Four straight wins and six victories in their past seven have put the St. Louis Blues atop the Central Division and battling for first place in the NHL.
We’re not even a month into the season and things are already getting goofy. Connor McDavid is taking heat for dressing up as Donald Trump for Halloween and just today, a prominent website in Canada asked the following two questions: 1. “Is it time for Leafs to panic?” and 2. “Should the Oilers start to panic?” The answers to both questions is, of course, yes. Because panicking when you’ve lost a couple of games is a tried-and-true blueprint for long-term success.
Speaking of panic, hearts will be racing a little faster tonight, and it won’t be just because the kids are all wired up on sugar. Tonight is the night we celebrate the macabre. In honor of that, thn.com presents the scary Halloween version of its Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)
1. ST. LOUIS BLUES (8)
Scary good: Alex Pietrangelo is putting together a season that could see him win his first Norris Trophy if this keeps up.
Scary bad: The Blues are among the worst teams in the league both in penalty killing and in the faceoff circle.
2. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2)
Scary good: So, so many good management decisions, not the least of which was to have faith in Andrei Vasilevsky. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are becoming the league’s next deadly duo.
Scary bad: Not much to see here, but Tyler Johnson has been bumped to the third line because of the play of Stamkos and Brayden Point.
3. NEW JERSEY DEVILS (10)
Scary good: The Devils are perfect on the road and college free agent signee Will Butcher has had an immediate and profound impact.
Scary bad: The Devils rarely start with the puck. They have the third-worst faceoff percentage in the NHL.
4. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (6)
Scary good: John Tavares is on a major tear and trails only Nikita Kucherov in goals.
Scary bad: Every day that passes during which Tavares doesn’t sign an extension is a day closer to him leaving as an unrestricted free agent.
5. VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (1)
Scary good: This band of what was supposed to be a collection of misfit toys has emerged as the best expansion team in NHL history and one of the top teams in the NHL.
Scary bad: The Golden Knights’ next option for a healthy goalie is a 38-year-old blackjack dealer who plays in the local oldtimers’ league.
6. LOS ANGELES KINGS (4)
Scary good: Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have a combined 13 goals, five fewer than they had combined all last season.
Scary bad: We got nuthin’. They’re faster, more fun to watch, a better team and their goaltending and penalty killing has been outstanding. OK, Jeff Carter is hurt and that really sucks.
7. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (19)
Scary good: If Sergei Bobrovsky continues his early-season play, he could become the first back-to-back Vezina Trophy winner since Martin Brodeur.
Scary bad: Imagine how good this team would be if it could actually produce on the power play. It’s hitting at 8.6 percent, worst in the NHL.
8. DALLAS STARS (20)
Scary good: The Stars are another team that has figured out its goaltending situation. Its power play is frightening, too.
Scary bad: Martin Hanzal. Woof.
9. ANAHEIM DUCKS (11)
Scary good: After two seasons in the minors and a 27-game stint with the Ducks last season, 23-year-old defenseman Brandon Montour has four goals and is second only to Cam Fowler in ice time per game.
Scary bad: Despite leading all Ducks with 36 shots, Jakob Silfverberg has just one goal this season. His shooting percentage is 2.8.
10. SAN JOSE SHARKS (13)
Scary good: Logan Couture continues his ascension to stardom and is finding some really good on-ice chemistry with Tomas Hertl.
Scary bad: Coming off back to back 27- and 29-goal seasons, Brent Burns leads all defensemen in shots with 51, but has no goals.
11. OTTAWA SENATORS (9)
Scary good: People are beginning to see just how good Mark Stone really is. A top scorer with a Selke-like all-round game.
Scary bad: All-world defenseman Erik Karlsson was minus-6 in Ottawa’s 8-3 loss to Montreal Monday night. Who goes minus-6 in a game anymore?
12. WINNIPEG JETS (12)
Scary good: The Jets signed Steve Mason to solve their goaltending problems, but it’s been Connor Hellebuyck to the rescue.
Scary bad: The Jets give up way too many shots (fourth-worst in the NHL) and don’t take near enough of them themselves (dead-last).
13. MINNESOTA WILD (27)
Scary good: It’s hard to beat the Wild’s third line of Joel Eriksson Ek between Marcus Foligno and Chris Stewart.
Scary bad: The Wild have been besieged by injuries to key players, including long-term injuries to top-six forwards Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter (who is expected back tonight).
14. VANCOUVER CANUCKS (5)
Scary good: Derek Dorsett has more penalty minutes and more goals than Sidney Crosby.
Scary bad: In what will likely be their last season, Henrik and Daniel Sedin have combined for one fewer point than Brock Boeser.
15. BOSTON BRUINS (23)
Scary good: At the age of 40, Zdeno Chara leads the Bruins in ice time and is looking better than he has in years. Brad Marchand is scoring on one of every three shots.
Scary bad: At the other end of the spectrum, Torey Krug looks a little lost.
16. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (16)
Scary good: The Flyers top line of Sean Couturier between Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek has been deadly at both ends of the ice.
Scary bad: The Flyers have been hit hard by injuries, particularly on the back end, where four of their current seven healthy defensemen are rookies.
17. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (3)
Scary good: Auston Matthews is a superstar in the making. He’s one of the league’s most dangerous shooters and is a demon defensively. He has two goals in 48 seconds of 3-on-3 work this season.
Scary bad: Three forwards – Tyler Bozak, Mitch Marner and Leo Komarov – have been shadows of their former selves.
18. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (7)
Scary good: In non-back-to-back games, the Penguins are 7-1-1.
Scary bad: Debate the merits of plus-minus all you want, but Kris Letang is minus-14 and that’s ugly.
19. COLORADO AVALANCHE (17)
Scary good: The Avalanche actually aren’t horrible. They’ve been terrific at home (4-0-1) and are hanging around the periphery of a playoff spot.
Scary bad: The Matt Duchene divorce proceedings have hung over this team for far too long.
20. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (21)
Scary good: It turns out reports of Pekka Rinne’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
Scary bad: Ryan Johansen, the No. 1 center to whom the Predators committed eight years and $64 million over the summer, has zero goals.
21. MONTREAL CANADIENS (24)
Scary good: Marc Bergevin trade acquisitions Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber have been the team’s two best players.
Scary bad: Carey Price’s (.883) and Al Montoya’s (.873) save percentages would have been really good circa 1983. Not so much today.
22. CALGARY FLAMES (8)
Scary good: Mike Smith has both rebounded in a major way and has solved the Flames’ goaltending issues.
Scary bad: The Flames have exactly one even-strength goal from their bottom-six forwards.
23. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (22)
Scary good: As usual, the stars are shining in D.C., with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie leading the way offensively.
Scary bad: The Capitals are really leaky. They’ve allowed at least 36 shots in each of their past seven games.
24. DETROIT RED WINGS (29)
Scary good: After a disastrous season, Dylan Larkin is much better in his own end and is developing into a prime set-up centerman.
Scary bad: The Red Wings are a mess defensively. They’re second-worst in the league in shots against and give up far too many prime scoring chances.
25. CAROLINA HURRICANES (26)
Scary good: Jeff Skinner, whom goalie Scott Darling described as, “a little ball of muscle,” is shooting the puck harder than ever and has seven goals to show for it.
Scary bad: After selling out their first home game, the Hurricanes have averaged 9,642 in their next four.
26. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (14)
Scary good: Behind a suspect defense, Corey Crawford has been delivering championship-caliber goaltending and is among the league leaders in save percentage.
Scary bad: They’ve lost five of their last six and scored only 13 goals in that span with their best players going dry.
27. FLORIDA PANTHERS (28)
Scary good: The top line of Alexander Barkov between Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadanov is quietly developing into an explosive first line.
Scary bad: They give up more shots than any other team in the league and their goaltenders have a combined save percentage of just .900.
28. NEW YORK RANGERS (30)
Scary good: Tough one. OK, Mika Zibanejad has seven goals.
Scary bad: The Rangers are woeful down the middle, on the blueline and in goal. Alain Vigneault has emerged as an early candidate in the first-coach-fired sweepstakes.
29. EDMONTON OILERS (25)
Scary good: Connor McDavid.
Scary bad: Everybody else.
30. BUFFALO SABRES (15)
Scary good: Jason Pominville, Evander Kane and Jack Eichel are all producing at a point-per-game pace.
Scary bad: The Sabres power play has given up as many goals (six) as it has scored this season.
31. ARIZONA COYOTES (31)
Scary good: Clayton Keller, who will miss trick or treating tonight because he has a game in Detroit, is running away with the Calder Trophy race and could make it a mockery by Christmas.
Scary bad: Prior to Scott Wedgewood stopping 28 of 31 shots for the Coyotes first win of the season Monday night, Louis Dominigue and Adin Hill had a combined save percentage of .864.
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