initially, but has since moved them up to 1st…
Yesterday I previewed the top teams in the Eastern Conference. It was not only a long and impressive list, but filled with uncertainty due Sidney Crosby’s injury, the roster overhaul in Philadelphia, and the potential of up-and-coming clubs in Buffalo and New York. Overall, the Western Conference wasn’t quite as tumultuous over the off-season, but there was significant movement from two of the top five teams. Continue reading →
There are a number of good teams in the NHL today; in fact, there are so many that you’ll often hear analysts say that you can’t rule anyone out. Once the playoffs begin, anything can happen. They point to Philadelphia’s 2010 run to the finals and Edmonton’s in 2006 (both from 8th place), as evidence that the road to NHL glory is sudden and unpredictable.
But with the exception of 2006 (unpredictable after a year’s layoff), that’s not true. Each year, there are a handful of teams – perhaps as few as 4 – with true cup potential. I can’t tell you with any certainty which of them will win the Stanley Cup, but I’m confident that I can narrow it down to a handful of eligible candidates. They are The Contenders. Continue reading →