Another week of the NHL season is officially finished, and there is a lot of information to unpack this time around.
Two teams have seen their seasons already turned upside-down due to COVID-19 protocols, some stars are beginning to establish themselves, and two of the biggest trade chips this season have been knocked off the board in one fell swoop.
These power rankings are no different to change themselves, with a new top team, shifts in the top 10, and some big risers and fallers based off of the beginning of the season. So how does each team stack up, and where have they gone since last week?
Let’s find out.
Disclaimer: These rankings are reflective of games played and statistics recorded on or prior to January 24.
1. Vegas Golden Knights (+1): Three victories in four games against Arizona is enough to push the Knights to the top of the mountain for now. Mark Stone (eight points in six games), Shea Theodore (three goals this week), and Marc-Andre Fleury (.951 save percentage and 1 GAA) have all been instrumental in Vegas’s flying start to the season.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (+1): No Nikita Kucherov, no problem for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Steven Stamkos, with six points in four games so far, has led the charge and reminded everybody just what he and this team are capable of.
3. Colorado Avalanche (-2): The big guns have been producing so far, and Bowen Byram has looked strong in his first three games. That being said, the team needs to start figuring out how to sweep their series, and a -3 goal differential at even strength is a cause for mild concern.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (+3): Losing the likes of Auston Matthews, Joe Thornton, and Nick Robertson could hurt the Leafs in terms of depth in the long run. For now, however, Mitch Marner (10 points in seven games) and John Tavares (four goals) have been on the warpath to start the season.
5. Montreal Canadiens (+7): The analytics community is taking a bow over their darling Canadiens’ hot start to the year. The new acquisitions of Tyler Toffoli (tied for the league lead in five goals), Josh Anderson (three goals in six games), Joel Edmundson (+8 in +/-), and Jake Allen (.907 save percentage and 2.01 GAA) have been worth their weight in gold so far for the Habs.
6. Dallas Stars (+5): After a late start to the season due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Stars picked up right where they left off and swept the Predators aside. Their eight power-play goals in two games, as well as Joe Pavelski’s seven points in two games, are absolutely insane numbers to start the year.
7. Boston Bruins (+3): After struggling to get anything going on offense to begin the season, Boston exploded for 11 goals (including their first six even-strength goals of the season) in their sweep of Philadelphia. David Pastrnak will still be welcomed back with open arms, but at least his linemates of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have been getting along just fine.
8. Washington Capitals (-3): The Capitals are one of only four teams to not lose in regulation so far this season, so why the low ranking? Blame that on their off-ice behavior, with Ilya Samsonov testing positive for COVID-19 and fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov all being in quarantine.
9. St. Louis Blues (-3): The Blues have been wildly inconsistent to start the year, but Jordan Kyrou (six points in as many games) and Brayden Schenn (four goals) have both made positive strides. This week’s series against Vegas will be crucial in determining where the Blues stand in the West Division.
10. Minnesota Wild (+7): Are the Wild finally beginning to emerge from the middle of the pack? Kirill Kaprizov (six points in as many games) and Joel Eriksson Ek (three goals) have shown the potential to be offensive drivers, while the duo of Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen in net is currently sixth in combined save percentage.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (-7): They’ll likely be back in the top 10 sooner or later, but their performance against Boston didn’t warrant a spot there this week. Carter Hart has suddenly shown serious inconsistency, getting pulled against Buffalo on Monday before a mediocre and poor performance each against the Bruins.
12. New York Islanders (+2): The Islanders’ success starts and ends with Semyon Varlamov. Letting go of only one goal in three games, he has to be considered the early-season favorite for the Vezina Trophy.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (-5): It’ll be a while until we see the Hurricanes again, as they have become the second team to see games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a shame, as Andrei Svechnikov (five points in three games) was really beginning to click.
14. Calgary Flames (-1): It hasn’t been perfect for the Flames so far this season, but there have been some positive takeaways from their first four games. Elias Lindholm (five points) has taken his transition to center like a duck to water, the power play is clicking at a 35% success rate (sixth in the NHL), and Jacob Markstrom (.928 save percentage and 2.26 GAA) has made good on his massive contract early.
15. Winnipeg Jets (+5): The Jets fired off three consecutive wins without Patrik Laine before flipping the Finnish sniper for disgruntled Columbus center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Depending on which version of PLD they get (the point-per-game player in the bubble or…well, this one), the Jets could either have the best center depth in the league or see massive repercussions from the fanbase.
16. Pittsburgh Penguins (Even): Good news for the Penguins: they overcame getting swept by Philadelphia to win four straight. Bad news: all but one of those wins needed extra time, Evgeni Malkin (two points and -4 in six games) is going through a slump, and the goaltending has been abysmal to start the year with a .853 combined save percentage (last in the NHL by nearly two percentage points).
17. Nashville Predators (-8): Well, the momentum of last week didn’t last long. The Predators took three straight losses, including a 7-0 thrashing to Dallas on Friday, as their special teams numbers have, once again, begun to sink towards the bottom of the league (their penalty kill stands at 55% success rate, second-last in the NHL behind Florida).
18. New Jersey Devils (+7): The Devils have been one of the big underdog stories in the early season, highlighted by a .944 combined save percentage (2nd in the NHL behind Dallas). In other news, Jack Hughes (seven points in five games) might have stolen the top center spot from Nico Hischier, while Ty Smith (six points and +5 in five games) could be emerging as a dark horse for the Calder Trophy.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (+4): The Blue Jackets were inconsistent this week, but they received some good news by ending the Dubois trade rumors and landing both Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic from the Jets. Both players have the potential to make immediate impacts for the team, but I do have two questions: how will Laine do under a coach that demands effort on both ends of the ice, and could the Jackets’ center depth be in a bit of a mess without Dubois?
20. Edmonton Oilers (-5): Not much has changed for the Oilers since last week, with Connor McDavid (tied for the league lead with ten points) and Leon Draisaitl (nine points and +5 in seven games) carrying far too much of the load. If this keeps up, I wouldn’t hold it past the Oilers to make some lineup changes, possibly including calling up top defensive prospect Evan Bouchard.
21. Florida Panthers (Even): You have to feel for the Panthers just a little bit, having two of their opening three series postponed due to their opponents suffering COVID-19 outbreaks. The end of the season may be absolutely nightmarish for them, and it won’t even be their fault.
22. Arizona Coyotes (Even): A couple of hard-luck losses to the Golden Knights in their four-game series kept the Coyotes from getting much in terms of momentum. At least Conor Garland (six points in as many games) looks to be building off his strong sophomore season.
23. New York Rangers (-4): Artemi Panarin (six points in five games) is still as dazzling an offensive talent as ever, while Adam Fox (five points and +1 in five games) is continuing his emergence as a top defenseman. Unfortunately for the Rangers, neither Alexis Lafreniere (no points) or Igor Shesterkin (no wins in three starts) have gotten off the ground yet, and they’d probably like a mulligan on healthy scratch Jack Johnson.
24. San Jose Sharks (+3): The Sharks are at least staying competitive for now, which at least helps explain their rise this week. That said, the defense and goaltending (Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk both have sub-.900 save percentages and GAAs above 3) to get better if they want to continue pushing for a playoff spot.
25. Los Angeles Kings (+3): Splitting series with West Division powerhouses in Colorado and St. Louis should give the young Kings confidence moving forward. Anze Kopitar (tied for the league lead with 10 points) is off to a strong start, but he’ll need some assistance from the younger players on the team.
26. Vancouver Canucks (-8): It must irk the Canucks to see Tyler Toffoli and Jacob Markstrom do well on their new teams while they struggle to start the year. The 33 goals the Canucks have given up are, by far, the worst mark in the league, and Elias Pettersson’s two points in seven games isn’t going to help the Canucks shake things off.
27. Buffalo Sabres (-1): Jack Eichel (seven points in six games) and Taylor Hall (six points in as many games) have been living up to expectations, but it hasn’t been enough for the Sabres to rack up many wins. Splitting against Philadelphia and Washington was nice, but the East Division might be too tall of an order for this team to take on.
28. Ottawa Senators (-4): Ever since taking a victory over the Maple Leafs in the opener, the Senators have collected just one point out of a possible eight. Tim Stutzle’s possible return to the lineup this weekend will be a welcome sight for Senators fans.
29. Anaheim Ducks (Even): John Gibson (.938 save percentage and 2.01 GAA) has returned to elite form this season. Unfortunately, the team in front of him has continued to struggle providing any run support.
30. Chicago Blackhawks (+1): Sweeping the Red Wings this week has pushed the Blackhawks out of the bottom of the rankings. Patrick Kane (seven points in six games) is his usual elite self, but the real question is whether or not Kevin Lankinen (.909 save percentage and 2.63 GAA in his two starts) can emerge and take control of the net for Chicago.
31. Detroit Red Wings (-1): It’s back to the bottom for the Wings, who are back in the driver’s seat to land home-state product Owen Power. At least fans have Dylan Larkin (six points in as many games) and Bobby Ryan (four goals and +3 in five games) to watch this year.