Northeast Division Power Rankings: October 21

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Thomas Vanek has been all over the net this season (clydeorama/Flickr)

It was another wild week in the NHL. Right when it seemed as though Brendan Shanahan had stopped coming down on players for their on-ice actions, he slapped a two-game suspension on Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang for a hit he put on Alex Burmistrov of the Winnipeg Jets.

This week we also saw Toronto’s Phil Kessel continue his dominance, while Penguins forward James Neal was surprisingly hot out of the gate.

The Northeast Division continued much the same way it did last week. Buffalo is still hot, Toronto hasn’t slowed down very much, Montreal continues to struggle, Boston seems to be getting back to its old ways after a very slow start and Ottawa is still playing just as everyone expected.

Where do they all stack up, though? The standings don’t always give the right picture, so take a look at this week’s Northeast Division power rankings.

View the week one rankings here.

No. 1 – Buffalo Sabres (NE standings: 1, rise/drop: E)

The Sabres had another solid week of hockey, and so did forward Thomas Vanek. The 27-year-old is third in the league in goals (six) and second in points (10). He also owns a plus/minus rating of plus-5.

Also shining for the Sabres has been Jason Pominville, who has nine points this season. Pominville, the team captain, scored five of those nine points in his last three games, including a three point performance (one goal, two assists) against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

All in all, the Sabres lead the division with 20 goals. However, it hasn’t just been their offence that has been shining bright, though. The Sabres’ defencemen are a combined plus-15, highlighted by Andrej Sekera’s plus-6 rating.

In net, goalie Ryan Miller picked up shutout No. 1 on the season against the Panthers. He made 22 save to earn the win, which only improved his .950 save percentage.

No. 2 – Toronto Maple Leafs (NE standings: 2, rise/drop: E)

The Maple Leafs continue to hold one of the top spots in the Northeast despite dropping their two of their last three games. One of those losses came in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche, while the other came on Thursday against Boston.

Jonas Gustavsson got his first start in net this season on Thursday; many are saying that he is the reason Toronto conceded six goals, but it was evident that the Leafs were tired after playing the previous night. He certainly didn’t give No. 1 James Reimer a run for his money, as Reimer is still 4-0-1 and owns a .913 save percentage.

Kessel continues to tear it up for Toronto. He leads the league in both goals (seven) and points (12), and is second in the league in plus/minus (plus-6). Joffrey Lupul has also been a big contributor to the Leafs’ offence thus far, with four goals and three assists.

On the back-end, Dion Phaneuf has seven points in six games, four of which came this week. John-Michael Liles has two assists and Carl Gunnarsson is a plus-2. If the Leafs plan to become well-rounded on D, though, 21-year-old Luke Schenn will need to improve.

No. 3 – Boston Bruins (NE standings: 3, rise/drop: E)

The Bruins find themselves in third this week, which is exactly where they sit in the Northeast.

Tim Thomas continues to shine (Icon SMI)

Tim Thomas continues to shine in goal for Boston; he owns a .932 save percentage and has allowed more than two goals just once in his last three starts. He has been a huge reason why the Bruins have picked it up lately; they went 2-1-0 and have scored 10 times since last week’s rankings were released.

Tyler Seguin appears to have avoided a sophomore slump so far this season, as he leads the Bruins in points and assists. His eight points and six assists are four and two more than the next guy in line, Andrew Ference.

The B’s are still awaiting production from David Krejci, who has just one point, a goal, in four games. In fairness, Krejci has been suffering from an early-season injury.

Who the Bruins are no longer waiting on is Zdeno Chara, who exploded for a goal and two assists on Thursday night against the Maple Leafs. He had been held pointless with an even rating through his first six games.

No. 4 – Ottawa Senators (NE standings: 4, rise/drop: +1)

Ottawa was able to notch their second win of the season on Thursday against the Jets. Not only did they win following an embarrassing 7-2 loss on home ice to the Fylers, but they won convincingly, 4-1.

Still, though, the Sens are a struggling hockey club. Their prized free agent signing of 2010, Sergei Gonchar, is minus-3 with two points in six games. It has gotten so bad that he has been booed in his home arena.

Only two players on the team’s roster, Peter Regin and Zack Smith, own a plus rating. Even Jason Spezza, who has eight points in seven games, is a minus-1.

While the Sens have been struggling as a team, one player that continues to show his great potential is Erik Karlsson. Karlsson, 21, has a goal and seven assists for eight points this season.

If the Senators are going to rise in the rankings, one player that will need to raise his game is goalie Craig Anderson. He has a 4.25 goals against average and a .876 save percentage in six games this season.

No. 5 – Montreal Canadiens (NE standings: 5, rise/drop: -1)

Lost in Ottawa’s struggles has been the sputtering Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs have lost five of their six games this season, four of which have been in regulation. They went 0-2-1 this week, with their lonepoint coming in a shootout loss to Colorado.

With just 13 goals, Montreal has been struggling to find the back of the net. Max Pacioretty leads the team in points with five, while he, Travis Moen and Tomas Plekanec are tied for the team lead in goals, with two.

The good news is Yannick Weber is plus-3 and Andreas Engqvist has impressed. Also bringing joy to Habs fans is the news of MikeCammalleri’s return.

The Habs will play three out of their next four games at home, giving them a good chance to get on the right track. It all starts with the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

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