After a short week wherein the red hot Saint John Sea Dogs, winners of 11-straight, took both their games out-scoring their opponents by a 14-2 clip, they have re-gained the top spot in this week's Dynamic Dozen. Saint John leapt over the Shawinigan Cataractes as the two big players in the Québec league battle it out in both Buzzing the Net rankings and the QMJHL standings: Shawinigan are up by a point on the defending champions but Saint John have a game in hand and the benefit of two extra wins.
While Ratings Percentage Index, the number we use to calculate the ranking of the Dynamic Dozen, doesn't factor in goal differential, it certainly showed this week that the Sea Dogs are the superior Quebec club. They slightly best Shawinigan in both RPI and points percentage, but the real difference here is in the team's goal differential: Saint John have scored 89 more goals than their opponents this season, while Shawinigan have "only" scored 80 more. Also this week, while Shawinigan managed to go 2-1 and hold onto the highest strength of schedule rank in the CHL, both their wins were of the one-goal variety.
Other than that, there wasn't a lot of movement in the rankings, which was good for Neate's week off, allowing me to pretty much copy/paste last week's rank and change a few results, although there were a couple of movers out West.
1. Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL (.570 RPI, +1). Stanislav Galiev is back and is finding his step, writes Sam Cosentino. I'm not sure I agree with his take that one Memorial Cup start is what has allowed Mathieu Corbeil to become the league's top goaltender, but it's tough to argue with success now, is it?
2. Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL (.564 RPI, -1). It was pointed out last week that the Cataractes allowed just 40 shots in two games without Brandon Gormley. They allowed 95 over three games this week as their 7-game road trip began with a pair of wins in Baie-Comeau and Chicoutimi. Oh, their offense hasn't missed a beat, as they took 115 shots as a team.
3. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.559 RPI, --). Portland have won seven straight, and have looked great doing so, out-scoring their opponents 43-16 over that stretch. With so many goals going around, it probably isn't surprising that Ty Rattie hit the 50-goal, 100-point mark in Sunday's latest rout, a 7-2 win over Prince George.
4. Tri-City Americans, WHL (.554 RPI, --). Tri-City has really cooled off after an explosive start, but despite going 2-2 on the week (including loss to the Winterhawks to lose their top spot in the American Division) they got a 10-point week out of overage Brendan Shinnamin.
5. Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL (.551 RPI, +2). The 'Jaw move up this week despite dropping their last two, a crushing 6-0 road loss to Medicine Hat and a shootout loss to Swift Current. They still have trouble winning games on the road, where they are 12-13-4 on the season, a stark contrast to their 25-3-3 home record which bests everybody's home clip in the "W" but Portland.
6. Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL (.550 RPI, --). A pair of comebacks book-ended the week for the Oil Kings, starting with blowing a 2-0 lead on the road in Kamloops, and ending with a wild shootout win at home to Medicine Hat, with Dylan Wruck tying the game with 37 seconds to go after going down 3-0 in the first and 4-3 with under three minutes left.
7. Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL (.548 RPI, -2). The Tigres were in danger of losing a 2-0 first period lead to the P.E.I. Rocket on Saturday which would have been quite devastating after blowing a 3-0 third period lead to the Halifax Mooseheads a night earlier. This isn't the time of year to get into a prolonged slump.
8. Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL (.538 RPI, --). Our first OHL team on the list has benefit from some strong goaltending, but now it's officially historically strong. Visentin has not only won 14 straight, but now has 10 shutouts on the season, beating out a league record that has stood for more than 50 years. That's also six shutouts in his last ten starts. Are they using slightly bigger pucks?
9. Quebec Remparts, QMJHL (.537 RPI, +2). The Remparts went 3-1 this week, losing only to Saint John and out-scoring their opponents 17-1 in those two games. Frederick Roy, who scored both goals in a 2-0 shutout victory over Moncton, earned first star of the week honours.
10. London Knights, OHL (.531 RPI, -1). Out of the teams in the Dynamic Dozen, only the Ice Dogs have a lower strength of schedule than London. The Knights dropped this week after getting blown out 4-1 in Windsor and 6-2 in Sarnia, sandwiching a 5-1 win against Kitchener. The team have the ability to rebound, however. The CHL's top-rated team still have yet to drop two in a row all year.
11. Medicine Hat, WHL (.530 RPI, +5). From the outset, it looks as if Medicine Hat gained some ground this week, but their RPI did not change from last week. Their gains gain thanks to drops from Kamloops, Plymouth and Spokane, allowing the 'Hat to climb back up into the Dynamic Dozen. Emerson Etem's late go-ahead goal in Edmonton on Monday was his first in four games, as he has apparently cooled off after his torrid January.
12. Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL (.529 RPI, -2). Rimouski played three games, all on the road, and went 1-2 despite out-scoring their opposition 14-0. I'm not sure whether Cape Breton ought to be more worried about allowing 10 goals on home ice, getting just 16 shots on home ice, or letting a defenseman score a hat-trick in a 7:02 span.
The next dozen
13. Saskatoon Blades, WHL (.528, +4); 14. Calgary Hitmen, WHL (.527, +5); 15. Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL (..525, +7); 16. Kamloops Blazers, WHL (.524, -3); 17. Plymouth Whalers, OHL (.522, -6); 18. Spokane Chiefs, WHL (.521, -3); 19. Blainville-Boisbrand Armada, QMJHL (.521, +2); 20. Chicoutimi Saguenéens (.519, -6); 21. Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL (.517, +4); 22. Acadie-Bathurst Titan, QMJHL (.516, -4); 23. Kootenay Ice, WHL (.513, -3); 24. Kitchener Rangers, OHL (.509, -1).
Dropping out: Baie-Comean Drakkar, QMJHL (24th to 25th).
Hot teams: Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, up seven spots (22nd to 15th).
Cold team: Plymouth Whalers, OHL, down six (11th to 17th)
Looking (nowhere but) up: Erie Otters, OHL (.428 RPI).
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 recent games. Shootout wins and losses are classified as ties for philosophical and practical reasons. All three CHL leagues are considered equivalent in quality.
Cam Charron is a hockey writer at-large who covers the WHL for Buzzing the Net. Follow him on Twitter @camcharron