Another week has come to a close, leaving us with a new team atop our power rankings. Just as the fight for the top spot is heating up, so too is the race for Connor McDavid. Here are the Power Rankings for Week 5.
30. Buffalo Sabres (3-11-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 30
This Week’s Schedule: @Blues, @Wild, Maple Leafs
Breakdown: It was more of the same for the Sabres this week, as Buffalo dropped all three of their contests. The week got off to a (relatively) promising start with the Sabres taking the Montreal Canadiens to a shootout, before ultimately losing. The Sabres did nothing with that momentum, losing the next two in regulation, highlighted by an emphatic 6-1 loss to the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night. It’s going to be a long season in Buffalo.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-9-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 28
This Week’s Schedule: @Capitals, @Flyers, Sharks
Breakdown: It’s not a good a sign when an 0-2-1 record for the week is an improvement, but that’s the situation the Blue Jackets find themselves in this week. Columbus started the week with back-to-back losses against the Hurricanes, managing to eek out a point in an overtime loss in the second leg. As it stands now, the Blue Jackets have lost their last eight games, seven of which were regulation losses. Can Columbus turn it around and regain the form that earned them a playoff berth last season?
28. Florida Panthers (4-4-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 23
This Week’s Schedule: Sharks, Islanders, @Ducks
Breakdown: Entering the week as a team on the rise, Florida backtracked this week with three straight losses. They managed to scrape out a point in a divisional clash in Boston on Tuesday, but ended the week with back-to-back regulation losses. The good news is that the Panthers managed to put up four goals in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Flames. The four goals matched a season best, marking only the second time this year that Florida has topped two goals in a game. This week won’t provide them with many easy opportunities for goals, so expect the scoring drought to continue.
27. Carolina Hurricanes (4-6-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 29
This Week’s Schedule: Flames, Jets, @Bruins, Sharks
Breakdown: It’s becoming pretty difficult to doubt Eric Staal’s importance to the Hurricanes. Since returning from injury, Staal has put up five points in six games, taking the Hurricanes from a winless team to a team that has won four of five, with the only loss coming in overtime against the Capitals. It will be a busy week for Carolina, as they look to build upon their hot start to November, with four games on tap, including three in four nights starting Thursday.
26. Dallas Stars (4-6-4)
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
This Week’s Schedule: @Coyotes, @Kings, Wild, @Blackhawks
Breakdown: Dallas is in trouble. They’ve lost their last seven games, including four straight in regulation, leaving them in the cellar of the Western Conference. For a team that surprised people with a playoff berth last season, this season has got off to an terrible start. This week was particularly bad giving away three games to Western Conference teams, who Dallas will be hoping to compete with for a playoff spot. With the power they have upfront, it may be time for the Stars to start looking for defensive help via trade.
25. Colorado Avalanche (4-7-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 22
This Week’s Schedule: @Islanders, @Rangers, @Devils
Breakdown: Colorado continued to flounder this week, losing two of three. Even in their shootout victory against Toronto, the Avs gave away two leads, conceding the tying goal in the closing minutes of regulation. A lot of people predicted a regression for Colorado this season, but so far, their fall has been much harder than anticipated. On a positive note, the Avs haven’t had any problem scoring, but until they work out their defensive issues, this prolonged slump will likely continue.
24. Edmonton Oilers (6-8-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 26
This Week’s Schedule: @Predators, Senators, Coyotes
Breakdown: The Oilers had two drastically different halves to the week. The first half of the week saw the Oilers lose two straight, giving up nine goals in the process. But as has been the case for much of this young season, Edmonton’s inconsistent play has featured glimpses of the promise that their talented roster possesses. This was on display in the second half of the week, as the Oilers took their next two to kick-off a three game road trip. It’s still a work in progress, but if this team could find some level of consistency, they could compete for one of the wild card spots in the West.
23. Arizona Coyotes (6-7-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 27
This Week’s Schedule: Stars, @Flames, @Canucks, @Oilers
Breakdown: It wasn’t perfect, but it was a big step in the right direction for the Coyotes. They won two of three, including a shootout win on the road against last week’s top team, the Anaheim Ducks. They still have a lot of ground to make up, but this could be the start of their slow climb out of the cellar.
22. Winnipeg Jets (8-5-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 25
This Week’s Schedule: @Canadiens, @Hurricanes, @Predators, @Wild
Breakdown: Winnipeg continues to make waves, as they secured five of six points this week. The one point that got away came in a shootout loss against the Penguins, who are the hottest team in the league. Evander Kane got on the score sheet this week with his first three points of the season, giving Jets’ fans hope that he’s getting back to 100%. If Kane can get going, it would give Winnipeg a major boost going forward.
21. New Jersey Devils (6-6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 17
This Week’s Schedule: @Bruins, Wild, @Capitals, Avalanche
Breakdown: Looking back on last week’s breakdown, the problem for New Jersey was inconsistency. In hindsight, inconsistency doesn’t seem so bad compared to overall poor play. The Devils came out and laid an egg this week, dropping all three games. Cory Schneider didn’t look good this week, which made it so much worse when the team squandered his strong performance at home against the Blues on Tuesday night. The Devils will have four chances to get back in the win column this week, but based on their performances over the last week, it won’t be easy.
20. New York Rangers (6-6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 19
This Week’s Schedule: Penguins, Avalanche, @Penguins
Breakdown: The Rangers lost three of four this week, further distancing themselves from last year’s impressive run to the Stanley Cup Finals. On the bright side, Rick Nash has continued to score at a torrid pace, leading the NHL with 11 goals through 14 games. Will he be able to maintain his hot start when the team inevitably works its way out of this slump?
19. Washington Capitals (6-5-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 21
This Week’s Schedule: Blue Jackets, Devils, @Blues
Breakdown: The Capitals managed to bounce back from an ugly stretch this week. After an OT loss to the surprising Flames, Washington responded with back-to-back wins, including a big road win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Staying true to form, the Caps seem to score at will, but their ability to keep the goals against down this week was a pleasant surprise. Maybe they are turning the corner?
18. Philadelphia Flyers (7-5-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 24
This Week’s Schedule: Blue Jackets, @Canadiens
Breakdown: After a rough week, the Flyers came out on fire this week. They put up four goals in every game, en route to a perfect week. If they can prolong this winning streak through this week, we can safely put their horrific start to the season in the rearview. It shouldn’t be too difficult either, as they only have two games on the schedule for this, including a gimme in the form of a home game against the Blue Jackets.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 18
This Week’s Schedule: Bruins, Penguins, @Sabres
Breakdown: It was an up-and-down week for the Leafs, but they were still able to pick up five of a possible eight points. Perhaps the most impressive part of their two wins was that both saw Toronto put up a five spot. More good news is that the mediocre play throughout the Eastern Conference has left Toronto right in the thick of things after the first month in a half. This week will be a big opportunity for the Leafs, with two division match-ups, including a road game against the lowly Buffalo Sabres.
16. Ottawa Senators (7-4-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 16
This Week’s Schedule: @Canucks, @Oilers, @Flames
Breakdown: Leading up to Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa had played stellar defense all week. They allowed only two goals in three games, managing to lose one of those contests in a shootout. While you’d like to see a clean sweep of those games, the stretch brought the Senators into the league’s top 10 in goals against. While goal scoring is definitely not their moneymaker, their strong defense could keep them in the Wild Card conversation throughout the season.
15. Detroit Red Wings (7-3-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
This Week’s Schedule: Blackhawks, Canadiens
Breakdown: Detroit has hit a rough patch, now losers of four of the last five. There is a silver lining, however, in that the Wings have managed to push their opponent to overtime in three of those four losses, allowing them to continue to compile points, while they struggle through this slump. Pavel Datsyuk has been banged up of late, which could go a long way in explaining their struggles. Detroit has four days off before their next game, giving Datsyuk some extra time to recover. His return would be a huge boost for the Red Wings, who head into this week with home games against two of the better teams in the NHL.
14. Boston Bruins (9-6-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 16
This Week’s Schedule: Devils, @Maple Leafs, @Canadiens, Hurricanes
Breakdown: Although they only had two games this week, things went as well as the Bruins could have hoped. They won both games against weaker opponents, making up some ground after a terrible start. With a depleted defensive group, the Bruins have seen the likes of Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky, and Joe Morrow rise to the occasion. If they can continue to play better than .500 hockey without Krug and Chara, the Bruins will be in great shape. This week features a major test, as Boston has back-to-back games on the road in Canada against division rivals in Toronto and Montreal.
13. St. Louis Blues (9-4-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
This Week’s Schedule: Sabres, Predators, Capitals
Breakdown: This week saw the Blues seven game win streak come to an end. St. Louis still took two out of three and continued to put some distance between them and their so-so start to the year. Defensive has been at the heart of the Blues strong performance, as they have been one of the NHL’s best teams in their own end. Their defensive play has allowed them to overcome their terribly inconsistent offense. The win streak saw them put up three goals a game, which coupled with their defense, has put them back in the upper echelon of the NHL. Look for them to continue their climb.
12. Calgary Flames (9-5-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
This Week’s Schedule: @Hurricanes, Coyotes, Senators
Breakdown: The longer this goes on, the more you have to wonder if the Flames are for real. Calgary took care of business with two wins in three tries this week, with their only loss coming at the hands of Tampa Bay, who has been playing phenomenal hockey as of late. Jonas Hiller continues to look like one of the best free agent signings of the summer. This week shouldn’t be too difficult for the Flames, as their toughest match-up looks to be against the Senators at home, a very winnable game.
11. Minnesota Wild (7-6-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week’s Schedule: @Devils, Sabres, @Stars, Jets
Breakdown: Minnesota started to tumble back to earth this week, dropping all three games. To make matters worse, the Wild managed only two goals in three games this week, a feat that is more representative of a team like the Buffalo Sabres than the Minnesota Wild. This is probably more of a blip on the radar, as Minnesota has an extremely talented roster. They have four games this week to get back on track, look for that to happen.
10. Los Angeles Kings (6-4-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
This Week’s Schedule: @Ducks, Stars, Ducks
Breakdown: After slipping a bit the previous week, the Kings were a shootout loss away from a perfect week. They are still looking up at the Anaheim Ducks in the standings, which makes this week a major test for the defending Stanley Cup Champions. A home-and-home against the Ducks gives Los Angeles the opportunity to make a statement. In between those two games, the Kings will have a show-down with the scuffling Stars. Win or lose, the games featuring Ducks and Kings should be some of the best that the NHL has to offer. Don’t miss out.
9. San Jose Sharks (8-6-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
This Week’s Schedule: @Panthers, @Lightning, @Blue Jackets, @Hurricanes
Breakdown: The Sharks slipped a bit this week, losing two out of three as they embarked on a seven game road trip. San Jose has a well-balanced attack, with four of the top 30 point producers in the league, but their defense needs some major work. They have four games against the Eastern Conference, three against bottom five teams. The only real test this week should be a match-up in Tampa Bay.
8. Chicago Blackhawks (8-6-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
This Week’s Schedule: Lightning, @Red Wings, Stars
Breakdown: Chicago got back on track this week, winning two of three, including a 5-0 statement victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The offense is starting to pick up, lending some support to the Blackhawks tremendous defense. As expected, the slump was short-lived and Chicago looks like themselves again. Their first game of the week will be a heavyweight bout against the Lightning, a game that should give us a much better idea of where both teams really are at the moment.
7. New York Islanders (9-5-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
This Week’s Schedule: Avalanche, @Panthers, @Lightning
Breakdown: The previous week was a nightmare, but the Islanders looked like a legitimate contender again this week. They knocked off both the Ducks and the Kings on the road, bumping them back up the ladder. In 190 minutes of hockey, the Islanders allowed only three goals, making the late preseason additions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy even better. This should be a pretty light week for the Isles with bottom ten games against Colorado and Florida.
6. Vancouver Canucks (11-5-0)
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week’s Schedule: Senators, Coyotes
Breakdown: The Canucks continued to impress this week. Aside from a 5-1 loss to the Kings, Vancouver won three games against Western Conference opponents. A big shootout win over the Ducks puts Vancouver in the conversation for best team in the West. Ryan Miller continues to lead the league in wins with ten, despite not playing his best hockey. As he picks it up, the Canucks could get even better.
5. Nashville Predators (9-3-2)
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week’s Schedule: Oilers, @Blues, Jets
Breakdown: Nashville remained hot last week, winning two of three games, including one against division rivals, the St. Louis Blues. Even more impressive than the Predators play as a team is the emergence of Filip Forsberg. He’s now scored in four straight games and is leading the team in points. The Forsberg-for-Erat trade looks better with each passing day. Nashville could use some more scoring from other players, but with their elite defense, they have been scoring enough to win games, so they’ll take it.
4. Anaheim Ducks (10-3-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week’s Schedule: Kings, @Kings, Panthers
Breakdown: Despite losing all three games this week, the Ducks managed to secure three of a possible six points. They lost in overtime to the Islanders to start the week, before dropping back-to-back games in the shootout. A big part of Anaheim’s struggles could likely be attributed to Corey Perry and Cam Fowler missing time, two key pieces to last week’s top ranked team. Not a great time to be struggling as Anaheim has a home-and-home against the Kings this week, in what will be a battle for Pacific Division bragging rights. Expect a rebound for the Ducks.
3. Montreal Canadiens (10-4-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
This Week’s Schedule: Jets, Bruins, Flyers, @Red Wings
Breakdown: When the Canadiens lost their first game of the week at home to the tune of 5-0, it looked like Montreal’s struggles were set to continue. But the Habs returned to their winning ways, taking the next two, heading into a four game week on a winning streak. Carey Price hasn’t looked great as of late, but in Saturday’s win over Minnesota, he was sharp, stopping 30 of 31 to improve to 8-3-1 on the season.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-3-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week’s Schedule: @Blackhawks, Sharks, Islanders
Breakdown: The Lightning continue to score in bunches, putting up 16 in three games this week, winning all three in the process. The Lightning have been on a tear recently, winning six in a row and scoring four or more goals per game over that stretch, including two seven goal outbursts. The wins have done a great job masking some of Tampa Bay’s defensive issues, but with their offensive attack, they only need to play decent defense to win most games. If the can step up their play in their own end, look for them to continue to challenge for the top spot in our rankings.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (10-2-1)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week’s Schedule: @Rangers, @Maple Leafs, Rangers
Breakdown: The Penguins ended the week on a seven game winning streak and winners of nine of their last ten. While you’d expect the impressive scoring numbers, with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, you might not expect the stout defense we’ve been seeing. Over the seven game winning streak, Pittsburgh has allowed only eight goals against, while putting up 33 of their own. Marc-Andre Fleury has been lights out, posting three shutouts and a .955 save percentage during the winning streak. A home-and-home with the Rangers gives the Penguins a chance to bury their Metropolitan rivals and stake their claim as the top team in the East. How long will this run last?
Check back every Monday for new rankings!