We’re almost a full month into the NHL season, and nobody could have predicted the current standings.
There have been a lot of surprises, both good and bad, across the league.
We break down each of our top 10 picks in this week’s NHL power rankings.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Aside from their loss to the Ducks, with backup Peter Budaj in goal, the Bolts look like the team to beat this season.
Although it wasn’t the Lightning’s night on Saturday, let’s remember the fact that they’ve only lost one game in which Andrei Vasilevskiy has started.
I may sound like a broken record, but Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are one of the most dynamic duos in the NHL. They have a combined 40 points and 16 goals.
Tampa Bay is consistently creating good scoring opportunities and they’re outscoring everyone except Toronto.
The Lightning’s four-game winning streak and six-game home win streak are over. I expect them to bounce back in their next game on Monday against the Panthers.
2. Los Angeles Kings
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
The Los Angeles Kings are a close second in this week’s power rankings. After all, they do have the best winning percentage in the NHL.
The Kings’ hot start has been led by Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick and rookie Adrian Kempe.
Bad news came when they lost Jeff Carter indefinitely with a cut to the leg, but the team has met the challenge.
Will they be able to continue an elite level of play? I think they’re a legit Stanley Cup contender, but their next five games will be a good measuring stick for the team.
No one has a better goal differential. I’ll leave you to think about that for a second.
3. Vegas Golden Knights
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
I keep on thinking the honeymoon may be over soon, but Vegas just keeps finding ways to win.
They went 6-1 on their home stand, and have a six-game road stretch beginning Monday that will certainly prove to be a tough test.
Vegas has eight wins in its first nine games, and they’ve done so with a fair share of challenges. In the midst of losing two goalies, the entire team has stepped up their level of play.
So far, so good. Very good.
4. St. Louis Blues
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
The Blues look like the top team in the Central.
They carry a six-game point streak (5-0-1) in the first full season under coach Mike Yeo, and are the only NHL team that hasn’t lost at home this season. Jaden Schwartz has 15 points in 12 games playing on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn.
St. Louis is an extremely well-balanced team— getting contributions from everyone on the roster.
Monday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues will be an early-season showdown between two of the hottest teams in the NHL.
5. New Jersey Devils
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
The Devils are finding ways to win.
On Saturday, we saw New Jersey rally from 1-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 win over Arizona. Defying expectations, the team improved to 8-2-0 with its fifth win in six games.
Jesper Bratt has shown off his versatility and production. The 19-year-old rookie has recorded six points in eight games.
New Jersey is averaging 3.75 goals per game, which I certainly wouldn’t have predicted in the preseason.
They’ll begin a three-game road trip to Western Canada on Wednesday in Vancouver.
6. Ottawa Senators
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
In their last five games, Ottawa faced some tough tests: they played New Jersey twice, Toronto, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. They did not lose one of those games in regulation and earned six points.
And of course, it’s no secret that Erik Karlsson is an absolute monster of a player.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
They’ve had a rough stretch as of late. Only notching one win in their last four games.
However, Toronto did hand the Kings their first regulation loss of the season, and we know how talented this offense can be.
The most dynamic player is without question Auston Matthews, who has seven goals and five assists in nine games.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Columbus has a nice amount of talent on offense with Artemi Panarin leading the team in points with 10 in 11 games.
They also boast two of the best young defensemen in the game in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski.
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is putting together another Vezina Trophy caliber season. The 29-year-old has been dominant in his last two appearances, giving up just one goal in each of those outings for a .969 save percentage.
9. Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
They’ve had their share of ups and downs, but the Flyers are suddenly relevant. Philadelphia has shown promising signs, but is still searching for consistency and a goaltending solution.
Brian Elliott was brought in to help fortify the Flyers’ goaltending, but he hasn’t performed up to expectations. Elliott has played in seven games with a .885 save percentage and 3.14 GAA.
However, the Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek line has become one of the league’s best trios.
Their roller coaster season may not be over, but Philadelphia is showing they’re capable of being a playoff contender in the early stages of the season. If you’re a Flyers fan, hang on and enjoy the ride.
10. New York Islanders
Last Week’s Ranking: None
The Islanders have won four of their last five games. And John Tavares’ hot scoring is powering the Islanders.
Tavares continued his magic on the ice on Saturday night. New York’s captain scored a hat trick in the third period, leading the Isles to a 6-2 victory over the Nashville Predators.
That marked his second hat trick in three games. The Islanders are riding a nice wave of momentum thanks to Tavares.
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