Eastern Conference Power Rankings, Week Three

Two weeks are now in the bags, and teams are showing their superiority by still rolling through opponents. The East looks to have gotten their feet under them a bit more, while a few teams are still struggling to get anything going early in the season. Time is short in the NHL, and you have to start winning now, or you’re going to be playing catch up all season long. If you missed the first two weeks, you can find week one here, and week two’s power rankings here. This week Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and New Jersey all jumped two spots, while the Blue Jackets sub-par week left them three spots below last weeks rank.

(1) 1. The Pittsburgh Penguins were one of only two teams to come out of this past week unscathed. The Penguins have been dominant this season, and were nothing short of that this week. Sidney Crosby earned the NHL’s second star of the week scoring two goals and adding six assists in two games. The Penguins are flying high at the top of the Metropolitan Division at the moment already creating a huge amount of space between themselves and second place. The Penguins are still unbeaten on their home ice, and they outscored their opponents 11-6 this week. The powerplay is second in the NHL, and the offense is rolling along without any problems. Oh, by the way Eastern Conference, Kris Letang should be back soon too.

(3) 2. The Boston Bruins were the only other team in the East to win out last week, but the Bruins only had two games. The Bruins were able to best their former net-minder Tim Thomas in Florida 3-2, and then visted Tampa Bay, who they beat in the season opener. The Bruins dominated the Bolts and beat them 5-0. The Bruins defense continues to cause problems for their opponents, and the offense is firing up. The powerplay was one for seven, but the penalty kill remained perfect throughout the two games. The powerplay is off to a slow start, but the offense will find their grove shortly and start putting pucks in the back of the net. A little birdy told me Jarome Iginla is still looking for his first goal of the season. Don’t fret, he’s been playing great, it’s only a matter of time before he finally squeezes one past an opposing net minder.

(4) 3. The Detroit Red Wings were swept by the Phoenix Coyotes this season already after the Coyotes came back and scored four goals in the third period to beat Detroit 5-2. Other than when they play Phoenix, the Wings have looked unstoppable this season. Detroit beat the Blue Jackets 2-1, and they handed the Colorado Avalanche their first loss of the season, beating them 4-2. Jonas Gustavsson filled in well for an injured Jimmy Howard and helped the Wings win four straight. Detroit has looked really good lately, the powerplay is kicking again, and the penalty kill has been good when put into tough situations. All in all, it’s a good thing the Wings won’t have to see the Coyotes again this season.

(2) 4. The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost two straight after starting the season 6-1-0. Now, I know what you’re all thinking, “Typical Leafs”, but this team this season is different. They were able to beat the Minnesota Wild rather easily 4-1, but then were victims of a comeback victory for the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes trailed by two, but were able (with a little help from a luck bounce) come back and get the W in a 3-2 win. The Leafs were also beaten 3-1 by the Chicago Blackhawks. Both losses came from good teams, but the Leafs defense needs to buckle down quickly and find their feet or they’re going to continue to lose. Chicago nearly ran them out of the building outshooting them 40-20. Chicago is one of the league’s best teams, but Toronto hasn’t seen too much of the league’s top skill teams just yet this season.

(5) 5. The Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price earned their first shut out of the season last week against the Winnipeg Jets, when the Canadiens beat them 3-0 on the road. The Canadiens beat the Blue Jackets 5-3, but were beaten by the Nashville Predators who have started to turn their season around. The Preds beat the Habs 2-1, and outshot them 37-29. The special teams have been good, and Carey Price has continued to play well in net, and that’s going to be a huge key for the Canadiens moving forward. P.K. Subban has been impressiv early on scoring two goals and adding eight assists this season, tallying half of his points on the powerplay. Subban contributed three points last week in both of the Canadiens wins, but was held off the scoresheet in the loss to Nashville.

(8) 6. The Tampa Bay Lightning have leaned heavily on Ben Bishop so far this season, and it’s worked out for them more times than not. Bishop was pulled from the loss the Lightning took from Boston earlier this week. Before being shutout 5-0, the Lightning were rolling along winning against the Kings 5-1, and then beating the Wild 3-1. The Lightning offense has been great this season scoring 26 goals on the season, good for third best in the East. Before the sputtering against the Bruins, the Lightning had looked like a team that might be able to make it somewhere this season, but Bruins put the Lightning back in their place reminding them what powerhouses await them at the top of the East.

(6) 7. The New York Islanders suffered a loss in a shootout to start the week against the Buffalo Sabres. The Islanders were the first team this season to fall to the Sabres. The Islanders bounced back to beat the struggling Edmonton Oilers 3-2. Led by John Tavares, the Islanders have done well for themselves this season, and Tavares has been a huge help scoring four goals and adding six assists so far. Tavares has recorded at least one point in the last seven games, and recorded two points in three of the seven games. The Islanders lost their last game of the week to the Carolina Hurricanes, who scored three goals in the second to put the game out of reach. The Islanders eventually fell to the Canes by a score of 4-3. The special teams have proved to be consistent and will need to be if they wish to be looking down at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, and not up.

(9) 8. The Carolina Hurricanes have won their last two games, and have points in their last three. The Canes fell to the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout to start the week off. The powerplay has room to improve and it would help games like the one against the Blackhawks to have a top powerplay. The Canes went on to knock off the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2, and the New York Islanders 4-3. The offense has been consistent and Cam Ward has been good in net. If Ward can continue to play well and stay healthy, the Canes could make something of their season and end up possibly in the playoffs, but we still have a ways to go in the season before that can come to be. The Metropolitan has started off rather slow, and this is Carolina’s time to jump ahead of the game. They’re 4-2-3 so far, and if they can close out games before overtime, they might hold up in their division.

(11) 9. The Ottawa Senators won their first two games of the week, they started by beating the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. Jason Spezza scored a hat trick to help the Senators get the win in the desert. The Senators defended their home ice in their home opener against the New Jersey Devils, beating them 5-2, despite being outshot 42-23. The Senators took advantage of Martin Brodeur‘s off game and scored when the opportunity presented itself. Timely hockey wins games, but they were unable to convert enough for the win against the Edmonton Oilers, when they lost 3-1. Devan Dubnyk held them off in his first good game of the season, stopping 35 of 36 shots.

(7) 10. The Columbus Blue Jackets had a busy week playing four games, but they were unable to come away with a decent amount of points dropping three of the four. A busy schedule isn’t anything new after last season, and it will be the same story this year. Columbus was beat by the Red Wings 2-1, as they found it hard to find the answer to Jonas Gustavsson in net. The Jackets then fell to the Canadiens 5-3, and the Capitals 4-1. The Jackets ended their four game losing streak against the Vancouver Canucks as they won 3-1, back up goalie Curtis McElhinney stepped in and stopped 37 of 38 Vancouver shots. The powerplay has been there for the Jackets, but the penalty kill hasn’t been where it should be so far this season.

(12) 11. The New York Rangers have even more problems as the injury bug has officially bitten the Rangers. The Rangers are now without Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, and Carl Hagelin. The Rangers offense has been dismal, and the defense has been somewhat of a joke all season. Henrik Lundqvist is getting no help up front, and the Rangers are being drug through the start of their season. The Rangers shut out the Capitals 2-0, but were in turn shut out by the New Jersey Devils 4-0. Is there any hope left for the Rangers this season? They’d better hope the injuries stay away for the rest of the season since they’re coming early, or it may be too late.

(10) 12. The Washington Capitals are having troubles this season as well as a lot of teams are in the East. They’re 3-5-0 so far this season, and won one of two games they played last week. They were shut out by the New York Rangers who have had their number lately, but they were able to bounce back and find their offense in a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets. The Capitals powerplay is still the best in the league, and the penalty kill continues to be huge for them, but they can’t win every game with their special teams. The five on five hockey has to get better in Washington, they can’t expect to make the playoffs on a late season run again.

(15) 13. The New Jersey Devils finally got their first win of the season this week beating the struggling New York Rangers 4-0. The goaltending has held tight for the most part in New Jersey this season. The loss to the Senators being the one game where the goaltending was definitely the issue. The Devils are having a hard time scoring this season, and unless they turn around on offense, the struggles are going to continue, and they’re going to continue to show in the Devil’s record. The powerplay would be a good place to start for the Devils offensive problems. The penalty kill has been solid, but they’re not scoring on the chances that are given to them.

(13) 14. The Florida Panthers were able to squeak out a win in a shootout this week, but dropped both of their other games. Tim Thomas is back, and it’s already made a difference for the Panthers. The Predators were able to beat the Panthers 4-3 last week. The Panthers then returned home, where Thomas made his return, but was beaten by his old team, as the Bruins won 3-2. Thomas played well again against the Minnesota Wild, when the Panthers were able to get the win in a shootout. Florida’s special teams haven’t been good this season, but with the return of Thomas, the penalty kill might get a bit better, but the real problem is on the powerplay where they haven’t been able to get much of anything going this season.

(14) 15. The Philadelphia Flyers are a mess. The powerplay has been non-existent, and they haven’t been able to find offense in any corner of their depth chart. The Flyers have only 11 goals so far this season, tied with the Rangers for worst in the NHL. The Rangers fell to the Canucks 3-2 and were then beaten by the Penguins rather decisively 4-1. The Flyers still only have one win to their name, and their season is circling the drain. Is there an answer for the Flyers problems? Yes, it’s called defense, but even if the Flyers were able to concoct some sort of magic in their own end, they would still have to somehow score in the other end to get wins, and that’s a lot of working, moving parts.

(16) 16. The Buffalo Sabres finally got their first win this week in a shootout victory over the New York Islanders, but none the less, Darcy Reiger might want to watch his back because Buffalo fans are less than impressed. Reiger, you’re a wanted man and the fans are calling for your head! The Sabres still lack the necessary offense that is needed to win in the NHL today, and the defense can’t keep the puck out of the net to help their issues in the lack of offense. The Sabres were shut out by Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks, and the powerplay was one for ten this week. There’s hardly a powerplay in Buffalo, but I guess the only way to look at it now, is it can’t get any worse, right?

Tags: Boston Bruins Carey Price Detroit Red Wings Eastern Conference Jarome Iginla Jimmy Howard Jonas Gustavsson Kris Letang Montreal Canadiens NHL P.k. Subban Pittsburgh Penguins Power Rankings Sidney Crosby Tim Thomas Toronto Maple Leafs

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