nhl power rankings and projections: dec. 3

In this week’s power rankings, Washington and Anaheim fall out of the top five, Pittsburgh loosens its stronghold on the number one spot and Dallas has the biggest drop of the week falling into the bottom 10.

Meanwhile, the Central division continues to show its strength while the Metro division is a downright laughingstock .

If you haven’t read it yet, this is how I’ll be measuring each team this year. And here is last week’s rankings.

The chart below is how things are shaking up this week.


10 Thoughts on Rankings

1. You think Boston misses Chara and Krejci? Last year they were the top team by a significant margin. This year they’ve been average and they look like it in games too. They’re not getting the bounces they’re accustomed to and are still dominating the possession game, but still there’s some cause for concern there.

2. Washington has been a POP darling here for the entire season and has been in the top five since the beginning. I still have faith they can turn it around, but they did not look good in losses to Toronto and Vancouver. They let in three powerplay goals in each game which has dropped them to 29th in the league on the penalty-kill and the biggest reason they’ve dropped in the rankings.

3. Taking their spot (and Anaheim’s) in the top five is Vancouver and Tampa Bay. Vancouver is having a renaissance year and they’re doing it despite some shoddy goaltending from Ryan Miller. They’re the easy favourites to win the division.

4. Tampa has been even better, which is n surprise to many pundits who had them as dark horse contenders in the East. They’re top five across the board, but are having some trouble on the penalty kill. With Hedman back they should only get better, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.

5. Buffalo keeps winning games somehow. And by somehow I mean on the strength of .960 goaltending. They’ll go back down to the cellar real soon, these kinds of streaks don’t last forever.

6. Or in Edmonton’s case they do. They’ve been getting awful goaltending all season and have lost 10 straight. Their possession game is much improved, so there’s reason to believe they’ll bounce back here, but they won’t go anywhere when their goalie stops 89 percent of the shots he faces.

7. Two teams that have been unexpectedly impressive so far are Nashville and the Islanders. Great goaltending does wonders for a team, but it’s more important that they have play in the other team’s zone for the better part of the game and they’re both top five in that regard. If they can fix their horrendous special teams units, they’ll be scary good.

8. Montreal was a bottom five team here one week, when their powerplay was at an unsustainably low rate. They’ve predictably regressed back up to around average which is what I think they are. Nothing more, nothing less.

9. Seriously, are we worried about Los Angeles yet? I am. At least until they get some defensive depth back in Alec Martinez. Their bottom four has been putrid this year and it’s dragging the team down. A big reason for their massive drop in puck possession.

10. Carolina is proving you can climb back from the dead here. They’re still not winning games, but they’re not as bas as previously advertised. Their powerplay is very good and they got some rotten luck to start the season. I guess they’re not in Buffalo territory after all.

For my projections, I’ve adjusted POP to get a more accurate read on how many points to expect. To do that, I looked at how spread apart the teams are this season, and compared that to how spread apart teams were in the past meaning the ratings are less volatile, which gives off more stable projections.

ProjDec3Boy that Central Division is strong. There’s four 100 point teams in it, which is disheartening for the other three teams in the division. Those spots are pretty much locked up at this point, barring some sort of catastrophic setback.

Here’s how the playoffs look right now:

Tampa Bay, Detroit, Montreal
Pittsburgh, Islanders, Washington
Toronto, Boston

Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota
Vancouver, Anaheim, San Jose
Nashville, Winnipeg

The only week to week change in the playoff forecast is Winnipeg in, Los Angeles out. I doubt that lasts, but with Calgary continuing to grab points, the race is tightening for the projected final wildcard spot.

Make sure to come back next week as I incrementally update these projections.


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