NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Lightning, Golden Knights and Avs all impress in opening week

It’s a struggle that all hockey fans know: Every year, the temptation to overreact early in the season is there. In each of the last two seasons, the Buffalo Sabres were Stanley Cup contenders in October. The Dallas Stars lost eight of their first nine games last season and then went on to win the West. 

This year, we once again find ourselves fighting the urge to crown a champ or throw a team in the trash after one week of play. Except this time, there are some weird circumstances that make it even harder to get a read on the early sample sizes: All these teams didn’t play a single preseason game, and every game means a little bit more with the shortened schedule. 

This is all to say that, with my first edition of NHL Power Rankings this season, nobody still has any real clue about what’s going on yet. Hockey is a stupid, unpredictable sport that makes it virtually impossible to learn anything substantial after just a few games. So, with that in mind, all we can do is take our preconceived notions about all these teams and factor in what little we’ve seen on the ice so far. 

And then, of course, overreact with the fire of a thousand suns, because we’re hockey fans and that’s what we do. 

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1


Lightning

Tough to really gauge a team when they’ve only played two games (both coming against arguably the league’s worst team) but the Lightning look like the Lightning. They’ll be here until they give me a reason to knock them down a notch. 1 3-0-0

2


Golden Knights

They looked a little shaky in a couple of games against inferior teams but they’re still deep and they still haven’t lost yet. Not losing is usually a key to being good. 1 4-0-0

3


Avalanche

They had a disappointing opener against St. Louis and then absolutely pummeled the Blues a couple days later. Nathan MacKinnon has five points in three games and the top line/power play looks great. Those blue pants and helmets though… 1 2-1-0

4


Flyers

They lit up the Penguins (11 goals in two games) to start the season and then had an emphatic split against the Sabres. They were streaky last year so keep an eye on the consistency. 3 3-1-0

5


Maple Leafs

The North is going to be an incredibly fun division this year. I wasn’t so high on the Leafs as favorites to come out on top in that group but they look pretty damn good to start the year. 14 3-2-0

6


Canadiens

Not surprisingly, this team is promising to be tons of fun. Alexander Romanov had himself an exciting coming out party, but the real story on this team is Nick Suzuki. That kid is on his way to becoming a superstar. 9 2-0-0

7


Flames

It’s only been three games but the Jacob Markstrom signing has looked good early. If this team actually gets consistently strong goaltending, they’re gonna be legit. 5 2-0-0

8


Capitals

They’ve gotten a point in every game they’ve played but the only team they’ve beaten is the Sabres. Also, they’re not doing themselves any favors off the ice. 2 2-0-0

9


Hurricanes

To nobody’s surprise, they’ve been a dominant possession team so far and Andrei Svechnikov continues to ascend the league ranks. 2-1-0

10


Blues

Losing 8-0 to the Avs was a real tough look but they’re going to be fine, especially in that division. We might be witnessing the beginning of Jordan Kyrou’s breakthrough. 1 2-1-0

11


Islanders

The Islanders playing very good defensive hockey under Barry Trotz? I don’t believe it. 5 3-1-0

12


Wild

The defense has looked predictably good and Kirill Kaprizov might actually give them an offensive star worth tuning in to watch. On the fast track to not being the most boring team in the league! 10 3-1-0

13


Bruins

Boston and Dallas are the only two teams without an even strength goal yet this season. The Bruins have played three games and the Stars have played zero. 10 2-1-0

14


Predators

I’m very curious to see what this team is capable of this year. They had pretty good underlying numbers during a pretty ugly season last year, and they look decent out of the gate. 6 2-1-0

15


Penguins

They have a team save percentage of .813. Let me check my notes and confirm tha — ah, yup…that’s not good. 2 2-2-0

16


Panthers

They’re 2-0 but both games have come against the Blackhawks. I’ll wait to judge until they play a real team. 8 2-0-0

17


Oilers

Wait, are you trying to tell me that the Oilers are overly relying on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to mask their depth/defense/goaltending issues? And they’re doing it to mixed results? Well, I just don’t buy that… 1 2-3-0

18


Canucks

My Elias Pettersson Hart pick isn’t looking so hot (1 point in five games) and the Canucks have been kind of a mess in the early going. They’re a wreck defensively and on special teams. The young talent is still there and they may very well figure it out, but they don’t want to dig themselves too deep a hole. 10 2-3-0

19


Jets

This might be the same old team from last year, aka a weak defensive team that will only be carried as far as its top forwards and goaltending can take it. 2 3-1-0

20


Rangers

They traded blowouts with the Islanders, then lost to the Devils. It doesn’t feel like they’re playing horribly, the results just haven’t been there consistently. 3 1-2-0

21


Senators

For better or for worse, this team seems like it could be kind of fun this year. Also, through three games, their points leader is…Nikita Zaitsev? Okay then. 9 1-2-0

22


Devils

I did not expect the Devils to be 2-0-1 out of the gate. I did not expect them to be this high on the rankings. I did not expect Jack Hughes to look so strong. I did not expect Mackenzie Blackwood to be the second-coming of Martin Brodeur. This team might be full of surprises? 3 2-1-0

23


Red Wings

Bobby Ryan’s early season redemption is awesome to see and the Wings could actually be…dare I say…entertaining this season? At the very least, they’re not the worst team in the league anymore and that’s nice! 8 2-2-0

24


Coyotes

Darcy Kuemper has looked uncharacteristically rough through three games and if he’s not at the top of his game then this team could be in trouble, even in a weak division. 11 1-2-0

25


Sabres

The underlying numbers are solid and suggest they deserve better than their rough start, and at least Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall are producing together at the top of the lineup. They’ve still lost three of four but if anyone knows that hot starts are overrated, it’s the Buffalo Sabres. 2 1-3-0

26


Sharks

They’ve got talent and the power play looks strong, so that’s something. It turns out that Devan Dubnyk hasn’t saved their goaltending problems, or saved much of anything. Huh. 3 2-2-0

27


Blue Jackets

They don’t look very good but the positive news is that they’re also doing their best to tank a disgruntled star player’s trade value. 13 1-2-0

28


Kings

They can’t seem to win, which seems bad. 2 0-1-0

29


Ducks

Why the hell is Trevor Zegras not playing for this terrible team that can’t score? 1 1-2-0

30


Blackhawks

They probably should have just saved everyone the trouble and opted out. 14 0-3-0

31


Stars

No wins. No goals. Completely invisible out there. 26 0-0-0



 

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