By Dave Turner
Now that we have some games to judge all of the teams across the league on, we’ll be bringing you our power rankings every week.
1. San Jose Sharks 5-0-0 (10 points)
Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have been on fire. Their power play is on a torrid pace right now, it’s almost unreal. San Jose has depth and will only get better when Brent Burns returns. Regular seasons have always been good to the Sharks though, is this the year they finally make their run?
2. Chicago Blackhawks 6-0-0 (12 points)
With their young talent maturing and the likes of Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews entering the prime of their careers, this team is ready for another playoff push. Goaltender Corey Crawford remains the question though and how far they go this year will be on his shoulders.
3. St. Louis Blues 5-1-0 (10 points)
I think this team took their lumps last year, when they lost in the second round, after their tremendous regular season. They are focused and hungry. Their depth is tremendous and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko looks like the real deal. Their OT win over the Wild was a good sign that this team is finding a way to win games late. The Blues are a more mature, battle tested team this season.
4. Boston Bruins 3-0-1 (7 points)
If Tuukka Rask can continue to play well in net this year, no one will want to face this team come playoff time. They can grind you to death, or open things up. With their depth, they have scoring all the way up and down the roster.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1-0 (8 points)
I’m surprised at how well they’ve started and though I’m skeptical as to if they can keep it going, they’ve come out of the gates hard. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos have been unstoppable, but how long will their defense hold up? I’m not sold on Anders Lindback quite yet and they can’t just expect to outscore everyone by the likes of 6-4 or 5-3 every night.
6. New Jersey Devils 3-0-1 (7 points)
Martin Brodeur looks to have turned back the clock and has been great so far. They’re a team that’s solid in their own end, but depth scoring is the question. Can Ilya Kovalchuk carry this team offensively in the wake of Zach Parise’s departure?
7. Anaheim Ducks 3-1 (6 points)
Daniel Winnik (5 goals) has been a pleasant surprise so far. With Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne playing well, the Ducks are showing that they can be more than just the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line. Jonas Hiller will need to be better for them to keep up this pace.
8. Ottawa Senators 3-1-1 (7 points)
I was amazed when I saw some writers picking this team to finish near the bottom of the league this year. They have a nice mix of young and veteran blood. Erik Karlsson is an absolute stud and with Craig Anderson playing well, they’ll be a tough beat night in and night out.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 (6 points)
We know they’re going to score goals, that’s not the issue. With Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby both healthy from the start, they’ll be tough as long as they can keep things in control in their own end. Can Marc-Andre Fleury play like the elite goaltender he’s supposed to be?
10. Winnipeg Jets 3-1-1 (7 points)
They’re a gritty team that has won some exciting games thus far, including Sunday night’s come-from-behind win over the Islanders. Evander Kane looks like he’s taking a step towards becoming an elite player.
11. Montreal Canadiens 3-1 (6 points)
They’re small, they lack a big time scorer…and they’re winning. Say what you want, but this team has been paced by a great effort so far by Carey Price and they’re finding ways to win. Andrei Markov may have been a forgotten man, but now that he’s healthy, he’s one of the biggest threats from the blue line in the league. I like the grittiness they’ve shown so far.
12. Minnesota Wild 2-2-1 (5 points)
The Wild have been very up and down so far, but that’s to be expected with the new bodies they’ve brought in. Zach Parise has been stellar, especially on the power play. The question becomes, how far can the Parise-Koivu-Heatley line take them? They will continue to improve.
13. New York Rangers 2-3 (4 points)
The Nash-Richards-Gaborik line has been on fire, but outside of that, the Rangers have started out slow. You have to expect that Henrik Lundqvist will return to Vezina form and when he does The Blueshirts will be a very dangerous team.
14. Vancouver Canucks 2-2-1 (5 points)
The goalie situation is going to define this team early on. It has to be tough on Alain Vigneault, not knowing which goalie to go with, then getting hammered any time one of them struggles. There’s plenty of talent on this roster and they should be able to move past this and contend for a division title.
15. Nashville Predators 1-1-3 (5 points)
Three shootout losses so far are tough. Squandering three points in this shortened season may hurt them in the long run. Pekka Rinne will have to be even better this season, after the loss of Ryan Suter. It’s all about defense in Smashville, but they’ll need to find consistent scoring if they hope to build on last year’s playoff run.
16. Dallas Stars 2-2-1 (5 points)
Kari Lehtonen (.944 save %) has been sensational so far for the Stars. With a nice mix of newly acquired veterans in Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr, to go along with newly-resigned Jamie Benn, this team has the depth to compete with just about anyone and they should continue to improve.
17. New York Islanders 2-2-1 (5 points)
This team was a bad loss to the Jets away from being ranked close to the top-10. I really like their ability to score the puck, but there are question marks on defense and in goal. John Tavares is the real deal. Can Evgeni Nabakov do enough to keep them in contention?
18. Detroit Red Wings 2-2-1 (5 points)
They’ve been hit with the injury bug in Hockeytown early on, but I think in the long run that will help them. Getting young players like Damien Brunner into the mix early on, will give them better chemistry later in the year.
19. Los Angeles Kings 1-2-1 (3 points)
The Stanley Cup Champions have come out with a bit of a cup hangover. The last-second loss to the Oilers is uncharacteristic of them. They were so inconsistent for most of last year’s regular season. Are they just waiting for the playoffs to turn it on again?
20. Colorado Avalanche 2-2 (4 points)
With Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog now leading the way, this young team will be improved. Semyon Varlamov has been solid so far, but he’ll need to show he can handle the load if Colorado expects to be a playoff team.
21. Carolina Hurricanes 2-2 (4 points)
I’ve found it difficult to get a read on this team. I think they have enough talent offensively, with the likes of Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal and Eric Staal, but I don’t know if they have enough defensively. To make matters worse, Cam Ward has been dreadful so far, posting a 4.71 GAA and .845 save % in the three games he’s started.
22. Toronto Maple Leafs 2-3 (4 points)
I want to say that this is the year that the Leafs finally can push for a playoff spot, but they’ve been very hit or miss so far. I love the depth of young, exciting players, but they still seem like they’re a year away. With questions in goal, will Roberto Luongo end up in Toronto soon?
23. Edmonton Oilers 2-2 (4 points)
Nail Yakupov summed it up pretty well this week for the Oilers. There is a lot of hope for the future with this team that is full of players who will become household names in years to come. For now, with no solid goaltending, not much is to be expected quite yet.
24. Buffalo Sabres 2-3 (4 points)
Tomas Vanek has been a man possessed so far for the Sabres. With Ryan Miller playing pretty well, this team should absolutely push for a playoff spot. I wanted to rank them higher, but three straight losses to end the week hurt them after their 2-0 start.
25. Philadelphia Flyers 2-4 (4 points)
What’s going on in Philly? Ilya Bryzgalov has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so far this season and they seem to lack scoring depth. Losing Scott Hartnell to a foot injury only adds injury to an insulting first week. They may struggle to stay afloat in a very competitive Atlantic Division.
26. Calgary Flames 1-2-1 (3 points)
This team starts and ends with the play of Miikka Kiprusoff. If he can’t turn back the clock to his mid-2000’s form, the Flames will once again be left out of the playoffs. Jay Bouwmeester needs to be better than the abysmal -21 he was last season.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets 1-3-1 (3 points)
Trading Rick Nash was the right move for this team. Columbus needs to focus on cultivating and developing young players over the next few years. As for the present, it’ll be another long season for the Jackets.
28. Washington Capitals 1-3-1 (3 points)
Not a great start to the Adam Oates era so far. They got their first win on Sunday night against Buffalo. I like the fact that both Michael Neuvirth and Braden Holtby have shown promise so far. One of them will need to rise to the top though if the Caps hope to get into contention.
29. Phoenix Coyotes 1-4 (2 points)
What happened to Mike Smith? For a team that made their run to the Western Conference Finals last season because of their excellent team defense, it’s not there right now. It’s too early to write them off, but with four losses already, they need to get hot, quickly.
30. Florida Panthers 1-4 (2 points)
The Panthers won the Southeast Division last season based on gritty play from then entire roster. This season, they’ve struggled mightily to score, netting only three goals in their last four games.