NHL Power Rankings: Worst to first …
OK, so how many saw this one coming? Three teams that finished last in their respective divisions last season – the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars – are leading their divisions this season.
Another example of the league’s parity, or surefire proof the season is still very much in its infancy? Either way, they’re planning a parade route in T.O., there’s reason for hope on Long Island and there’s still some Big D in Big D.
1. Washington Capitals (4-1-0, Previous: 1) – Alexander Ovechkin scored four goals and had points in all five games with 22 shots on goal. That translates to 66 goals and 131 points over 82 games.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (4-2-1, Previous: 2) – No one said it would be easy – a 1-2-1 start followed by consecutive wins at home despite getting outshot 41-21 by Buffalo on Saturday.
3. Detroit Red Wings (3-1-1, Previous: 3) – Wings are breathing a sigh of relief that Johan Franzen(notes) didn’t sustain a serious injury following a nasty hit by Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric(notes).
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0-1, Previous: 19) – Carlton Street to Yonge to Dundas to Bay to Queen to … you get the picture.
5. Los Angeles Kings (3-1-0, Previous: 8) – Interesting thought: GM Dean Lombardi said he would be open to bringing Wayne Gretzky back to the Kings in some capacity.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-0, Previous: 5) – It took four games to run into a win at home? Is it too late to schedule some games back at The Igloo?
8. Nashville Predators (3-0-1, Previous: 24) – Ovechkin’s stop in Music City drew a non-sellout crowd of 16,144, and this on a lovely fall Saturday with no competition in town for the sports’ entertainment dollar and the Preds starting fast. Hmmm…
9. Boston Bruins (2-1-0, Previous: 10) – A shutout in Prague and allowing one goal in New Jersey on Saturday is exactly the kind of start the B’s were hoping out of a possibly rejuvenated Tim Thomas(notes).
11. Vancouver Canucks (2-2-1, Previous: 6) – Nice they sewed the captain’s ‘C’ on Henrik Sedin’s(notes) sweater. Now you can tell the difference between he and Daniel Sedin(notes) before either turns around.
12. New York Islanders (3-1-2, Previous: 21) – Have to like this start from 21-year-old Josh Bailey(notes) – the team’s first-round pick in 2008 had three goals and seven points in his first five games.
14. Dallas Stars (4-1-0, Previous: 25) – Remember all the fuss about signing Swedish star Fabian Brunnstrom(notes) two years ago? Well, after recording a hat trick in his first NHL game early last season, it’s been all downhill for the overhyped one, who last week passed through waivers and got assigned to the AHL and isn’t expected back with the Stars.
16. Atlanta Thrashers (3-2-0, Previous: 30) – Three stops in California netted an impressive two victories, including a third-period comeback from a two-goal deficit in San Jose.
17. San Jose Sharks (1-1-1, Previous: 4) – Lost home opener to an Atlanta team playing the second night of back-to-backs. Yeah, we’re talking European hangover.
19. Calgary Flames (2-2-0, Previous: 13) – Matt Stajan(notes) worked for one night between Jarome Iginla(notes) and Alex Tanguay(notes), but do we really feel good about this in terms of a long-term top-line fix?
20. Edmonton Oilers (2-2-0, Previous: 27) – Two-for-two at home and a .500 record after four games. Not bad. Hey, it must be the return of the ping-pong table to the dressing room, one of the decisions by new captain Shawn Horcoff(notes) to try and change the culture in the Edmonton room.
21. Florida Panthers (2-2-0, Previous: 23) – A player walking across the team’s logo in the locker room or dropping a practice or game jersey on the floor with cost $500. It’s an idea to bring pride back to the Panthers. Here’s another idea. Just let Tomas Vokoun(notes) pitch shutout after shutout.
22. Anaheim Ducks (2-3-1, Previous: 22) – Wet-behind-the-ears Cam Fowler(notes) is averaging 20 minutes of ice time per game. He’s playing well, but no way an 18-year-old should be counted on to pull that heavy of a load on defense.
24. Buffalo Sabres (1-4-1, Previous: 14) – A rough four-game homestand that produced just one point is followed by having to play six of seven on the road. Maybe that’s a good thing?
26. Carolina Hurricanes (2-2-0, Previous: 26) – Nothing like having to wait a while to play a home opener. Try Oct. 27 on for size.
27. Minnesota Wild (1-2-1, Previous: 29) – For a team carrying one extra defenseman and no extra forwards, this is not the best time for a locker-room outbreak of illness. But there’s a virus going around.
28. New York Rangers (1-2-1, Previous: 18) – Marian Gaborik(notes) (separated shoulder, out a month) and Chris Drury(notes) (broken finger, out six weeks) and Vinny Prospal(notes) (awaiting knee surgery, out a looooong time) are missing. As was forecast in this space at the start of the season, it’s going to be a long one.
29. New Jersey Devils (1-4-1, Previous: 8) – It’s OK to start slow, but if this were the last couple of weeks of the regular season, John MacLean might be looking over his shoulder.