NHL Power Rankings: Post-lockout edition
Sean takes a look at how the NHL shakes down from top to bottom entering the long-awaited new season.
Check out where all 30 teams stand before the puck drops on January 19th.
1. Los Angeles Kings -200 The defending champs will start the season at the top of the heap. With minimal changes, the Kings are poised to become the first repeat Stanley Cup winner since the Red Wings did it in 97 and 98.
2. New York Rangers -196 This is a familiar position for the Rangers, but will they finally be able to live up to all of those lofty expectations. Rick Nash should give linemate Brad Richards a huge boost.
3. Vancouver Canucks -194 The Canucks are no longer a youthful bunch, and the Roberto Luongo era has all but ended with Cory Schneider taking over as the team's starting goaltender. Still, this is a team that always seems to be in the mix for the President's Trophy and this year will be no different.
4. Boston Bruins -189 Boston suffered a Stanley Cup hangover last season, but should bounce back strong in the shortened 2013 campaign. The play of Tuukka Rask in goal will be key, as he takes over for Tim Thomas.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins -186 I'm not quite as high on the Penguins as most entering the new season. Can Sidney Crosby stay healthy? Will the Jordan Staal trade pay off? The Pens will be good, but I'm not sure they'll be great.
6. Chicago Blackhawks -182 The Blackhawks are loaded with talent, but haven't been able to regain the form that saw them bring home the Stanley Cup three years ago. Goaltending remains a big issue, with the inconsistent duo of Ray Emery and Corey Crawford being relied upon.
7. St. Louis Blues -177 The pieces are in place for the Blues to make a run. This is a young team, but that's not necessarily a bad thing in today's NHL, especially when you're led by an accomplished head coach like Ken Hitchcock. In a shortened season, the Blues could be an excellent sleeper.
8. Detroit Red Wings -171 The post-Nick Lidstrom era begins in Detroit. The Red Wings aren't getting any younger, but Ken Holland always ices a competitive team, and this year will be no different. The Wings will find a way to contend for top spot in the West once again.
9. Philadelphia Flyers -166 After watching former teammates Mike Richards and Jeff Carter hoist the Cup with the Kings last summer, the Flyers will be extra-motivated to turn the trick themselves here in 2013. Until they come up with a permanent answer between the pipes, they'll remain a longshot at best.
10. Washington Capitals -163 With the built-in advantage of playing in the Southeast Division, the Capitals are always a threat to take a run at the title. After a disappointing 2011-12 campaign, there will be no shortage of motivation for Ovie and the Caps to bounce back, and with the talent on hand, they should do just that.
11. San Jose Sharks -158 The same old Sharks are back. It's hard to say how many more playoff runs the likes of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have left in them. Some would say they're due to miss the playoffs altogether. The reality should lie somewhere in the middle.
12. Minnesota Wild -153 Perhaps no hockey market is more excited about the return of the NHL than Minnesota. With the additions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild were the big winners in the offseason - we'll see if that translates into success on the ice.
13. Buffalo Sabres -149 The Sabres just haven't been able to get over the hump in recent years, but there's no question, this is a team loaded with talent, depth, and an all-world goaltender in Ryan Miller. A shortened season could benefit them a great deal, although playing the majority of their schedule against Northeast Division foes will be tough.
14. Dallas Stars -144 Dallas will be relying on some aging talent such as Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney in an effort to return to prominence. The loss of Mike Ribeiro hurts.
15. Tampa Bay Lightning -139 Don't be fooled. Yes, the Lightning have plenty of talent on paper, but not a great deal of depth. With Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier on the downside of their respective careers, a lot will be placed on the shoulders of Steven Stamkos.
16. Carolina Hurricanes -134 The Staal brothers have been reunited, and Carolina looks like a team to watch in 2013. The addition of Alex Semin from Washington gives the 'Canes even more offensive pop, while youngsters Jeff Skinner and Tim Gleason give them hope for the future.
17. Ottawa Senators -127 The Sens ran into a tough opening round playoff matchup against the Rangers last year, but that didn't take anything away from what was a surprisingly good season. The building blocks are there, but playing in a tough Northeast Division could be their downfall.
18. New Jersey Devils -122 New Jersey's season may rest on whether or not Ilya Kovalchuk returns from Russia. Without him, the Devils would be seriously undermanned offensively, especially considering Zach Parise flew the coop to Minnesota in the offseason.
19. Edmonton Oilers -117 I really think this is the year the Oilers make some noise in the West. With the majority of their young stars getting some much-needed experience at the AHL level this season, the Oil could have one of the most cohesive units in the league early on.
20. Colorado Avalanche -111 It's going to take at least another year for the Avalanche to become a serious player in the Western Conference. They'll ice a lot of talent, but a little too much youth at this point.
21. Nashville Predators -106 Credit the Preds for at least holding on to Shea Weber. This is never going to be a team that wins on talent alone. Gritty play will once again be the norm, as Nashville looks to get over the hump in a crowded Western Conference.
22. Toronto Maple Leafs -101 There are issues all over the place, and the firing of GM Brian Burke came at a rather curious time, but that doesn't mean there isn't a sense of optimism in Leaf Land these days. It remains to be seen whether it's warranted or not.
23. Phoenix Coyotes 104 Was last year's playoff run a fluke? Maybe. The 'Yotes rode the hot hand of goaltender Mike Smith all the way to the Western Conference Final but don't count on a repeat trip this spring.
24. Montreal Canadiens 109 Montreal is hungry for a winner these days. Very hungry. I'm not convinced that Michel Therrien is the answer behind the bench, but I've been proven wrong before. It looks like the Habs are a couple of pieces away from icing a playoff team.
25. Anaheim Ducks 114 The Ducks are loaded, but that hasn't translated into much success in recent years, and I won't be surprised if they underachieve once again in 2013.
26. Florida Panthers 117 Florida was a bad bounce away from ousting the eventual Eastern Conference champion Devils in the opening round of last year's playoffs. However, I think they're in for a fall here in 2013. Goaltending is a major issue, and there are too many holes to fill on the blue line.
27. Winnipeg Jets 121 The Jets will have arguably the toughest travel schedule in the league, but they certainly won't use that as an excuse. This is a young team, and one that is still a year or two away from contending.
28. New York Islanders 124 The Isles will need a lot of bounces to go their way in order to make an improbable run to the postseason. If John Tavares turns in an Hart Trophy-type year, they might have an outside shot, but that's highly unlikely.
29. Calgary Flames 128 Calgary earns a reprieve only thanks to how bad the Blue Jackets are. The Flames really are a mess right now, in my opinion. In an ultra-competitive West, they'll struggle to stay competitive.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets 132 Rick Nash is gone, and so are the Blue Jackets hopes of contending in the next 3-5 years. The cupboard isn't bare, but don't be surprised if the Jackets goaltending situation gets worse before it gets better.
- April 23, 2014 - 7:05 PM
- Doc's Sports
- Offered at:
- betonline @ -135 Cleveland
Doc's Sports Wednesday MLB Free Play!
Wednesday MLB Free Play from Doc’s Sports Take #972 Cleveland Indians (-135) over Kansas City Royals (Wednesday, 7:05pm EST) The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals both exceeded expectations in a big way last year. The Indians grabbed a wild card berth with 92 wins while the Royals were in the race most of the way with 86. They were two of the best stories in baseball last season, but only one of those teams has a realistic shot of doing it once again. The Royals were successful in 2013 due to a dynamite bullpen and superb defense. Good bullpens are very hard to maintain from year-to-year as they are already finding out. Their bullpen ERA is over a full run higher than last season and two of their top guys are on the disabled on top of it. The Royals had unbelievable defensive metrics last season, and those will also be hard to repeat. The Indians, on the other hand, were successful last year mainly due to a well-balanced offense and good starting pitching numbers. Those variables are much more consistent from season-to-season, so I think the Tribe has a good chance to be in the thick of things again in 2014. Team ace Justin Masterson takes the ball for Cleveland on Wednesday, and he looked good last time out after a couple of shaky outings. On the other side is Jason Vargas for Kansas City – a guy who generally keeps his team in the game but won’t dominate the opposition. Big edge to the Indians there. Add in the home field advantage and the fact that Cleveland has the better overall team, and it all adds up to a play on the Indians here.