The Portland-London-Halifax hold on the Dynamic Dozen was slightly dislodged while the junior hockey-liking world's eyes were on Ufa.
The Kelowna Rockets, winners of 22 of their past 26 games, have scooted up to third for the new calendar year's first rankings. Meantime, the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings have surged back into the rankings ahead of their big move for overager Trevor Cheek.
Everything is in flux in junior hockey due to trade deadlines and players being spirited away to NHL training camps, for however long. Here's a best stab at making sense of it.
1. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.610 RPI, 2.1 SRS, —) — Other than the whole Mike Johnston being suspended deal, has anything else gone wrong for the 'Hawks since then? They have won 11 in a row despite operating without three world junior players over most of that time. It's four if you include the fact 18-year-old defenceman Derrick Pouliot was out injured before returning on Tuesday for a win over Prince George.
Portland gets world junior gold medallist Seth Jones back in the lineup on Tuesday. Then he has turn around and fly right across North America again for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax next week. That's a lot of miles to put on a growing body.
2. London Knights, OHL (.583 RPI, 1.5 SRS, —) — The timing of it is the only thing to hang the Hunters on for jettisoning overage goalie Kevin Bailie in favour of the younger Anthony Stolarz. Overagers have to accept being replaceable. It is a shame if the move comes too late for the 21-year-old Belleville, Ont., native to find a soft landing elsewhere in major junior. It's hard to fathom that a goalie who has not been tagged with a loss since prior to Halloween could be cast out of major junior entirely. Bailie had six consecutive months with a save percentage of .908 or higher.
No OHL takers for ex-Knights G Kevin Bailie but team has fielded many calls from 'lower' leagues.
— Ryan Pyette (@RyanatLFPress) January 9, 2013
Or — or — maybe it is not. Think back to two years ago. Saint John Sea Dogs GM Mike Kelly, whose team was running away with the QMJHL, replaced both of his goalies before the deadline. Jacob De Serres backed the Sea Dogs to the MasterCard Memorial Cup. In London, Mark and Dale Hutner don't need to know the quote to know victors write the history.
3. Kelowna Rockets, WHL (.578 RPI, 1.5 SRS, +1) — Kelowna has been ranked higher than the Kamloops Blazers for several weeks during this exercise, making it seem predestined that they have closed the gap in the WHL's B.C. Division. The Rockets have simply projected a look of dominance. What's notable about converted defenceman Myles Bell jumping into the top five in Dub scoring is he hasn't been doing it all on power plays.
By the way, from the way it sounds, 5-foot-10, 175-pounder Zach Franko was about the last guy one would bet on to get a Gordie Howe hat trick.
4. Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL (.571 RPI, 1.6 SRS, -1) — Remember December 2011, when Nathan MacKinnon promptly had a five-goal game immediately after Hockey Canada's national junior team selection camp roster was announced and his name was not on it? It seems worth mentioning in order to play up the anticipation for MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin's return from the world junior on Friday vs. Blainville-Boisbriand. How MacKinnon responds from what was perceived as a disappointing experience will be a talker, for sure.
5. Tri-City Americans, WHL (.558 RPI, 0.6 SRS, +1) — The Kamloops-Kelowna itinerary for this week will say a lot about how much the Americans' ranking owes to them and how much is being in Portland's division. Having already faced the Winterhawks six times (winning once) has given Jim Hiller's Tri-City team the highest strength-of-schedule in the entire Canadian Hockey League. One look at the contrast in Winnipeg Jets-drafted defender Zach Yuen's plus/minus ranking suggests it's a different vibe in Tri-City.
6. Baie-Comeau Drakkar, QMJHL (.556 RPI, 1.0 SRS, +10) — Coach Éric Veilleux will head into the stretch with a two-goalie setup much like the one he had with the Shawinigan Cataractes last season. Trading for 19-year-old Francis Desrosiers means having a veteran to platoon with 17-year-old Philippe Cadorette, but not necessarily supplant him as the starter unless it's justified. That could mean Cadorette won't feel like he's bearing the weight of the world before being ready for it. Last season, Veilleux had a 17-year-old Alex Dubeau rotating with the overage Gabriel Girard in Shawinigan. Girard took the lead at the Memorial Cup.
7. Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL (.546 RPI, 1.3 SRS, +7) — If only the Battle of Alberta was not on hiatus until the playoffs, at least. Edmonton, which has won 8-of-10, just fortified its stable of proven scoring by trading with Vancouver for overage left wing Trevor Cheek, who spent two-plus seasons with the Calgary Hitmen.
New @edmoilkings forward Trevor Cheek has 18 goals in 39 games this year. 6'2 and 200 lbs.
— Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) January 9, 2013
Goaltending did not cost Canada a medal at the world junior championship. That's been established. So, presented without commented, Laurent Brossoit's stat line since being cut: 1.20 average, .959 save percentage, seven goals allowed in six games.
8. Kamloops Blazers, WHL (.540 RPI, 0.7 SRS, +2) — Coach Guy Charron is still about 10 days away from icing a full lineup heading into a tough matchup on Wednesday against the aforementioned Americans. Interestingly, Kamloops has two overnight two-game series in a row coming up in Prince George and Victoria, which could be good challenges to build off. They are welcoming right wing JC Lipon and defenceman Marek Hrbas back into the lineup, while continuing to work in new forward Kale Kessy.
9. Rimouski Océanic, QMJHL (.532 RPI, 0.5 SRS, +15) — The surging Océanic have managed to go 6-1-0-1 since burly 19-year-old wing Scott Oke (who is out another 2-3 weeks) was injured in the second week of December. Philippe Boucher's move for pint-sized puck-moving defenceman Kevin Gagné has also looked like a masterstroke, since he's continued his point-a-game pace since the move from Saint John.
10. Owen Sound Attack, OHL (.530 RPI, 0.7 SRS, -2) — Talk about annus interruptus for defenceman Cody Ceci. The Attack's top acquisition will play in two road games with his new teammates this week and turn around and go back to Ottawa for the Senators training camp. Coincidentally, the Attack will be on their Eastern Ontario road trip on the NHL opening weekend, so Ceci might end up playing for Owen Sound in Ottawa before he plays a home game in Owen Sound. Your head spinning yet?
The trade is well-timed, given that the Attack are 0-3 since New Year's Day.
11. Guelph Storm, OHL (.529 RPI, 0.4 SRS, -6) — The January blahs have hit Guelph hard, as they have scored just 10 goals during their present 1-4-0-0 funk. This might be the stand-up-and-be-counted stage for coach Scott Walker's Storm, whose peak might be a year away. General manager Mike Kelly has finally made a deadline move, adding overage defenceman Saverio Posa from the Windsor Spitfires. Posa bumps out goalie Keegan Wilson, who was a stopgap while Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Garret Sparks was with Team USA.
12. Sarnia Sting, OHL (.529 RPI, 0.6 SRS, +3) — Since dropping two one-goal games after the break, the Sting have settled into Life Without Gally by scoring 18 goals during a four-game win streak. The trio of Nikolay Goldobin (7G-4A), Charlie Sarault (3G-5A) and Reid Boucher (3G-5A), along with 17-year-old puck-moving defenceman Anthony DeAngelo (1G-6A), did the honours offensively. Sting followers can take that as cold comfort while awaiting world junior gold medallist Alex Galchenyuk's fate with the Montreal Canadiens.
The not as dynamic but still very distinguished dozen — 13. Calgary Hitmen, WHL (.526, —); 14. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, QMJHL (.525, -5); 15. Spokane Chiefs, WHL (.524, -8); 16. P.E.I. Rocket, QMJHL (.522, +9); 17. Barrie Colts, OHL (.521, -5); 18. Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL (.518, —); 19. Plymouth Whalers, OHL (.518, +12); 20. Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL (.515, -9); 21. Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL (.514, -4); 22. Québec Remparts, QMJHL (.512, +1); 23. Kitchener Rangers, OHL (.510, -2); 24. Brampton Battalion, OHL (.510, -5).
Hot team — Rimouski Océanic, up 15 (24th to 9th).
Cold team — Mississauga Steelheads, down 10 (26th to 36th).
Nowhere to go but up — Shawinigan Cataractes (.422).
An explanation on rankings — Buzzing The Net uses Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) with a recency factor. RPI combines a team's record with the strength of its opponents to produce an overall rating. Our method also gives more weight to recently played games. Shootout wins and losses are classified as ties, for philosophical and practical reasons. Simple Ranking System (SRS), an equation which uses goal differential and strength of schedule, is used as a complement. All three CHL leagues are considered equivalent in quality.
(All rankings through play on Jan. 6.)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.