Power rankings: Just for starters …
With a new season under way, it’s time to get back in the swing of the weekly power rankings, which will appear each Tuesday throughout the regular season. This week’s theme completes the following lead-in for each team: Just for starters …
And, just for starters, it doesn’t appear after winning a season-opening pair of games over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague that the New York Rangers suffered any jet lag once they returned to North America. Their impressive start has vaulted the Blueshirts to the top of this week’s rankings. A victory over the visiting Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night would give the Rangers a franchise-best start. They host another non-playoff qualifier from last year – the Toronto Maple Leafs – on Friday before traveling to Detroit on Saturday for an intriguing matchup.
1. New York Rangers (5-0-0, Previous: 11) – Just for starters, the Rangers are perfect after five games for only the second time in team history (1983-84).
2. San Jose Sharks (3-0-0, Previous: 2) – Just for starters, the Sharks have outshot opponents 101-63 including 46-19 in the second period of their first three games.
3. Montreal Canadiens (2-0-1, Previous: 6) – Just for starters, the power play is off to its usual flying start at 27.3-percent efficiency.
4. Detroit Red Wings (2-1-0, Previous: 1) – Just for starters, the Wings scored twice in the final period at Ottawa to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory on Saturday during a game in which they outshot the hosts by a wide margin (41-22).
5. Vancouver Canucks (2-1-0, Previous: 21) – Just for starters, the Canucks liked playing the Flames (two wins) a lot better than the Capitals (four-goal loss in which they managed just 10 shots on goal).
6. Phoenix Coyotes (2-0-0, Previous: 22) – Just for starters, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov continues to feast on his former team, beating the Ducks on Sunday to run his record to 4-1-1 against the team that placed him on waivers last November.
7. New Jersey Devils (2-1-0, Previous: 12) – Just for starters, the Devils’ frustrations against the rival Rangers continued with a loss Monday, their 12th in the past 14 against New York, including last season’s playoffs.
10. Minnesota Wild (1-0-0, Previous: 19) – Just for starters, the Wild remain unbeaten in home openers (now 7-0-1).
11. Buffalo Sabres (2-0-0, Previous: 20) – Just for starters, goalie Ryan Miller has 19 wins in the month of October since the 2005-06 season, most in the league. And the Sabres made the right choice in naming Craig Rivet team captain.
14. Carolina Hurricanes (2-1-0, Previous: 18) – Just for starters, the ‘Canes have fallen behind in each of their first three games.
15. St. Louis Blues (2-1-0, Previous: 30) – Just for starters, the Blues are a blistering 50 percent on the power play (7-for-14).
16. Atlanta Thrashers (1-0-1, Previous: 25) – Just for starters, 18-year-old rookie defenseman Zack Bogosian, the third overall pick in June, has 11 penalty minutes and a fight with Washington’s Donald Brashear, who is exactly twice his age.
18. Boston Bruins (1-1-0, Previous: 16) – Just for starters, the Bruins get their first crack at rival Montreal on Wednesday night. The teams will meet only six times this season instead of last season’s eight, when the Canadiens surrendered only one point to Boston in the regular season before needing seven games to oust the Bruins in the playoffs.
19. Florida Panthers (1-1-0, Previous: 29) – Just for starters, Richard Zednik does not appear to have any emotional scars from last year’s near-fatal neck injury. He contributed two assists and got a rousing ovation during his home debut on Saturday.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (1-1-0, Previous: 23) – Just for starters, the Blue Jackets are already thin at center ice, and it doesn’t help now that Michael Peca is suspended and Manny Malhotra is injured.
22. Calgary Flames (0-1-1, Previous: 10) – Just for starters, the Flames have surrendered 11 goals in the first two games, and while goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is a notoriously slow starter, this is more about what’s going on – or not going on – in front of him.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-1-1, Previous: 27) – Just for starters, head coach Ron Wilson ended Matt Stajan’s consecutive-games played streak at 178 games with the designation as a healthy scratch on Monday.
24. New York Islanders (1-2-0, Previous: 28) – Just for starters, three games in and still no sight of suddenly oft-injured Rick DiPietro, even when backup goalie Joey MacDonald was in the process of surrendering seven goals on Monday.
25. Anaheim Ducks (0-2-0, Previous: 5) – Just for starters, special teams have been anything but – no power-play goals and three surrendered in 12 chances.
26. Philadelphia Flyers (0-2-0, Previous: 8) – Just for starters, Simon Gagne has scored goals in each of his first two games after missing all but 25 games last year because of repeated problems with concussions.
27. Chicago Blackhawks (0-2-1, Previous: 14) – Just for starters, the Blackhawks have increased season-ticket sales from a measly 3,400 last year to approximately 14,000 this season, a franchise high.
28. Colorado Avalanche (0-2-0, Previous: 13) – Just for starters, goalie Peter Budaj might start looking over his shoulder soon – besides tracking pucks sailing into the net – after allowing eight goals on the first 39 shots he’s faced.
29. Los Angeles Kings (0-2-0, Previous: 26) – Just for starters, adding injury to insult is the fact that second-year defenseman Jack Johnson will be out 2-3 months with a shoulder injury and the Kings have not scored in five periods heading into Tuesday’s clash with equally winless Anaheim.
30. Tampa Bay Lightning (0-2-1, Previous: 17) – Just for starters, the Lightning have allowed 126 shots in three games, an average of 42 per contest.