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Pacific Division Power Rankings
Halloween Spook-tacular Edition
10/22/13 - By Ryan Hall -

As the NHL moves towards the end of the first month of the season, most teams have nearly reached the 10 game mark. While this artificial deadline may be a little early to accurately judge who's a contender and who's not, it does provide the chance for the first edition of the Pacific Division Power Rankings. The Power Rankings take into effect how well a team has been performing so far based on the expectations of that team heading into the season, as well as the level of play that they have been exhibiting. In honour of Halloween being just around the corner, this inaugural edition will provide some suggestions on what each team should dress up as, based on how they've been performing on the ice.

#1 - San Jose Sharks (Medusa)

Like the legendary mythological creature, the Sharks have a variety of ways to hurt you right now. With scoring coming from nearly every line, San Jose has the firepower to match any team goal for goal, and this depth makes them nearly impossible to game plan against. Additionally, the Sharks also rank in the top 3 in goals by defensemen, with this being an extra dimension of an already potent attack. However, as the recent Detroit game showcased, this team also can turn you to stone if they so desire, with the outstanding goaltending of Anti Niemi providing the foundation for solid in zone play. I could go on and on for a while, but an 8-0-1 start, combined with a +24 goal differential is scary enough to make the point.

Previous Ranking: N/A

#2 - Anaheim Ducks (Frankenstein)

With a mismatched amount of pieces that seemingly have come from every conceivable location, the Ducks embody the patchwork construction of fiction. While most squads that pull in other teams cast offs, mix them with rookies and a small handful of regular stars may have mixed results, this monster is shaping up to be a fearsome foe. Right now Coach Bruce Boudreau has managed to get everyone pulling in the same direction, and this 7-1-0 Anaheim team is making last year's surprise Pacific title appear to be no fluke. One cause for concern though is that with only a +11 goal differential the Ducks haven't been blowing teams away. With Dustin Penner nursing a concussion, and such a small margin for error, any offensive drop-off could lead to trouble.

Previous Ranking: N/A

#3 - Calgary Flames (Zombie)

Let's face it, everyone thought the Flames would be horrible. Following the loss of their heart in Captain Jarome Iginla's trade late last season, and the retirement of the team's backbone in goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, they appeared to be stone-cold goners. But like any good Halloween film, they're back from the dead and so far exhibiting a rare combination of tenacity and talent unseen in Calgary for years. Even though they sit next to last in the division, they still have overachieved, and just keep coming game in and game out. However, the roster does remain thin, and unless Sean Monahan continues to carry them, the shambling should eventually stop - and with it the Flames chances. Right?

Previous Ranking: N/A

#4 Phoenix Coyotes (The Mummy)

While there isn't much to choose between Phoenix and Los Angeles, the Coyotes get the nod at #4 due to their resiliency. Once again Dave Tippett is working his magic on a squad that doesn't give anyone nightmares. Even though the sample size is quite small, Phoenix looks like a team that will continue to contend for a playoff spot, even as they don't get as much press as other more flashy clubs. Unfortunately, like the Mummy, there are several loose ends that could lead to the whole thing unravelling quite rapidly. As mentioned, the team is paper thin in depth, and this shows up the most on the offensive side of the game where the Coyotes lack the punching power to slug it out with most teams. Additionally, with so little goal support Mike Smith can't afford to have a night off as Phoenix plays in close games nearly every night (only +1 differential so far). If there are any injuries to the top line, or Smith falters, the Coyotes could be in for a horror show of their own.

Previous Ranking: N/A

#5 Los Angeles Kings (Werewolf)

Ahh the Kings. Which team you'll get on a given night remains a mystery! Will it be the bruising club that is just removed from a Stanley Cup win and Conference Finals appearance? Or perhaps the offensively challenged team that relies on Jonathon Quick too much? When the moon is full, and the Kings are on their game though, they remain capable of giving any team a good mauling. However, if you manage to catch them when it's a cloudy day, or they just aren't feeling it, they are downright ordinary - as their 6-4-0 record, and +1 goal differential, shows. Right now LA looks like a team that will contend, but not one that has the desire to be a front runner. If they ever do emerge from the woods with that look in their eyes though, they'll shoot up the rankings (and standings) like a bat out of hell.

Previous Ranking: N/A

#6 Vancouver Canucks (Headless Horseman)

'Beware! Beware! When the Headless Horseman Rides!' These words strike fear into the citizens of Sleepy Hollow in the classic tale, but for the residents of the Pacific Division they mean nothing at all. While the Canucks still possess top end talent, right now they lack identity as new coach John Tortorella seeks to remodel them in his own style. Unfortunately for Vancouver fans, this process is proving to be lengthy, and the team hasn't shown any signs of gelling into a legitimate contender. Perhaps the best news is that the team still boasts a 5-4-1 record and is hanging around, which means that if they do get their heads on straight they don't have to worry about being too far behind everyone else. Until that happens though, the greatest danger from the Canucks is that a team accidently wanders into their path as they charge and stomp about in search of an identity.

Previous Ranking: N/A

#7 Edmonton Oilers (Ghost)

Just like a ghost, the Oilers sound scary from a distance. A quick look at their roster reads like a murders row of young talent, though that potential has yet to translate into reality for Edmonton. Sadly, that has resulted in more bark than bite as the Oilers continue to struggle to score goals, and in their own end they appear lost at times. In a fitting comparison to the ethereal, the Oilers also seem to lack structure and form, despite the work of head coach Dallas Eakins to install discipline to their game. All this combines to produce an Oilers team that is really quite tame when confronted, despite the racket they generate from afar. Until they find a way to mature and play at the NHL level, these Oilers will remain the Casper of the Pacific Division.

Previous Ranking: N/A

*Power Rankings will be updated approximately every 10 games*


Contact Ryan at ryanhall@letsgosharks.com


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