Power rankings: Fame game

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. Ottawa Senators (14-2-0; Previous: 2) – Groin injury sidelines top-line center Jason Spezza for six games through Saturday, but Sens hardly skip a beat in winning five times.


2. Detroit Red Wings (13-3-1; Previous: 1) – Nine-game winning streak snapped, but who is Mike Babcock to worry? "There's still too much of the season to worry about peaking. If this is as good as we'll be, we'll be no good in the end. You have to get better because the league is going to get better," the coach said.


3. Carolina Hurricanes (11-4-3; Previous: 3) – Rod Brind’Amour is averaging approximately 90 seconds less of ice a night than the whopping 23:19 the 37-year-old averaged to rank third among NHL forwards last season, a smart move by the ’Canes.


4. Colorado Avalanche (11-5-1; Previous: 7) – Sunday’s third win in four games springs team into a period of timely rest – four idle nights – before a busy schedule of 13 games in 26 days begins.


5. Montreal Canadiens (9-4-3; Previous: 4) – How do you quell a hot power play? Minimize Montreal’s advantages. The Canadiens’ lethal unit was deployed just 10 times in their last four games through Saturday, and converted two into goals.

New York Islanders

6. New York Islanders (9-5-0; Previous: 10) – Four-game winning streak marked by stellar goaltending (five goals allowed) and team-wide discipline (just eight opponent power plays including none against Devils on Saturday) until ending with a one-goal loss in Philadelphia – no shame there the way the Flyers are playing at home.


7. Chicago Blackhawks (10-7-0; Previous: 15) – Sunday’s 3-2 win over Detroit, in which teenage rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each score goals and are Nos. 1 & 2 stars, respectively, is ’Hawks’ defining moment of the early season.


8. Philadelphia Flyers (11-6-0; Previous: 8) – One wonders how the Flyers could have let concussed Simon Gagne return early – and get knocked out again – when the team has had such a history of concussion problems (Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick).


9. Minnesota Wild (9-5-2; Previous: 6) – Not this again: top offensive threats Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra are battling groin injuries and team can’t sustain early pace without them, now having lost six of the last eight.

San Jose

10. San Jose Sharks (9-7-2; Previous: 12) – Last team to have a second player crack double-figures in season scoring, and that’s accomplished by 37-year-old Jeremy Roenick. In other words, underachievers galore are on this roster.

New York Rangers

11. New York Rangers (9-7-1; Previous: 9) – King Henrik finally gets a night off Saturday. With Lundqvist giving way to 6-foot-6 backup Stephen Valiquette, that leaves only Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff and San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov to have started each of his teams’ games in goal.


12. Columbus Blue Jackets (8-6-3; Previous: 5) – Offensive drought – just 12 goals in six games – leads to Jackets’ first skid of the season as league’s biggest early-season surprise are losers in four of last five through Monday.


13. Nashville Predators (9-7-1; Previous: 20) – Mayor offers final compromise on new arena lease to potential buyers in return for a commitment to stay put for at least five years: Team could move in three years if investors lose $20 million or average attendance dips below 14,000 per game.


14. Boston Bruins (8-6-2; Previous: 13) – Coach Claude Julien’s pack-’em-in style of defensive play is forcing teams to adjust when they play the B’s. And it’s frustrating opponents as well.


15. Vancouver Canucks (8-8-0; Previous: 22) – How do they react to a rash of injuries on the backline? By reeling off three straight one-goal wins in which only three even-strength goals are allowed.

Tampa Bay

16. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-8-1; Previous; 24) – Current three-game winning streak to bring Bolts back to .500 is thanks to a perfect penalty kill. They snuffed out the few opponent power plays faced (eight), and only five goals are allowed in nine periods.


17. Toronto Maple Leafs (7-7-4; Previous: 14) – League-leaders in man-games lost with 335 last year, Leafs suffer another blow Saturday by losing defenseman Paul Kubina to MCL damage. There goes the team’s leader in average ice time.

Los Angeles

18. Los Angeles Kings (8-8-0; Previous: 16) – Announced crowds of 18,118 a week apart, yet in consecutive home dates, are essentially the first back-to-back sellouts since a pair in late March of 2006, a modest feat that never happened last season.


19. Dallas Stars (7-7-3; Previous: 17) – Big week for the classy Mike Modano: sets record for points by an American-born skater, accepts congratulatory call from President Bush – “Mike, this is George Bush, just wanted to call and congratulate you, one Texan to another” – and has to read in a newspaper maybe the Stars should think about trading him.


20. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-10-1; Previous: 11) – Throw out first of two games against Devils, and offense sputtering in last seven contests: 11 goals in six losses, only five scored at even-strength.

St. Louis

21. St. Louis Blues (7-7-0; Previous: 19) – Top line of Paul Kariya, Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk get broken up to redistribute scoring as no other line is getting it done.

New Jersey

22. New Jersey Devils (7-8-2; Previous: 26) – How bad is the power play? It had not converted this month through the first five games (0-for-17) until the first period of its sixth contest Monday, and is just 3-for-45 dating back to the seventh game of the season.


23. Anaheim Ducks (7-8-3; Previous: 23) – Scott Niedermayer, skating on his own last week, told the Orange County Register, “There is no change in anything right now, other than the fact I’m skating. When the decision does come, if it is to go back and play, I’m a little bit closer.”


24. Atlanta Thrashers (7-10-0; Previous: 28) – Don’t look now, but the Thrashers are 7-4 since GM Don Waddell went behind the bench.


25. Calgary Flames (6-8-3; Previous: 18) – Home loss on Saturday to archrival Edmonton puts exclamation point on five-game losing streak, the last four against division opponents.


26. Buffalo Sabres (6-9-1; Previous: 25) – Outshooting host Boston 46-22 yet on the wrong side of a 2-1 final on Saturday caps frustration of losing for fifth time in six games.


27. Phoenix Coyotes (7-9-0; Previous: 27) – Heard of Daniel Carcillo, the new bad boy of the NHL, yet? You will. He’s leading the league in penalty minutes with 81, but coach Wayne Gretzky thinks he can score 35-40 goals some day.


28. Florida Panthers (7-11-0; Previous: 21) – Goalie Tomas Vokoun calls out teammates in midst of four losses in five games: “You can’t tell me we were ready to play. What’s frustrating the most is it’s not a lack of talent. … Basically we give points and games away.”


29. Washington Capitals (6-10-1; Previous: 29) – Losers in four of five, scoring only five goals in the process, yet the one win – an impressive 4-1 victory at Ottawa – came out of left field. “We’re sitting here one game below .500 on the road, but we have two wins at home,” coach Glen Hanlon said. “We have to make this a tougher place to play.”


30. Edmonton Oilers (6-10-1; Previous: 30) – Saturday’s headline-grabbing win at Calgary is only team’s eighth out of 37 dating back to February when Ryan Smyth played his last game as an Oiler. And only four victories have come during regulation.