I realize that it’s a little past the quarter point of the season, but nonetheless I have Quarter Mark Power Rankings for the Eastern Conference. Here goes…
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
- The defending Champs are well on their way to giving themselves an opportunity to defend their title. They’ve had some early season injuries to players like Sergei Gonchar, Sidney Crosby, and Maxime Talbot, but this team is once again tops in the East. It really pays to have back-to-back-to-back-to-back last place finishes. (Fleury, Malkin, Crosby, Staal)
2. Washington Capitals
- The Caps’ offense is scary-good. Ovechkin has dealt with some adversity this season but it hasn’t translated to a drop in the team’s play, as many expected. Washington is a confident group and will be trouble for whoever they match up with down the line.
3. New Jersey Devils
- New year, same story. The New Jersey Devils never cease to amaze me. They have no true superstar offensively, but they have a legend in between the pipes in Marty Brodeur. Brodeur is undoubtedly the greatest Devil ever and the only reason they are having so much success at the present.
4. Buffalo Sabres
- I expected the Sabres to make the playoffs, but I did not expect them to contend for the division. This is a relatively young group, but they are talented and they are finding their niche in this league. If the Sabres keep up the intensity, and Ryan Miller is anywhere near his Vezina-like self the first quarter of this season, watch out for Buffalo.
5. Atlanta Thrashers
- The surprise team of the 09-10 season in the East, without a doubt. Kovalchuk and Co. have benefitted from the deepest Thrashers line-up in recent memory and strong goaltending. Look for Atlanta to be a playoff team (and yes, I know that is a far cry from my pre-season prediction. Give me a break!)
6. Boston Bruins
- The Bruins started off the season horribly, but have rebounded impressively since. It’s safe to say this group will be a playoff team, it’s just a matter of their seeding. They should stay in contention to defend their Northeast Division crown.
7. Ottawa Senators
- Another surprise. The Sens have had a rejuvenation of Mike Fisher take place this season, and in turn have reaped the benefits. I don’t think the Senators are a playoff team when it’s all said and done, but they will be a solid squad this year. (Jonathan Cheechoo, where have you gone!?)
8. Tampa Bay Lightning
- As the trade rumors begin to once again swirl about Lecavalier, it’s obvious that the people in Tampa aren’t expecting playoffs. Hey, neither am I, but it’s been a good showing so far. Go, Niitty, go!
9. New York Rangers
- Team Marian Gaborik is just one small tweak to the glass-like Slovak to have all their hopes and dreams dashed. It wouldn’t behoove them to see what kind of players are on the trading block. They are a playoff team, but they need a couple more pieces to be a contender.
10. Philadelphia Flyers
- Dis-a-point-ing. There’s no other way to describe the first quarter of the season for the Orange and Black. Here’s hoping Peter Laviolette can orchestrate a turnaround that everyone knows this team is capable of making. FLYERS, I BELIEVE! DON’T LET ME DOWN! Their a playoff team when it’s all said and done.
11. Montreal Canadiens
- The Canadiens have some great scorers (Gionta, Gomez, Cammalleri), but aren’t big enough as a unit to compete against the rigors of an NHL season. Remember when this team was the #1 seed in the East 2 short years ago? Seems like a century ago.
12. New York Islanders
- The John Tavares honeymoon has ended. The Islanders are somehow staying in the playoff hunt, but aren’t quite ready for the NHL’s second season yet. Hovering around .500 should be considered an extreme accomplishment and an unbelievable turnaround from last season.
13. Florida Panthers
- I will never support the Florida Panthers after they failed to make me look like a genius in picking them as a playoff team last season. They won’t make the playoffs this year either, but hey, I don’t care. I didn’t pick ’em anyway.
14. Toronto Maple Leafs
- “Losers since 1967.”
15. Carolina Hurricanes
- Oh my god help this team. U-G-L-Y. When’s the draft lottery?