Local Hockey Power Rankings- Week 11
There was some movement once again this week. We also saw some unfortunate off the ice news and crazy breaking news that I can include because I wrote this later than I should have. This week, we had three voters including myself.
1. New York Islanders: 11 points (2 first-place votes) Last Week: 3
Record: 22-7-2 (3-0-0 last week) Week MVP: Jordan Eberle
The Islanders got back on track this week, tearing through Florida before a home win against Buffalo. They began in Tampa Bay where they would unload five goals on Curtis McElhinney on 24 shots. Ross Johnston opened the scoring with possibly the best goal of his career, a post-and-in rip while skating down right-wing. Brock Nelson put the game away with two in the third, the final was 5-1. Next up were the Panthers where the Islanders’ powerplay put in some work. New York went 2/4 with the man advantage, with goals from Devon Toews and Mat Barzal giving them a 2-0 lead 5 minutes into the second period, en route to a 3-1 win. They then returned home on Dec. 14 for a matchup with the Sabres. In a back and forth game, the Islanders led 2-1 with under two minutes to go. Unfortunately, Barzal took an undisciplined roughing penalty and Jack Eichel tied the game on the ensuing power play. Fortunately for Barzal, and the Islanders, Anthony Beauvillier came to the rescue in overtime and potted a breakaway chance top shelf on Linus Ullmark. Jordan Eberle ended the week with four points in three games while the Islanders maintained third place in the NHL behind Washington and Boston with games in hand on everyone around them. They will face the Bruins in Boston this week in between home matchups with Nashville and Anaheim.
2. New York Rangers: 10 points (1 first-place vote) Last Week: 2
Record: 16-12-4 (1-1-1 last week) Week MVP: Artemi Panarin
This week was the Blueshirts’ California road trip where they went loss-win-SO loss. Beginning in Los Angeles, the Rangers were held scoreless by Jonathan Quick for 59:29 before Artemi Panarin pulled them within one in the final minute. It wasn’t enough, however, as Adrian Kempe’s empty netter became LA’s second final minute goal. This followed Dustin Brown’s first-period goal with 11 seconds remaining. After the 3-1 loss, the Rangers moved on to San Jose and faced the Sharks in a wild one. After Brenden Dillon gave San Jose a 3-2 lead in the third period, New York got two goals from each Panarin and Mika Zibanejad to secure a 6-3 victory. Panarin also became the 17th player in NHL history to score a hat-trick for three different teams. They moved on to Anaheim with high hopes and a hot start as Zibanejad opened the scoring just 10 seconds in. New York would hold leads of 2-0 and 3-2 before Hampus Lindholm tied the game on the power play with under two minutes to go. The game went all the way to a shootout but the Rangers were unable to close it out as Ondrej Kase scored a do-or-die goal in the third round before Jakob Silfverberg ended it in the next round. Zibanejad and Panarin combined to score all but one goal during the three-game trip to California. This doesn’t bode well for New York’s depth but the rest of the team will look to pick it up this week hosting Nashville and Toronto before a rematch with the Ducks.
3. Philadelphia Flyers: 5 points. Last Week: 1
Record: 17-11-5 (0-3-0 last week) Week MVP: Oskar Lindblom
It was a rough week for the Flyers both on and off the ice. On Monday, Dec. 9, leading goal scorer Travis Konecny was diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely while on Friday, Dec. 13 their other leading goal scorer, Oskar Lindblom, was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a rare cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. Neither has played since Dec. 7. We wish them both the best in their recovery. This week became a stretch that would test the Flyers’ depth. They failed in every way. They began in Colorado where the Flyers were held scoreless until almost five minutes left in the game, much too late. Claude Giroux’s goal, the final one of the game, made it 3-1 Avalanche. In Minnesota, James van Riemsdyk got the scoring started just 1:34 in but that would be it for Philadelphia as the Wild scored four unanswered, including two from Eric Staal, to get a 4-1 win. In Winnipeg, the Flyers surrendered four goals in a 4:17 stretch, taking the score from 2-1 Jets to 6-1 Jets. The final would be 7-3. It was a rocky week in Philadelphia and now, the team will look toward its leaders for guidance. Now is the time for Giroux to step up and show why he wears the C. Philly has games this week against Anaheim, Buffalo and Ottawa to figure it out and remain in playoff contention.
4. New Jersey Devils: 4 points. Last Week: 1
Record: 10-17-5 (1-2-0 last week) Week MVP: MacKenzie Blackwood
It happened. The Devils traded Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes won the sweepstakes, giving up three prospects plus a first-round pick and a conditional third that could become a second or a first. New Jersey also gave up Blake Speers. A far cry from the infamous “one for one” trade from three summers ago, the Devils get a haul of prospects who may not be household names but can be very good NHLers plus some draft capital. Hall sat out the final two games of the week but was present for New Jersey’s 2-0 loss in Dallas on Dec. 10. After he began sitting out as trade rumors swirled, the Devils lost again, this time 3-1 to Colorado. New Jersey was held off the board in this one until there was less than five minutes remaining. They finished the week on a positive note, however, defeating the Coyotes 2-1. Kyle Palmieri scored the game-winner in the third period and the Devils left Taylor Hall there. Positively, Alain Nasreddine got his first career coaching win and MacKenzie Blackwood was spectacular, stopping 83 of 86 shots in three appearances (two starts). The Devils began a new era and will continue this week, facing Anaheim, Washington and Columbus.