Local Hockey Power Rankings- Week 17
After an All-Star break hiatus, the local hockey power rankings are back. Since the last edition, the Islanders fell out of top three in the Metropolitan, the Flyers stayed afloat in the playoff race and the other two teams didn’t move too much. The only regulation loss between the four came in a game between two of them. We had two voters this week including myself.
1. Philadelphia Flyers: 8 points (2 first-place votes) Last Week: 1
Record: 28-17-7 (2-0-1 last week) Week MVP: Joel Farabee
The Flyers had a home-and-home with the Pittsburgh Penguins bookending the break. On Jan. 21, Philly blanked their rivals 3-0 at home. Jake Voracek, James van Riemsdyk and Justin Braun took care of the offense while the Flyers’ defense held Pittsburgh to just 19 shots. Brian Elliott picked up his 39th career shutout. After sending Travis Konecny to St. Louis for the All-Star festivities, the Flyers headed to Pittsburgh on Jan. 31. Three straight Penguin goals in the second period put Philly in a 3-1 hole but they climbed out as Scott Laughton tied the game early in the third. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Sidney Crosby left his mark, scoring in overtime to block the comeback. Sid added two assists to that goal. The Flyers finished up the week, hosting the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 1 in a high-scoring affair. Joel Farabee factored into his second game-winning goal of the last two wins, potting a goal early in the third to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead en route to a 6-3 win. Alex Lyon got his first win of the season in his second start as Carter Hart continues to deal with abdominal issues. Sitting tied for the final wild-card, Philadelphia has opportunities to make those points up, in Detroit and then at home against the Devils before a date with the division-leading Capitals.
2. New York Islanders: 5 points. Last Week: 3
Record: 29-15-6 (1-0-1 last week) Week MVP: Josh Bailey
The third time was the charm for the Islanders as they finally defeated the Rangers for the first time this season, winning 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 21. Josh Bailey got the scoring started in the first with his fourth goal in his last eight games up to that point. Brock Nelson made it 4-0 early in the third before a Scott Mayfield double-minor gave way to two Rangers goals in the final seven minutes to make the game interesting. Thomas Greiss turned in a 40-save performance while Bailey had three points. The NHL’s longest break ended on Feb. 1 as New York made it’s return to action against the Vancouver Canucks. Nelson tied the game at three with 26 seconds to go, but one of Vancouver’s All-Stars, Quinn Hughes, snapped a shot over the blocker of Greiss 42 seconds into overtime to steal the extra point. The Islanders have fallen out of a top-three spot in the Metro and they’ll look to climb back up the standing with home games against the Stars and Kings before heading down to Tampa Bay.
3. New York Rangers: 5 points. Last Week: 2
Record: 25-21-4 (2-1-0 last week) Week MVP: Mika Zibanejad
The Rangers took advantage of some easy games after the All-Star break to regain confidence after falling to their crosstown rivals. As mentioned above, the Blueshirts fell to the Islanders 4-2 at the Garden. Artemi Panarin did miss that game with an upper-body injury. After the break, New York had a back-to-back with the Detroit Red Wings. On Jan. 31 in the Motor City, the Rangers built a 4-0 lead thanks to second-period goals from Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider and Panarin plus a third-period tally from Mika Zibanejad. Two goals by the Wings made things tight in the final eight minutes but New York prevailed 4-2. The next night, on home ice, Henrik Lundqvist took center stage posting his first shutout since Nov. 19, 2017. He made 33 saves and Zibanejad provided the game’s only score a little over 12 minutes into the first period. The Rangers have a four-game homestand this week, hosting Dallas, Toronto, Buffalo and Los Angeles.
4. New Jersey Devils: 2 points. Last Week: 4
Record: 18-24-9 (1-0-2 last week) Week MVP: Kyle Palmieri
The Devils played a lot of extra hockey coming out of the break with two shootouts and an overtime game. On Jan. 27, they went to Ottawa to face the Senators. Kyle Palmieri tied the game with 3:21 to go while Nikita Gusev and Jack Hughes scored the shootout tallies as New Jersey overcame 50 saves from Marcus Hogberg to snap a three-game skid. They then welcomed in former head coach John Hynes and the Nashville Predators on Jan. 30. The back-and-forth affair was tied at five by Filip Forsberg with just over 10 minutes play and it would require a shootout. Forsberg scored again in the skills competition as did Matt Duchene to give Hynes his revenge win. New Jersey would complete its week honoring its 2000 Stanley Cup-winning team on Feb. 1 hosting the Dallas Stars, the team they beat that year for the Cup. Joel Kiviranta’s first career NHL goal gave Dallas a 2-1 lead early in the final frame but Nice Hischier tied it with just under eight to play. The Devils would head to their third straight overtime game but it didn’t last until the shootout this time as Joe Pavelski potted a rebound to give the Stars the win. Despite the negative week, New Jersey managed to grab four out of a possible six points. They’ll look for more next week, hosting Montreal and Los Angeles with a trip to Philadelphia wedged in the middle.