Some teams that started hot have quickly been extinguished and some that fell behind are right back up near the top. That’s to be expected this early in the season, where match ups and road trips play into how each team fairs.
Perhaps the most interesting development is that there are no undefeated teams left in the NHL. Parody, my friends, is a very good thing.
1. Anaheim Ducks (5-1-0) [No. 13 last week] – If Frederik Andersen (1.38 gaa .951 save percentage) can keep his hold on the number one goalie spot in Anaheim, this team is going to continue to torment the rest of the league. The Ducks may have found a pair of excellent young defensemen in Finnish-born Sami Vatanen and Swedish-born Hampus Lindholm.
2. New York Islanders (4-1-0) [No. 9 last week] – There’s just something impressive about this team right now. They’re young, but they finally have some stability on the blue line and in net and it’s showing. They head up to Boston on Thursday for what should be a very nice early test for this club. It’s amazing how good John Tavares (2g, 7a) looks when there’s a team around him.
3. Montreal Canadiens (5-1-0) [No. 3 last week]– Five wins in their first six is an impressive start for Les Habitants. Coming off of a great postseason, Rene Bourque is back to being invisible, with only one assist and a minus-seven rating. Not to worry, as newcomer P.A. Parenteau seems to be fitting in just fine.
4. Chicago Blackhawks (3-0-1) [No. 7 last week]– Brad Richards seemed in line for a comeback season this year, playing in Chicago, but it hasn’t translated into any points for the former New York Ranger. He’ll need to prove he belongs. The ‘Hawks tangle with the Predators on Thursday, in what is the first of many interesting games they’ll play against Central Division opponents.
5. Los Angeles Kings (4-1-1) [No. 15 last week] –A great week by the Kings was paced by some timely scoring by the “70’s line.” Tyler Toffoli, (3g, 4a) Tanner Pearson (5g, 2a) and Jeff Carter (3g, 3a) have been sensational so far. The suspension of Slava Voynov will hurt this team, as they’re already giving up far too many shots on goal.
6. San Jose Sharks (4-1-1) [No. 2 last week] – If it wasn’t for an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Rangers, they’d be higher. Their road trip out East continues with a trip to Boston before they return home later in the week. Brent Burns is the man on the power play now with Dan Boyle gone and it’s paying big early dividends as the man with the best beard in the NHL has a goal and six assists, three of which have come on the power play.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1-0) [No. 4 last week] – The Pens cooled off the Islanders, after blowing third period lead to the Stars earlier on in the week. Patric Hornqvist (4g, 4a) seems like he’s poised for a breakout season in the Penguins’ system. This is still their division for now.
8. Nashville Predators (3-0-2) [No. 4 last week] – So far, so good for the Preds under Peter Laviolette. Though they will have to scratch and claw to stay relevant in the Central Division, the return of Pekka Rinne will go along way. With guys like Shea Weber, Roman Josi and young Seth Jones on the blue line, this team will have to rely on their back end for scoring.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (3-1-1) [No. 10 last week] – The loss of Victor Hedman for the foreseeable future hurts this club, as the Swedish defenseman suffered a hand injury that will keep him out for a reported 4-6 weeks. Steven Stamkos is on fire and it looks like Jonathan Drouin is going to make his long awaited debut this week.
10. Ottawa Senators (4-1-0) [No. 17 last week] – An excellent start by the Senators. This is not a great offensive team by any stretch, but they seem to get the idea of team defense. If they can continue the strong defense, they’ll hang around. Bobby Ryan (1g, 1a) has to become a big-time point producer for this team after he signed the monster deal to keep him in Canada’s capital for years to come.
11. Washington Capitals (3-0-2) [No. 11 last week] – Alex Ovechkin is off to a great start, with five goals in five games. They haven’t lost in regulation yet and a lot of that is due to the play of Braden Holtby (1.85 gaa .932 save percentage). This team will score goals and if the Barry Trotz system allows the defense and Holtby to limit the damage, this is a very dangerous team.
12. Detroit Red Wings (3-1-1) [No. 16 last week] – For those who thought that this might be the year that the Wings miss out on the playoffs, they’ve looked very much like a playoff team through their first five games. Jimmy Howard (1.72 gaa .934 save percentage) has been excellent. If they can get back a healthy Pavel Datsyuk for an extended period of time, they’ll be that much better off.
13. Minnesota Wild (2-2-0) [No. 1 last week] – The Wild came back down to earth, losing close games against the Ducks and Kings. Tomas Vanek hasn’t scored yet and the Wild will need him to put the puck in the net if they expect to be a playoff team this season. The Wild have played just four games and won’t play until Thursday this week when they take on the Coyotes.
14. Vancouver Canucks (3-1-0) [No. 14 last week] – They’re 3-1, but two wins over the Oilers and one over the Flames isn’t exactly earth-shattering. They have a tough road trip coming up, with trips to Dallas, St. Louis and Colorado. After this week, the picture might be clearer as to where this team really is. As long as Ryan Miller can play well enough, they’ll hang around in contention for a wild card spot.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-2-0) [No. 5 last week] – The Jackets had a 1-2 week after their 2-0 start to come back down to earth a bit. They have a huge test this week, with a western swing that sees them play at the Ducks, Sharks and Kings. That’s a true test for this team and where they stand against some of the league’s best. Sergei Bobrovsky (2.00 gaa .931 save percentage) has been excellent, thus far.
16. New Jersey Devils (3-2-0) [No. 6 last week] – After a blistering start, the Devils have cooled off in a big way. They got drubbed 6-2 to the Capitals and then fell behind the Sharks 3-0 before ultimately losing 4-2. All that separates the Devils from the .500 line is a Tuesday date with the Rangers at Prudential Center. Cory Schneider (2.97 gaa .908 save percentage) needs to be better if this team is going to compete.
17. New York Rangers (3-3-0) [No. 21 last week] – Just like that, the Rangers have reasserted themselves into the mix. Considering how the Sharks have been playing, beating San Jose 4-0 at the Garden was a good sign for the Blue Shirts. The Rangers have two big road contests this week, at New Jersey and at Montreal.
18. Dallas Stars (2-2-1) [No. 23 last week] – Tyler Seguin (4 goals, 4 assists) and Jason Spezza (1 goal, 6 assists) have both been on fire for this club. With two legitimate scoring lines, offense isn’t going to be the problem in Dallas. Kari Lehtonen (2.90 gaa, .906 save percentage) hasn’t been on the top of his game quite yet, but at 2-0-2, he hasn’t lost a start in regulation yet.
19. St. Louis Blues (2-2-1) [No. 12 last week] – Against teams that made the playoffs last year, the Blues are 0-2-1 with just two goals scored. Considering the level of competition in their own division, they have to find more consistent scoring. They’ll get a look at the Blackhawks, Stars and Avalanche in the coming week, a true litmus test as to where they belong in the crowded Central Division.
20. Calgary Flames (4-3-0) [No. 25 last week] – This is an exciting young team to watch. Johnny Gaudreau, T.J. Brodie and Sean Monahan are a nice nucleus for the future. They’ve played quite a few more games than most teams, yet find themselves above .500. There will be some bad nights and some exciting nights with this young team as they continue to grow.
21. Arizona Coyotes (2-2-0) [No. 19 last week] – So far, the Coyotes have looked excellent in their wins and awful in their losses. Perhaps it’s just that they haven’t been prepared, but they’ll have to find some consistency in their play if they hope to push for a playoff spot this season. Mikkel Boedker has five goals in four games, including a hat-trick against the Oilers.
22. Boston Bruins (3-4-0) [No. 18 last week] – There just seems to be something missing with this team. Whether it’s Zdeno Chara finally starting to slow down, or the lack of another big scoring threat, the Bruins don’t look right. The return of David Krejci has been a boost, as he’s tallied four points (1g, 3a) in four games played.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (2-3-1) [No. 20 last week] – Not many people thought that it would be James Reimer looking like the better option coming out of the gates. Both Reimer and Jonathan Bernier have identical .906 save percentages, but Bernier’s goals against is 3.33, to Reimer’s 2.87. Realistically, neither of those numbers are going to get it done for the Leafs.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (1-2-2) [No. 22 last week] – The Flyers won a wacky, high scoring game against the Stars to notch their first win of the season. Claude Giroux seems to have picked up where he left off, with seven points (2g, 5a) in their first five games.
25. Florida Panthers (1-2-2) [No. 29 last week] – Outside of the Devils disaster, this team has been limiting teams defensively. The problem is, the Panthers can’t score either. Through five games, they’ve scored just five goals. If they can get Roberto Luongo a few extra goals to work with, they might hang around for a bit.
26. Colorado Avalanche (1-4-1) [No. 26 last week] – The struggles of the Avalanche are among the most surprising in the NHL. For a young team that no doubt, overachieved last year, a bit of a setback was to be expected. They should begin to come around once they settle into some home games, but in a tight Central Division, they’ll have to start making up ground at some point.
27. Winnipeg Jets (1-4-0) [No. 24 last week] – The Jets started out their home stand with losses to the Predators and the Flames. They’ll be home for three more this week against the Canes, Lightning and Avalanche. Now’s the time for this team to string some wins together or else they’ll be looking straight up at the rest of the division.
28. Buffalo Sabres (1-5-0) [No. 30 last week] –Though they already have a staggering five regulation losses, they did get a win. A shootout win over the Hurricanes might be all they can muster at this point, but at least they got into the “W” column. Next up for Buffalo is a Western Conference road trip that sees them play the Ducks, Sharks and Kings. Ouch.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-2) [No. 27 last week]- Not a bad week for this injury-riddled team, as they scratched out two points in shootout losses to the Sabres and Rangers. They’re fighting, which is good. They’ll start to get some of their guys back this week, including Jeff Skinner. Eric Staal still seems like a week away, or so.
30. Edmonton Oilers (0-4-1) [No. 28 last week] – The Oilers got outscored in their three games last week by a total of 15-5, during losses to the Kings, Coyotes and Canucks. When is this team ever going to turn it around? No matter what kind of scoring they may find, until they find a legitimate goaltender, they will struggle.