It’s hard to believe that over one month has passed since the start of the 2013-14 NHL season, which began on October 1st. Many surprise teams have taken the league by storm, while some disappointments have upset their respective fan bases. There is one conference that has annihilated the other, along with many other intriguing storylines. Here are the power rankings dating back to opening night:
1. Anaheim Ducks: (13-3-1)
The Ducks are incredible from all aspects of the game, as forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Mathieu Perrault have combined for 49 points thus far. 21-year old defenseman Cam Fowler has registered seven points, and has been a humongous reason on the scoring end. Jonas Hiller has been solid between the pipes, with a 7-2-1 record. He ranks 21st in goals against, but he plays well enough where he can support his team’s spectacular ability to score. The Ducks have 27 points and are atop the NHL in the standings.
2. Chicago Blackhawks: (10-2-4) Chicago won’t go 21-0-3 like they did last season, but the defending Stanley Cup champs have 24 points, and are tied with five teams for second place in the NHL. The tremendous trio of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marion Hossa have scored 40 goals combined. Corey Crawford is 9-2-3 in-goal for the ‘Hawks, barely giving up two goals a game, and saving .921% of shots on goal. Chicago obviously has a shot to win the Cup for a second straight year, but with the Western Conference becoming extremely talented, any team that reaches the postseason has a legitimate chance.
3. Colorado Avalanche: (12-2-0) Former Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy accepted an offer to coach the Avalanche in the offseason, and it’s worked out better than expected. The Avs already have 24 points in just 14 games. Semyon Varlamov has allowed just over two goals per game with an 8-2-0 record, saving .933% of shots he has faced. Center Matt Duchene has been incredible this year, as he’s scored ten goals and recorded seven assists. The Avalanche have a pretty young team, with a tremendous future. Duchene is only 22 and is one of the league’s top offensive players.
4. San Jose Sharks: (10-2-4) After opening the season with six consecutive wins, the San Jose Sharks have slowed their roll a bit, but are still arguably the NHL’s best team. Some of the performances by 19-year old Tomas Hertl have been simply amazing. Scoring four goals against the New York Rangers during that six-game win streak really put him on the radar. Aside from the Sharks’ powerful offensive attack, Marc Edouard-Vlasic has been fantastic, with 11 points and 31 blocked shots. Goalie Antti Niemi has been fun to watch as he aids the incredible offense with magnificent saves.
5. Phoenix Coyotes: (11-4-2) Another Western Conference team with 24 points? How does this happen? Well that’s another story. Radim Vrbata opened up the season with a hat trick on Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. This set the tone for what has been a remarkable season. Defenseman Keith Yandle has been solid defensively while displaying his offensive skills with five goals and six assists. The Coyotes are surprisingly fourth in the league in goals totaled, despite not having a superstar scorer. Phoenix is a deep team with multiple players who can shoot the puck. Goalie Mike Smith has been excellent as well, and is a big reason the Coyotes are Cup contenders.
6. Vancouver Canucks: (11-5-2) The New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks basically traded their coaches this offseason. The Canucks fired Alain Vigneault, so the Rangers hired him, and with ex-Rangers head coach John Tortorella looking for a job, the Canucks chose him. Tortorella has done a superb job with this team, as they rank 6th in the NHL in total goals. The Canucks showed an impressive 4-2 win in San José on November 7th, as they snapped a nine game losing streak against the Sharks. The Sedin brothers are still the Sedin’s we’ve come to know, combining for 37 points already.
7. St. Louis Blues: (10-2-2) Another Western Conference team? Yes, the top seven teams in the league are from the West, but this is the last one before the Eastern Conference teams start kicking in. The Blues’ Alexander Steen is tied for third in the NHL in points (20 points), behind Sidney Crosby (23), and Steven Stamkos (22). That’s good company, huh? Steen leads the league with 14 goals in 14 games. It’s truly unbelievable that the Blues are 7th in the NHL and 7th in the West.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning: (11-4-0) With two impressive wins over the Chicago Blackhawks, and one against the Blues, Tampa Bay has proven that they can still score with any team in the league. In recent past, goaltending and defense was an issue, but this year, goalie Ben Bishop has been excellent. Steven Stamkos has 22 points (13 goals and 9 assists) on the season, and is in the early race for MVP.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins: (11-5-0) The Penguins have skill from their forwards and their defenseman, they score on the power play and their penalty kill is solid, but the goaltending has been horrendous. If there is a game where the offense just isn’t clicking, it seems like Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t able to support them. For example, the Penguins lost 5-1 to the New York Rangers on November 6th, mainly because of bad goaltending. However, the scoring is usually there, and that’s why this team is so dangerous.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs: (10-5) After opening the season with victories in six of their first seven games, the Maple Leafs have been .500 in their last eight games. However, one of those four recent wins came against the Pittsburgh Penguins, where they dominated play for 60 minutes, en route to a 4-1 win. Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk have been the Bolts’ offensive leaders thus far, and James Reimer has been playing beyond measure with a .942% save percentage, which is top three in the NHL. However, when he is on he is incredible, but when he’s not at the top of his game, he looks like he should be a backup. The entire team has had issues with consistency, but they are very capable of making a deep playoff run if they get their game in order.
11. Detroit Red Wings: (9-5-3) The Red Wings lost to the Senators 6-1 a few weeks ago, but recently defeated the Oilers 5-0. This is the kind of team they are. They have issues with consistency, and they give up a large amount of goals. However, they score a good amount to make up for that. The Red Wings have played close games with some of the league’s best, and have even won some of them, so Detroit has proven that they can play with anyone.
12. Minnesota Wild: (9-4-4) Prior to the 2012-13 shortened season, the Wild acquired Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in free agency. Minnesota reached the playoffs as an 8-seed, but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in five games. The team is really starting to come together, as Parise netted eight goals and dished out seven assists in the Wild’s first 17 games. Suter has yet to get the puck to the back of the net, but with 10 assists, he hasn’t been horrible.
13. Boston Bruins: (9-5-1) The reigning Eastern Conference champions have been standing behind their goal-tending for the start of this season. Boston gives up the second least amount of goals per game, behind the Avalanche, but are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to scoring goals. The Bruins don’t have any prolific scorers for the time being, but forward Milan Lucic and defenseman Torey Krug are still early in their career, and it seems like their games are really coming along.
14. Los Angeles Kings: (10-6-0) After winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, the Kings are looking to get back as the “Kings” of the NHL. They were close to repeating last year, but in the Western Conference Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks dominated them in a quick five game series. This season, LA doesn’t seem to have the same firepower they did a year ago. They rank 18th in goals per game after finishing in the top ten last season, and clearly that’s an unexpected drop off. The goaltending is still there as anticipated, as Jonathan Quick is still the biggest factor on the team.
15. Washington Capitals: (9-7-0) Alex Ovechkin is one of the best offensive players of all-time, but the Russian native still hasn’t led the Capitals to deeper rounds of the postseason. Don’t blame that on the offense, though. The Caps are 10th overall in goals per game, but give up the 13th most goals in the NHL. So clearly Washington’s defense and goaltending is a problem. The power play picked up right where it left off; being the best in the league. The penalty kill is number one as well, so evidently the capitals have the best special teams in the NHL.
16. New York Rangers: (8-8-0) The New York Rangers are definitely better than their record shows. The Blueshirts were forced to open up the season with nine straight road games, and only won three. However, they played teams such as the Ducks, Sharks, Blues, and Coyotes. After going back to MSG for a home stand, the Rangers have won five of their last six, including a win over the Penguins. The Rangers have proved that they’re pretty much done adjusting to Alain Vigneault’s coaching system, which is very different than John Tortorella’s. Despite being plagued by injuries, New York is progressively recovering from them. Ryan Callahan recently returned from injury, as did Carl Hagelin, and that has been a big boost. New York still doesn’t know when superstar Rick Nash will be back from a concussion, but he is the most vital player on this team.
17. Dallas Stars: (8-6-2) The Dallas Stars have some imposing victories under their belt, as they’ve beaten San Jose, Boston and Detroit twice. The Stars obtained Tyler Seguin in a trade with the Bruins early in the offseason, and Seguin has played fairly well, with six goals and nine assists. However, Dallas is 19th in goals per game and 22nd in goals allowed.
18. Montreal Canadiens: (8-8-1) P.K. Subban is arguably the best defenseman in the NHL, scoring three goals and delivering 13 assists so far this season. Thanks to Carey Price, Montreal is number five in the goals allowed per game category. However, the Habs have a pedestrian offense, scoring only 2.59 goals a game.
19. Ottawa Senators: (6-6-4) The Senators score plenty of goals, but give up almost as much. Offseason acquisition Bobby Ryan has been outstanding with nine goals and nine assists. Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, and Kyle Turris are also in double digits in the point category. However, starting goaltender Craig Anderson gives up 3.14 goals per game, and saves only .912% of shots on net. If Ottawa turns around the goaltending, this is a playoff team for sure.
20. Nashville Predators: (8-5-2) Nashville doesn’t have a single player who has scored more than four goals this season, so it makes sense that they are 21st in goals per game. The Predators have had a relatively easy schedule, so that is the main reason they have a winning record. Nashville is already 20th in goals allowed per game, and on November 6th, Pekka Rinne was diagnosed with E. Coli in his hip, and could miss 6-8 weeks. However, they are winning for now, so they deserve a spot in the top 20.
21. New York Islanders: (6-7-3) In 2013, the New York Islanders nearly upset the 1st seed Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They took the series to six games, and played at the same caliber as the Pens for the series. This is a very young team, so there is definitely potential for them to make a campaign for a Cup in the near future. However, the Isles have some serious goaltending difficulties, as they give up the fourth most in the NHL. As expected, John Tavares has been brilliant, along with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, and the overall offense is playoff ready.
22. Carolina Hurricanes: (6-7-3) The Hurricanes offense is horrific. Period. They put up under two goals a game, which only surpasses the Sabres and the Flyers. They don’t have one positive thing to build on, since their goalie play is mediocre. It’s not nearly as bad as the offense, but it’s nothing exceptional.
23. Calgary Flames: (6-8-2) The Flames are above average in the goals category, but give up 3.50 goals per game, which is the second worst in the NHL. Calgary doesn’t have much talent, that’s the reason they’ve been stinking. If you’re a Flames fan, the only positive thing to look at so far is that Calgary beat the Blackhawks in Chicago, but one win is a small sample size.
24. Winnipeg Jets: (6-9-2) The Winnipeg Jets have Evander Kane, who was one of the NHL’s best scorers in the last two seasons. Kane’s struggles of late have factored in to the team’s struggles overall. Winnipeg isn’t getting on the scoreboard enough to win, and are giving up too many goals as well.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets: (5-10-0) Rick Nash being traded to the Rangers prior to the 2012-13 season was a big mistake for the Blue Jackets. At the time, Columbus thought they were adding better depth, but just acquired worse players from New York. Marion Gaborik has only scored five goals, even though he is expected to score much more than that small amount. Brandon Dubinksy has been bad offensively, but is still one the Jackets’ best offensive producers. Artem Anisimov, Jack Johnson, and R.J. Umberger have manufactured very little offense as well. Sergei Bobrovsky is not playing like the Vezina Trophy winner he was just a season ago, and the defense can be a scapegoat for that.
26. New Jersey Devils: (4-7-4) Martin Brodeur is getting old, the offense has done relatively nothing, and the entire team is out of whack. The Devils are the fourth worst in goals per game, and the goaltending is okay, ranking at 15th in the league. Sorry New Jersey, you won’t be reaching the playoffs for a second straight season.
27. Edmonton Oilers: (4-11-2) The Oilers are easily the worst goaltending team in the NHL, giving up 3.82 goals allowed per game. They are 22nd in scoring each game. Edmonton has tremendous youth, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov as the core. The future is extremely bright for this former NHL powerhouse, but it will take many seasons for them to make the playoffs. Oh yeah, they need to find a goalie.
28. Florida Panthers: (3-9-4)
Tomas Fleischmann leads the way for the Panthers with eleven points, (3 goals and 8 assists) but are statistically in the bottom five of all teams. Tim Thomas is definitely not the same player he was in Boston when he helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup. Florida is a young team and may have a solid future, but now they are going nowhere.
29. Philadelphia Flyers: (4-10-1)
The Flyers fired Peter Laviolette after they missed out on the playoffs last season, and opened up this one with a brutal first three games. The Flyers stand at a mediocre ranking of 17th in goals against, but are dead last in the goals per game category. Their penalty killing has been surprisingly effective, however, on the power play they have been atrocious. The Flyers shouldn’t befocused on earning a playoff birth, despite it being early in the season. Philly should be focused on the future of this organization.
30. Buffalo Sabres: (3-14-1)
There isn’t much to say here other than the Sabres stink. Goaltender Ryan Miller has outstood, and would do anything to get out of this horrendous situation. Buffalo sunk to the bottom of the standings early in the season, and have yet to move upwards. The main reason for the Sabres’ difficulties is scoring goals, as they rank 29th in the league. Buffalo does give up a large amount of goals, but that should be blamed on the defense, not Ryan Miller.