Three weeks into the NHL season and three teams remain without a regulation loss. We’ve also got two teams looking for their first win.
With the latest look at where teams fall, here’s Week 3 of the NHL Power Rankings as of 6:00 PM Eastern on 11/1/21:
Teams in Trouble – NHL Power Rankings: Teams #32-21
32. Arizona Coyotes (0-8-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 32
The Coyotes have a league-worst -26 goal differential and have scored 13 goals total through nine games. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere leads the team with five points (no goals, five assists). It’s going to be a long season, but with an arsenal of draft picks (three firsts, five seconds) on the way, the prospect pool is rebuilding.
31. Chicago Blackhawks (0-7-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 31
What a week for the Blackhawks. General manager Stan Bowman and Senior VP of Hockey Operations Al MacIssac were dismissed after the Jenner & Block investigation into the sexual assault of Kyle Beach by film coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 revealed Blackhawks’ management covered up the assault and did not report the assault to police. The full report is disgusting and shines a sickening light on the organizational failures at nearly every turn.
The Hawks have virtually cleaned house, taking everyone out of the front office who was involved with the decision at the time. Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews are the only players still with the team who were part of the 2010 squad.
On the ice, the Blackhawks choked away a lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing in overtime and salvaging a point. Only Arizona (39) has allowed more goals than Chicago’s 37.
30. Montreal Canadiens (2-8-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 30
Moments before finishing writing this entry, the Canadiens announced they were sending rookie forward Cole Caufield down to the minors. Caufield has no goals and one assist in 10 games this season after opening the season as the Calder Trophy frontrunner. Amazingly, Montreal’s wins have featured 6-1 and 4-0 scorelines, showing the offense is capable of putting up good scores but is unable to do so consistently.
29. Los Angeles Kings (3-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 28
Sean Walker (torn ACL and MCL) is done for the season, and Drew Doughty (knee) is on injured reserve and won’t be back before December 22. While the Kings could get Quinton Byfield and Andreas Athanasiou back this week, the team defense has taken a massive hit.
28. Seattle Kraken (3-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 29
The Kraken are starting to figure it out a bit and won back to back games against Montreal and Minnesota last week. Seattle got Yanni Gourde back but lost Jared McCann to COVID-19 protocols. Philipp Grubauer is still looking shaky between the pipes, and with Chris Driedger out (undisclosed), the goaltending situation will need to work itself out quickly.
27. Vancouver Canucks (3-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 22
The Canucks’ team defense and goaltending has markedly improved this season (3.34 goals per game last season, 2.67 this season), but the offense has dried up and is averaging 2.33 goals per game, 28th in the league. Thatcher Demko has seen the third-most shots among any goaltender this season (236); he’s one behind Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and 10 behind Montreal’s Jake Allen, who has played one more game than either Hellebuyck or Demko.
26. Ottawa Senators (3-4-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 26
If there’s a logical reason why the Senators plan to keep Anton Forsberg as the backup and send Filip Gustavsson down once Matt Murray (head) returns from injury, I’d love to hear it. Gustavsson has a better save percentage (.932 to .885), GAA (2.23 to 4.80), and goals saved above average (1.62 to -2.69 in all situations) over Forsberg. If the only reason is because Gustavsson doesn’t require waivers while Forsberg does, Ottawa truly isn’t interested in winning any time soon.
25. Anaheim Ducks (3-4-3) Last Week’s Ranking: 27
Don’t look now, but Troy Terry is on an eight-game point streak. With five goals and five assists, Terry leads the Ducks in points this season.
And speaking of points, Ryan Getzlaf is Anaheim’s new all-time scoring leader, passing Teemu Selanne with an assist on Terry’s third period goal in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Montreal. Getzlaf (989 points) is also Anaheim’s all-time leader in games played (1,111) and assists (710), but he’ll need 21 more goals to tie Paul Karyia (300) for third on the Ducks’ franchise list.
24. Nashville Predators (4-4-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 25
Nashville has won three in a row, beating the Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, and Dallas Stars last week. Tanner Jeannot is tied for the rookie lead with four goals. However, Jeannot is one of three Predators forwards with more than two goals this season. The lack of offense is still a major concern.
23. Dallas Stars (3-4-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 14
After an 0-2-1 week, Dallas falls out of the Top 20 in this week’s NHL Power Rankings. The Stars have only scored one more goal than the Arizona Coyotes this season. Braden Holtby has kept the team afloat, but the offense needs to break out in a hurry.
22. Vegas Golden Knights (4-4-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
Jack Eichel to Vegas rumors heated up this week, but there’s still a ton of salary cap issues to work out before any kind of trade. The Golden Knights could get some cap relief if Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch are out longer than anticipated, and Eichel would miss time while almost immediately undergoing surgery once he’s traded. Vegas could certainly use Eichel, as the 2.50 goals per game average is unfamiliar territory for the Golden Knights.
21. Detroit Red Wings (4-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Detroit lost its first game north of the border against the Maple Leafs, due in part to the absence of Tyler Bertuzzi, who is not permitted to play in Canada due to COVID-19 rules (Bertuzzi is unvaccinated). The Wings still played well against Toronto, nearly rallying for a third period comeback, but Bertuzzi’s absence was certainly felt.
Movers in the Middle – NHL Power Rankings: Teams #20-11
20. Toronto Maple Leafs (4-4-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
The Maple Leafs have won two in a row, but don’t pump their tires too much. Toronto needed overtime to steal a win against the Blackhawks after trailing for most of the game, then nearly let a two-goal third period lead slip away against the Red Wings. We’re 10% of the way through the season, so we’ve yet to even get to full meltdown mode, but the alarm bells are ringing.
19. Winnipeg Jets (4-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 21
Winnipeg allows the fifth-most shots per game (33.6), and it’s starting to get to Connor Hellebuyck. The 2020 Vezina Trophy winner has a 3.42 GAA and an .899 save percentage, though those numbers are due in part to a league-high 72 high-danger shots against this season.
18. San Jose Sharks (5-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 16
The Sharks snapped a three-game losing skid with an overtime win over the Jets on Saturday. However, scoring five goals in regulation in the past four games is definitely troubling. A 4-0 shutout loss against a bottom-of-the-standings Montreal team should sound the alarm bells. San Jose may be crashing back down to earth after a hot start.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 17
After an ugly incident in Dallas Monday night in which a Stars fan heckled goaltender Elvis Merzlikins with a comment about deceased teammate Matiss Kivlenieks, Merzlikins led the Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win. Joonas Korpisalo picked up his first win of the year in a shootout over the New Jersey Devils. Max Domi is in COVID-19 protocol, so keep an eye on that situation.
16. Philadelphia Flyers (4-2-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 19
Carter Hart looks much improved from last season, and Martin Jones looks even better. Both brought their GAA’s below a 3.00 and save percentages above .910. If the Flyers can get consistent play from both netminders, the rest of the roster is capable of putting together a playoff-worthy season.
15. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-3-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 13
I wrote last week about how Tampa Bay could bounce back against Buffalo last Monday night, and the Sabres made me eat crow for it with a 5-1 win over the Lightning. However, they flipped the switch after that, beating the Penguins and Coyotes, both games by a 5-1 scoreline. Go figure.
14. New York Islanders (3-2-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 12
I didn’t want to reward or punish the Islanders too much for only having one game last week, so they keep things close in this iteration of the NHL Power Rankings. After posting back-to-back shutouts the week before, Ilya Sorokin allowed a pair of goals in regulation before a 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night. Sorokin has started every game so far while Semyon Varlamov recovered from injury. Varlamov was activated from IR on Monday.
13. Minnesota Wild (5-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 6
For the most part, the Wild have beat the teams they’re supposed to beat this season. However, losses against Seattle and Colorado last week necessitate a dip. Kirill Kaprizov leads the team with six assists but has yet to find the back of the net on a team-high 26 shots. I get the sense when he gets one, he’ll go on a multi-game goal streak.
12. Colorado Avalanche (4-4-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Are the Avalanche this year’s version of the Dallas Stars, constantly dealing with injuries and illnesses that derail hopes of a Cup run? Maybe. After Nathan MacKinnon returned from COVID-19 absence and Gabriel Landeskog returned from suspension, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin, and Andre Burakovsky all went down with injuries. The ended the Blues’ unbeaten streak and knocked off the Wild, so things are at least trending upwards despite the absences.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Three straight losses and 13 goals against in that span is more like what I expected from a Penguins team that is as battered as they are now. However, Sidney Crosby is back and healthy. It may take a few games to get back to form, but despite being at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins are still a solid team.
Cream of the Crop – NHL Power Rankings: Teams #10-1
10. Buffalo Sabres (5-2-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 20
I can’t believe I’m doing this. It doesn’t make sense, but then again, most things we’ve seen in hockey this season don’t make sense. I never would’ve thought that at any point this season I’d have the Sabres ahead of the Lightning in my NHL Power Rankings, but here we are.
Both Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski have GAA’s below a 2.00 and save percentages above .933. Victor Olofsson leads the team in goals (five) and points (nine). I’m expecting the wheels to fall off the wagon any day now, but I can’t deny how good Buffalo has been to start the season. They earned this spot.
9. Calgary Flames (6-1-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 23
Four wins in a week usually leads to a big bump in the NHL Power Rankings, and that’s exactly what happened here. Calgary’s last four wins came on the road, and the last two were shutout wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. Jacob Markstrom already has three shutouts to lead the league.
8. New Jersey Devils (4-2-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 10
New Jersey continues to climb the NHL Power Rankings, and with a west coast road trip coming up, the Devils should rack up points against a slew of lackluster Pacific Division opponents. Dougie Hamilton has been worth every penny so far, leading the team with six points, and rookie Dawson Mercer (three goals, two assists) has impressed as well.
7. Boston Bruins (4-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Ending Florida’s hyper-optimistic hopes of a perfect season, Boston beat the Panthers 3-2 in the shootout Saturday night. However, back to back losses against Florida and Carolina lead the Bruins to hold serve at the seven-spot this week.
6. New York Rangers (6-2-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Igor Shesterkin has been excellent in net this season, his .947 save percentage and 1.70 GAA among the league’s best. On Monday, the Rangers announced a seven-year $66.5 million extension for Norris-winning defenseman Adam Fox ($9.5 million AAV). Beginning next season, Fox will be tied with Chicago’s Seth Jones and Boston’s Charlie McAvoy as the league’s fourth-highest paid defenseman.
5. St. Louis Blues (6-1-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 4
One of three previously-unbeaten teams to fall last week, the Blues fell 4-3 to the Colorado Avalanche despite a resilient effort from Jordan Binnington. St. Louis was outshot 42-18 in that contest, prompting this less-than-gentlemanly outburst from Jordan Binnington.
Jordan Binnington shot the puck at Darcy Kuemper then swung his stick at Nazem Kadri. 😳 pic.twitter.com/mL8LZhwooO
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 29, 2021
4. Washington Capitals (5-0-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Washington may go through the ringer in coming weeks, depending on the severity of T.J. Oshie’s lower body injury. Already down Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals are getting dangerously thin among the forwards. However, with Alex Ovechkin posting a league-best nine goals so far, the threat to score is ever present.
3. Edmonton Oilers (6-1-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Zach Hyman is an excellent fit on Connor McDavid’s wing, scoring six goals so far this season. Mikko Koskinen has been excellent in relief of the injured Mike Smith (4-1-0, 2.26 GAA, .934 save percentage). The penalty kill (90.0%) is third in the league, and the power play is otherworldly at 47.8%. Edmonton is on pace to win its first division title since the 1991-92 season.
2. Florida Panthers (8-0-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Last season, teams in these NHL Power Rankings rarely held onto the top spot from week to week. The Florida Panthers fell victim to the Curse of the Top Spot (trademark nowhere near pending) as a third period lead slipped away against the Boston Bruins Saturday night before the Panthers lost 3-2 in the shootout. It was the first regular season loss of Spencer Knight’s career, but he’s still 2-0-1 this season with a .929 save percentage and a 1.95 GAA.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (8-0-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Back on top after a dip down to the Number 3 spot in last week’s NHL Power Rankings, the Hurricanes are the league’s last remaining undefeated team. The NHL record for most wins to start a season is 10, shared by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1992-93 and the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07. To tie that record, the Hurricanes will need a win over the Blackhawks in Chicago on Wednesday and a win over the Panthers on the road on Saturday.
I’ll be taking next week (November 8) off from doing the power rankings due to changes in my work schedule (good things, I promise). The next issue of the NHL Power Rankings will be posted on November 15. Thanks as always for reading and enjoy the NHL action until then!
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