The Anaheim Ducks are at the top of our first installment of Power Rankings for this season. It’s a pretty comfortable spot for them, but it won’t mean much unless the Ducks can somehow translate that regular season domination into playoff success.
The Anaheim Ducks almost certainly don’t put a whole lot of stock into Power Rankings, nor should they. They started and ended last season at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings and what did it get them? An overabundance of bupkis when it came to cashing in that currency against the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs.
But here we go again and here go the Ducks again. After losing their first game of the season, the Ducks have knocked down five straight en route to opening this season as the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings. Since this is our first installment of the year, last season’s final ranking will be in parentheses. In the future, the previous week’s ranking will appear.
1. ANAHEIM (1): All the league needed was for the Ducks defense corps to get into the act offensively. That happened Sunday night when Sami Vatanen scored the first two goals of the season for the Ducks defense.
2. PITTSBURGH (5): The best news for the Penguins might be that Evgeni Malkin is back. He was their most dominant player in a 3-1 win over the previously unbeaten Islanders Saturday.
3. WASHINGTON (18): Alex Ovechkin is tied with eight other guys for second in the league in goals with five. That will not last long.
4. MONTREAL (9): The Canadiens have benefitted from playing more games and having a bit of a soft schedule to start the season, but they’re winning and getting very good production from their top two lines.
5. CHICAGO (4): The Hawks are one of only three teams that have not lost a game in regulation time this season. It’s early, but offensive output has been sparse. Dan Carcillo has as many goals (one) as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
6. NASHVILLE (19): The Predators, by golly, haven’t lost in regulation this season, either. Goalie Pekka Rinne had 31 saves in a 2-0 win over Winnipeg last Friday, then Carter Hutton stopped 35 of 37 in a 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago the next night.
7. LOS ANGELES (10): The Kings uncharacteristically got Corsi-ed to death in successive wins over St. Louis and Minnesota, by a count of 134-80 to be exact. But goaltender Jonathan Quick, a notoriously slow starter, was brilliant.
8. TAMPA BAY (12): The Lightning logged the most decisive beating of the young season when they swamped Montreal 7-1 last week. Good news: Steven Stamkos has five goals and was a star of the week. Bad news: Victor Hedman has a broken hand and will be out four-to-six weeks.
9. OTTAWA (21): Those of you who predicted the Senators would get off to a 4-1-0 start, collect your money and your gold stars. Robin Lehner was outstanding in the Senators win against Columbus Saturday.
10. N.Y. ISLANDERS (27): There’s no shame in losing to Pittsburgh, which the Islanders did Saturday after reeling off four straight victories to start the season. Here’s a tip: Brock Nelson is not going to keep this production, but John Tavares might.
11. VANCOUVER (24): The Canucks are full marks for their 3-1-0 record, but two of their wins were against Edmonton and the other was over Calgary. Radim Vrbata with the twins: We like.
12. SAN JOSE (7): The Sharks suffered their first regulation loss of the season Sunday against the Rangers. Backup goalie Alex Stalock has had better games, but his teammates didn’t give him any run support anyway.
13. DETROIT (15): Two enormous wins in back-to-back games against Toronto got the Red Wings on track after a 1-1-1 start to the season. You can bet coach Mike Babcock won’t leave Gustav Nyquist on the bench on a 4-on-3 overtime situation again.
14. CALGARY (20): The Flames could not have hoped for a better start to the season in their wildest dreams. With back-to-back extra-time wins over Nashville and Chicago and a convincing 4-1 win over Winnipeg, the Flames put together an impressive 4-2-0 record n their first road trip of the season.
15. N.Y. RANGERS (14): If there were any doubt that the Rangers live and die by Henrik Lundqvist, consider this: In their three wins this season, Lundqvist has posted a .966 save percentage. In their three losses, Lundqvist has a .738 save percentage.
16. DALLAS (16): We’re wary of the Stars defense – both in terms of their blueline and their overall team defense – and they did little to allay those fears in a 6-5 overtime loss to Philadelphia Saturday night. Coach Lindy Ruff said his team played “stupid, garbage” hockey.
17.MINNESOTA (8): After reeling off two straight to start the season, the Wild lost two close games to two of the best teams in the Western Conference, teams they’re going to have to start beating if they want to be a serious contender. They’ve done a good job of keeping the puck out of their net, but they’re not scoring. Thomas Vanek has one assist in four games.
18. COLUMBUS (11): When the Blue Jackets play in San Jose Thursday night, they will have had five days to lick their wounds after losing to Ottawa Saturday. The Blue Jackets will have a pretty good idea how good they are after facing the Sharks, Ducks and Kings on the road this weekend.
19. NEW JERSEY (22): After suffering severe facial lacerations in a loss to Washington Thursday night, Martin Havlat practiced in a full mask and will be ready to play when the Devils host the New York Rangers Tuesday night.
20. BOSTON (2): Yeah, the Bruins beat Buffalo, but everybody beats Buffalo. Between Milan Lucic making obscene gestures to fans in Montreal to Tuukka Rask having to deal with a laser pointer during a game, the Bruins have had a few more things than suspect defensive play on their plate.
21. TORONTO (23): GM David Nonis goes out in the summer and supplements the bottom six, then coach Randy Carlyle barely uses his fourth line. But the biggest problem is getting some consistent play from the top line.
22. ST. LOUIS (6): It’s way too early in the season for a team to look as fatigued as the Blues did in their 3-0 loss to Anaheim Sunday. Granted, they were playing their third game in four nights and were shorthanded by injuries, but something doesn’t seem right in St. Louis.
23. PHILADELPHIA (13): The Flyers finally got off the schneid – whatever that is – when they roared back for a 6-5 overtime win over Dallas Sunday. Scoring hasn’t been a problem, but the Flyers have given up 17 goals (not including the goal awarded to opponents for winning shootouts) in their last four games.
24. ARIZONA (17): In their 6-1 loss to St. Louis Saturday night, the Coyotes had four shorthanded situations and allowed goals on each of them. The Coyotes are still looking for some consistency in their defensive play, having given up six goals in each of their losses.
25. FLORIDA (29): The Panthers are currently being outscored by Rick Nash and are tied with eight other players with just five goals. One of the Panthers said the team is guaranteed to lose $25-$30 million this season unless they win the Stanley Cup. Good luck with that one.
26. COLORADO (3): About the only positive that can be drawn when it comes to the Avalanche’s start is that the team played five of its first six games on the road. This could get ugly, very ugly. But that’s what happens when a team actually constructs itself in the off-season to be worse.
27. BUFFALO (30): More than 36,000 fans showed up to the Sabres two games over the weekend and did not experience seeing their team score a single goal. Only four players on the roster have goals so far this season.
28. WINNIPEG (25): Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless asked today in his paper and on Twitter: “Has it already gone sideways for Jets?” Yes, Gary. Yes, it has.
29. CAROLINA (26): Perhaps the Hurricanes will be able to give coach Bill Peters his first win in the NHL Tuesday night when they visit the hapless Winnipeg Jets. But then again, Paul Maurice will want more than anything to beat his former team.
30. EDMONTON (28): Good thing the hockey world didn’t run off to Vegas and bet on the Oilers making the playoffs after GM Craig MacTavish said they’d be better this season. Playing in the Western Conference is hard enough, damn near impossible, though, when you’re this bad.