Local Hockey Power Rankings- Week 13
Lucky week 13 is here as the holiday week has passed us by and 2020 looms. In the final power rankings of the decade, the voting was close and one team found itself in unfamiliar territory. We had three voters this week including myself.
1. New York Rangers: 11 points (2 first-place votes) Last Week: 3
Record: 19-15-4 (2-1-0 last week) Week MVP: Mike Zibanejad
The Rangers bounced back from last week with a winning week and things went a lot better after Christmas than before it. On Dec. 23, the Rangers faced the Flyers for the first time this season. After Jesper Fast opened the scoring, Philly came back with five unanswered, including two from former Ranger Kevin Hayes, for a 5-1 victory. More on this game later. New York came out of the break at home against Carolina. After falling behind 1-0, the Rangers scored four straight goals and took a 4-2 lead into the third. Henrik Lundqvist made 13 of his 39 saves in the final frame to help seal a 5-3 win. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad led the way with three points apiece. The Rangers finished the week in Toronto against one of the hottest teams in the league. The Rangers controlled two back and forth periods and led 4-2 after 40 minutes. The Maple Leafs came back, however, as Auston Matthews tied the game at four with under a minute to play. The Rangers would respond in overtime. Tony Deangelo finished off a 2-on-1 to snap the Leafs six-game win streak. Ryan Strome contributed four points in this one. Next week, the Rangers head off on an Alberta/British Columbia road trip, making stops in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
2. Philadelphia Flyers: 10 points (1 first-place vote) Last Week: 1
Record: 22-12-5 (2-1-0 last week) Week MVP: Kevin Hayes
The Flyers’ week was like a sandwich with two beautiful slices of bread with something ugly in the middle that you don’t want to touch. They began by routing the Rangers 5-1 on home ice to extend their win streak to four games. Four third period goals blew the game wide open. Kevin Hayes scored twice while Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored his first career NHL goal in that final frame. Not to be outdone by the offense, Carter Hart contributed a 34-save performance. After Christmas came the stinker. Embarking on a six-game road trip, the Flyers began in San Jose where they got smacked by the Sharks, 6-1. A Timo Meier hat-trick and two first career goals doomed Philly. Luckily, there wasn’t long to reflect as they were back on it the next night, Dec. 29, in Anaheim. After a first period goal for each side held up through 60 minutes, Hayes potted a breakaway goal in overtime to give the Flyers the win. Brian Elliot stopped 26 straight shots after giving up a goal just 35 seconds into the contest. The Flyers conclude their tour of the Pacific Division’s American teams this week as they head to Los Angeles, Vegas and Arizona.
3. New Jersey Devils: 5 points. Last Week: 4
Record: 13-19-6 (2-0-1 last week) Week MVP: Jack Hughes
After one of their best weeks of the season, the Devils made it out of the power rankings basement for the first time since week 7. They began by routing the Blackhawks with seven unanswered goals after giving up the game’s first tally. PK Subban broke a 23-game goalless drought while John Hayden scored his first of the year against his former team. After the break, New Jersey fought hard but ultimately came up short in Toronto. A three-goal second-period game the Devils a 4-3 lead but John Tavares tied it in the third and William Nylander notched the overtime winner. Or should I say, Damon Severson who backhanded the puck into his own net in the extra session? The Devils would bounce back in Canada’s capital with an overtime win of their own against the Senators. Thomas Chabot tied things up at three in the third but New Jersey wouldn’t be denied this time as Jack Hughes came through with his first career OT winner. The Devils look to keep the momentum up against some tough competition, hosting Boston and visiting the Islanders before welcoming in Colorado.
4. New York Islanders: 4 points. Last Week: 2
Record: 24-10-3 (1-2-0 last week) Week MVP: Semyon Varlamov
Without a bad week from the Devils to help them out, the Islanders fall to the bottom of the power rankings after a difficult week that had a promising conclusion. They began hosting Columbus and played a tight game that was 2-2 with under four minutes to play but a defensive lapse gave Vladislav Gavrikov a tap in from the post and the game-winning goal. Coming out of the Christmas break, the Islanders were reunited with goaltender Robin Lehner when they visited the Blackhawks. Lehner got the win, making 38 saves as the Islanders fell victim to five straight Chicago goals in a 5-2 game. The final game of the week provided some optimism for New York. Visting the Minnesota Wild, the Islanders scored three times in the third to rally for a 3-1 victory. Matt Martin scored the game-winner while Tom Kuhnhackl netted his first goal of the season. Semyon Varlamov made a number of key stops in a 25-save performance. With Pittsburgh now breathing down their necks, the Islanders have a critical week ahead of them facing the division-leading Capitals, rival Devils and streaking Maple Leafs.