Detroit's record-tying start wasn't enough.
Ottawa has left some pretty good teams reeling in its wake – Montreal (twice), Buffalo (twice), Tampa Bay (twice) and Boston, to name a few. There's no question that Detroit is for real. But to top the Power Rankings, we need to see something other than bottom feeding. That's just what the Red Wings have been up to, with wins over St. Louis (twice), Columbus (twice) and Chicago (three times) counted among their 12 victories.
It brings me back to what surely will become a tired argument: The new NHL schedule stinks. We won't see Detroit vs. Ottawa. Detroit only will play Philadelphia once. And then there's the matter of not all Original Six franchises playing each other every year.
My NHL isn't complete.
1. Ottawa Senators (10-2-0; Last Week: 1) – Honestly expected to see Detroit here this week. But even before Chris Osgood allowed the game-winner Thursday, the decision had been made to keep Ottawa at the top spot. The newly formed Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley line is something to behold, and Martin Havlat's line wasn't too bad Wednesday, either. Close games are the norm in the NHL this year, but not when Ottawa is involved. The Sens have won 10 games by an average of 3.1 goals.
2. Detroit Red Wings (12-1-1; Last Week: 2) – You could make a case for Detroit at No. 1, but a three-game sweep of Chicago doesn't carry the weight it used to. The good news: Manny Legace might miss only two games with a sprained knee. The bad news: Osgood probably didn't win back many fans in Detroit when he let Raffi Torres' game-winner slip past him Thursday.
4. Philadelphia Flyers (7-3-1; Last Week: 3) – With captain Keith Primeau out indefinitely with a concussion, the Flyers rolled out three lines centered by rookies Thursday. Jeff Carter scored two goals, Mike Richards had an assist and R.J. Umberger held his own in 11 minutes of ice time. The trio was a combined plus-3 in a 8-1 win over the Caps.
5. Vancouver Canucks (9-2-2; Last Week: 5) – Denver was a disaster. The two-game trip to the Mile High City spawned two losses, an injured goalie and a new catch phrase spreading like wildfire league-wide. "It is what it is," was Todd Bertuzzi's repeated answer to reporters during a post-game grilling. What "it" is at the moment for the Canucks is a time for rookie goalie Alexander Auld to step up. He did just that Wednesday in stopping 31 shots to beat Minnesota.
6. Carolina Hurricanes (6-2-1; Last Week: 12) – Sidney Crosby has a point in all but two games this season, but Carolina kept him off the scoresheet Saturday. Ditto for Alexander Ovechkin, who has a point in 10 of 12 games but was held without a point by the Hurricanes on Oct. 22. They're not an easy team to play against, as six straight opponents have discovered during Carolina's current winning streak.
7. Colorado Avalanche (7-4-1; Last Week: 15) – Looks like a great year to be a defenseman who can move the puck, and nowhere is that more evident than in Colorado, where John-Michael Liles leads the Avs with 14 points in 12 games. Milan Hejduk will catch him eventually, of course. Speaking of Hejduk, Colorado now is 5-1 since he joined the lineup.
8. New York Rangers (7-4-3; Last Week: 16) – Kevin Weekes was given another shot Thursday and he took advantage. Rangers fans still are sold on the rookie, but there's no harm in having two game-ready goalies on any given night. Martin Rucinsky's injury will sting, but this New York team, for a change, seems to have the type of character that can survive his loss.
9. San Jose Sharks (7-5-1; Last Week: 17) – The Sharks have won four straight in come-from-behind fashion. October didn't exactly go as planned, but when you consider that San Jose is starting its third-string goalie and has played nine of 13 on the road, that 7-5-1 record looks better and better. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov is expected to return Saturday.
10. Los Angeles Kings (9-5-0; Last Week: 10) – Coach Andy Murray finally has a No. 1 goalie. Or does he? The goalie flip-flop ended when rookie Jason Labarbera started three straight games, but he was pulled Thursday after allowing four goals on 22 shots. If you spot Jeremy Roenick and his sliver Porsche on I-405, please notify team officials.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-2; Last Week 11) – Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal each extended their point streak to five games Thursday. Predictably, Tampa Bay lost. Ottawa owns them. So does Dominik Hasek. There's no shame in losing at Ottawa these days, and the Lightning had the game tied 2-2 in the third period.
12. Nashville Predators (8-2-2; Last Week: 4) – Should we have seen this coming? Nashville built its great start around come-from-behind wins over inferior teams. After playing a series of cupcakes through nine games, the Predators faced three straight opponents with winning records and dropped all three. If you need to point a finger, start with special teams. Nashville is in a 5-for-55 power-play rut, and it surrendered the game-winning goal Wednesday while a man up.
13. Buffalo Sabres (7-5-0; Last Week: 7) – Let's just say Wednesday was a day Buffalo would like to forget. First goalie Ryan Miller broke his thumb during the morning skate. He'll be gone 6-8 weeks. Then Martin Biron – thought to be trade bait a week earlier – allowed six goals on 19 shots in a 10-4 loss to Ottawa.
14. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5-2; Last Week: 8) – The 8-0 home loss to Ottawa is a blemish, but Toronto was otherwise competitive during a brutal stretch that included Boston (twice), Florida, Carolina and the Sens. Relief is near. They'll get Washington twice next week and Mats Sundin is expected to return Saturday.
15. Boston Bruins (6-5-4; Last Week: 9) – Still no way to get an accurate read on these guys. No. 2 center Alexei Zhamnov hasn't played yet. Jumbo Joe's back can flare up anytime. Goalie Andrew Raycroft has missed time with a hamstring. And now comes word that Brian Leetch – probably the team's most indispensable player outside of Joe Thornton – will miss a month with a knee injury.
16. Minnesota Wild (6-6-2; Last Week: 13) – Will it ever happen for Mikko Koivu? The rookie center was a big hit in training camp, but a knee injury delayed the start of his season. Then he was briefly detained at Calgary's airport after forgetting his passport. If he has an incident-free few days, he's expected to make his debut Saturday at San Jose.
17. Anaheim Mighty Ducks (7-6-1; Last Week: 22) – The line of Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald and Todd Fedoruk has carried the team. The trio was held pointless Thursday, and predictably the Ducks lost to snap a four-game winning streak.
18. Edmonton Oilers (6-6-1; Last Week: 24) – As Chris Pronger goes, so go the Oilers. The club was 0-7 during his recent seven-game pointless streak. Since then he has seven points in four games, all Edmonton wins.
19. Florida Panthers (6-6-2; Last Week: 14) – A brutal road stretch concludes Saturday at Carolina, with Florida coming to town on a streak of four straight losses (three by one goal). Won't get much easier at home with the Rangers and Hurricanes visiting next week.
20. New Jersey Devils (6-6-1; Last Week: 18) – New Jersey has lost to the Rangers twice in the same season for the first time since 1996-97. The second loss came with backup Scott Clemmensen between the pipes. His start snapped Martin Brodeur's amazing streak of 68 straight starts against the Rangers.
21. Phoenix Coyotes (6-8-1; Last Week: 21) – According to the Arizona Republic, a fed-up coach Wayne Gretzky put Phoenix through a physical workout that would have made Herb Brooks proud. Remember the "again" scene from Miracle? Tuesday's 45-minute gut check might have gotten through. The Coyotes responded with a season-high four goals in regulation in a shutout win Thursday.
22. Dallas Stars (6-5-1; Last Week: 19) – What is wrong with Marty Turco? He certainly doesn't know. Neither does coach Dave Tippett, who decided to give Johan Hedberg back-to-back starts for Dallas. Turco has been a rock – and a workhorse – for Dallas in recent seasons, but the Stars find themselves with the fourth-worst save percentage in the NHL.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-5-5; Last Week: 29) – Rookie defenseman Ryan Whitney has made quite a splash. On Thursday he led all Penguins – and that includes Sergei Gonchar – in ice time with almost 26 minutes. He had three assists and fellow call-up Erik Christensen banged home a rebound for his first NHL goal.
24. New York Islanders (6-7-0; Last Week: 20) – Losers of four of six, the Islanders got goalie Rick DiPietro back for Thursday's game against Pittsburgh. He was good, but Sidney Crosby and the Penguins were better.
25. Calgary Flames (6-7-2; Last Week: 23) – Scoring woes continue. The Flames have yet to score more than three goals in a game, an amazing feat in what has been a wide-open first month. Thursday's matchup against Columbus was predictably low scoring, with Calgary escaping with a 2-1 win.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-7-0; Last Week: 26) – The return of Rick Nash didn't exactly have the desired effect on the Columbus attack. The Jackets scored one goal in each of his first two games back in the lineup.
27. Chicago Blackhawks (4-9-0; Last Week: 25) – Only Pittsburgh has surrendered more goals, but Chicago can be forgiven for catching a three-game set against Detroit at the worst possible time. The Red Wings were still red-hot, and Chicago has been far from healthy. Tuomo Ruutu finally is back, and playing center, but Eric Daze still is a long way off.
28. Washington Capitals (4-8-0; Last Week: 27) – They rank 27th in the NHL on the penalty kill and 29th with the man advantage. Those numbers aren't likely to improve with Matt Bradley, Dainius Zubrus and Petr Sykora all on the shelf.
29. St. Louis Blues (2-7-3; Last Week: 28) – The Blues are loaded with role players on a battlefield that begs for snipers. St. Louis has only two forwards with more than two goals and their leading scorer, Jamal Mayers, has never reached double-digit goals in seven NHL seasons.
30. Atlanta Thrashers (4-8-0; Last Week: 30) – It's not hard to figure out. The Thrashers have the league's second-worst penalty kill, and they go a man down roughly eight times a game. One day can make a big difference though. Atlanta was 4-for-4 on the power play Tuesday, and that lone result vaulted the team near the league lead.