NHL Power Rankings, CBA ideas
Herm’s back covering the NHL, and it’s been a great season so far. The NHL begins the unofficial second half as the all-star game has ended and the trade deadline is around 4 weeks away. Team Chara scored a 12-9 victory in the all-star game, while Team Alfredson won the skills competition. It was an entertaining and fun weekend for all involved. The future of many high profile players is in question as the league moves toward the Feb. 27th trade deadline. Suter, Webber, Doan, Iginla , and Parise are the big time players to watch at the deadline. As February moves along we’ll get into that more in depth. Right now, as I write this in the early morning hours in the last day of January, here’s Herm’s NHL Power Rankings.
- New York Rangers- The Rangers have at times been the best team in the league this year, and the worst they have been is a top 5 team. They trail the Red Wings by 1 point for tops in the league, but they have played 3 less games. The Rangers also have one less loss (regulation and OT/SO combined) and an above .500 road record. Detroit is 1 game under .500 on the road. They also beat Boston on the road a week before the break. Henrik Lundqvist is having a career year, and with 35 games remaining he is only 15 wins shy of his career record. He also has career highs with a 1.87GAA and a .937 Save Pct. He’s not only a candidate for the Vezina, but in my opinion he should be considered for the MVP
- Detroit Red Wings- The Wings lead the league in points, Jimmy Howard leads the league in wins, and they have a 20-2-1 home record. They have the second best goal differential in the league. They have Nicklas Lindstrom. They just recently had a seven game winning streak. With the signing of Prince Fielder, the Lions great season, and the Wings playing this way it is good to be a fan in Detroit. Well as long as you ignore the Pistons.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins- 7 game winning streak to finish up before the break. Evegeni Malkin leads the league in points, and is 4th in goals. He’s one man who can make my consideration for Henrik fade a bit. James Neal is tied for 2nd in goals. Oh yea, and Sidney Crosby has only played 8 games. His return is unpredictable as it was discovered he also had a neck injury along with his concussion-like symptoms. Crosby did skate yesterday with other injured teammates. It appears he’s heading in the right direction, but as we saw when he tried to come back earlier this year it did not last very long.
4. Boston Bruins- The defending champs have been rolling since a 3-7 start; they are 28-7-2 since their first 10 games. Tim Thmoas caused a stir by skipping the White House visit, but he’s creating a bigger stir on the ice with his excellent play. Zdeno Chara broke his own record with a slap shot of over 108 MPH in the skills competition. He also scored a goal in the all-star game and was the winning captain. Everyone’s waiting to see if the B’s make some kind of move at the deadline, but this team right now is a contender for the cup.
5. Nashville, Chicago, and St Louis- A 3-way tie for teams 5-7 in my rankings come from the dominant central division. Nashville won 9 out of 10 before the break. They have big decisions to make as it relates to defensemen Suter and Webber. It’ll be hard to trade them. They are only 3 points behind Detroit and they could compete for a cup with an addition of a big name or a few complimentary players rather than trading away one or both of their two stars on the blue line. St. Louis has been on a tear since Ken Hitchcock took over. They sit only two points behind the Red Wings with a game in hand. Chicago, the 2010 champs, have gone through a roster transformation since winning their title. They have done a fabulous job and are only 3 points away from Detroit just like the Predators. These 3 teams along with Detroit will battle it out for the top spot in the Central, and possibly their conference and the entire league.
8. Philadelphia Flyers- The Flyers have some of the league’s best talent. Claude Giroux is showing himself to be a special player. Jaromir Jagr is battling some bumps and bruises but he has shown he can still be very competitive. Scott Hartnell is an annoying problem for other teams, but he’s great for Philly and is having a career year. They’ve gotten good, but not great goaltending; however, they are one of only five teams in the east with a positive goal differential. It may not be the Flyers year, but long term they could be a top team in this league.
9. Vancouver Canucks- It’s difficult to put this team this low; they are second in the west, they have the Sedin twins, and they have the best power play. Losing the 7th game of a finals series at home can be a great motivator.
10. LA/San Jose- These two teams are both deserving of being ranked. These two will battle it out for the Pacific and two points are all that separate them. San Jose has 3 games in hand on LA which could be the deciding factor in the division. Especially since 2 of their 3 remaining matches are a home and home series to end the season
Outside looking in:
Washington Capitals- back on track, they have overtaken the Panthers for the division lead
Ottawa Senators-They stumbled a bit into the break but are in 6th place in the easy
New Jersey Devils- big matchups against the Rangers (twice), Flyers, Pens, and Blues in the next week or so. This stretch of games could determine their playoff fate, and Zach Parise’s future.
The NHL’s CBA is up at the end of the year. After having a lockout just 8 years ago it is imperative the league and union come to an agreement without losing any games. The damage could be too much to recover from; especially with a few teams having financial and ownership issues. I’m not sure how they want to divide money and base the salary cap but I think a few things should be addressed. First, stop giving points for losses, at least in overtime. The shootout is a skills competition and a show, so getting a point for each of those losses is not a terrible thing. The Florida Panthers are 22-15-11, theoretically 4 games under .500. They have 55 points. The Devils are 26-19-3 and they also have 55 points. The Panthers get a tie breaker advantage for having less shootout wins as part of their total. However, 5 of their OT losses are not in the shootout; that’s 5 points in the standings. I see no reason why a team that’s below .500 should ever be in front of a team that’s above .500. Easy to point out some hometown love for my Devs, but I’d say the same for any other team in that situation. I also think most of you would agree just in general with that sentiment. Perhaps wins could be awarded a higher point value, or maybe half points could be used for overtime and/or shootout situations. I’d also think that a set discipline standard should be implemented for hits with a set number of games for each violation. There’s too much grey area when an individual gets to determine each amount of games. Keep fights in the game. Penalize hits to the head as double minor if not major penalties. Get rid of the trapezoid. Maybe a second 3 on 3 overtime before going to a shootout would be good; it’s still entertaining and it’s still a game situation instead of a skills competition.
There’s my rankings/rant for the week. Tune in next time…