Nashville is poised to take home a President's Trophy (the most difficult title in all of professional sports) a year after finishing 19th in the league. They've become a tough team all over - top 5 goaltending, top 10 at even strength, top 10 penalty kill. Their only weakness is on the power play where they rank 17th in the league. They're going to benefit from the Blues and Blackhawks beating the snot out of each other in the first round and a deep defense that should present issues for the winner of that series and the Kings, should they get through the Pacific.
The Kings have won eight in a row and have climbed into the top 10 at even strength for the first time this season. If they can right their power play, the rest of the division is going to be in trouble.
One more Comment on Devan Dubnyk. I've been banging the drum for a Hart Trophy for the Oilers' castaway in a scenario where the Wild make the playoffs. For the Wild to pull the 8 seed, Dubnyk will have a minimum of a 33-15-5 record with a ~.925 save percentage. Other Wild goaltenders will be 10-15-4 with an .890 save percentage. Even if they don't make the playoffs, this is Andre Dawson - Chicago Cubs territory.
About these rankings:
Two seasons ago, I set out to eliminate the non-sense behind power rankings by building a power rankings model based on underlying statistics and their predictive ability. The rankings were built on points earned, special teams, even strength play and goaltending, so they were constantly in flux.
I'm still playing around with the model, but here is my best effort at predicting the standings and playoff pairings at the end of the season. One item of note - 38% of the game is luck, and I don't attempt to predict or model that 38%, and I don't plan to.
|3||New York Rangers||4.45||7||4|
|5||St. Louis Blues||5.27||2||-3|
|6||Detroit Red Wings||6.10||3||-3|
|7||New York Islanders||6.12||5||-2|
|8||Tampa Bay Lightning||8.05||9||1|
|12||Los Angeles Kings||10.79||18||6|
|17||San Jose Sharks||14.91||14||-3|
|24||New Jersey Devils||21.47||26||2|
|26||Columbus Blue Jackets||22.64||24||-2|
|27||Toronto Maple Leafs||22.84||27||0|
- Hey Tahronna, it's nice to see you down here. Sit. Stay for a spell. Do your penance for believing in shot quality.
- During the off-season, I was a huge Jim Nill fan. He made some brilliant moves and had the Stars in a position to compete with Chicago and St. Louis, as long as he added a solid defender or two. I thought Tom Gilbert would be a nice signing for the Stars. Last time I said he's wasted a season by not fixing his defense - this time around he still hasn't fixed it and the Stars are buried. It's going to take an incredible run for them to make the playoffs. If they don't - Nill should be fired. Running a KHL-level defense for an entire season is inexcusable.
- I'd love to see Arizona win the lottery and take Connor McDavid to the desert. The teeth would gnash ever so sweetly.
- An e-mailer asked if I felt negative bloggers like myself should feel responsible for the length of Edmonton's rebuild because of the pressure we put on management to succeed too soon. Sure, we called management out, and continue to do so, but we also gave them blueprints to fix the mess, and they ignored it, what with all of those rings. Edmonton is now in year 9 of the rebuild and they're in 29th place. It brings to mind an old poker aphorism: "Listen, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker." Except it's not poker, it's hockey, and it's not a half-hour, it's a decade.
|3||New York Rangers||4.45||4||Montreal Canadiens||4.65|
|11||Washington Capitals||9.45||16||Boston Bruins||13.73|
|7||New York Islanders||6.12||6||Detroit Red Wings||6.10|
|9||Pittsburgh Penguins||8.65||8||Tampa Bay Lightning||8.05|
|1||Nashville Predators||1.97||2||Anaheim Ducks||4.26|
|14||Winnipeg Jets||11.94||15||Minnesota Wild||12.55|
|5||St. Louis Blues||5.27||12||Los Angeles Kings||10.79|
|10||Chicago Blackhawks||8.77||13||Vancouver Canucks||11.13|
- Chicago should be able to hold on to a division spot without Patrick Kane, but if they don't and Winnipeg and Minnesota slide on by -- how angry are Ducks fans going to be about the crossover?
- The scenario above is a really fun first round. Blues-Hawks, Bruins-Canadiens Pens-Isles and Ovechkin in New York with some help this time.
- Dear Sharks: do what Jim Nill couldn't: trade for Jeff Petry and make the playoffs.