The Debut of Ranger Fans Rankings
Welcome to the premier of my “power” rankings! A lot has happened since predictions made to start the year, and now we have played over a quarter of the season. Let’s see how your team is faring, and do I think your team has a chance to improve?Ranking – Team Name – Record – Previous Ranking
30. St. Louis Blues (5-15-3) 14
What can we say that’s positive about the Blues this year? The only good news is that hopefully Larry Pleau will no longer ruin the franchise by being relieved of his duties. Patrick Lalime is like Swiss cheese. If seen better goaltending by Darren Pang, and John Blue. Dean McAmmond is the only player scoring, and Petr Cajanek is putting up some assist. I don’t see Doug Weight staying, and Scott Young has been alright. Will Keith Tkachuk get them going in the right direction, time will tell. I see this team missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years! Look for them to move up a little in the western conference standings, finishing 10th-14th.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-19-0) 27
Ouch! I thought this team was going to make a push in the playoffs, and well they still might if they get healthy and start to score. There is still a lot of hockey to be played, but a lot of injuries for this team. Marc Denis is out for a little while longer, and all I can say is the Pascal Leclaire needs to step up and make a statement now. Hopefully Rick Nash recovers shortly, because the Blue Jackets can NOT score, not even with Sergei Fedorov. Adam Foote, and Rostislav Klesla are also out, making the defense a little weak. Picking up Hainsey from waivers was a great move. I think the Blue Jackets might stumble back to .500 by season end, but not too much better at all. Chances are the Jackets will finish no better than 8th in the west, and even that might be a long shot. They have to score more than 1.76 goals a game.
28. Washington Capitals (8-15-2) 28
I was looking forward to seeing two rookies from the Caps, and one has not been disappointing. The debate two years ago was Sid the Kid, or Ovechkin. I choose Alexander. He already has 15 goals, 25 points in 24 games on a Caps team that will most likely finish at the bottom of the East. Kolzig will most likely be dealt in March. I was also looking forward to seeing Chris Bourque, but the Caps didn’t want to see him on their lackluster roster.
27. Florida Panthers (8-14-4) 24
Mike Keenan thought he could add some exLeafs and make it to the playoffs to fall short, but even that plan won’t work. Jokinen has been doing well, and Nathan Horton has been scoring, but a candidate for rookie of the year will fall short. He has 7 goals, 10 points through 15 games. I would be shocked if Roberto Luongo stayed in Florida. I don’t see Mike Keenan signing him after this season. Rumour has it that he will be traded to the west, Vancouver and Colorado the candidates. Jaime McLennan is capable of doing decent in between the pipes. I don’t see the Panthers making much of a climb in the standings either.
26. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-13-6) 30
I’d hate to anger the Pens fans by saying I told you so, therefore I won’t. Anyway, Since the horrible start, the Pens have been about a .500 team, and I can’t see them doing better. Caron is not a starting goalie…yet, and Fleury is still raw. “Tibo” struggled and cleared waivers. Sid has done well (12G, 28P) in 25 games. For public relations, I think Ovechkin will have to really have much better states to win the rookie of the year, as it would make bad publicity if the Next One didn’t win rookie of the year. Ziggy has done very well too. Pittsburgh needs more production out of their players, and give up less to make the playoffs, and honestly I don’t see Pittsburgh getting in.
25. Boston Bruins (9-13-5) 9
Start up the band… Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah hey hey hey Goodbye! O’Connell needs to be fired. Joe Thornton could have easily landed him another top player, but instead got a decent Left Winger, and two players that never have panned out. Everyone was praising the B’s for being set for the lockout, but they never really signed anyone worth mentioning behind the aging, and injury prone Brian Leetch. The B’s show little chemistry, and while they are in most games the play, they are always one short. I really like Hannu between the pipes, and he could really be a solid keeper in the next few years. Raycroft isn’t doing bad, but not like last playing season either. Brian Leetch is injured, big Joe is out, but the B’s still have talent to climb. I think we will see home more changes, and Boston might even tank again to try and draft Phil Kessel. Will Sullivan be let go for Ray Bourque??? Is Ray even ready? Congrats on the big debut for Sturm!
24. Chicago Blackhawks (10-14-0) 29
Trent Yawney has done decent with this group, but I don’t see very much happening with this team. Khabibulin is not worth what was paid for him, but everyone should know by now that if he decides to become the wall again, and Calder and Bell can keep lighting it up, Chicago might sneak up in the standings. I see them finishing below .500, and out of the playoffs.
23. San Jose Sharks (8-12-4) 3
Doug Wilson has made some changes, and it might be the kick in the rear this team needs. People always overlook the Sharks as contenders, but except Sutters last year with the team, San Jose has always done very well. I think they will stumble into the playoffs. Nabakov is a great goalie, and with 2 excellent centers now, and two solid lines, I think the Sharks have what it takes to climb to about the 7th seed. I see Wilson acquiring a winger shortly, perhaps for Toskala, who is struggling, but I feel could be a solid goalie. Nolan Schaefer has been really good too. It’s too early to tell if he is simply overachieving, or somehow he went from a backup at Providence to sharing time, to doing really well in 6 NHL games.
22. Minnesota Wild (10-11-3) 19
Jacques had a really good trap system before the rule changes, and I figured if any coach could easily make the transition it was him. Face it; the Wild had good goaltending, and a lot of speed. Unfortunately, it is not looking too promising early for them. Gaborik is back which should mean some goal scoring, which is their problem. Dwayne and Manny are looking great. But in 24 games, they have 64 goals. That has got to be better for Minnesota to have a chance.
21. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (11-11-4) 22
What happened to this team last year? Come to think of it, is there still a Mighty Ducks team? They literally swapped Fedorov for Marchant… ouch! Was signing Giguere that smart of a move? Ask Carolina how Gerber is doing, not to mention Bryzgalov in the system. Speaking of JS, he is back and better earn that money. He started off good, and might even be sharing duty with Bryzgalov. He is playing great. For the Ducks to move up in my rankings, they need to score more than 2.67 goals a game. I don’t see this team making the playoffs, and in my opinion, they might finish at the bottom of the West. On a positive note, what do you guys think of Teemu… not too shabby.
20. Atlanta Thrashers (10-15-3) 21
In September, this was my pick to win the Stanley Cup, and I will stick with my choice. I thought this division was between them, and the Bolts, and all I can say is who would have thought the Tropical Depressions would have strengthened to a Category 4 Hurricane overnight? Anyway, Heatley requested out, and getting Hossa and de Vries in return was solid. Atlanta has had bad luck with injuries between the pipes, and I still believe this team will squeak into the playoffs. Ones Lehtonen is back, I think this will be a tough team to beat. Atlanta is averaging about 3 and a half goals a game after a brutal start. It’s tough to win with your 5th string netminder playing quite a bit. Dunham looked solid, for both of his stints before the IR.
19. New York Islanders (12-12-1) 15
I am shocked Mad Mike has not been involved in the stupid trades that we have seen lately. I have a feeling that he might feel like a couple of GMs are outdoing him. Don’t be surprised to see Ninimaa shipped for next to nothing, like the Peca deal. (no disrespect to York) The Isles are once again hovering around .500 like what we have seen of them in the last few seasons. Unfortunately, .500 doesn’t appear to get you into the playoffs. Blake Satan and YASHIN are looking well so far, with no a little help from Parrish. DiPietro could be doing better, and “mini” Garth isn’t doing great, but not poor either. Goaltending is going to have to improve to be a bigger threat, and a little more production out of the second line for this team to make it into the playoffs.
18. Phoenix Coyotes (13-12-2) 26
The Golden Brett retired in the first 5 games, as the Great Ones team struggled. Since then they have done fine. Goaltending has done very well for the ‘Yotes, but the scoring needs to improve. Only 2.6 goals a game, with Nagy leading points column. How do you know your team isn’t scoring well? The answer is Mike Leclerc leads with 9 goals. Shane Doan needs to really pick it up, and Nedved is needed back. Sounds kinda funny eh? A team needs Petr Nedved? Cujo apparently found the hole in his pads over the lockout. Phoenix should make a push into the playoffs finishing anywhere from 7th-10th in the West.
17. New Jersey Devils (12-10-2) 12
What happens when you lose your two best defenseman? Your goalie gets less help, giving up more goals per game since… ever! Brodeur is becoming less and less of a sure thing, and perhaps is no longer the greatest goalie in the NHL. He doesn’t even have a point yet! That said, the Devils will do better when Elias is 100%. Gionta has been doing great, as has Gomez and Mogilny. Lou might need to jolt this team up with a trade if the Devils continue for them mediocrity. I would be shocked if NJ didn’t make the playoffs.
16. Edmonton Oilers (15-11-1) 17
Craig McT’s club has gotten off to a decent start, but I expected them to do better. Two huge transactions to start the season in Peca and Pronger, but the Oilers are only 4 games over .500. If things get worse, look for Craig to abuse another mascot. I’ve been very impressed with the top two lines, and Mike Morrison. Time will tell if the Oil are simply overachieving with their youth, or Pronger and struggling Peca will indeed keep them in the chase.
15. Colorado Avalanche (14-9-3) 6
I didn’t know what to expect from Colorado after the lockout. Cap issues, and no Steve Moore back left some questions. Colorado’s primary question now is in goal. I hate to bring that up as I have Aebischer, but he is being outplayed. The only thing keeping him in the net appears to be the fact that the Avs have more confidence in him, and seem to play better infront of him. What happened to Milan Hejduk, and Ian Laperriere? 10 goals this season? Has he even had 10 goals in his whole career? Also, its great to see Turgeon doing well. Colorado will remain a question mark for me. I will take a stap saying the will be around 6th in the west.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning (14-10-3) 1
The defending champions, off to a better start than last season if I recall. John Grahame has done very well, after losing the Bulin Wall to free agency. However, Prospal really has surprised me. Here is a guy who did well in Tampa, but left for the money. AND HE STRUGGLED in Anaheim. However, he apparently has picked up where he left off. While I don’t see the Bolts going nearly as far into the playoffs as last season, I think they will finish well, probably beating out the ‘Canes, for the SE division title. Isn’t it weird that 2 years ago it was the “crap” division of the league?
13. Toronto Maple Leafs (15-9-3) 7
Well here is where I am sure most of my bashing will come from. The Leafs 13th? Ill have half of you guys telling me its too high, and the other half… too low. Belfour hasn’t been the Eagle of years past, and you can tell that the age, and back are affecting him. Sundin was lost for a while with a scary puck to the eye, but is back. It is hard for me to continue to bash McCabe. It seems that Leaf fans were correct in saying he is a great defenseman… it just took 5 years to prove that. He leads this team in points. Allison is trying to take a page out of Adam Oates playbook. He doesn’t appear to be worried about the concussions, but I’ve seen him play differently. 21 assists for him thus far. Lindros is certainly not dominating, but playing just fine. I still worry about both of their careers. Sundin is not playing great, and if the Leafs want to secure a position, he must pick it up. McCabe can’t continue to be the point leader forever if the Leafs plan to improve on the season. Chances are the Leafs will finish 6-9th in the East, as it doesn’t appear Ottawa Montreal, or even Buffalo are going to let them higher in the division without a fight.
12. Calgary Flames (15-9-3) 2
Miikka Kiprusoff. That is all you need to know. Dominating as of late. That is how Calgary will live or die. Certainly Iginla is putting up points, and Amonte and Langkow will from time to time, but its up to Miikka. Oh did I mention Kobasew? Impressive scoring touch.
11. Montreal Canadiens (14-7-5) 8
A very impressive start from the Habs. I had a feeling that Jose would feel a little added pressure without Garon behind him, but Yann Denis has done very well. Still a little confused on Gaineys first round choice this past draft. Could Theodore be dealt with Denis’ emerging play, or will it be Yann or Carrey traded? Losing Hainsey has to hurt, but that just shows you Montreals depth. I worry about the fact that when Montreal makes the playoffs, where will the Bruins be to give the Habs a “bye week?”
10. Buffalo Sabres (16-9-1) 18
Here is one of the four big surprises. Lindy Ruff, how does he do it? The Sabres were supposed to be out, bottom of the East, last in the North East. Ryan Miller plays very well, which I am not shocked. I saw him play quite a bit during the lockout, and I was sure he was ready. I don’t like Lindy playing Biron. I think Noronen is the better of the two, and if Noronen shows the league something, there is the trade bait you have been offering for about 2 years now. Biron will generate less of a return, and is a solid backup at best. The thing about Buffalo is it is not one person. Everyone is chipping in. I would like to see one of the goalies traded for a defenseman. I will go out on a limb saying that Toronto overtakes the Sabres spot by seasons end, and Buffalo might just miss the playoffs.
9. LA Kings (16-9-1) 20
I spoke about Garon for a little while back, but how about “Mr. Minorleague” Jason LaBarbara? How, who where? I think he is just on a streak, because that is not the same goalie I saw last season playing away in Ottawa. [gotta love the old Rangers and their efforts] May be the Western Conference is just as challenging as the AHL too, time will tell. I don’t see him maintaining his average, and if he does, hats off to Dave Taylor. Not only on Jason, but Demitra has been huge, Frolov a pleasant surprise, and the move under the radar, Craig Conroy. LA is playing really well, and unless the GAA goes on the rise, this team should continue to blossom.
8. Carolina Hurricanes (16-7-1) 23
Big Surprise number three is the Hurricanes. Did they ever need a big start to get some interest back. Eric Staal, what a player, [lets hope Marc has some of that] leading the ‘Canes in goals, assists and points. He is really carrying this offense, and Gerber has been stellar. I can’t see Carolina maintaining this level of play. They will almost certainly fall in the next rankings and might even miss the playoffs. Once teams can stop Staal or contain him, the Hurricanes are in trouble.
7. Vancouver Canucks (16-9-2) 11
Can they land Roberto Luongo. Cloutier will not get them to where they want to go. Auld is a good goalie, but also will not take this team deep into the playoffs. Naslund has been very good, and great to see the Sedin’s actually resemble first round selections. Vancouver will go as far as the goaltending will take them, and hopefully without any more distractions from a guy probably feared more than Chris Nilan ever was. This goon certainly takes more cheap shots than “Knuckles” ever did… heck Nilan and Ulffy Samuelsson combined.
6. Philadelphia Flyers (15-6-3) 4
The favorite to win the Presidents Trophy before the season started, and the big question was Forsberg, and his health. He hasn’t been in the lineup every night, and Gagne struggled without him. Esche had a slow start, and has been alright since. I still see the Flyers winning the conference, and they will take the Atlantic away from the Rangers within a month.
5. New York Rangers (17-7-3) 25
Speaking of the Rangers, who would have thought, you get rid of the 80 million dollar payroll, and get guys who try hard every night, and the result would be success? Kudos to Renney, I had serious doubts about him as their head coach, but I love what I see. Actually I take that back, Kevin Weekes needs a breather, even after this time to the IR. Hendrik Lundqvist has been terrific. Team Sweden, we have found your goalie! AND FINALLY, a superstar who can perform in the Big Apple! Jagr is doing very well this year. I will throw in Marek Malek’s name too. Most of you thought of this as a waste of money, but he has been good defensively and anyone see that shootout winner against the Caps? Check NHL.com’s game highlights.
4. Dallas Stars (16-7-1) 13
Turco has been great, and it seems everyone is chipping in with goals. Solid play has Dallas at #4. Arnott leads the points category and Jere Lehtinen leading in goals? Do I have a bad memory, or is this the same guy who won all of the defensive forward trophy, the Selke? Dallas should continue to win, and stay towards the top of the Western Conference.
3. Nashville Predators (16-4-3) 16
Vokoun a fluke? I don’t think so. Time and time again the Preds are outplayed and outshot, but rarely outscored. This is perhaps the biggest surprise of the year. Nashville was regarded by many of you as a fluke team, who doesn’t deserve its own franchise. They are still along way away from a great team with a great system and depth, but are performing very well, and unless something happens to Vokoun will be playing into late April.
2. Detroit Red Wings (18-7-2) 5
Even with starter Manny Legace out for a little while, the Wings continue to win and do well. I’d like to take a second and wish the best to Jiri Fischer, and hope his heart gets better. Great job, Mike Bab*****. Detroit was supposed to be this old team with a couple of young guys, but each year a new youngster “comes out of nowhere.” Would someone like to tell me where Jason Williams came out of? Great to see Steve Yzerman back on the ice too. I have a hard time seeing Detroit not winning the Western Conference, if not the Stanley Cup. If Bab***** could bring the Ducks to Game 7, the Wings should sweep every series.
AND #1 THE OTTAWA SENATORS (19-4-0) 10
What can we say about Mike Milbury. Does the Yashin trade hurt even more now. Spezza is the best right now, and he has a long career infront of him. Heatley has done well in his new home, and the ageless Hasek doing great. I don’t think they will win the Presidents, but will go far into the playoffs.