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NHL Power Rankings

1. San Jose Sharks 13-3-0
Entering Nov. 11, the Sharks boast the NHL’s loan undefeated record at home (9-0). The “Shark Tank” as fans call it, has been a dead zone for opposing teams as well as an imminent loss. Under the new coaching regime, the Sharks offense is reaching is potential, with the most goals for in the league. The defense has stepped up with the offseason acquisitions of Rob Blake and Dan Boyle, providing leadership and guidance for the Sharks fairly young defense. Most importantly, San Jose has shown character in being able to come back in games in which they trail, something absent the last few years.

2. Detroit Red Wings 9-2-2
The defending Stanley Cup Champs find themselves at number two in the power rankings. Marian Hossa has been exactly what they expected, netting 8 goals and adding 9 assists, in only 13 games played. Detroit is still playing as advertised, with a tough defense led by Niklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Goalie Chris Osgood has split time with backup with Ty Conklin and neither has put up stellar numbers, making it difficult on Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings offensive juggernauts. Both carry the Wings offense again this year, although Datsyuk has only put in 3 goals. With right-winger Johan Franzen coming off injury, Detroit is going to start spreading the wealth.

3. New York Rangers 11-5-2
After 18 games played, no one would think that youngster Nikolai Zherdev would lead the team in points, but that is just the case with 5 goals and 9 assists. Markus Naslund, a big free agent signee, has been doing his part with 5 goals and 8 assists. With the exception of a hat trick last week, center Chris Drury has been struggling. Scott Gomez has had problems with finding the net, only scoring 3 goals thus far. Drury and Gomez are key to the team’s success. They have to improve, but with a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist and his 1.99 goals against average, the Rangers will be in every game.

4. Montreal Canadiens 8-2-2
Left wing Alex Tanguay leads the team in points with 14, along with defenseman Andrei Markov. Montreal is fourth in the league in the goals per game category with 3.42. With the combination of that offense and goalie Carey Price, the Canadiens are a very dangerous team. Price has a 2.61 GAA and .917 save percentage, keeping games close. The problem the Canadiens have is on defense. With the exception of Markov, not many defenseman are contributing. Roman Hamrlik has 5 points, but the rest have 2 points or less. The offense will not be able to carry the team the whole season. The defense must get involved if Montreal expects to win the tough Northeast division.

5. Boston Bruins 8-3-3
Archrival Montreal got the nod over Boston because of their head-to-head matchup earlier in the season, a shootout victory for the Canadiens. Boston has been a very formidable opponent and the record shows that. On average, the Bruins get outshot every game, but goalie Tim Thomas has been exceptional, boasting a 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. For the offense, Marc Savard is the unquestioned leader of the team with 16 points. The next best offenseman has only 9 points. Savard is also second on the team in penalty minutes, putting added pressure on the penalty kill unit. With Savard being off the ice constantly, more players have to step up if the Bruins are to legitimately challenge Montreal.

6. Buffalo Sabres 8-3-3
Buffalo has one of the best penalty kill units in the game, which helps them cover their own mistakes. Along with doing that, goalie Ryan Miller has a GAA just over 2. Buffalo is a team that just gets it done and they score when they have to. Their records at home and away are virtually identical making them a team to bet on every night.

7. Washington Capitals 8-4-2
It’s been a breakout year for Alexander Semin so far, leading the league in points with 22 (11G 11A). Alex Ovechkin has been an assist man this year, with 7 helpers and only 3 goals. It’s safe to say an Alex is going to score every night the Caps play.

8. Chicago Blackhawks 7-3-3
Captain Jonathan Toews has been having a tough time lately, with only 1 goal in 13 games played. Patrick Kane has picked up the slack, however, leading the team with 18 points (7G 11A). The problem for Chicago is goaltending. Nikolai Khabibulin has started seven games and Cristobal Huet has started six. Rumors are swirling that Khabibulin could be traded at any time, but with a 7-3-3 record, it doesn’t look like it is much of a distraction.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins 8-4-2
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin only have a combined 7 goals, yet lead the team in points. How is that possible? Both have a staggering number of assists. Malkin has 18 assists on the year, and Crosby has 13. As good as it is to see both helping their teammates, Malkin and Crosby need to start being more selfish and put the puck in the net if Pittsburgh wants to get better.

10. Anaheim Ducks 9-7-1
After such a terrible start, Anaheim has climbed back into the hunt for the Pacific division and the Western Conference. Over the last ten games, the Ducks are 7-2-1, making them one of the hottest teams in the league right now. A troubling stat, though, is they have more goals against, then for. They better get that straightened out quickly.

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sharks Report III – San Jose 4 Detroit 2 Final

Wow! What a great game to watch!  It was phenomenal to see the Sharks play the way they did tonight.  In 3 days they beat both conference champions from last year, the Penguins and Red Wings.  Tonight’s game was complete domination by San Jose in all aspects of the game.

The Sharks outshot Detroit 33-27, which was a big statement of tremendous forechecking.  The Red Wings had 14 shots in the third period that brought the numbers closer together but, for the most part, Detroit was held to bad shots and very few legitimate scoring chances.

Patrick Marleau exhibited blazing speed tonight slicing through various pairs of Detroit defenseman and Jumbo Joe Thornton laid a big hit on Niklas Lidstrom, showcasing his hard-nosed side.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic celebrates with Jamie McGinn after McGinn notched his first career goal

Marc-Edouard Vlasic celebrates with Jamie McGinn after McGinn notched his first career goal

The Sharks used their size and speed to overpower the Red Wings.  Hits were 29-16 wearing down a possibly tired Detroit team coming into a back-to-back.  Detroit players won’t list that as an excuse, however.  Nor should anyone blame this loss on Ty Conklin, who played wonderfully tonight despite allowing the 4 goals.  Detroit giveaways and losing battles for lose pucks were their downfall.

Todd McClellan can now relax after beating his former team in his first opportunity.  He outcoached Mike Babcock the entire game putting out matchups that worked and sticking with them.

Devin Setoguchi, who had two assists tonight, really showed me something.  This kid puts 110% on the ice and takes advantage of every shift, and every loose puck.  He can grow into one of those players who makes everyone around him better.

Joe Pavelski is a Red Wing killer.  His first NHL goal came with 5.9 seconds left at Detroit to beat the Red Wings.  From then on, he has scored or gotten a point in so many games against Detroit.  I love this kid.  His wrister is wicked.

Joe Pavelski > Detroit

Joe Pavelski > Detroit

Jamie McGinn, Sharks rookie, scored his first career NHL goal in only his second career game.  Great story.  He got it by working hard and poking the puck through Conklin’s pads.  Congratulations, Jamie.

The defense as a unit shut down Datsyuk and Zetterberg, keeping them off the score-sheet.  Despite their mental lapse in the first twenty seconds of the second when Marian Hossa scored, they played spectacular.

The Sharks are now 6-0 at home, cementing HP Pavilion, or the Shark Tank, as one of the toughest places to play.  Sharks fans are among the most passionate in the world, selling out game after game and making it tough on opponents to get their bearings.  Keep it up, fans.

One thing is for certain: The Red Wings have just experienced the best team in the National Hockey League.

The San Jose Sharks.

Ray wins! Nathan loses!  Time for Nathan to put on some Sharks stuff after his Wings lose to the almighty.

-Ray

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment