Another week has come and gone as teams start to separate into respective groupings in the Canadian Division and we start to figure out who the pretenders and contenders are. There were a few minor changes this week but I expect this next week to lead to some bigger changes as the schedule heats up.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-2-1, 3-0-0) Last Week: #2
Upcoming Games: 02/10 at MTL, 02/13 vs MTL, 02/15 vs OTT
After giving the Canucks a trio of pretty comfortable spankings on home ice this week, the Leafs will get a real test with a home and home set upcoming against the Montreal Canadiens. If Toronto can snag both games from Montreal, they should be set to really run away with things in the division as they have a three game homestand against Ottawa the following week. Everything seems to be clicking for the Leafs who outscored Vancouver 15-5 over the week, but they did lose Wayne Simmonds to a potential long term injury.
2. Montreal Canadiens (8-2-2, 1-1-0) Last Week: #1
Upcoming Games: 02/10 vs TOR, 02/11 vs EDM, 02/13 at TOR
The Habs two week run of topping these power rankings come to an end after a slow week with just two games played. Unfortunately one of those games was a home ice loss to the listless Ottawa Senators which is simply unacceptable this season based on the level of play we’ve seen from both teams this season. Montreal did bounce back with a close 2-1 victory in Ottawa to split their set, but those two points thrown away hurt Montreal’s chances to catch Toronto right now. After Saturday’s tilt in Toronto, Montreal is off until the following Saturday in a strange schedule quirk.
3. Winnipeg Jets (7-4-1, 1-1-0) Last Week: #4
Upcoming Games: 02/11 vs OTT, 02/13 vs OTT, 02/15 at EDM
I debated giving Calgary the edge to #3 given that they just beat the Jets last night, but for now Winnipeg stays ahead based on the previous season series and the fact that they FINALLY have Pierre Luc Dubois into their lineup. While his Jets debut wasn’t all that great, he did show flashes off his skills from his time in Columbus and should only get better as he settles into the Jets system. The team will look to take advantage of a couple of home games against Ottawa this week to avoid falling back into the middle of the pack.
4. Calgary Flames (6-5-1, 2-1-0) Last Week: #5
Upcoming Games: 02/11 at VAN, 02/13 at VAN, 02/15 at VAN
Calgary jumps back up to #4 after a pair of solid victories on home ice over Edmonton and Winnipeg to end this week. In both games the Flames did a good job of dictating the play (aside from the 1st against Edmonton) and took advantage of their chances to earn victories in close games. A win in the Battle of Alberta is always nice and they seem to be figuring things out throughout their lineup. Given that the Flames have still yet to play Ottawa, I expect their record to inflate like their rivals when they finally get their chance.
5. Edmonton Oilers (8-7-0, 2-1-0) Last Week: #3
Upcoming Games: 02/11 at MTL, 02/15 vs WPG
Despite going 2-1 this week, I have the Oilers falling back to fifth in these standings after losing to the Flames and barely scraping by the Senators, especially in their second meeting. With four of their eight wins against Ottawa, it feels like their record is significantly better than how they are playing. The Oilers should get a good test in Montreal tomorrow night to see how for real they are. They also got Mike Smith back this week which should help ease the workload on Mikko Koskinen, but for now this team still feels pretty questionable from an outside perspective.
6. Vancouver Canucks (6-10-0, 0-3-0) Last Week: #6
Upcoming Games: 02/11 vs CGY, 02/13 vs CGY, 02/15 vs CGY
I had to pose the questions to our Twitter followers as to if the Canucks were worthy of the #7 spot in these rankings. I really thought they were given home poorly they’ve played overall this season and that they’re coming off three straight losses to Toronto and five straight overall. It feels like big changes are on the horizon right now for the Canucks with Jim Benning possibly on the chopping block. With four games against Calgary coming up, this could be Vancouver’s last chance to get back into the playoff conversation, because if they only win one of these, they fall further out. A regression was expected, but they weren’t supposed to be quite this bad.
7. Ottawa Senators (2-11-1, 1-3-0) Last Week: #7
Upcoming Games: 02/11 at WPG, 02/13 at WPG, 02/15 at TOR
Somehow the Senators managed to get a victory in Montreal which snapped an eight game losing streak last Thursday, but they followed it up with three straight home ice losses this week. Everything is a mess pretty much with this team outside of Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle. Their goaltending is a mess, and they just can’t seem to put anything together. Their overall performances have improved though, they were probably unlucky to not get any points against Edmonton on Tuesday, but it’s just a messy situation in Ottawa. Right now their points percentage sits at .179, which is only beaten by the 92-93 Senators and Sharks at .143 for modern era failure. Even last year’s horrendous Red Wings were at .275. This team is bad.