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Trib Total Rankings reveal some changes since camps opened.

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Well, dear readers, it’s that time of the year. These are the first of my whenever-I feel-like-it NHL team ratings, which have changed since my first tally for the bi-weekly USA Today panel upon which I proudly serve. The USA Today ballot ranking for each team is in parentheses.

1 – Bruins (1)

They will be raising the only banner that matters. That’s good enough for the top spot right now.

2 – Canucks (2)

They came within a win of the Cup, and they are deserving of the top Western slot as the season begins.

3 – Red Wings (3)

Call them old, but also call them the likely Western Conference favorites.

4 – Penguins (10)

A motivated Evgeni Malkin is worth a big jump in this poll.

5 – Capitals (4)

This isn’t April, which means they should be feared.

6 – Devils (7)

No way they start horribly two consecutive years, right?

7 – Kings (8)

They’ll be the best team in La-La Land even when (if) the Lakers start playing ball.

8 – Sharks (5)

Good idea to shake up the roster after another disappointing postseason.

9 – Lightning (6)

How that system holds up in Year 2 of the Guy Boucher tenure is up for debate.

10 – Ducks (11)

The hockey world, not just Southern California, is better for Teemu Selanne playing one last season in the NHL.

11 – Blackhawks (9)

Patrick Kane as a center… uh, anybody remember that Sidney Crosby as a winger experiment?

12 – Canadiens (13)

They took the Bruins to seven games in Round 1 last spring, and that was with a depleted defense corps.

13 – Rangers (12)

Quietly, John Tortorella has remolded them in his image. Look for big things this season.

14 – Sabres (15)

A whole lot of spending money for Western New York’s club should pay off in the form of help for Ryan “Captain America” Miller.

15 – Hurricanes (14)

They’re better this season, but so is most of the Eastern Conference.

16 – Flyers (17)

Jaromir Jagr looked great on the power play in September. It was September.

17 – Maple Leafs (19)

A strong start is a must for this playoff drought to end.

18 – Predators (16)

Score. Some. Goals. Please.

19 – Islanders (22)

No, this isn’t a typographical error.

20 – Flames (23)

Tick, tock goes the clock on the great Jarome Iginla’s realistic chance to bring the Cup back to Calgary.

21 – Coyotes (24)

This much is guaranteed: Dave Tippett will get the most out of this group.

22 – Blue Jackets (20)

They are definitely capable of making a huge jump in these rankings over the next few weeks.

23 – Panthers (27)

That is one mad chemistry experiment in South Florida. At least the jerseys are red again.

24 – Wild (25)

It was a bold move by former Penguins assistant GM Chuck Fletcher to hire former Penguins assistant coach Mike Yeo to be the man in the State of Hockey.

25 – Avalanche (26)

After the mess of last season, should there be any job security in Denver?

26 – Blues (21)

They have an awful lot of ground to make up in arguably the league’s best division.

27 – Oilers (29)

Bet on this being the last season to kick around these kids.

28 – Jets (18)

Winnipeg crowds will be amazing. The home team – not so much.

29 – Stars (29)

Alex Goligoski might need to be at Norris Trophy-level for them to make a playoff run.

30 – Senators (30)

Same goes for Sergei Gonchar and these guys.

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

Comments

  1. jeff says:

    Rob

    Just curious, why is everyone basically writing off the Penguins as a bottom 4 or lower team? I’ll admit I’m somewhat biased but with Geno healthy, Sid will be back at some point likely sooner than later, actually have a few wings who

  2. Jim Erbrecht says:

    I think more like ten for the Penguins than your four. Good and big and beats good and little every time. Shero keeps adding old midgets instead of big youth and that does not work – - especially in the playoffs. Unless you are Sidney Crosby it is impossible to score or even pass when you are prone or on your butt – - witness last year in the playoff losses. The Penguins at best have only one Sid!

  3. sjb says:

    As long as Ovechkin can take out Jagr at some point this season I could care less where the Caps or Flyers wind up. In the meantime, I’ll finish editing out every Jagr goal from my ’91-’92 Penguins Stanley Cup playoff video collection and replace it with one of Jovanovski calling him a “homosexual slur” from the 1996 Semi-Finals. In my world, he’s dead to me and when he doesn’t get his number retired by the Penguins, he’ll finally be dead to Mario and Pittsburgh too.

    Oh, I’m sorry, was that too harsh?

  4. Steve says:

    For the Flyers to be ranked that low reeks of small-town bias.

    I used to like the Penguins but have switched to the Flyers now. Like the way their management aggressively pursues talent rather than sit back and hope the league rigs the lottery for them.

  5. mario says:

    i like what sjb said, just won’t be doing all the

  6. CyKo says:

    @steve:

    notice that Rossi ranked the flyers a spot higher than the national consensus?

    small town reading ability I see in you

    although this “small town” might not like the flyers, we certainly respect them as legitimate contenders.

  7. CyKo says:

    @ steve

    if you think aggressively pursuing talent means trading it all away for a washed up locker room riot then perhaps you are better off cheering for Philly than Pittsburgh

 
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