With the first week of an exciting new NHL season in the book, we’ve begun to learn a little about the teams throughout the league. The new divisional format if fun, at least when it comes to the idea of seeing Detroit take on Boston. Alexander Ovechkin’s four goals are more than a few teams have scored thus far. The week came to a conclusion on Mike Santorelli’s overtime goal, which lifted the Vancouver Canucks over the Calgary Flames in overtime. A frentic end to a great week of hockey.
Let’s jump in to my first power rankings for the year:
(Note: My power rankings don’t include a preseason rank. I don’t believe in ranking teams based on last year’s merit. That being said, teams will be ranked solely on what they’ve done so far this year.)
1. Boston Bruins (2-0-0) – The Bruins make it to the top based on two solid wins. Beating the Red Wings at home in their inaugural game as division opponents by three goals was a nice way to start the week. Only two goals allowed by Tuukka Rask so far.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-0) – Two dominating wins out of the gate, the Penguins are looking to put last season’s playoff failures in the rear view mirror very quickly. Marc-Andre Fleury is doing his best to shut up the critics that hounded him after another bad playoff campaign. He’s surrendered only one goal so far.
3. St. Louis Blues (2-0-0) – Is this the year that St. Louis takes a step forward? They’ve dismantled the Panthers and Predators so far, but then again, it’s the Panthers and the Predators. They get Chicago this week. That’s when you can take out the measuring stick.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-0) – A nice comeback against the Senators capped off a strong week for the Leafs. James Reimer’s GAA, 4.62. Jonathan Bernier’s GAA, 0.64. You have to think that there is a goalie controversy, or hostile takeover coming soon in Toronto if that keeps up.
5. San Jose Sharks (2-0-0) – The department of redundancy department might not like me to say this, but is this the year that the Sharks finally break through? Antti Niemi seems poised for a Vezina-caliber season. If he’s good enough, the scoring will be there for the Sharks to win a lot of games.
6. Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0) – The Patrick Roy era has gotten off to a fantastic start. By fantastic start, I mean what could possibly be more fun than seeing Roy rock the pane of glass separating the two teams. All jokes aside, their young talent is going to be fun to watch this season.
7. Chicago Blackhawks (1-0-1) – Not exactly the greatest start for the defending cup champs, but they’ll take it. They began the season with a spirited 6-4 win over Washington which included a tremendous late third period 5-on-3 penalty kill. They outshot the Lightning 39 to 16 on Saturday, but fell in the shootout.
8. Winnipeg Jets (2-1-0) – The Jets were an Anaheim Ducks comeback away from starting the week 3-0. Their 5-3 victory over the Kings was impressive. They chased Jonathan Quick from the net after he surrendered four goals on 23 shots.
9. Vancouver Canucks (2-1-0) It’s definitely not the sort of John Tortorella hockey we’re used to, but it seems to be working, thus far. In their two wins this week against divisional opponents, they scored 11 goals. They get a matchup with former netminder Cory Schneider on Tuesday.
10. Detroit Red Wings (2-1-0) – They won a pair of games over teams they should beat in Buffalo and Carolina, but got thoroughly beaten in Boston in the first of what should be some excellent games between the two original six clubs.
11. Anaheim Ducks (2-1-0) – The Ducks rebounded from a putrid effort in Colorado on opening night to tally two big road wins against the Wild and Jets. Jakob Silfverberg with two goals already. He’s going to be a very worthy return for Bobby Ryan.
12. Calgary Flames (1-0-2) – A week in and no regulation losses for the Flames. It’s most likely going to be a long season in Calgary, but they’ve given the fans something to cheer about thus far.
13. Ottawa Senators (1-0-1) – A nice 1-0 win was followed up by the Sens blowing a 4-2 lead against the Maple Leafs en-route to a 5-4 shootout loss. They get quite a test this week, with a road trip that features at Los Angeles, at San Jose and at Anaheim, where Bobby Ryan makes his return.
14. New York Islanders (1-0-1) – The shootout was good and bad to the Islanders this week. What stands out is their inability to protect third period leads. The Isles blew a 3-2 lead to the Devils and a 2-0 lead to the Blue Jackets, which resulted in their two shootouts.
15. Phoenix Coyotes (1-1-0) – A tale of two games so far for the Coyotes. One, a resounding 4-1 opening night win against the Rangers, followed by a 4-1 loss to the Sharks. This team has more offensive talent than they’ve had in years past, but it’s still on Mike Smith if this team hopes to return to the playoffs.
16. Carolina Hurricanes (1-0-1) – A solid start for the Hurricanes, getting a point against Detroit and beating the Flyers. It’s not out of the question for Anton Khudobin to assert himself as the starter. Cam Ward is coming off of an injury and Khudobin held the Flyers to just one goal in his first start.
17. Montreal Canadiens (1-1-0) – The Canadiens dropped a tough 4-3 game against Toronto to start the season, but looked very good in beating the Flyers. Lars Eller is off to a fantastic start, with five points (three goals, two assists) so far.
18. Minnesota Wild (0-0-2) – There might not be another team with more pressure on them to perform than the Wild. Mike Yeo has to prove that he can do more than just make the playoffs. With a full season of Jason Pominville and the return of Dany Heatley, this team should score, but do they have enough in goal?
19. Dallas Stars (1-1-0) – The Stars followed up a weak performance against Florida with a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Capitals. They held Washington off the scoreboard for fifty-plus minutes after Alexander Ovechkin scored in the first.
20. Washington Capitals (1-2-0) – Speaking of the Caps, they gave the Blackhawks all they could handle in their opening game, but couldn’t put it together against Dallas. Ovechkin has four goals to start the season. We know they can score, but it’s going to be on Braden Holtby to take another step forward this year.
21. Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0) – A loss to the Sabres, but a win at Chicago. At a time where down is up and up is down for the Lightning, Ben Bishop had a tremendous game against the Blackhawks. If he’s able to carry the load, the Lightning will push for a playoff spot this year.
22. Los Angeles Kings (1-1-0) – The Kings are notoriously slow starters, but they’ll be just fine. LA has potted three power play goals in two games this season. If they can keep the power play going, they’ll be just fine.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (1-1-0) – A lone shootout win for the Jackets in their first two games. It doesn’t get much easier for Columbus. After games at Buffalo and home against the Bruins, they go on the road to face the Red Wings, Canadiens and Capitals. Welcome to the Eastern Conference.
24. New Jersey Devils (0-1-1) – Pete Deboer said that he thought the team played better in their 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh than they did in their 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders. With so many new pieces to sort out, it will take the Devils some time to get going. They begin a five game, West Coast road trip tonight against Edmonton.
25. New York Rangers (0-1-0) – It’s hard to judge the Rangers on just one game so far, but they didn’t look good in their 4-1 loss to Phoenix. The extended road trip due to the refurbishing of Madison Square Garden, coupled with the task of learning the system of a new coach, the Rangers will most likely struggle to get their footing over their first few games.
26. Florida Panthers (1-1-0) – They followed up a somewhat surprising opening night win over the Stars with a 7-0 stinker against the Blues. Aleksander Barkov became the youngest player to score a goal since 1944. The future may be bright in Florida, but it’ll be tough sledding this year.
27. Edmonton Oilers (0-0-2) – The Oilers welcome back Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the lineup on Monday. Without a win yet, he’s a welcomed addition. Edmonton has surrendered eleven goals in two games. Is this team ever going to take a step in the right direction?
28. Nashville Predators (0-0-2) – The Predators just can’t score. Pekka Rinne is an excellent goaltender and Seth Jones will continue to develop, but without the ability to puck the biscuit in the net with any sort of consistency, it’s going to be a long season in Nashville, once again.
29. Philadelphia Flyers (0-0-3) – To some, this putrid start for the Flyers might be surprising. With a lack of depth scoring and no clear-cut number one goaltender, it seems about right. Philadelphia has managed a total of three goals in their first three games.
(EDIT 9:55 am) Well, there goes Peter Laviolette. The Flyers are left searching for answers.
30. Buffalo Sabres (0-0-3) – Will we see Ryan Miller and/or Tomas Vanek moved sometime soon? The clock may already be ticking on Ron Rolston. Just two goals scored by the Sabres in three games.