Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
Week 2 in the NHL has officially concluded and there have been some story lines to follow with different teams. Some fan bases became happier with their teams, while others are on the brink of completely losing it. Without further ado though, let us start off by going into my power rankings
The format is Team (How many spots moved up or down from previous week).
31 – New Jersey Devils (- 4)
30 – Ottawa Senators (0)
29 – Minnesota Wild (0)
28 – Dallas Stars (- 4)
27 – Los Angeles Kings (- 2)
26 – San Jose Sharks (+ 5)
25 – Columbus Blue Jackets (+ 1)
24 – Chicago Blackhawks (- 1)
23 – Philadelphia Flyers (- 2)
22 – New York Rangers (- 11)
21 – Winnipeg Jets (- 2)
20 – Arizona Coyotes (+ 8)
19 – Detroit Red Wings (- 6)
18 – Florida Panthers (0)
17 – Montreal Canadiens (- 1)
16 – New York Islanders (+ 4)
15 – Vancouver Canucks (+ 2)
14 – Calgary Flames (0)
13 – Anaheim Ducks (- 1)
12 – Tampa Bay Lightning (+ 3)
11 – Washington Capitals (- 2)
10 – Vegas Golden Knights (- 9)
9 – Pittsburgh Penguins (+ 13)
8 – Edmonton Oilers (+ 2)
7 – St. Louis Blues (- 5)
6 – Toronto Maple Leafs (0)
5 – Nashville Predators (+ 2)
4 – Boston Bruins (+ 1)
3 – Buffalo Sabres(+ 1)
2 – Colorado Avalanche (+ 6)
1 – Carolina Hurricanes (+ 2)
General Notes on Power Rankings
The team with the biggest jump up is the Pittsburgh Penguins. The offensive explosion they have had, as well as wins since last week, show why for the longest time the Penguins have been the big bad wolves of the Metropolitan Division. They aren’t back to that status yet but if their play continues the way it has recently and is consistent, they could end up keeping the title.
The team with the biggest drop in the rankings was the New York Rangers but to be honest, the only reason they feel 11 spots in the rankings is that they still only have 3 games played, whereas other teams have played more games and shown why they deserved to move up or down.
Who is Hot
The Oilers have remained one of the hottest teams in the league out the gate this season. They have improved to 5-1-0 and currently sit in first place in the Pacific Division. Time will tell if the Oilers are for real as we will see them either continue to be a playoff team or regress into the type of rebuilding or retooling team many projected them to be. James Neal also continues his hot start, and that certainly has played a role besides just Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. So far though, head coach Dave Tippet and general manager Ken Holland have done a great job with this team.
The Penguins must have read what I wrote about them last week because their offense has woken up. The Penguins put up 7 goals against Winnipeg to win 7-2 when they played the Jets again in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have pushed through some of their adversity with injuries and underperforming to soar up in the standing. Jake Guentzel has been hot for the Penguins, which is exactly what they need as I mentioned last week when I believed they were slumping out the gate, and that Crosby can not carry the team with a phenomenal individual season to a good post-season or a post-season appearance in general. So now it is time to see if the Penguins are going to be an on and off type of team this year or if they will keep playing at the level they have improved to recently.
The Colorado Avalanche were expected to be a very strong team in the Western Conference this season, especially with some of the moves they made this off-season. The Avalanche certainly has not disappointed, as they have jumped out to a 5-0-0 start and are first in the Central Division. They look almost unstoppable, as they easily took down the Washington Capitals with a final score of 6-3.
MacKinnon has been MacKinnon and will more than likely be in the MVP conversation by season’s end, and the depth that the Avalanche has in all areas is tremendous. Grubauer also appears to be grabbing the bull by the horns when it comes to the starting goaltender job this year. Everything is coming up Avs and if you’re a fan of the Avalanche, I’m jealous but happy for you. The rebuild was brutal at certain points, and there were even times that no one understood what general manager Joe Sakic was doing. But this is what happens when a rebuild is done right and with patience. Enjoy it Avalanche fans, the Avs look set to be perennial contenders now.
The Buffalo Sabres were on the list of “Who’s Hot” last week and they remain here, just like the Edmonton Oilers, as one of the hottest teams in the league. Buffalo is getting
Carter Hutton has also been good so far, and as long as his play stays that way, Buffalo appears to be a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. I would not put them ahead of Boston, Toronto, or Tampa in terms of what happens if they all make the playoffs. But right now, Buffalo appears able to keep pace with all of them and could honestly beat them on any given night the way they have been playing. After imploding last year and the number of
Who is Not
New Jersey Devils
Alright, time to get to my Devils. Oh, where to start. How about as of right now, the Devils are the worst team in the league. They are worse than the Ottawa Senators, worse than the Los Angeles Kings, worse than the Dallas Stars. The Devils are 0-4-2 with embarrassing losses such as 7-2 to Buffalo, blown leads such as against Edmonton, being shutout by the rival Flyers 4-0, or blowing big leads such as the four-goal lead against Winnipeg or the three-goal lead against Florida. The Devils need to figure it out. They have so much talent on the roster that they should not be in this position at the bottom of the league. The big news coming out of New Jersey yesterday is the addition of assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald as an assistant coach to help right the ship.
I say this as a Devils fan, we expect excellence and we do not like losing. We love this team, we love the players, we love our Devils. That is why you see the emotion and anger coming from fans, we just want this team to win because we believe this team can and are just frustrated with what has transpired thus far. I have not given up hope on the season or situations such as Taylor Hall’s contract. I am not going to treat that as an elephant in the room. But the Devils need to turn things around and soon.
This is not the start anyone expected or wanted. But if there is one thing Devils fans can cling to for hope, the season and future of the organization is still at a point where it is salvageable. As hard as it may be Devils fans, we gotta keep hope and faith in this team. We need to be louder than every Rangers fan who dare enters the Rock on Thursday. For the Devils, former owner of the Oakland Raiders Al Davis said it best: “Just Win Baby Win”.
The Dallas Stars have had a disappointing start to their season especially with the expectations they had coming into the season. The Stars lost in game 7 of the second round to the St. Louis Blues last year after upsetting the Nashville Predators in the first round.
This season saw Dallas add players such as Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski as two veteran forwards with playoff experience; although, they did lose Mats Zuccarello in free agency. Ben Bishop has been good in net, but it has just unfortunately been the team in front of him that has not been. Jamie Benn seems to have regressed a little bit, and the offense just seems to not be clicking for Dallas. The Stars, much like New Jersey, have the roster where if everything can start clicking, they can easily pull themselves out of this situation, but time will tell if or when that occurs.
Los Angeles Kings
There is no real surprise the Kings are not one of the better teams in the league this season. I do not believe many people picked them to be a playoff team, but the Kings just seem to be an odd team. Ilya Kovalchuk seems to be bouncing back from his down year last season, and Drew Doughty is having a good start to the season as well.
However, Jonathan Quick is having a horrible start to the season, and I can not really think of anyone recently who has performed and has the numbers he has. The American-born goaltender has a 6.43 goals against average and a .793 save percentage through just three games played this season. Quick is not making it a hard decision for the Kings to possibly turn to Jack Campbell who has a 2.68 GAA and a .904 SV% over his 3 games played. The Kings do have 2 wins, though, so no one can really label them as the worst team in the league yet, but their goaltending is definitely a concern.
The Winnipeg Jets are a team many expected would have a tough time competing in the Western Conference this season, especially in the Central Division. For now, they have been keeping pace and held the first wild card spot in the Western Conference going into Wednesday night’s action. But they have cooled off since coming back to beat the Devils and the Penguins.
There also are some question marks in net between Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit, with Hellebuyck seeming to struggle out the gate and Brossoit not playing too bad. Everyone around the league knew that the Jets blue line was decimated this off-season and would more than likely be their weakness. With that said, there does appear to be some encouraging reports that Dustin Byfuglien is going to return to the team and not retire but there is no firm timetable for his return.
The Minnesota Wild has not been playing well to start the season, and there were definitely red flags coming into the season that indicated this could happen. The removal of general manager Paul Fenton turned heads because of the timing of it. The removal occurred after free agency and the NHL Draft, leaving new general manager Bill Guerin little time or options to improve the roster.
I believe Guerin was a great choice by Minnesota to be their new general manager, but he is definitely not starting from a favorable spot. Guerin was asked about Bruce Boudreau and essentially says he trusts him to coach and that he is going to give him time to try and work the Wild out of the hole they have dug themselves into. That hole is last place in the Western Conference, with a 1-5-0 record.
This team has talent but it is older. Players such as Zach Parise and Eric Staal are at an age where it is normal to say their play slowly starts to decline. And while they did bring in Mats Zuccarello in free agency, the team is just not clicking together right now. There were rumors of Jason Zucker being on the trade block this summer, but that rumor was hot before July 1st when his no-trade clause in his contract officially kicked in.
Fantasy Hockey: Top Adds
Based off of Yahoo Fantasy Hockey Tools.
|Sam Lafferty (C/LW/RW) (PIT)||Andre Burakovsky (LW/RW) (COL)||Dustin Byfuglien (WPG)||Ilya Samsonov (WSH)|
|Erik Haula (C/LW) (CAR)||Victor Olofsson (LW/RW) (BUF)||Jaccob Slavin (CAR)||Carter Hutton (BUF)|
|Nazem Kadri (C) (COL)||Ryan Dzingel (LW/RW) (CAR)||Neal Pionk (WPG)||Thatcher Demko (VAN)|
|Marcus Johansson (C/LW) (BUF)||Zach Aston-Reese (LW/RW) (PIT)||Alexander Edler (VAN)||Devan Dubnyk (MIN)|
|Jonathan Drouin (C/LW) (MTL)||Trevor Moore (LW/RW) (TOR)||Justin Schultz (PIT)||Mike Smith (EDM)|
|Andreas Anthanasiou (C/LW) (DET)||Sammy Blais (LW/RW) (STL)||Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI)||Joonas Korpisalo (COL)|
|Paul Statsny (C) (VGK)||J.T. Miller (LW/RW) (VAN)||Oscar Klefbom (EDM)||Mikko Koskinen (EDM)|
|Nick Shmaltz (C/LW) (ARI)||Andreas Johnsson (LW/RW) (TOR)||Sean Walker (LA)||Jaroslav Halak (BOS)|
|Nico Hischier (C) (NJ)||Kevin Labanc (LW/RW) (SJS)||Bran Dumoulin (PIT)||James Reimer (CAR)|
|Jordan Staal (C) (CAR)||James Neal (LW/RW) (EDM)||Ryan Ellis (NSH)||Alex Stalock (MIN)|
Upcoming Matchups This Week
Thursday, October 17th
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins
New York Rangers vs New Jersey Devils
Minnesota Wild vs Montreal Canadiens
Vancouver Canucks vs St. Louis Blues
New York Islanders vs Winnipeg Jets
Detroit Red Wings vs Calgary Flames
Nashville Predators vs Arizona Coyotes
Ottawa Senators vs Vegas Golden Knights
Buffalo Sabres vs Los Angeles Kings
Friday, October 18th
Colorado Avalanche vs Florida Panthers
Dallas Stars vs Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Chicago Blackhawks
Detroit Red Wings vs Edmonton Oilers
Carolina Hurricanes vs Anaheim Ducks
Saturday, October 19th
Vancouver Canucks vs New Jersey Devils
Colorado Avalanche vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Montreal Canadiens vs St. Louis Blues
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Dallas Stars vs Philadelphia Flyers
Vegas Golden Knights vs Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Islanders vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Ottawa Senators vs Arizona Coyotes
Florida Panthers vs Nashville Predators
Calgary Flames vs Los Angeles Kings
Buffalo Sabres vs San Jose Sharks
Sunday, October 20th
Vancouver Canucks vs New York Rangers
Montreal Canadiens vs Minnesota Wild
Washington Capitals vs Chicago Blackhawks
Edmonton Oilers vs Winnipeg Jets
Calgary Flames vs Anaheim Ducks
Monday, October 21st
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights vs Philadelphia Flyers
Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues
Ottawa Senators vs Dallas Stars
Tuesday, October 22nd
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins
San Jose Sharks vs Buffalo Sabres
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Florida Panthers
Arizona Coyotes vs New York Rangers
Vancouver Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings
Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators
Edmonton Oilers vs Minnesota Wild
Los Angeles Kings vs Winnipeg Jets
Vegas Golden Knights vs Chicago Blackhawks
Washington Capitals vs Calgary Flames
Images of the standings come from nhl.com and reflect the standings as of the end of Tuesday, October 16th games.