The first full week of NHL play is in the books and a few teams have risen to the top as the NHL’s best in this week’s rankings. However, outside of the top few spots, parity reigns supreme as supposedly good teams still continue to struggle through one week. The more games that are played, the better informed me shall be about who really is a contender this season.
Be sure to check back every Monday for updated Power Rankings!
30. Florida Panthers (1-4-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
This Week’s Schedule: @Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, @Buffalo
Breakdown: Since their 5-1 opening night victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers have been outscored 18-3 and have looked terrible on the ice during every game. Injuries to key players like Kris Versteeg, Erik Gudbranson and Marcel Goc have crippled the Panthers thus far, but they must learn to win without these players, or face becoming irrelevant early on this season.
29. Phoenix Coyotes (1-4-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 27
This Week’s Schedule: Nashville, Edmonton, Dallas, @Dallas
Breakdown: The Coyotes are off to a rough start and as the Pacific Division continues to improve around them, the Yotes will have to figure things out fast before falling too far behind the Sharks, Ducks and Stars. Starting goaltender Mike Smith is currently nursing an injury, but was laughable before being sidelined, giving up 10 goals in the team’s first two games. Smith will need to return to form and stay healthy if the Coyotes hope to be competitive this season.
28. Washington Capitals (1-3-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 20
This Week’s Schedule: @Ottawa, @Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
Breakdown: The Washington Capitals were able to get their first win under new coach Adam Oates on Sunday, but still look like anything but contenders this season. Goalie Braden Holtby has a 5.04 GAA through 2 games and could have already lost his starting job in favor of Michal Neuvirth. Supposed superstar Alexander Ovechkin has only 1 goal through the team’s first 5 games and will need to play like his old self if the Capitals hope to win games.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (1-3-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 16
This Week’s Schedule: Dallas, @Minnesota, St. Louis, Detroit
Breakdown: After starting off the season hot, the Blue Jackets have dropped 3 straight games and look more like the rebuilding team that we were expecting to see this year. While the Blue Jackets have been competitive every night, their young roster still isn’t where it needs to be, but may be developing ahead of schedule. The team’s penalty kill currently sits at an astounding 90% and Sergei Bobrovsky has been solid in net for the team thus far. While the Blue Jackets most likely won’t contend, they also won’t be a pushover every game.
26. Calgary Flames (1-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 29
This Week’s Schedule: Colorado, Chicago
Breakdown: The Flames were able to capture their first victory of the season Sunday against their rivals, the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames’ impressive power play has kept them in a few games as they have been converting on 29.4% of their opportunities. Highly touted rookie Sven Baertschi has yet to record a point, but that could change soon as he continues to adapt to the NHL. While the Flames are still not where they want to be, the return of Jiri Hudler from injury should give them a boost.
25. Los Angeles Kings (1-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 22
This Week’s Schedule: Vancouver, Nashville, @Anaheim
Breakdown: A trip to play the Phoenix Coyotes was just what the Los Angeles Kings needed to get their first win of the season and ease their Stanley Cup hangover. The team’s offense is currently in disarray, but the recent return of Anze Kopitar should help, most notably on their power play – which currently sits at a 0% conversion rate. Goaltender Jonathan Quick has also been struggling and is currently allowing 3 goals per game – possibly trading backup Jonathan Bernier for some defensive help would greatly benefit Quick this season.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (2-4-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 24
This Week’s Schedule: @NY Rangers, @Washington, Carolina
Breakdown: After beating up on the hapless Florida Panthers 7-1, the Philadelphia Flyers got a taste of their own medicine in a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning the following night. The Flyers continue to be questionable as they have yet to put together back to back quality games this season. Surprisingly, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has been the team’s MVP thus far, posting a 2.22 GAA and .923 SV%.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (2-3-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 15
This Week’s Schedule: @Buffalo, Washington, Boston
Breakdown: The Maple Leafs’ goaltending and defense continue to be sub-par as they are currently allowing 3.4 goals per game. The emergence of Nazem Kadri has helped carry the Leafs’ offense, as he has totaled 5 points in just 5 games. With Joffrey Lupul set to miss an extended period of time, Kadri will have to step up alongside Phil Kessel as the Leafs’ go-to scorers.
22. Buffalo Sabres (2-3-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
This Week’s Schedule: Toronto, @Boston, @Montreal, Florida
Breakdown: Thomas Vanek has emerged early this season as the team’s offensive MVP and possible Hart Trophy Candidate. Vanek, who currently leads the team in scoring with 9 points, could carry the bulk of the Sabres offense this season if he can stay healthy. As expected, goaltender Ryan Miller has played well, but will need players like Vanek to build leads in order for the Sabres to play well this season.
21. New York Rangers (2-3-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 21
This Week’s Schedule: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, @Tampa Bay
Breakdown: Although the offense has sparked in recent games, the New York Rangers still continue to have trouble on their power play, converting on just 9.1% of their opportunities this season. Currently, 8 of the team’s 14 goals have been scored by the top line of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash – if the team hopes to get heir offense going, other complimentary players must start to step up.
20. Carolina Hurricanes (2-2-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 26
This Week’s Schedule: Boston, Ottawa, @Philadelphia
Breakdown: The Carolina Hurricanes have rebounded nicely since their embarrassing 5-1 loss on opening night to the Florida Panthers. The Staal Brothers and Jeff Skinner continue to carry the bulk of the offense, but Alexander Semin will need to elevate his play and take the pressure off of Carolina’s top 3 in order for the Canes to be successful. Goalie Cam Ward is still looking to get back to form as he currently sits on a 4.72 GAA on the season thus far and is being outplayed by backup Dan Ellis.
19. Edmonton Oilers (2-2-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
This Week’s Schedule: Colorado, @Phoenix, @San Jose, @Colorado
Breakdown: While the Oilers may be one of the most fun to watch teams in the NHL, their offense has yet to get off to the explosive start that was expected of them. Averaging just 2.5 goals per game, the Oilers will need to pick up their offense to compensate for their lackluster defense. Rookie defenseman Justin Schultz’s offensive abilities have been as good as advertised so far this season as he currently leads the team in scoring with 6 points.
18. Colorado Avalanche (2-2-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 18
This Week’s Schedule: @Edmonton, @Vancouver, @Calgary, Edmonton
Breakdown: The Colorado Avalanche’s young offensive core is struggling to start the season as the team is currently near the bottom of the league in both goals per game (2.3) and power play percentage (8.3%). The team will need to resolve their conflict with unsigned center Ryan O’Reilly as it becomes a bigger distraction the farther the team gets into the season.
17. Nashville Predators (1-1-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 17
This Week’s Schedule: @Phoenix, @Los Angeles, @San Jose
Breakdown: The Predators have played very well so far this season, but have struggled to win tight games en route to 3 overtime losses. The team has played well defensively without Ryan Suter thus far, only allowing 2.2 goals per game while playing solid defense in front of star goaltender Pekka Rinne. The Predators’ offense continues to be a weakness as the team struggles to score every game. The team will need to add some offensive talent to their roster if they hope to make a run at the Stanley Cup this season.
16. Detroit Red Wings (2-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 23
This Week’s Schedule: Dallas, St. Louis, @Columbus
Breakdown: After a terrible start to their season, the Detroit Red Wings have stabilized and are playing good hockey in recent games. While the team has been able to win a few games, the offense is only scoring a meager 2 goals per game on average and have only converted 7.7% of their power play opportunities. The team will need to see bigger contributions from players like rookie Gustav Nyquist and offseason pickup Mikael Samuelsson if they want to contend in the Western Conference.
15. Vancouver Canucks (2-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 19
This Week’s Schedule: @Los Angeles, Colorado, Chicago
Breakdown: After a 4-1 loss to the high powered offense of the San Jose Sharks, the Vancouver Canucks are still searching for their identity. Goaltender Cory Schneider has been unpredictable so far this season and his 3.13 GAA / .897 SV% makes it hard to fully get behind the choice to replace Roberto Luongo. While the Canucks could get some much needed offensive help by trading Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider’s less than stellar play is making it hard to be as enthusiastic about this new transition.
14. Dallas Stars (2-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
This Week’s Schedule: @Columbus, @Detroit, Phoenix, @Phoenix
Breakdown: Veteran forwards Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whintey have carried the bulk of he Stars’ offensive load this season, combining for 9 points through the first 5 games of the season. The resolution of Jamie Benn’s contract dispute and his return to the lineup should help bolster the Stars’ offensive arsenal as they look to keep pace with the high scoring abilities of divisional rivals such as the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
13. New York Islanders ( 2-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 30
This Week’s Schedule: @Pittsburgh, @New Jersey, New Jersey
Breakdown: Good news, the New York Islanders have an offensive capable of making a run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bad news, they have a defense that is bad enough to push them out of the playoff picture. Although team Captain John Tavares continues to excel as a facilitator and superstar on the ice – he leads the team with 7 points (1G 6A) – the Islanders offensive talents will continue to go unnoticed if their team continues to give up over three goals a game. General Manager Garth Snow must find a way to solidify the Islanders defense this season, or they could end up wasting another great year from Tavares.
12. Minnesota Wild (2-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week’s Schedule: Columbus, Chicago, @Anaheim
Breakdown: Perhaps we were too quick to praise the talents of the Minnesota Wild as the team has begun to show their weaknesses early on this season. Through 5 games this season, it is clear that right now the Minnesota Wild only have one scoring line on their team. Out of the team’s 13 goals this season, 10 have been scored by the team’s top line pairing of Zach Parise, Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu. If the team continues to put all of their eggs in one basket, they will struggle deeper in the season as teams only have to plan around stopping one scoring line.
11. Winnipeg Jets (3-1-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 28
This Week’s Schedule: @Montreal, @Florida, @Tampa Bay
Breakdown: The Winnipeg Jets are off to a hot start after winning a series of close games behind the fantastic play of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Pavelec’s has played out of his mind early on this year, posting a 2.20 GAA / .932 SV% and has been the Jets’ MVP thus far. Along with forward Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien has been leading the team’s scoring attack, compiling 6 points through 5 games this season. The Jets will be put to the test this week as they head out on a long east coast road trip against Southeast Divisional foes.
10. Montreal Canadiens (3-1-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 25
This Week’s Schedule: Winnipeg, @Ottawa, Buffalo, Ottawa
Breakdown: Even without defenseman P.K. Subban, the remaining defensive unit and goaltedner Carey Price have done a great job of keeping the puck out of their own net and are currently tied for 2nd in the NHL with only 1.75 goals allowed per game on average. Defenseman Andrei Markov and Raphael Diaz have filled the void left by Subban and are both currently tied for the team lead in points with 5. If the offense can pick up the pace in front of an always stellar Carey Price, then the Canadiens could make a run at the playoffs this season.
9. Ottawa Senators (3-1-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
This Week’s Schedule: Washington, Montreal, @Carolina, @Montreal
Breakdown: The Senators were lucky enough to play against the imploding Florida Panthers twice during the first week of this NHL season. Goaltender Craig Anderson has been Vezina worthy thus far as his GAA has shrunk to a microscopic .74 on the season. Erik Karlsson is continuing to shine with his ability to control the Senators’ offense from the blue line as he is currently tied for the team lead in scoring with 5 points. With two games against Montreal scheduled for this week, we should have a much better idea just how good the Senators are by next week.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week’s Schedule: NY Islanders, @NY Rangers, New Jersey, @Washington
Breakdown: The Pittsburgh Penguins have still yet to hit their stride this season even though they have one of the most talented rosters in the NHL. While players like James Neal, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are excelling offesnively, the team’s complimentary players need to step up in order for the Penguins to dominate like they expect to. The Penguins will also need to find ways to improve their defense, both in their own zone and in the neutral zone if they hope to contend with the best teams in the league.
7. Anaheim Ducks (3-1-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week’s Schedule: @San Jose, Minnesota, Los Angeles
Breakdown: Even though Bobby Ryan has only recorded 1 point in the team’s first 4 games, the Ducks’ offense has still been on fire behind big performances by players like Teemu Selanne, Daniel Winnik, Saku Koivu. If these three continue to excel alongside superstars like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, then the Ducks will be a threat to light up the lamp at will on any given night. However, the Ducks do have one glaring weakness so far this season, goaltender Jonas Hiller. Through 3 stars this season, Hiller has a 4.00 GAA / .864 SV% and could be in danger of losing his starting job unless he is able to turn it around.
6. New Jersey Devils (3-0-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
This Week’s Schedule: @Boston, NY Islanders, @Pittsburgh, @NY Islanders
Breakdown: With outstanding goaltending and defense leading the way, the New Jersey Devils are currenetly allowing only 1.75 goals per game on average – tied for 2nd overall in the NHL. Players like David Clarkson, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias are doing enough every night offensively to put the team in a position to win behind their stellar defense. The team looks to get even better in the near future as Adam Henrique returns from injury to bolster the Devil’s offensive capabilities.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
This Week’s Schedule: Florida, Winnipeg, New York Rangers
Breakdown: Look out NHL, there is an offensive storm brewing in Tampa. With 4.8 goals per game on average, the Tampa Bay Lightning currently lead the NHL in scoring behind a laundry list of talented scorers including Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The biggest surprises thus for the Lightning thus far have been the performances by rookie Cory Conacher and Captain Vincent Lecavalier. If both players can continue their current level of play, then the Lightning’s offense will be too much to handle for any opponent. Goaltender Anders Lindback only needs to be average in net every night and the Lightning will have a chance to win.
4. Boston Bruins (3-0-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week’s Schedule: @Carolina, New Jersey, Buffalo, @Toronto
Breakdown: The Boston Bruins are currently the tale of two completely different special teams. This season, the Bruins penalty kill unit has yet to allow a power play goal, yet the Bruins own power play unit has only been able to convert 5.9% of their opportunities. While Tuukka Rask will play Vezina worthy hockey most of this season behind a world class defense, the Bruins will need to learn to score at some point if they hope to make it out of the Eastern Conference.
3. St. Louis Blues (5-1-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
This Week’s Schedule: @Columbus, @Detroit
Breakdown: The Blues really do look like the total package early on in this NHL season. Although the Blues do have some holes on defense, the goaltending duo of Halak and Elliot should keep opponent’s sticks quiet on most nights. However, the Blues now finally seem to have an offense to match their play in net, as players like David Perron and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko have brought new offensive life to St. Louis. If the Blues’ scorers continue to stay hot, then there is no telling how good this team can be.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (6-0-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week’s Schedule: @Minnesota, @Vancouver, @Calgary
Breakdown: After an overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night, the Chicago Blackhawks are off to their best start in franchise history. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa have been outstanding on offense, combining for 17 points through just 6 games this season. The Blackhawks’ penalty killing unit has also been very impressive early on, shutting down opponents 95.6% of the time. Believe it or not, Corey Crawford has played very well in net so far this season, posting a 1.78 GAA / .933 SV%, however only time will tell if he will continue to play at this level.
1. San Jose Sharks (5-0-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week’s Schedule: Anaheim, Edmonton, Nashville
Breakdown: Unless you have been living under a rock this past week, you are more than likely aware of how well the San Jose Sharks have played thus far this season. Sharks’ forward Patrick Marleau leads the NHL with 9 goals this season and along with teammate Joe Thornton leads the NHL in total points with 13. The Sharks’ power play has been unstoppable so far this season, with the team scoring on 37.5% of the time they have an extra man. However, the Sharks success isn’t all about offense, with just 1.6 goals allowed per game on average, the Sharks are also the best defensive unit in hockey. The only thing holding back the Sharks could be the wear and tear a shortened season takes on their veteran players, only time will tell how well they can play through such adversity.