Power rankings: Staal alarm

Ross McKeon
Yahoo! Sports

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 (9-2-1; Previous: 1) – Despite being a little banged up, the Wings are still on a roll with five straight wins, six of seven and eight of 10 entering Tuesday. Look at Chris Osgood's numbers: 5-0, 1.60 goals-against, .930 save percentage.

2. Ottawa Senators (9-1-0; Previous: 3) – Outscored opponents 15-6 during current four-game winning streak and are perfect on the road at 4-0 where they only venture once in their next seven games.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (7-2-3; Previous: 5) – Soccer outside the locker room, a pregame warm-up ritual for most if not all NHL teams, is what forward Erik Cole was doing when he landed funny and sprained an ankle.

4. Minnesota Wild (7-2-2; Previous: 2) – Groin injuries galore: Forwards Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra and goalie Niklas Backstrom are out and the Wild don't have the offense to avoid taking a step back.

5. Philadelphia Flyers (7-3-0; Previous: 4) – The emergence of Mike Richards as a star has begun: six goals, 12 points and a plus-6 in his first 10 games, in which the 22-year-old averaged a team-high 20:30 ice time among forwards.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (5-4-1; Previous: 15) – Penguins hoping slow start by Jordan Staal (one goal, two points and a minus-3) isn't an early indication of an oncoming sophomore slump.

7. St. Louis Blues (6-3-0; Previous: 7) – Already with his fourth organization, former first-round pick Brad Boyes, 25, (team-high eight goals in nine games) looks to have found a home.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-3-1; Previous: 16) – Goalie Pascal Leclaire is one away from franchise record five shutouts, but he's benefiting because team has bought into coach Ken Hitchcock's system of demanding details.

9. San Jose Sharks (6-5-1; Previous: 6) – Team's identity should be clear with its size and speed, but instead this team still appears fragile and immature despite efforts in the summer to toughen up mentally.

10. Colorado Avalanche (7-4-0; Previous: 20) – Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic are starting to rekindle the kind of chemistry that made the pair successful while playing on the same line for Canada's recent Olympic gold-medal winners.

11. Montreal Canadiens (6-2-2; Previous: 13) – Canadiens lead the league in players appearing in their 1,000th game this season: Alex Kovalev, Bryan Smolinski and Roman Hamrlik.

12. Boston Bruins (6-4-0; Previous: 10) – Defenseman Zdeno Chara earned respect by dropping his gloves for the first time as a Bruin and bloodying Blackhawks tough guy David Koci in the process. Boston fans would love to see a tough Bruins team again.

13. Dallas Stars (5-4-2; Previous: 12) – When you do as much travel as the Stars do, comfort is important. That's why the team's new jet includes 71 first-class seats, including 24 that fold into flat beds.

14. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-1; Previous; 8) – Undefeated during regulation at home in six games yet winless in four on the road, and that's where they play five of their next seven.

15. Calgary Flames (5-3-3; Previous: 18) – Coach Mike Keenan said it best: "Just that inconsistency in our play is an indication to me that we're still a team that has a lot to learn moving forward."

16. New York Islanders (5-4-0; Previous: 9) – Special teams are special – 2nd in power-play (converting nearly 3-of-10 chances) and fifth on the kill (barely more than one allowed out of 10 short-handed challenges) – and keeping Isles afloat.

17. Chicago Blackhawks (5-6-0; Previous: 11) – Sergei Samsonov, making in excess of $3.5 million this season and without a goal in 10 games, is being sent a message with coach Denis Savard's decision to make him a healthy scratch.

18. Buffalo Sabres (5-5-0; Previous: 19) – Forwards Maxim Afinogenov, Thomas Vanek and goalie Ryan Miller have to be better than the average performers they've been so far for the Sabres to contend.

19. New York Rangers (4-6-1; Previous: 21) – Penalty kill has been good of late (22-for-23) and it has had to be since modest three goals in win on Monday matched output of previous four games combined.

20. Vancouver Canucks (5-7-0; Previous: 22) – Key upcoming stretch includes nine straight against Northwest Division foes from Nov. 1-21, five of which are at home where Canucks are 1-5 while being outscored 23-13.

21. Washington Capitals (5-6-0; Previous: 23) – Newcomers Michael Nylander, Viktor Kozlov, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Poti, a combined six goals and 25 assists for 31 points through Monday, are adding a spark.

22. Anaheim Ducks (4-7-2; Previous: 14) – Injuries, Cup hangover and a snakebit group are forefront for the defending champs. Defenseman Mathieu Schneider has started to practice for the first time, but remains out along with forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Todd Bertuzzi and Rob Niedermayer.

23. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-5-3; Previous: 30) – On pace to allow 328 goals, most since permitting 358 while a member of the Clarence Campbell Conference's Norris Division in 1989-90, and that was a playoff team.

24. New Jersey Devils (3-6-1; Previous: 17) – Defense that recently has lost the likes of Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski now is crossing its fingers for Colin White, 29, whose month-old eye injury hasn't cleared up and threatens his career.

25. Los Angeles Kings (6-6-0; Previous: 27) – Four wins in a row is two better than at any point last year, but less of a surprise than who leads the NHL in goal scoring: Michael Cammalleri with 10.

26. Edmonton Oilers (5-7-0; Previous: 26) – Two things must improve: an NHL-worst 3-for-48 power play and the fact that the Oilers have allowed at least one third-period goal in eight straight games through Oct. 28.

27. Florida Panthers (4-7-0; Previous: 24) – Underrated center Olli Jokinen becomes the franchise leader in goals and points, passing Scott Mellanby, who scored 158 goals and 354 points for Florida.

28. Nashville Predators (4-6-0; Previous: 25) – Free-agent pick-up Dan Ellis has provided a spark with consecutive wins in goal after former back-up turned No. 1 Chris Mason struggled with a 3.73 goals-against average and .873 save percentage in team's first eight games.

29. Atlanta Thrashers (3-8-0; Previous: 29) – GM Don Waddell taking his time with coaching replacement, which suggests he didn't have Bob Hartley's successor picked out beforehand, another questionable strategy.

30. Phoenix Coyotes (3-6-0; Previous: 28) – Gretzky & Co. willing to take their lumps in exchange for building from within and being patient with the time it takes to draft and develop.

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