The Capitals stay perched atop the rankings for the third-straight week. They are being pushed by the Red Wings who are also undefeated and hot on their tails. Luckily they play each other Saturday October 22, meaning we will have an undisputed #1 next week.
Biggest Riser: Colorado +18
Biggest Dropper: San Jose -18
1. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (1)
A perfect 5-0 the Caps stay atop the rankings. The games get tougher with Detroit visiting and trips to Vancouver and Philadelphia before the end of the month. Streaky winger Jason Chimera (4-0-0 +3) has paced the club with four goals in five games.
2. DETROIT RED WINGS PRESENTED BY AMWAY (6)
They have rapidly risen the ranks with their perfect 4-0 start and extremely balanced scoring. All but two roster players have notched a point, seldom used winger Patrick Eaves and defensive specialist Brad Stuart. Their October 22 game in Washington should be a good one.
3. BUFFALO SABRES (4)
Thomas Vanek has exploded out of the gate for eight points in the teams five games, including wins over Anaheim, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Ryan Miller has been sharp in goal (.942 save %, 2.01 GAA) and rookie center Luke Adam (3-3-6 +2) has been impressive as well.
4. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (10)
Hard to move them up after a so-so week, but the people they passed all played worse. Center Claude Giroux (4-3-7 Even) has been outstanding, but five points on the power play lead me to believe he will level off a bit. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov (.927 save %, 1.99 GAA) is earning his money.
5. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (14)
There are a few reasons I pause to move them this high, but for now I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. They have yet to play a single road game, and I can’t see winger Phil Kessel (6-3-9 +6) continuing to be as red hot as he is. Defenseman Dion Phaneuf (1-4-5 +8) is playing the best hockey of his career.
6. DALLAS STARS (15)
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen has been outstanding (.953 save %, 1.58 GAA) and the offense is well-balanced. Reclamation project Sheldon Souray (1-4-5 +6 ) has been lighting it up from the blueline. Lead the league in hits, but are also 4th in penalty minutes.
7. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (5)
The loss of Evgeni Malkin could be devastating if Sidney Crosby isn’t back anytime soon. With Crosby, Malkin, defenseman Brooks Orpik, and winger Tyler Kennedy injured this team might be too banged-up to make serious noise this year.
8. ANAHEIM DUCKS (12)
Goaltender Jonas Hiller (.931 save %, 1.71 GAA) appears to have recovered nicely from his vertigo issues. Losing winger Jason Blake isn’t an enormous loss for the Ducks, but it’s still worrisome.
9. COLORADO AVALANCHE (27)
As you can see from the jump I still didn’t believe in them last week. I’m still skeptical, but five wins on the road, regardless of opponent, is impressive. Many of their goals have come on the power play, their five-on-five play must improve to keep winning.
10. LOS ANGELES KINGS (8)
Center Anze Kopitar (4-5-9 +5) has been excellent so far, but the Kings need more production out of their defensemen, especially if Drew Doughty misses significant time with his upper-body injury. Goaltender Jonathan Quick (.960 save %, 1.20 GAA) has been almost unbeatable.
11. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (9)
Jonathan Toews is winning 60% of his faceoffs, and Dave Bolland (4-1-5 +4) is off to a great start. Defenseman Duncan Keith is averaging 25:31 of time on ice, which is actually down from last year which should help him stay fresher and healthier.
12. VANCOUVER CANUCKS (3)
With Selke-trophy winning center Ryan Kesler returning to the lineup the Canucks are closer to full-strength. It will get interesting if goaltender Cory Schneider continues to outplay Roberto Luongo.
13. NEW JERSEY DEVILS (16)
With goaltender Martin Brodeur out with a shoulder injury, backup Johan Hedberg has gone 3-0 in his stead. Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson is proving he belongs, logging 24:14 of ice-time per game.
14. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (21)
So Rick DiPietro is hurt (concussion) but the Islanders are actually winning, weird. Center John Tavares (5-3-8 +4) has been on fire, with eight points and was named the NHL’s second star of the week. More scoring is needed from the bottom-six to maintain their current pace.
15. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (13)
After goaltender Pekka Rinne stole the first two games of the year, the Predators have been on a slide. Defenseman Ryan Suter may be an ironman, but he cannot continue to average over 28 minutes of ice-time per game. They are being out-shot by ten shots per game.
16. BOSTON BRUINS (11)
They have yet to look like the team that won the Stanley Cup last season. They really need defenseman Zdeno Chara (0-0-0 +1) and winger Milan Lucic (0-1-1 Even) to get going. The penalty-fest in Carolina (70 PIMs including four misconducts) was embarrassing, and even got Head Coach Claude Julien ejected.
17. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (7)
Guy Boucher’s squad is falling quickly, as goaltender Dwayne Roloson (.858 save %, 5.11 GAA) is really struggling. They have been hit with 34 more PIMs than their opposition.
18. EDMONTON OILERS (19)
These guys are not the doormats of the West any more. Skilled, fast, and relentless. The combination of rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4-1-5 +1) and sophomore Taylor Hall (1-3-4 +2) is going to haunt Western Conference foes for years.
19. MINNESOTA WILD (22)
Winger Guillaume Latendresse (1-4-5 +3) is the Wild’s point leader through six games. After starting well, the first line of Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, and Devin Setoguchi has gone cold.
20. SAN JOSE SHARKS (2)
Quite the tumble for my preseason pick to represent the West in the Stanley Cup finals. Center Joe Thornton recorded his 696th career assist monday night, tying him for 53rd place all-time. The offense isn’t producing and the defense hasn’t been great either.
21. FLORIDA PANTHERS (25)
Still not sold, but I’m coming around. Winger Kris Versteeg is an impressive 3-4-7 +1.
22. CAROLINA HURRICANES (23)
They are scoring in bunches on the power play, but 5-on-5 play is not so good.
23. PHOENIX COYOTES (29)
The goaltending duo of Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera aren’t getting it done. Veteran winger Shane Doan (3-4-7 -3) is leading the team in points.
24. NEW YORK RANGERS (17)
While they haven’t been good, they haven’t been bad either. Henrik Lundqvist absolutely stole the game in Vancouver Tuesday night stopping 40 shots and shutting out the Canucks.
25. ST. LOUIS BLUES (20)
Jaroslav Halak has not been good in net, and losing winger Andy McDonald to a concussion will hurt their scoring depth.
26. CALGARY FLAMES (24)
Perhaps it’s time to trade Jarome Iginla and start over?
27. MONTREAL CANADIENS (18)
Carey Price has been bad, but the defense is riddled with injuries and isn’t helping.
28. WINNIPEG JETS (28)
Not all bad in Winnipeg, they got their first win and are playing tough.
29. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (26)
You could write a book, or at least an article on what is going wrong with this team (in fact I will be this week).
30. OTTAWA SENATORS (30)
Not competitive, not talented. Trade Spezza and Alfredsson and get some future studs.