Another glorious week of NHL hockey is in the bag. Some great games were played this week, and teams proved just how good they really were and weren’t unfortunately. Columbus jumped three spots, while the Tampa Bay Lightning jumped four, and the Rangers and Senators each dropped five spots. I’m going to get right into it, so in case you missed last weeks power rankings, you can find them here.
(1) 1. The Pittsburgh Penguins stayed put at the number one spot over the week. They were 2-1-0 this week, beating the Carolina Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Penguins lone loss came at the hands of the Florida Panthers. Pittsburgh outscored their opponents 13-9, and now have a goal differential of +7 on the season. Marc-Andre Fleury has cooled off a bit now after his torrid start to the season, but the Penguins have found the offense to make up for it. Jussi Jolkinen netted a hat trick against the Hurricanes to lead the Penguins to victory, and Sidney Crosby who was named the NHL’s third star of the week got himself a hat trick as well against Tampa Bay.
(3) 2. Toronto’s only loss in six games this season came at the hands of the league’s remaining three unbeaten teams. The Colorado Avalanche beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 last Tuesday. The Leafs did however, manage to shut out the Predators, and then beat the Oilers 6-5. Toronto is rolling at the start of the season, and Jonathan Bernier has been on top of his game so far. The Leafs are getting plenty of offsense, and excellent goaltending has provided the defense with a lot of cushion so far this year. Now we all have to sit back and just see if they’ll collapse in spectacular Leafs fashion.
(2) 3. The Boston Bruins were 1-1 this week beating the Blue Jackets 3-1. But once again the Avalanche were able to take down one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. Boston put the puck on net 39 times, but they were all shrugged aside as the Avalanche beat the Bruins 2-0. Boston’s penalty kill has continued to play well, but the powerplay has muttered a bit. Boston needs to stick to their game. Sometimes a goalie just comes in and steals a game, and that’s what happened with Colorado. Rask is still playing great hockey, and the Bruins need to continue to rally in front of him and bring home the wins.
(4) 4. The Detroit Red Wings dropped a spot after a disappointing performance against the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night. The Wings were outplayed by the Coyotes, and were beat 4-2. They were able to bounce back on Saturday against the Flyers when they beat them 5-2. Detroit was finally able to get their powerplay going, scoring three powerplay goals against Philly. The Wings beat the Bruins 3-2 on Monday, and it shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Detroit bounced back from their beating they took in Boston last week, and came back and beat them when they were fully rested. Detroit is looking good early on this season, as long as their powerplay can continue to score they’ll be in good shape.
(5) 5. The Montreal Canadiens stayed put this week after going 2-1. The powerplay has continued to score, and the Canadiens are starting to get the job done in front of Carey Price. After a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames last week, the Canadiens bounced back to beat the Oilers and the Canucks 4-1 in their own buildings. Montreal’s powerplay has been solid so far this season, but the penalty kill hasn’t been great. If they can fix the special teams, a lot of good things could happen for the Canadiens this season. Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller are continuing their excellent play as well which has been a big part of the Canadiens offense.
(8) 6. The New York Islanders came into this season with some high expectations after last season. The Islanders won in a desicive victory against the Phoenix Coyotes, but have lost the last two games to the Blackhawks, and then to the Predators 3-2. The Islanders special teams have been spot on, they just haven’t been winning the five on five battle. The Islanders are stuck in the middle at the moment, but have plenty of time to turn their season around and get a jump on the rest of the Eastern Conference that has been off to quite a slow start.
(10) 7. The Columbus Blue Jackets Played only two games this past week, splitting them an even 1-1-0. The Blue Jackets were able to get the best of the Buffalo Sabres on the road, beating them 4-1. The Jackets then traveled home where they were beaten by the Boston Bruins 3-1. The Jackets powerplay scored on one of eight chances in the two games, but they were able to hold their opponents powerplay off the board in both contests. Sergei Bobrovsky has been up to the challenge so far, but the Blue Jackets can’t continue to lean on him so heavily. Marian Gaborik scored 4 points this week, if he can continue to score, Gaborik might be just what Bob needs in net.
(12) 8. The Tampa Bay Lightning won their first two contests of the week. The Lightning beat the struggling Buffalo Sabres 3-2, and then dominated the Panthers 7-2. The Lightning were beaten once last week, but it came at the hands of the Penguins. The Penguins were able to three goals in the third period, including the game winner with only 19 seconds left in the game. The Lightning powerplay has been on fire this last week, and is a huge reason for them winning games. The Lightning are opportunistic in putting the puck in the back of the net, and there’s not much more you can ask for than that.
(11) 9. The Carolina Hurricanes played four games last week. They had a busy schedule, but with the Olympics shortening to season a bit, everyone has to deal with it, and it’s how they deal with the fatigue that decides where they are at the end of the season. The Penguins beat the Hurricanes on Tuesday, on Thursday they were able to beat the struggling Washington Capitals, Friday they were beaten in a shootout by the Kings, and finally, Sunday the Canes were beaten by a streaking Coyotes team. The Canes were outscored 14-9 last week, and the special teams have been subpar thus far. The special teams need to be better or the Hurricanes aren’t going to be able to keep up this year.
(9) 10. The Washington Capitals are struggling to start the season, just like last season. The powerplay has dwindled away, and the penalty kill has been okay. The Capitals are living and dying by their special teams, and that isn’t going to get the job done. The Capitals were beaten by the Carolina and the still undefeated Colorado Avalanche this week, but were able to get their second win of the season against the Oilers on Monday night. The Caps have plenty of time to turn their season around, but it’s going to be much harder to play catch up in this stacked Eastern Conference the later the season goes.
(6) 11. The Ottawa Senators only win of the season was against the Buffalo Sabres, who have still yet to get their first win. The Senators are in need of a boost. They dropped another three games this past week. The Kings outlasted the Senators 4-3 in overtime, and San Jose, and Anaheim both beat the Senators to give the Senators 1 of 6 possible points on their early west coast trip of the season. The Senators will head to Phoenix before coming home for their first home game of the season. The Senators need to get something going, because they’re looking like they’re in quite some trouble at this point, even the special teams aren’t helping out much at all.
(7) 12. The New York Rangers are yet another team slumping off early this season. The Rangers have no offense, and they have no defense. The Rangers have 9 goals on the season, and have the worst goal differential in the league by 5 at -16. The Rangers have yet to play on their home ice this season, and won’t be doing so until the 28th of October. That’s a painful thing for Alain Vigneault and company in New York. Losing Rick Nash last Tuesday night isn’t helping the Rangers luck. The Rangers are a mess right now. The penalty kill isn’t getting it done, but 4 of 9 goals this season have been on the powerplay. That’s good right?
(13) 13. The Florida Panthers finished a busy week this week with a record of 1-3. The lone win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yes, you did read that correctly. The Panthers were beaten by the Flyers, blown out by the Lightning, and finally shut out by the Kings. The offense has been hit or miss all season, and the powerplay has been completely dismal at best. The penalty kill is getting the job done, but if you can’t play at 5 on 5, the killing penalties doesn’t always mean much.
(16) 14. The Philadelphia Flyers were able to get their first win of the season in the first game after the departure of head coach Peter Laviollete. The Flyers beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Tuesday, but were beaten by the Coyotes 2-1, and the Red Wings 5-2. The Flyers defense hasn’t gotten any better, the net minding in Philly hasn’t been great, the powerplay is the second worst in the league. The problems are a mile high in Philly this season. Claude Giroux has been nearly nonexistent on the score sheet, he’s accounted for only one assist in the first six games. Philly has some things to straighten out, and they’ll have to do it all without Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier for the next few nights at the minimum.
(14) 15. The New Jersey Devils are one of only two remaining teams in the NHL that have still yet to record their first win. The Devils let another win slip through their fingers in overtime in Cory Schneider‘s return to Vancouver, and then the Devils lost next two in Calgary and in Winnipeg. The offense in New Jersey is just nonexistent. New Jersey newcomer, Damien Brunner has 5 points on the season, but the Devils only have 11 goals on the season. They need to get scoring out of more than just one line or they’re not going anywhere this season. We assumed this would be the issue this season in New Jersey, and it’s proving to be true. If the Devils can at least get the powerplay hot, the rest may just come.
(15) 16. The Buffalo Sabres are the second team also looking for their first win of the season. The powerplay is as cold as it gets, the offense isn’t getting it done, the defense isn’t much better, but if the Sabres have anything going for them, the further into the game they get, they seem to look much better. The Sabres need experience, and it’s going to be “painful” in Darcy Regier‘s words. Either way, the Sabres should probably start giving Minnesota a call every few days to see when they can ship Thomas Vanek over to them, and they should probably start looking for a landing place for Ryan Miller soon. This ship has sunk.
Topics: Alain Vigneault, Alex Galchenyuk, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Carey Price, Carolina Hurricanes, Claude Giroux, Columbus Blue Jackets, Cory Schneider, Damien Brunner, Darcy Regier, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Jonathan Bernier, Lars Eller, Marc Andre Fleury, Marian Gaborik, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Power Rankings, Rick Nash, Ryan Miller, Scott Hartnell, Sergei Bobrovsky, Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning, Thomas Vanek, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vincent Lecavalier, Washington Capitals