Dynasty Hockey League

Western Conference Power Rankings – Divisional Edition

Teams have played the first quarter of their schedule and already the contenders and separating themselves from the pretenders.  The sim is a fickle beast, however, and seems to be unfairly targeting some teams while gifting others with extraordinarily good fortune.  What follows is the first edition of my power rankings.  I claim to know very little of the sim, so I am basing my rankings on the statistics available and the little experience I have.  Feedback is appreciated.

Howe Division

1. St. Louis

The Blues own the arguably the best offense and defense in the conference, and it shows in their ability to both take and prevent shots — as well as score goals.  St. Louis owns a highly gifted power play and ranks in the league’s top third on the penalty kill.  It’s hard to find fault in the Blues at this point in the season, but a .500 record away from Missouri is curious.

2. Minnesota

Atop the Western Conference, the Wild own the league’s best power play unit.  While the penalty is slightly above average, Minnesota has given opponents the fifth fewest opportunities with the man-advantage.  The goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Jimmy Howard and two lines that could provide devastating offense make Minnesota amongst the best in the conference.

3. Chicago

Coming off nine straight wins — including four against Columbus, the Blackhawks have padded their defensive stats.  The Chicago offense, however, is severely lacking.  While the penalty kill and team defense rank amongst the league’s best, the power play and team scoring rate near the bottom.  John Gibson’s numbers are positively noteworthy, but a roster consisting of Eichel, Trochek, and Monahan should have more than 25 goals between them at this point in the season.  The sim has been unkind to the Blackhawks; that won’t last for long.

4. Nashville

Nashville finds itself mired in mediocrity in most team stats, with the exception of penalty killing — the Predators boast one of the most efficient units in the league.  Rookie Anthony Mantha has yet to find his way, scoring only nine points; despite his team leading the league in SF/G.  The Predators rank amongst the league’s least penalized teams, which may mean that those exceptional numbers with a man in the box may come back down over time.

5. Dallas

The Stars rank near the bottom of the league on the penalty kill, yet are one of the league’s least penalized teams; the power play, however, shines and ranks amongst the league’s best.  Average scoring and defense make Dallas a difficult team to predict: they could best the Wild 6-3 one night and lose 4-2 to the Blue Jackets the next.  When the Stars find their identity, they could solidify their claim on a playoff spot, or find themselves out of contention altogether.

6. Columbus

There are few bright spots in Columbus’ current season, but the performance of goaltenders Jake Allen and Brian Elliott could be the most notable.  While not perfect, Allen maintains relatively decent numbers in his role as the starter, giving the Blue Jackets the opportunity to find their legs each night.  Columbus hurts the cause, though, by being the most penalized team in the league, giving opposing team the chance to pour on shot after shot.  The Blue Jackets would do well to limit their time on the penalty kill.

7. Detroit

While their divisional rivals spend the most time on the penalty kill, the Red Wings are the least penalized team in the league; unfortunately for Detroit, opposing teams are still scoring at a 25% clip.  Also ranking near the bottom of the league in power play efficiency, the Red Wings are managing to limit teams to a number of goals near the league average.  Ondrej Pavelec’s stats are not stellar, but he has managed to squeak out four wins so far this season.  Should this play continue, the Red Wings may find themselves quickly out of contention for the first overall pick.

 

Gretzky Division

1. Edmonton

Edmonton’s sharp-shooting left wing and stellar goaltender tell the tale of this squad.  Alexander Ovechkin is challenging Sidney Crosby for the league’s goal-scoring lead, and Cam Talbot merits Vezina consideration for his work in the crease.  The Oilers’ grasp on the division crown is solely dependent on the team’s ability to improve their special team’s play — average power play and penalty kill efficiency make the squad vulnerable and narrow the gap between Edmonton and the rest of the conference.  The Oilers do not help their cause by being amongst the most penalized teams in the league.

2. Colorado

The Avalanche have an impressive special teams setup, with both the power play and the penalty kill ranking in the league’s top five.  Pekka Rinne has been great between the pipes, allowing just over two goals per game and is a dark horse in the Vezina race at this point in the season.  Scoring has been a team affair, with six players scoring seven or more goals.  If trends hold, Colorado ranks as a threat for the top seed in the conference.

3. Vancouver

The Canucks appear to be a mid-of-the-table team in nearly every sense: average special teams, average scoring, average defense, average goaltending.  Vancouver is managing to pepper opposing goaltenders with around 28 shots per game, but those shots are not translating into above-average goal scoring.  While sporting what appears to this rookie eye to be a competitive roster, the sim has not been kind to the Canucks.  No doubt this will change — when it does, look for Vancouver to challenge Edmonton and Colorado for the top seed in the division.

4. Anaheim

The Ducks can lay claim to the best penalty killing in the league, with an efficiency of over 97% and allowing only a single power play goal all season.  Anaheim’s commitment to team defense has given them the second-best goals against, yielding only 43 in this young season.  Much of that defensive success can be credited to Scott Darling and, to a lesser extent, Antti Raanta, who have kept the Ducks competitive against much better competition.  Darling, not a serious Vezina candidate, has nonetheless earned himself a spot in the top six amongst starting goaltenders for Vezina contention.  The Ducks’ favorable spot in the standings is solely a product of stellar goaltending through the first quarter of the season.

5. San Jose

The Sharks have been an interesting dichotomy thus far — excellent scoring paired with porous goaltending.  San Jose’s special teams have also struggled, with both units being ranked in the bottom five in the league in terms of efficiency.  With Getzlaf and Kane centering the top two lines and both ranking in the top five in terms of scoring at their position, it won’t be long until San Jose climbs up the standings, but some changes on the back end may be necessary before they find themselves a threat.

6. Calgary

Calgary is floundering outside the crease.  Cory Schneider gives Calgary a chance to compete in every game, but scoring just over a goal a game makes every save more important than the last.  With the power play ranked in the bottom third of the league and the penalty killing ranked similarly, the Flames look to compete with Los Angeles for the divisional basement.  Phillip Danault shines as a bright spot, centering the second line and leading the team in points.

7. Los Angeles

Sporting one of the worst goal differentials in the league, the Kings are flaccid on both offense and defense.  Andrew Hammond allows over three goals each game, and gets little in the way of offensive support with Los Angeles ranking near the bottom of the league in terms of SF/G.  The offensive future is bright in Los Angeles with MacKinnon, Barkov, and Lindholm, but improvement along the blueline would help the team avoid the bottom of the division sooner rather than later.

 

*Editor’s Note: This article was written over the course of several evenings.  Accordingly, some of the statistics may be outdated as of publication.

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