NHL Top 10 Power Rankings: First Month Shake-Up
With the first month of the NHL having finished, there have been a few surprises. Whether that be top teams that have found themselves near the bottom of the standings, or lowly teams that have shocked the league so far and found a groove.
Teams built during the offseason, and some moves have paid off, and others have not, and these power rankings are telling of both of those.
While it is only a month in, and each team has played just over 10 games, there are still a lot to take away from what has transpired, so let’s dive into the rankings.
#10: New York Rangers (7-3-3)
This is a young and talented team, but there are still a few things they need to work through.
At 7-3-3, they find themselves second in the Metropolitan Division, but they also have a -4 goal differential, which would rank last in the division.
They re-singed Norris Trophy winning defenseman Adam Fox this offseason, and it is paying off nicely, as he has started the season with 13 points in 13 games, tied for the team lead with Artemi Panarin.
Igor Shesterkin has also been phenomenal with a .931 save percentage, but they have not been able to rely on their backup Alexandar Georgiev. He has a .862 save percentage in three games.
If they can secure the backup goaltender spot, and continue to score, they will move up this list.
#9: Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-3)
It is odd seeing the two time defending Stanley Cup Champions in the ninth spot, but I don’t think their play has warranted them being placed any higher on this list.
Unfortunately for them, this regular season is starting to look a lot like last season’s, losing Nikita Kucherov to an injury, and having to rely on their other stars and goaltending even more.
However, that all resulted in a Stanley Cup for them last season, and I don’t think they would be upset with that same outcome this year.
#8: Winnipeg Jets (6-3-3)
Kyle Connor is putting the NHL on notice this season, and finally getting the recognition he deserves as a top point scorer in this league.
He and Pierre-Luc Dubois have created a great duo on the top line for Winnipeg due to the absences of Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
Imagine the damage Dubois and Connor can do with their linemate Andrew Copp on the second line along with a first line that includes a healthy Scheifele and Wheeler.
This team will be scary when healthy.
#7: Washington Capitals (6-2-4)
Washington got out to a blistering start as they typically do, but a recent losing streak and the injury bug have bit them hard to bring their season record to 6-2-4
Currently, they are missing the services of three top forwards, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Anthony Mantha. Along with that fourth line forward Nic Dowd was just placed on IR, forcing Washington to resort to the youth in their farm system, something that will be the focus of the next few years before the ultimate departure of Ovechkin.
These next few weeks with their young depth could be telling of the future in Washington.
Oh yeah, and Ovechkin can still score the puck well, leading the league with 11 goals.
#6: Calgary Flames (7-2-3)
The line of Johnny Gudreau, Matthew Tkachuck, and Elias Lindholm have been red hot, and arguably one of the best lines in hockey to start the season.
Each player is above a point per game, and they have led Calgary to the sixth most goals per game in the NHL.
This team has speed, depth, and youth, but the worry is how long they will be able to make it last. Gudreau is a FA after this season, and Tkachuck is an RFA. This offseason will be very telling.
#5: St. Louis Blues (8-2-1)
Third in the league in both goals against and goals allowed per game, the St. Louis Blues have been phenomenal on the defensive end. The combination of Jordan Binnington and veteran backup Jaroslav Halak has also proved to be worthy of some praise to start this season.
Their goal differential of +13 puts them near the top of the league, and much of the reason for that has been the resurgence of Vladimir Tarasenko, and David Perron. Both of these now veterans have proven themselves once again this season.
#4: Minnesota Wild (9-3-0)
With all the money that was tied up into Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, it was a long time before I thought Minnesota would be able to claw out of that hole.
Boy I was wrong.
Minnesota, and the thrill of Kirill Kaprizov has been a thing to watch this season.
However, they do need to tighten up their defense and work in the net. Their goals against is still above three per game, and it is not sustainable to continue to win the amount of close games that they have.
#3: Edmonton Oilers (9-2-0)
It is about time that this team has risen to the top of the NHL with the immense amount of talent that they have received via the NHL draft.
Connor McDavid is the next coming of Wayne Gretzky in a league that has much better defense and goaltending, and he has the perfect running mate in German centerman Leon Draisaitl.
The two are tops in the league in points, and Draisaitl is in the early Maurice Rocket Richard goal scoring race with Alex Ovechkin. They both have such unique skill sets, and their talent has rubbed off on those around them.
Can this finally be the destiny season?
#2: Carolina Hurricanes (10-1-0)
The argument can be made that the Carolina Hurricanes deserve the #1 spot. After all, they did only lose one game, and it happened to be to the No. 1 team in a thrilling victory to hand this Hurricanes team their first loss.
However, this #2 ranking does not take away from this phenomenal start from Carolina.
They bounced back strong with a win against Pittsburgh, showing this team is resilient after their nine-game long winning streak.
#1: Florida Panthers (10-2-1)
The Panthers also got off to a phenomenal start, starting the season on a eight game winning streak, but they have lost a bit of their touch, going 2-2-1 in their last five games.
Young goaltender Spencer Knight has started to struggle in the absence of a slightly injured Sergei Bobrovsky, but I don’t think it is enough to rock Florida from the top spot. They have scored 52 goals in 13 games, and they have a core of the most underrated players in the league.
This team is a great story in the making.
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