Let's face it: Early-season power rankings are about as telling as that first BCS listing in college football or a preseason poll in college basketball. There are teams at or near the top of the hockey rankings you can't really believe are there, but because of a fast start, a great power play or tremendous individual performances, are just not fair to ignore. At the same time, it's hard to believe such teams as Philadelphia, Anaheim and Calgary are really going to struggle that much longer before turning fortune around. This is why there's an 82-game schedule – well, it could be accomplished with fewer regular-season games, but that's another topic for another day. In any event, here's the second week of rankings, more or less a snapshot of what's going on today. But something suggests it won't stay this way for long:
1. Montreal Canadiens (5-0-1, Previous: 3) – Has anyone suggested in honor of the centennial celebration the Habs simply won't lose a game this season?
2. Minnesota Wild (4-0-0, Previous: 10) – The team is off to a great start, but the Marian Gaborik situation remains unresolved. His representation hasn't had any talks with management for two weeks, Gaborik is being shopped but general manager Doug Risebrough still wants to sign him. Gaborik missed two of the first four games because of injury, so there's always the question of his health, which hurts his own bargaining power and the Wild's ability to trade him.
3. Buffalo Sabres (4-0-1, Previous: 11) – The last time the Sabres were off to this good of a start was two years ago, when they tied an NHL record by winning their first 10 games. Speaking of fast starts, how about Thomas Vanek and his league-high seven goals, including two short-handed?
4. Edmonton Oilers (4-0-0, Previous: 9) – Remember the name Steve McIntyre. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound, 28-year-old enforcer made quite the statement in his first career NHL game Saturday. His huge hit on Calgary's Dustin Boyd, and subsequent victory in a fight, sparked the Oilers to a second straight comeback win over the archrival Flames in as many nights. McIntyre is already gaining cult-hero status in Oil Town.
5. San Jose Sharks (5-1-0, Previous: 2) – Is the Sharks' record deceiving? The teams they've faced are a combined 5-13-2, and their next three opponents started the week a combined 2-8-5. San Jose may not get a true test until Pittsburgh and Detroit visit next week.
6. St. Louis Blues (4-1-0, Previous: 15) – What's the secret to Keith Tkachuk's fast start, which has translated into a quick start for the Blues? Tkachuk is back at left wing after trying to play center most of the past two seasons. "It gets me more involved right now, getting the hit or taking the hit," said Tkachuk, who has been more physical this season.
7. New Jersey Devils (4-1-0, Previous: 7) – Same old Devils: They don't score a lot (10 goals in five games), they don't allow a lot (nine, but one was an empty-netter) and they consistently win. What isn't particularly good is the fact their two marquee offseason signings – Brian Rolston (ankle sprain) and Bobby Holik (broken finger) – were injured.
8. New York Rangers (6-2-1, Previous: 1) – Yeah, they're ticked they let a point slip away in Detroit on Saturday and maybe two more at home Monday, but not a bad start considering they had seven games in nine days following a season-opening trip abroad. Now it's three days of R&R.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-1, Previous: 8) – On his decision to shake up forward lines and put stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together, Penguins coach Michel Therrien said, "I'm trying to get the players' attention. We're missing chemistry. Basically, this is it. We did it last year and in the past, and it seems to work."
10. Detroit Red Wings (3-1-1, Previous: 4) – Something to keep in mind as the Wings finish the first month of the schedule with five of six games on the road: Detroit has won four straight and nine of 11 on foreign ice, seven of those coming in the playoffs last season.
11. Carolina Hurricanes (3-1-1, Previous: 14) – Not a bad record considering the power play is just 15.4 percent and the penalty kill is a porous 76.9 percent.
12. Washington Capitals (3-1-1, Previous: 13) – What a start by Alexander The Great! Oops, Semin (six goals, 10 points), not Ovechkin (two goals, three points).
13. Dallas Stars (2-3-1, Previous: 21) – All in a night's work: Sean Avery returns to New York, gets in the face of a couple of Rangers, doesn't really show up on the score sheet, but the Stars win and Avery picks up the tab when he takes the team out for dinner afterward.
14. Vancouver Canucks (3-3-0, Previous: 5) – One of the big questions is what line(s) will support the Sedin twins and Steve Bernier? So far the two-way grouping of Alex Burrows-Ryan Kessler-Jannik Hansen has been doing a nice job. The Canucks are looking for more from Mason Raymond-Pavol Demitra-Taylor Pyatt.
15. Boston Bruins (2-1-2, Previous: 18) – If the season ended today, the Bruins would finish in eighth place. Don't you get the feeling it's not going to change much over the next 77 games?
16. Ottawa Senators (2-2-1, Previous: 12) – Could be a goaltending controversy right around the corner: Backup Alexander Auld allowed only one goal in his lone appearance while starter Martin Gerber struggles (3.46 goals-against average, .896 save percentage). The Senators are dead on in penalty-killing (19-for-21, 90.5 percent).
17. Colorado Avalanche (3-3-0, Previous: 28) – With 22 goals against in six games and less than 70 percent on the penalty kill, the Avs have to thank their lucky stars they're .500.
18. Nashville Predators (3-3-0, Previous: 17) – Talk about teamwork. Fourteen Predators have scored at least one goal, a league high along with Colorado.
19. Chicago Blackhawks (2-2-2, Previous: 27) – New coach Joel Quenneville has seven full practices this month and another stretch Nov. 4-8 to implement his system. The Blackhawks play only twice on the road between now and Nov. 18.
20. Atlanta Thrashers (2-2-1, Previous: 16) – Not a great sign: The Thrashers earned their first victory six games earlier than last year, got another point on the road in Florida, then returned home to their smallest announced crowd in four seasons (11,843), which was estimated at double the actual amount of fans in the stands.
21. Phoenix Coyotes (2-3-0, Previous: 6) – Tough break for Derek Morris. The defenseman suffered a deep cut on a finger when a linesman accidentally skated over his hand in an effort to break up a scuffle. Morris figures to wear a splint for the next six weeks, but he doesn't expect the injury to keep him from missing any action.
22. Florida Panthers (2-3-0, Previous: 19) – The Panthers are petitioning the league for more games in Montreal. Before Monday night, Florida had not lost in regulation at the Bell Centre in more than five years. And all time, the Panthers are 25-17-6-5 against the most tradition-rich, successful franchise in the league.
23. New York Islanders (2-3-0, Previous: 24) – Taking the special out of special teams: 3-for-27 on the power play (11.1 percent) and just 23-for-30 on the kill (76.7 percent).
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (2-3-0, Previous: 20) – The best part about the Blue Jackets' upcoming schedule, which includes eight of the next 11 games at home, is the amount of practice time head coach Ken Hitchcock can have with a roster that suffered significant turnover from last season.
25. Calgary Flames (1-3-1, Previous: 22) – Still looking for answers, particularly on the defensive end, the Flames have surrendered two-goal leads three times already. And it doesn't get any easier: Alexander Ovechkin and the high-flying Capitals' offensive attack visits on Tuesday.
26. Los Angeles Kings (2-3-0, Previous: 29) – The Kings join the Sabres and Wild as the only three teams yet to surrender a power-play goal this season. Of course, Buffalo and Minnesota have yet to lose in regulation. What's Los Angeles' excuse?
27. Philadelphia Flyers (0-3-2, Previous: 26) – The Flyers need a win, and it might be tough to get it against their next foe Wednesday. Philly hosts San Jose, which is 5-0-3 against the Flyers since last losing to them Dec. 21, 2000. The Sharks beat the Flyers 5-4 in overtime on Saturday, outshooting the visitors 45-17 despite having played the night before while Philly was idle.
28. Anaheim Ducks (1-5-0, Previous: 28) – Last year, the Ducks could blame their short offseason, a schedule-opening two-game trip to London and no Scott Niedermayer or Teemu Selanne at the outset on their 1-3-1 break from the gate. This year, they have none of those excuses and are 1-5. What gives?
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-2-2, Previous: 23) – Don't jump to any conclusions, but indecisive free agent Mats Sundin is in Toronto this week for personal and business ventures. Sundin's agent, J.P. Berry, says Sundin will make a decision soon and continues to suggest he's leaning toward a return to the NHL this season.
30. Tampa Bay Lightning (0-2-3, Previous: 30) – Top pick Steven Stamkos is still looking for his first point after getting relegated to an average of just 10:32 of ice time in his first five games. "You look at some of the other players in the league coming in, and you have close buddies who may be getting an opportunity to play," Stamkos said. "For me, it's a learning process. It's only (five) games into the season and people are starting to speculate and make observations. But it's an 82-game season for a reason."