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MORE From TSN'S Hockey COLUMNISTS

Nov 26, 2018

The 7-Eleven Power Rankings: Sabres keep finding ways to win

The sizzling Buffalo Sabres, who are on a nine-game winning streak after finishing dead last in 2017-18, move up four spots to No. 1 in TSN's weekly 7-Eleven Power Rankings.

Sam Reinhart

What a difference a year makes for the red-hot Buffalo Sabres.

Last year after their first 24 games of the season, the Sabres were 6-14-4 and the worst-ranked team in TSN's weekly 7-Eleven Power Rankings. Buffalo went on to finish dead last in the overall NHL standings in 2017-18 with just 25 wins and 62 points.

Twenty-four games into the 2018-19 season, the Sabres look like a legitimate playoff contender. They’re 16-6-2 and on a nine-game winning streak – one off their franchise record set in 1983-84 and matched again in 2006-07 – to move up four spots to No. 1 this week in our 7-Eleven Power Rankings, according to consensus rankings formulated by the TSN Power Ranking panel of Ray Ferraro, Jeff O’Neill, Jamie McLennan, Craig Button and Darren Dreger.

The Sabres, ranked No. 24 in our second Power Rankings of the season, could turn out to be this season’s version of the 2017-18 Colorado Avalanche. The Avs finished dead last in 2016-17 and then made the playoffs last year. The Sabres also look like a team that’s on track to reach the postseason (for the first time in eight seasons) after finishing dead last the previous season. They’re getting first-rate goaltending from Carter Hutton (11-6-1, .919 save percentage) and Linus Ullmark (5-0-1, .926 SV%) while the additions of No. 1 draft pick Rasmus Dahlin and former Carolina Hurricane Jeff Skinner (also a former No. 1 pick and Calder Trophy winner) have complemented captain Jack Eichel, who leads the team in scoring with 28 points.

The Nashville Predators remain stuck in the No. 2 spot followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning who stay in the No. 3 position after both teams went 3-1 last week. The Toronto Maple Leafs fall out of top spot to No. 4 after going 2-2 last week while the Colorado Avalanche round out our panel’s top five, moving up seven places following a four-game winning streak.

Canada’s best teams this week include the No. 4 Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets at No. 9, the Calgary Flames at No. 10 following a 3-1 week and the No. 13 Montreal Canadiens, who slip four spots after going 0-2-2 last week as their struggles in overtime continue.

The No. 21 Edmonton Oilers climb five places from a week ago after going 1-1-1 in California under new head coach Ken Hitchcock. Meanwhile, the No. 27 Vancouver Canucks fall seven spots after a 1-3 week despite finally snapping an eight-game losing skid. The Ottawa Senators own the biggest dive of the week, dropping 11 spots to No. 28 from No. 17 after giving up 19 goals in three straight losses.

Making the biggest leap of the week are the Pittsburgh Penguins, who jump 11 spots to No. 19 from second last a week ago after going 2-0-2 thanks in part to Sidney Crosby returning to the lineup with three points in a 5-1 victory over Dallas.

Besides the Canucks and Senators, the other basement dwellers in the NHL this week include the No. 29 Arizona Coyotes, who were ranked No. 12 just three weeks ago but have again run into scoring problems, the disappointing St. Louis Blues at No. 30, and the Los Angeles Kings dead last at No. 31 for a fourth consecutive week. 

 

 

Buffalo Sabres
1. Buffalo Sabres

  • RECORD
    16-6-2
  • LAST 10
    9-1-0
  • LAST WEEK
    5

Nine straight wins is one shy of the Sabres' record set in 1983-84 and matched in 2006-07. Carter Hutton has won seven of the games in net and team points leader Jack Eichel has 11 points (1-10-11).

Nashville Predators
2. Nashville Predators

  • RECORD
    17-6-1
  • LAST 10
    6-3-1
  • LAST WEEK
    2

The Predators have won six in a row at home outscoring the opposition 22-9, but after starting the season with eight straight road wins they’ve lost four in row (0-3-1) away from Nashville.

Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Tampa Bay Lightning

  • RECORD
    17-6-1
  • LAST 10
    7-3-0
  • LAST WEEK
    3

Louis Domingue has started all seven games since Andrei Vasilevskiy was injured and has a 5-2 record. Providing some scoring punch with 14 points in the seven games is Nikita Kucherov.

Toronto Maple Leafs
4. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • RECORD
    16-8-0
  • LAST 10
    7-3-0
  • LAST WEEK
    1

Andreas Johnsson scored three goals before the game reached the 13-minute mark in a 6-0 win over Philadelphia to give Toronto their fourth straight home win (outscoring opponents 19-4).

Colorado Avalanche
5. Colorado Avalanche

  • RECORD
    13-6-4
  • Last 10
    6-2-2
  • LAST WEEK
    12

They’re on a four-game winning streak and a seven-game point streak (6-0-1) following a five-game skid (0-4-1). NHL points leader Mikko Rantanen (10-28-38) leads with 14 points in the seven games.

Minnesota Wild
6. Minnesota Wild

  • RECORD
    14-7-2
  • LAST 10
    6-4-0
  • LAST WEEK
    8

The Wild blew a three-goal lead in the third to Ottawa but managed two late goals to pull out a 6-4 win. Against Winnipeg they went into the third period trailing 2-0, but scored four goals for a 4-2 victory.

Washington Capitals
7. Washington Capitals

  • RECORD
    13-7-3
  • LAST 10
    7-3-0
  • LAST WEEK
    16

Prior to their current five-game winning streak, Washington’s longest this season was just two games. The top scorer during the streak is previously suspended Tom Wilson with eight points (3-5-8).

Boston Bruins
8. Boston Bruins

  • RECORD
    13-6-4
  • LAST 10
    6-2-2
  • LAST WEEK
    7

The Bruins are battling through injuries, most notably to Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. Helping out offensively has been Jake DeBrusk, who has seven goals in the team’s last nine games.

Winnipeg Jets
9. Winnipeg Jets

  • RECORD
    13-7-2
  • LAST 10
    6-3-1
  • LAST WEEK
    6

It’s been all Patrik Laine all the time for November. His team-record five goals against St. Louis gave him a team record 16 for the month, the most in a month in the NHL since 1996-97 (Jaromir Jagr).

Calgary Flames
10. Calgary Flames

  • RECORD
    14-9-1
  • LAST 10
    6-4-0
  • LAST WEEK
    13

David Rittich (8-2-0, 930 SV%) sparked the Flames to three straight wins before they were shut out 2-0 by Vegas. Mike Smith (6-7-1, .883 SV%) got his first win since Nov. 1 against Arizona Sunday.

Columbus Blue Jackets
11. Columbus Blue Jackets

  • RECORD
    13-8-2
  • LAST 10
    6-2-2
  • LAST WEEK
    4

The Blue Jackets played in three 4-2 games last week – one win, two losses. Cam Atkinson leads the team in November goals with nine in 11 games including a current seven-game goal streak.

San Jose Sharks
12. San Jose Sharks

  • RECORD
    12-8-4
  • LAST 10
    5-4-1
  • LAST WEEK
    11

Aaron Dell’s last four starts have all been in shutout games - two wins, two losses. The two wins were at home, the two losses on the road. The Sharks have been outscored 18-3 in their last three road games.

Montreal Canadiens
13. Montreal Canadiens

  • RECORD
    11-8-5
  • LAST 10
    3-4-3
  • LAST WEEK
    9

A four-game losing streak (0-2-2) highlighted Montreal’s inability to win in overtime. They’ve won both shootouts they’ve been involved this season but have lost all five overtime games.

New York Islanders
14. New York Islanders

  • RECORD
    12-8-2
  • LAST 10
    5-4-1
  • LAST WEEK
    15
Anthony Beauvillier had one goal in his first 15 games but has five in the last five to help the Islanders, who are 9-1-0 against divisional opponents, earn four wins in their last six games.
Dallas Stars
15. Dallas Stars

  • RECORD
    12-10-2
  • LAST 10
    4-5-1
  • LAST WEEK
    10

The goal scoring has been feast or famine. In their last 11 games they’ve scored one goal six times and two goals in another. In the remaining four games they’ve scored six goals twice and four goals twice.

New York Rangers
16. New York Rangers

  • RECORD
    12-10-2
  • LAST 10
    6-3-1
  • LAST WEEK
    14

The Rangers have lost two in a row but that’s after an impressive 9-1-1 run. Also ending for New York was a seven-game home winning streak during which time they outscored their opponents 26-10.

Vegas Golden Knights
17. Vegas Golden Knights

  • RECORD
    12-12-1
  • LAST 10
    6-4-0
  • LAST WEEK
    24

Marc-Andre Fleury is trying to turn a mediocre Golden Knights season around on his own. He has consecutive shutouts, has four in the last five home games, and leads the league with five.

Carolina Hurricanes
18. Carolina Hurricanes

  • RECORD
    11-9-3
  • LAST 10
    5-4-1
  • LAST WEEK
    19

Former Leafs backup Curtis McElhinney (6-2-0) earned wins over his old team and Florida last week while starter Scott Darling (2-4-1) lost the Hurricanes' other game – to the Islanders on Saturday.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins
19. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • RECORD
    9-8-5
  • LAST 10
    3-5-2
  • LAST WEEK
    30

Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup with three points to give the Penguins just their second win in 11 games. Jake Guentzel followed that up with a hat trick and Pittsburgh has a four-game point streak.

Detroit Red Wings
20. Detroit Red Wings

  • RECORD
    10-10-3
  • LAST 10
    6-3-1
  • LAST WEEK
    18

The Red Wings ended a 6-1-0 stretch with a 3-1 loss in Washington followed by a shootout loss to Buffalo. Top goal scorer for the month is Andreas Athanasiou with six, despite missing three games.

Edmonton Oilers
21. Edmonton Oilers

  • RECORD
    10-11-2
  • LAST 10
    2-7-1
  • LAST WEEK
    26

Coach Ken Hitchcock made a successful debut for the Oilers after Todd McLellan was fired last week, defeating the Sharks in OT in San Jose and then earning a point in an overtime loss to Anaheim.

 

Anaheim Ducks
22. Anaheim Ducks

  • RECORD
    10-10-5
  • LAST 10
    4-4-2
  • LAST WEEK
    27

It may not seem like much but a two-game winning streak and a four-game point streak has been a big deal to the Ducks this season and it's their best run since starting the season at 3-0-1.

Chicago Blackhawks
23. Chicago Blackhawks

  • RECORD
    9-10-5
  • LAST 10
    3-5-2
  • LAST WEEK
    22

They needed a late tying goal against Florida and then an OT goal to end an eight-game (0-7-1) road skid. On Sunday night they traded Nick Schmaltz to Arizona for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini.

Philadelphia Flyers
24. Philadelphia Flyers

  • RECORD
    10-11-2
  • LAST 10
    4-4-2
  • LAST WEEK
    21

The Flyers fired GM Ron Hextall on Monday, but will it fix their goaltending woes? Calvin Pickard earned a shutout over the Rangers and then allowed four goals on six shots against Toronto Saturday.

New Jersey Devils
25. New Jersey Devils

  • RECORD
    9-10-3
  • LAST 10
    3-5-2
  • LAST WEEK
    28

The Devils continue to be the league’s best team at home where they have lost just once in regulation (7-1-3). They also continue to be the worst team on the road where they have a 2-9-0 record.

Florida Panthers
26. Florida Panthers

  • RECORD
    8-9-4
  • LAST 10
    5-4-1
  • LAST WEEK
    23

Former Senator Mike Hoffman, who leads the Panthers in scoring, had his point streak snapped at 17 games on Friday but scored a goal and added an assist the next day in an OT loss to Chicago.

Vancouver Canucks
27. Vancouver Canucks

  • RECORD
    11-13-2
  • LAST 10
    2-7-1
  • LAST WEEK
    20

An eight-game losing streak finally came to an end with a 4-2 win over Los Angeles Saturday. During the skid the Canucks were outscored 30-13. Five losses were on the road and two were at home.

Ottawa Senators
28. Ottawa Senators

  • RECORD
    9-11-3
  • LAST 10
    4-5-1
  • LAST WEEK
    17

The good news is that they scored 13 goals in their last three games. The bad news is that they allowed 19 and lost all three. On the season they rank third with 3.61 goals for, and last with 4.35 goals against.

Arizona Coyotes
29. Arizona Coyotes

  • RECORD
    9-11-2
  • LAST 10
    2-6-2
  • LAST WEEK
    25

A light recent schedule for the Coyotes has also been light on goal scoring again. In their last six games they’ve scored a total of eight goals and haven’t scored more than two in any one of them.

St. Louis Blues
30. St. Louis Blues

  • RECORD
    8-11-3
  • LAST 10
    4-6-0
  • LAST WEEK
    29
The Blues managed a total of one goal in the first two games after coach Mike Yeo was fired, but then exploded for 10 in the next two, although they also allowed 10 in those two games.
Los Angeles Kings
31. Los Angeles Kings

  • RECORD
    8-14-1
  • LAST 10
    4-6-0
  • LAST WEEK
    31

Call-up goalie Calvin Petersen gave the team some hope when he shut out St. Louis 2-0, but it was quickly back to normal when the Kings lost their next two 7-3 and 4-2, both at home.