The third week of NHL.com’s weekly Power Rankings may look like a little case of deja vu not long after Groundhog Day, but don’t worry, you’re not reliving last week all over again. The Chicago Blackhawks are still the first-ranked team, the San Jose Sharks are still the second-ranked team, and the Boston Bruins are still ranked third.
For Chicago, the power rankings focus on their success in two situations that might be less than advantageous for teams: on the road and in the second half of back-to-back games. While away from the United Center, the Blackhawks have a 5-0-2 record. They’ve won all three of their games that have been the second half of back-to-backs. They’re also great at scoring even-strength goals, spreading the scoring around the lineup and relying on the play of goalie Corey Crawford (above).
In fact, Chicago’s next game will be against the second-ranked Sharks. Their 7-0-1 record and 15 points put them just one little point behind Chicago in the Western Conference. What’s old is new again in San Jose as veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau surprise fans with their scoring touches. They’re deft at killing penalties–they’ve killed 21 in a row–and have only allowed 13 goals in eight games. Only time will tell if they can shake the record of not going very far in the playoffs, but this start is definitely good for them.
The highest-ranked Eastern team is once again the Bruins. Sure, they had that aberration of a 7-4 loss, but the power rankings point out that that loss came in great part to the five points put up by Thomas Vanek. Earlier on in the season, Marian Gaborik‘s hat trick brought about a 4-3 overtime loss. Basically, it takes the herculean efforts of just one player to really get past and defeat Boston–which could be interpreted as a call for the Bruins’ defense to shore itself up and become more effective at shutting down those guys so the forwards (or other defensemen) are then able to come in, score and build up a win.
Other top-ranked teams include the St. Louis Blues (fourth place), Pittsburgh Penguins (fifth place) and Tampa Bay Lightning (sixth place). All of those teams either stayed in the same place as last week or shuffled up a spot to keep up the deja vu pattern. But then there are the big surprises: the teams that surged up from the bottom or from not even being ranked at all, like the Anaheim Ducks (ninth), Edmonton Oilers (11th) and New York Islanders (15th).
See? It’s not deja vu after all.