Power rankings: Blackhawks take air

Ross McKeon

Yahoo! Sports NHL writer Ross McKeon ranks the league's teams 1 through 30. The power rankings will be updated every Tuesday.


1. Detroit Red Wings (6-2-1; Previous: 3) – They finish off a four-game Western swing with impressive wins in San Jose and Phoenix and have now outshot their opponent in all but one of their first nine games.


2. Minnesota Wild (7-0-1; Previous: 1) – They haven’t scored more than three goals in any of eight games thus far, yet they’re the only team in the conference without a crooked number in the loss column.


3. Ottawa Senators (8-1-0; Previous: 2) – Ray Emery steps between the pipes to stop 31 of 32 shots in his debut last Saturday, the last time the team plays between now and Saturday when they help New Jersey open its new arena.


4. Philadelphia Flyers (6-1-0; Previous: 5) – Riding a five-game winning streak as they prepare to play their next eight on the road, the Flyers defeated New Jersey and Carolina despite being outshot 82-48 in the two games.


5. Carolina Hurricanes (5-1-3; Previous: 4) – It’s all about points during the regular season, regardless of how you get them, and the ’Canes have earned at least one in six straight (4-0-2), a time in which they’ve scored 11 power-play goals.

San Jose

6. San Jose Sharks (5-3-1; Previous: 9) – A 4-2 home loss to Detroit left San Jose fragile, but a hard practice on Friday translates to two hard-working victories over Nashville and Calgary. Maybe Ron Wilson finally has this team’s attention.

St. Louis

7. St. Louis Blues (4-2-0; Previous: 14) – Team president John Davidson said, "I think we’re an underrated team talent-wise, I really do." Agreed, but the Blues are no longer a secret, as they move up seven spots.

Tampa Bay

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2-0; Previous; 6) – The big three forwards – Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier – are averaging defenseman-like ice-time figures: 24:05, 23:46 and 22:47, respectively.

New York Islanders

9. New York Islanders (5-3-0; Previous: 20) – Consecutive wins and then a hiccup in the schedule means six straight idle nights between games, one contest in the final 11 days of October and just four games in a 20-day span through Nov. 9. And hats off to the No. 1 power play (27.8 percent) and No. 2 penalty kill (90.9).


10. Boston Bruins (5-3-0; Previous: 15) – Two reasons for the B’s to smile again: second-most disciplined team in the league (12.6 PIM per contest) and 19-year-old impact rookie Milan Lucic, a big, tough winger who will not be returned to his junior team.


11. Chicago Blackhawks (5-3-0; Previous: 17) – In case you missed it, rookie Jonathan Toews scored the NHL’s prettiest goal of the season Friday. Now for the real shocker, a memo to the Blackhawks staff suggested the team is beginning discussions to get home games televised as early as this season. Oh, and if you did miss that goal, you can watch it here.


12. Dallas Stars (4-2-2; Previous: 21) – Still not scoring, but consecutive wins and goalie Marty Turco (1.99 goals-against average and .922 save percentage) rounding into form has the Stars in the thick of it again in the Pacific.


13. Montreal Canadiens (4-2-2; Previous: 22) – Nothing feels as good as an old-fashioned rout against an arch-rival (6-1 win over visiting Boston, snapping Bruins’ four-game winning streak). The power play is 6-for-17 over the last three games.


14. Anaheim Ducks (4-5-1; Previous: 10) – Impressive home wins against Detroit and Nashville provided first winning streak – albeit modest at two games – but power play is just 5-for-49 since returning from London.


15. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-0; Previous: 12) – Involved in three straight one-goal games and winners in each of the last two, they’ve managed to score at least one power-play goal in all seven games thus far.


16. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-3-1; Previous: 19) – The team that led the league getting shut out 16 times last year has turned the tables by serving up three bagels of their own in seven games. That has to bring a smile to coach Ken Hitchcock’s face, which needed two stitches to close a gash right between his eyes opened by an errant puck Friday.

New Jersey

17. New Jersey Devils (3-4-1; Previous: 18) – Only Thursday’s visit to the Rangers is in the way of Saturday’s opening of the $300 million Prudential Center in Newark, where Bon Jovi beat the Devils to the punch with a concert on the same night the team plays Madison Square Garden.


18. Calgary Flames (4-3-2; Previous: 23) – Slow-starting Miikka Kiprusoff gets yanked against his former team, San Jose, during Monday’s loss even though he had no chance on three goals-against. The fun with Mike Keenan has just begun.


19. Buffalo Sabres (3-4-0; Previous: 13) – Consecutive losses leaves team that’s won 50 games each of the last two seasons in last place. "Right now we’re finding ways to lose games, and that’s the difference from last year," goalie Ryan Miller said.


20. Colorado Avalanche (4-4-0; Previous: 8) – Road kill so far, losing all four times away from their mile high home, they’ve been outscored 16-6 on foreign ice as they go into Edmonton on Tuesday night.

New York Rangers

21. New York Rangers (2-4-1; Previous: 7) – Third straight loss on Saturday punctuated by the fact that Martin Straka (141 points last two years with Rangers) broke a finger while blocking a slap shot by Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.


22. Vancouver Canucks (4-5-0; Previous: 11) – Inconsistency takes a back seat to the fact that the Canucks have lost four of their first five home matches, outscored 20-11. They are 0-3 against the Pacific foes who have come calling.


23. Washington Capitals (3-4-0; Previous: 16) – Losers of four straight, and all but one by two or more goals, the Caps (14 goals in seven games) are wondering where is all the offense from this young, fast and skilled team.


24. Florida Panthers (3-5-0; Previous: 25) – Consecutive road losses snap a three-game winning streak, and penalty killing needs to tighten up as the Panthers have allowed at least one power-play goal in all but one game.


25. Nashville Predators (2-5-0; Previous: 24) – Five straight losses before Tuesday night in Los Angeles follows winning twice at the outset as the Preds try to keep end-of-month ownership deadline from being a distraction.


26. Edmonton Oilers (3-5-0; Previous: 26) – Big offseason signing Sheldon Souray is out 4-to-6 weeks with a separated shoulder and Oil loses first of eight Battle of Alberta meetings Saturday night. Not a good week, or season, so far.

Los Angeles

27. Los Angeles Kings (2-5-0; Previous: 28) – A split of road games on consecutive nights last week is something the Kings will take. But ranking second to last on the penalty kill (10 goals surrendered out of 46 shorthanded situations) has to improve.


28. Phoenix Coyotes (2-5-0; Previous: 29) – Three straight losses at home, attended by an average of 12,230, are a bad sign this early in the season. Coyotes are also dead last in penalty killing at 77.8 percent.


29. Atlanta Thrashers (1-7-0; Previous: 30) – Names including ex-NHL coaches Pat Quinn, Dave Lewis, Mike Sullivan and John Anderson of the Chicago Wolves have all surfaced as possible replacements for fired bench boss Bob Hartley.


30. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-4-2; Previous: 27) – Outscored 16-8 in the third period of games this season, capped by allowing five to visiting Chicago to turn a 3-1 lead into a 6-4 loss during Hockey Night in Canada telecast Saturday. Ugh, Canada.

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