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PECOOOOOOO power rankings

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Welcome to the fourth edition of the power rankings!

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are, folks. The NHL regular season’s first month is concluding, so it is time for the definitive rankings of each’s team’s power to close out October 2019. There’s a lot here, so pour yourself some coffee, make sure your work computer isn’t asleep while you waste time on your device, and crank up your favorite podcast, to give yourself a few companions while you read.

Here, I’ll even help you with that last part:

1) Colorado Avalanche {Last week: 1}

(8-2-1)

They’re 1-1-0 since the last edition, and that’s not enough action to bump them down.

The Avs are still leading the league (tied with Nashville) in goals/game at an even 4. Their GAA is up 0.10 from a week ago, but still good enough for 11th in the league, and still well under three (2.73).

Nathan MacKinnon (1.36; 7th) and Mikko Rantanen (1.33; 9th) both rank in the top-10 in points/game, joining Boston’s David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, as well as Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as teammates appearing on the list.

Philipp Grubauer (.920 save-percentage, 2.59 GAA) continues to look like the man in net, and with a couple of games against Dallas over the course of the next seven days, and really their only test being Florida tonight (Wednesday 10/30), it is safe to assume Colorado shouldn’t fall too far from their early perch by the next time I get around to writing this list.

2) Buffalo Sabres {Last week: 5; +3}

(9-2-2)

Buffalo was ranked 24th in the preseason power rankings, but that feels like a lifetime ago.

The Sabres have a top-ten rank in goals per game (3.31; 10th), as well as goals against (2.46; 6th). They’ve got one more loss than the Bruins, who they will not play until 11/21, and the same number of standings points (20).

It will be interesting to see how Buffalo plays this weekend in back-to-backs against the Caps in Washington on Friday, followed by a home game against the red hot Isles on Saturday. While games against the “toughest” teams in their division have been light (yet to play Boston, Tampa or Toronto), they’ve looked legit thus far, taking care of Detroit via shutout last Friday (as they should), and no home losses in regulation to date.

Jack Eichel’s 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) are tied with Sidney Crosby for 7th in the league, but he’s the only Sabre among the NHL’s top-35 point producers. Despite this, Sam Reinhart (11 points), Jeff Skinner (10 points), Rasmus Dahlin (10 points), and Victor Olofsson (10 points) have all contributed to a productive offense.

If you’re wondering why the Sabres are a spot ahead of their division rival with a better record, well, once again, Eichel’s resemblance to a character who shares my first name in one of my all-time favorite films gives Buffalo the edge over Boston. Don’t like it? Make your own f’n list.

3) Boston Bruins {Last week: 6; +3}

(9-1-2)

The B’s have a case to be at the top of the list.

Boston has the league’s best GAA (2.00), and the offense has produced 3.42 goals-per-game, ninth best in the league, so far. They’ve lost only once in regulation, and have won four straight, with points in their last eight (6-0-2).

So why not put them at one or two? It really isn’t an anti-Boston bias, if that’s what you’re thinking. I feel a kinship with Boston, despite their unprecedented run of sports success over the last 20 years. Hey, at least they’re not New York. Boston/New England fans don’t get to choose between a couple of teams in every sport, they’re stuck with what they’ve got. It’s not their fault their freakin’ teams keep winning.

Anywho, beating up on the likes of San Jose and the Rangers is what they’re supposed to do. They’ve dropped games to their biggest division foes in Tampa and Toronto recently, albeit post-regulation, but this team is getting graded on a curve- they’re the defending Eastern Conference champs and they’re supposed to be this good.

Boston will take on Pittsburgh in an interesting matchup next Monday (11/4), and a road division matchup the following night in Montreal. If the Bruins record is still nearly unblemished following that gauntlet, it is definitely possible they find themselves sitting atop this most prestigious rankings when I sit down to write next week.

Oh and btw, Pastrnak’s numbers are ridiculous. Twelve goals and 12 assists through 12 games.

Pasta is on a 10-game point streak after going scoreless in his first two. He’s got 7 multi-point games, including a 5 assist (none on the power play) effort in the world’s most famous train station on Sunday. Insane start.

No. 88 only has 6 PIM though, so this commercial is still dumb.

4) Nashville Predators {Last week: 14; +10}

(8-3-1)

I really didn’t want to move them up because of the moron who messaged me a few weeks ago about ranking his favs 10th, but the Preds have been awesome lately.

Four straight wins, with points in their last five, including a couple of shutouts (Chicago and Minnesota), an OT win over Tampa and a complete drubbing of the better-than-expected Ducks.

Like Boston, Nashville is supposed to be good, and they are. Averaging four goals per game (tied with Colorado for NHL’s best) and giving up 2.75, the Predators are taking care of business at both ends of the ice.

They haven’t lost in regulation since 10/17, despite missing Filip Forsberg (1.33 points/game is top-10), for the last 6 with a lower-body injury.

Pekka Rinne has been awesome so far, with no regulation losses in 8 starts (7-0-1), a .937 save-percentage and sub-two GAA. The vaunted blue line seems to be keeping up its signature production, even without P.K. Subban (1 goal, 3 assists in New Jersey), as Roman Josi (5 goals, 8 assists), and Ryan Ellis (2 goals, 11 assists) lead the team in points.

Matt Duchene, Nashville’s key free agent addition, has also been solid- despite only netting a pair of goals thus far, his 11 points in 11 games are the best among the team’s forwards.

Matchups against the Flames, Rangers, and Red Wings are next for the Predators, but the 11/7 game at Colorado is Smashville’s next big test. Put a reminder in your phones for that one. I’m really looking forward to it.

5) Vegas Golden Knights {Last week: 2; -3}

(8-5-0)

An up and down week for Vegas bumps them down a few spots. They got manhandled in Philly on Monday, after shutting out the Penguins a couple days prior. VGK needed a shootout to beat Chicago, but I won’t deduct style points for picking up two points on the back end of back-to-backs on the road.

But then they gave up another 6-spot last Friday, and netted a total of four regulation goals in three games last week. They did get it together with a 5-2 home win over the Ducks on Sunday.

I think this is a really good team that will find themselves easily within the top-10 as the season moves along, so they’re not getting bounced too far down here, but not the best showing over the last 7ish games.

6) Edmonton Oilers {Last week: 4; -2}

(8-4-1)

The Oil have cooled, going 1-3-1 since the last power rankings, but Draisaitl and McDavid haven’t. The two are tied for third in the league with 22 points each.

Secondary scoring has been a major issue, however. Connor and Leon were held without a point in consecutive games at Winnipeg and Minnesota, and both resulted in shutout losses.

After picking up nine goals in his first eight games, James Neal has scored once in Edmonton’s last five, and is still the only other Oiler with 10+ points through 13 games.

Mike Smith (7 starts) and Mikko Koskinen (6 starts), each have GAAs below 2.50 and save-percentages at or above .914. Edmonton is also surrendering just over 30 shots on goal per game (30.4; 12th fewest), so it, surprisingly, isn’t the goaltending or defense letting them down.

The line of Zack Kassian (8 points; t-5th on team), Draisaitl and McDavid have accounted for 15 goals together, best in the league at evens. But no other line has done much of anything. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’s only goal, and five of his seven points, have come on the power play- and I think you can guess who he plays with there.

Darnell Nurse (8 points) and Oscar Klefbom (9 points) have both produced from the back end, but it really doesn’t look like this team can sustain success without an infusion of offensive talent.

Could a reunion with Taylor Hall be a possibility? Anything’s possible. But it still might not be enough to get the rest of this lineup going.

7) Carolina Hurricanes {Last week: 3; -4}

(8-3-1)

Winners of two straight after an 0-2-1 slide, the ‘Canes have Detroit, New Jersey, Philly, the Rangers and a pair against Ottawa coming up. Carolina’s November schedule, overall, is quite friendly and that should be very good for them as they look to challenge Washington for the Metro division lead.

Outside of Dougie Hamilton (13 points through 12 games), it doesn’t seem like anybody in the lineup is off to a crazy start, offensively. Carolina is depending on solid depth, with seven other players at or above the 12 point-per-game mark.

Sebastian Aho has only netted 3 goals (0.25/game), after potting 29 and 30 over his last couple of seasons (0.37/game), so his finding his rhythm, alone, could help improve the Hurricanes’ 13th ranked offense (3.17 goals/game).

The goaltending continues to do its part, with both Petr Mrazek (8 starts) and James Reimer (4 starts), holding steady with .917+ save-percentages. Mrazek’s numbers are a little deceiving, with two shutouts factoring in against a couple 4 goals-against performances, but the fact remains he’s doing enough to win, having picked up Ws in six of his eight starts. Reimer has been the more consistent of the two, but coach Brind’Amour seems intent on making Mrazek the No. 1 in Carolina.

Like Vegas, I expect the ‘Canes to hold near the top of these ranks most of the year, but some other teams deserved a bump this week, hence Carolina’s drop. Plus, I’m still a little salty about the team’s Twitter hashtag changing from #TakeWarning to the incredibly uninspired #LetsGoCanes.

Like, wow. How long did it take you to come up with that one?

8) New York Islanders {Last week: 15; +7}

(8-3-0)

I just really expected this team to fall off, and it looked like that’s precisely what was going to happen when they started the year at 1-3-0.

But the Isles haven’t lost since dropping their 10/11 contest with the Hurricanes, picking up 14 consecutive standings points.

The offense is still middling (3 goals/game), but they’ve scored 4+ in three straight games, and that has been more than enough to win (obviously), as they’ve averaged 2.75 goals against this season, and have only given up more than two goals once during this seven-game winning streak (it was to the Flyers on Sunday when Claude Giroux found the back of the net in the final three minutes of a 5-2 game).

Semyon Varlamov has found his groove behind Barry Trotz’s defense, posting a .935 save-percentage in his last 4 starts, and Thomas Greiss has been every bit as good as he was in in tandem with Robin Lehner last year.

This team is built to win ugly, and they’ve been doing it. Can it hold? I didn’t think it would in 2018-19 and they found their way into the second round of the playoffs. Are they more than that this season? Probably not. But they’re a freakin’ nuisance to play against and because of that alone they’ll win more than their fair share of games.

9) Washington Capitals {Last week: 9}

(9-2-3)

The Caps’ only regulation losses so far have come at the hands of Colorado (No. 1) and Nashville (No. 4).

Washington is scoring like they should, trailing only Nashville and Colorado in goals per game (3.79). Alex Ovechkin is leading the way in goals- his 11 are tied for second with Auston Matthews (Pastrnak’s 12 lead the NHL), while John Carlson is the NHL’s second-leading point-producer (23 points is 1 behind Pastrnak).

Their 3.29 GAA is 12th highest in the league, and while 22-year-old rookie Ilya Samsanov’s numbers haven’t been spectacular (.913; 2.46), he has been much more impressive than Braden Holtby (.888; 3.55).

Holtby has surrendered 3+ goals in 8 of 10 starts, and while he’s had a few busy nights (4 starts with 38+ shots against), Washington is giving up 31 shots on goal per game, which is middle of the pack.

If the 30-year-old former Vezina Trophy winner is going to continue to receive two starts for every one of Samsanov’s, he has to pick up his play, which has been dipping in recent years. From 2014-15 through 2015-16, Holtby was top-4 in Vezina voting all three seasons and top-10 in MVP voting twice, posting a .923 save-percentage and 2.17 GAA. Since then, Holtby has been at .907, 2.95. His excellent performance in the Caps’ 2018 Stanley Cup run may buy him some good will, but it’s only a matter of time before he gives way to the 2015 first round pick sitting behind him.

10) Arizona Coyotes {Last week: 16; +10}

(7-3-1)

Are the ‘Yotes this year’s ‘Canes?

John Chayka has been building something out there in the desert, and it seems like his plan is starting to come together.

Acquiring Phil Kessel from Pittsburgh in the offseason was a sign that Arizona was finally ready to cash-in on their potential, but an 0-2-0 start that saw them score once in 120 minutes of game time was a tough sell to skeptics.

But since, they’ve turned on the jets- they’re 7-1-1, with impressive wins over Vegas, the Isles, Nashville and Buffalo, while averaging nearly 4 goals/game in that span (it’s exactly 4 if you include the extra goal they get for winning a shootout in Buffalo on Monday, but I tend to leave those out of my calculations). And this is with Phil Kessel sitting on a pair of goals through 11 games (both came in the 10/17 win over Nashville).

Only the Bruins are giving up fewer goals/game, and the defense has held opponents below 30 shots on goal per night. Darcy Kuemper has basically stopped everything that has come his way (.933; 1.87) in his 8 starts, while 23-year-old Nick Schmaltz is the only player above a 34 of a point-per-game pace ( 4 goals, 7 assists).

Looking at their lineup, it doesn’t appear they have anything special going on, but as we’ve seen with the Isles, a team committed to its coach’s philosophy can win a lot of games in this league. The Coyotes’ sum is better than the parts right now, but we may be in the beginning stages of getting to know a lot of their parts much better.

Honestly, I was looking for Landry’s locker room speech on YouTube and couldn’t find it, so this seemed like the next best thing.

11) Vancouver Canucks {Last week: 23; +12}

(7-3-1)

Tied with Arizona for the league’s eighth best points-percentage, Vancouver has picked up points at a better clip than top-10 teams Edmonton and Vegas in the first month of the season.

Also like Arizona, they started out 0-2-0 and have really turned it on lately, going 7-1-1.

The reason they haven’t cracked the top ten yet is their schedule. They’ve blown out the Kings, Red Wings (2x), and Panthers for four of those seven victories, but got shutout by the Devils and only beat the Rangers by one in back-to-backs last weekend.

Still, they’ve scored 4+ in 6 of 9 (nice), and are averaging the fourth most goals/game. At 2.36, only Arizona and Boston are getting scored on less.

Damn, maybe this team really does belong in the top ten and I’m being unfair because I didn’t understand their offseason plan.

Regardless, the Coov have eight players at or above 0.50 points/game, with Elias Pettersson (14) and J.T. Miller (13), both over the 1.00 mark. In net, Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko have both impressed.

This might actually be a good team with a mixture of vets and young bucks. Keep an eye on them.

12) Tampa Bay Lightning { Last week: 11; -1}

(5-4-2)

You can’t fool us, Tampa. No amount of mediocre play is going to lower your postseason expectations.

The drop off from last year is incredible, though. After posting the fourth best points-total ever (128), and the 5th best 80-plus game season points-percentage ever (.780), the Bolts are currently on pace for a sub-90 point season.

Last year’s plus-103 goal differential lead second-place Calgary by 41, and now Tampa has actually given up one more goal than they’ve scored through 11 games.

Obviously there’s still plenty of time to turn the season around, but given their loaded roster, this team has had an incredibly disappointing October. I mean, they lost a game to f’n Ottawa. That’s just inexcusable. And, most recently, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Rangers. Not good enough.

They’ll never drop down too far on this list because how can you not believe in their roster? But there are a lot of teams playing much better hockey than last year’s Presidents’ Trophy champs.

13) Pittsburgh Penguins {Last week: 10; -3}

(8-5-0)

The Pens had lost three straight heading into last weekend, and it appeared their age, questionable personnel decisions, and depleted depth following the Evgeni Malkin injury, was all catching up to them.

Then, a 3-0 shutout of the Dallas Stars on Saturday and an absolute ass whooping handed out to the Flyers on Tuesday, and suddenly Pittsburgh is stabilized.

Matt Murray has given up two or fewer goals in six of 10 starts, while the D in front of him is allowing under 30 shots on goal/game through their first 13 games.

Sidney Crosby’s 17 points are tied with Jack Eichel for 7th in the NHL, while Kris Letang is 7th in scoring among the league’s defensemen.

This damn team just won’t die.

14) Montreal Canadiens {Last week: 13; -1}

(5-4-2)

The Habs are scoring a bunch, with the league’s fourth best offense at 3.64 goals/game (same as Vancouver), but do you really think they’re a good team?

Jonathan Drouin (5 goals, 5 assists), Brendan Gallagher (5 goals, 5 assists), and Max Domi (3 goals, 7 assists) are all just under a point-per-game, but I look at their lineup and go “ehh...”

Like, Nick Cousins is playing 13 minutes/game for this team. He’s been productive in his role, with 4 points in 5 games, but come on, it’s Nick Cousins.

They haven’t played since Saturday, when they beat Toronto 5-2, but prior to that they lost two straight to San Jose and Minnesota.

And Carey Price hasn’t been very good. Montreal might be better than I thought when I ranked them 18th in September, but probably only marginally.

15) Toronto Maple Leafs {Last week: 12; -3}

(6-5-3)

Toronto’s continued placement behind Montreal is purposeful. Be better, you bastards.

W, W, L/SO, L, L, W, W, L, W, L/OT, L, W, L.

That’s the pattern for this highly talented team trying to find its footing in the first month of this season. They haven’t been able to string together wins, and their goals/game number (3.50) nearly matches their goals against (3.43).

The Leaves (you’ll never stop me) should be one of the most fun teams to watch in the league, but instead they’re one of the most frustrating.

Frederik Andersen has been bad (3.03; .901), as has the defense in front of him (eighth most shots against/game in the league).

This team has an incredible amount of talent, but just can’t seem to bring the offensive heat every night. They’re giving up more expected goals and high-danger scoring chances than they’re creating at 5v5, and the power play is ranked 17th, at under 20%.

Auston Matthews (11 goals, 5 assists), and Mitch Marner (3 goals, 13 assists), are both top-10 in league scoring, while Morgan Rielly (3 goals, 11 assists) is tied for 13th leaguewide, while his 14 points trail only John Carlson’s ridiculous start for most among D-men.

Still, this team is going to need to score a lot more if the play on their own half of the red line doesn’t improve.

16) St. Louis Blues {Last week: 8; -8}

(6-3-3)

They’ve won three of four, including a huge win over Colorado, and shouldn’t really have too much trouble with Minnesota tonight (Wednesday).

But they’re dropping here because I just don’t believe in them without Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Senk-Show injured his left shoulder last Thursday in a win over LA, and is out for the foreseeable future. Laura Astorian of St. Louis Game Time wrote:

Now, we’ve seen teams rally around losing stars in all sports before...

But after riding the emotion of their slow start turning into the head coach getting fired, and then getting the performance they did out of rookie Jordan Binnington between the pipes, I have trouble believing they’ll have much left in the tank for a repeat performance.

All that said, the Blues are 11th in points-percentage (.625), 15th in goals scored/game, and 16th in goals against/game. So they’re middle of the pack or better right now, and they do have experience overcoming early deficits. They’re off to a better start than last year (4-5-3), Brayden Schenn is killing it (9 goals, shooting 37.5%), and Binnington has given up 2 or fewer in 5 of 10 starts.

St. Louis also has the advantage of playing in a forgiving division. Colorado (No. 1) and Nashville (No. 4) are ahead of the Blues in the standings, but behind them sit Winnipeg (No. 22), Dallas (No. 23), Chicago (No. 24), and Minnesota (No. 25). A top-three division finish won’t be too difficult, even if it’s a distant third.

17) Anaheim Ducks {Last week: 7; -10}

(8-6-0)

18) Florida Panthers {Last week: 19; +1}

(5-3-4)

Sergei Bobrovsky: 9 starts (10 appearances); 4-2-3; 3.79 GAA; .870 save-percentage.

19) Calgary Flames {Last week: 18; -1}

(6-6-2)

Since back-to-back wins over Philly and Detroit, the Flames are 1-3-2.

The offense that scored a Western Conference-leading 289 goals (3.5/game), and produced five 74-plus point-scorers, doesn’t have a single player at 1.00 points/game, and is down a full goal/game, averaging 2.5 thus far.

20) San Jose Sharks {Last week: 21; +1}

(4-8-1)

Only Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota are scoring less than San Jose.

21) Philadelphia Flyers {Last week: 20; -1}

(5-5-1)

  • 2018-19: 4-7-0
  • 2017-18: 6-5-0
  • 2016-17: 5-5-1
  • 2015-16: 4-5-2
  • 2014-15: 4-5-2
  • 2013-14: 3-8-0
  • 2012-13*: 4-6-1
  • 2011-12: 6-4-1
  • 2010-11: 6-4-1
  • 2009-10: 6-4-1

So, like, asking for a lot better was kind of crazy.

22) Winnipeg Jets {Last week: 27; +5}

(6-7-0)

The Jets have the 21st ranked defense, 24th ranked offense. They’re 2-5-0 over the last seven games. I expect them in the mid-20s pretty much all year.

23) Dallas Stars {Last week: 28; +5}

(5-8-1)

Jim Montgomery’s boys are killing me.

Jamie Oleksiak (4 assists), is out-scoring John Klingberg (1 goal, 2 assists). Corey Perry has as many points (3) in half as many games.

Meanwhile, Tyler Seguin is their leading scorer, with 9 points through 14 games. Ben Bishop has been fine, but this team just can’t score.

24) Minnesota Wild {Last week: 29; +5}

(4-8-0)

25) Chicago Blackhawks {Last week: 25}

(3-6-2)

Jonathan Toews has 2 points.

26) New York Rangers {Last week: 24; -2}

(4-5-1)

The Rags did just beat the Lightning on Tuesday, but it was their second win in the last 8 games (2-5-1).

27) Columbus Blue Jackets {Last week: 26; -1}

(5-4-2)

28) New Jersey Devils {Last week: 30; +2}

(2-5-2)

Haha I thought I was going to have to move them up for their Wednesday night win over the Lightning, but it looks like they blew a 5-3 lead in the third, actually fell behind 6-5, tied it up with 8 seconds left and then lost in overtime.

What a rollercoaster.

29) Los Angeles Kings {Last week: 17; -12}

(4-8-0)

Man, Jonathan Quick is dooooooone.

30) Detroit Red Wings {Last week: 22; -8}

(4-8-1)

Andreas Athanasiou (25) has been awful (0 goals, 3 assists), but at least the rest of their young guys are pretty good.

Tyler Bertuzzi (24) is leading the way with 13 points in 13 games. Anthony Mantha (25) is right behind him with 12, while Dylan Larkin is also right there, having picked up 11 points thus far. A yound D-man named Filip Hronek (21) is also showing promise, with 3 goals and 4 assists.

Neither Jimmy Howard (.910 save-percentage) nor Jonathan Bernier (.885 save-percentage) are giving them much in net, but there’s a developing young core here that Steve Yzerman has to build around.

Both Darren Helm and Valtteri Filppula are 30-plus and have a couple of years left on their contracts, while both Trevor Daley and Mike Green will come off the books this summer. There are going to be some roster spots and cap space opening up over the next two years in Detroit, and things may not be as bleak as they look currently.

31) Ottawa Senators {Last week: 31}

(3-7-1)

Ok, so come on. Give me something good to rank, besides hockey teams, for next week. You’ll still get your incredibly detailed and accurate NHL power rankings, plus a top-5 list of YOUR CHOOSING. Make it interesting. Let’s go. Put it in the comments. Make it good.