The level of parody in the NHL has resulted in several teams making statements early in the season. While the Toronto Maple Leafs are the top team through two weeks in the NHL Power Rankings, there are plenty of teams knocking on the door.
With Jonathan Quick healthy again, the Los Angeles Kings have gotten off to an excellent start, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are on Toronto’s heels because of Nikita Kucherov‘s consistency. Sorry, Steven Stamkos, but there is a new superstar by the bay.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs: 12 points
Previously 2 (6 points)
Their offense is so good right now that their average defense has yet to face any real scrutiny. The offense ran into a brick wall in Braden Holtby on Tuesday, but they won on just a Connor Brown goal and an empty netter because Frederik Andersen turned in his best performance through six games. He shut out the Capitals on 30 shots to keep the Leafs undefeated on the road. The offense returned to its usual ways the next day, as six different skaters scored in an easy 6-3 win over Detroit.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins: 9 points
Previously 1 (5 points)
After two deceiving losses, the Pens have responded with four wins in their last five games. With the exception of the 4-0 shutout over Nashville, Pittsburgh has needed some clutch play to preserve leads. Their last three wins have been by one goal, and Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each came up clutch in Tuesday’s win over the Rangers. Kessel had two cross assists, including one to Malkin in overtime.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: 11 points
Previously 12 (4 points)
One key for Tampa Bay’s success was being perfect at home. The second success was finding a way to nab points in both of their last two road games, meaning their only regulation loss was in a back-to-back with Florida. Brayden Point was masterful in the first week, but Nikita Kucherov may be the top Hart Trophy candidate in October. He has scored in all seven games, including two in Detroit that was the difference between a win and a regulation loss.
4. Los Angeles Kings: 11 points
Previously 11 (5 points)
LA’s offense has been one of the bigger surprises of the early weeks. Jonathan Quick has been one of the NHL’s elite, and the offense is currently eighth in the league. On Wednesday, it was all Adrian Kempe and Mike Cammalleri in the win over Montreal. Literally. They were the only two players to score and each of them had four points. Kempe got the fans’ attention, as he completed the hat trick in the closing minutes.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 10 points
Previously 7 (4 points)
Their power play has been a mess (29th in the NHL), but it has not stopped Columbus from a blistering start. They had at least 35 shots on goal in all three games this week, and that inevitably resulted in high-scoring production. This is a very simple equation to understand. Nick Foligno has points in five of the first six games, including a drag-and-tap goal in Winnipeg to give the Jackets a comfortable win.
6. St. Louis Blues: 10 points
Previously 5 (8 points)
After falling for the first time in both games in the Sunshine State, the Blues took on the Blackhawks for the first time. It would be a night to remember for Jaden Schwartz, as he put together a hat trick in a rout of their bitter rivals. In just one game, Schwartz became the leader in several major categories for St. Louis.
7. Chicago Blackhawks: 9 points
Previously 4 (7 points)
Corey Crawford was shelled twice this week, and the offense needed overtime to reach two goals against Nashville. Not the week that they were hoping for, but at least their hot start has them in prime position in the Central Division early. Crawford stopped 37 of Nashville’s 38 shots on Saturday for his fourth win.
8. Washington Capitals: 7 points
Previously 3 (5 points)
Washington is not so dominant to begin this regular season. They have now lost four of their last five games. Their last two losses have been especially poor, as they got blasted with eight goals in Philadelphia and were shut out by Toronto. Nicklas Backstrom carried the offense in Friday’s win in New Jersey, scoring one goal and adding three assists.
9. Ottawa Senators: 8 points
Previously 15 (4 points)
Ottawa was unconscious on their Western Canada road trip. After defeating Vancouver in a shootout, they defeated Calgary and Edmonton by a combined 12-1 score. They got points in every game without Erik Karlsson, who returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Canucks. Now the Sens need to figure out how to win at Canadian Tire Centre. Mike Hoffman led the balanced attack with three goals in the two Alberta games.
10. Calgary Flames: 8 points
Previously 10 (6 points)
The Flames get a pass for the Senators bruising through them because Ottawa is that hot. They responded with a 5-2 victory in Vancouver to cap off the back-to-back. Their defense has given up plenty of shots in the first six games, so that trend would be a concern if Mike Smith cannot keep it together like he did on Friday. The blue line accounted for four of the five goals, with Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton (twice), and Travis Hamonic coming through. They did, however have to overcome five penalty kills in the first period of that game, something Glen Gulutzan deemed unacceptable.
11. Carolina Hurricanes: 5 points
Previously 8 (3 points)
The Hurricanes are the next Eastern Conference team to test the Canadian Rockies. After falling in a low-scoring affair in Winnipeg, the Hurricanes bolted to an early lead in Rogers Place and never relinquished the lead. A win in Calgary would provide a huge jolt for a team that has Anaheim, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh at the end of their October schedule. Teuvo Teravainen scored two early goals against the Oilers to get on the score sheet for the first time this season.
12. Anaheim Ducks: 5 points
Previously 6 (5 points)
After a decent start to the season, the Ducks had a rough time against two teams that are not expected to make the postseason. They lost two consecutive 3-1 contests to a surprisingly hot Avalanche squad and a Sabres team that got its first win of the season at the Honda Center. Not a good look. Despite losing to his former team, Reto Berra came in for the injured John Gibson and held Colorado to just one goal on 20 shots.
13. Vegas Golden Knights: 10 points
Previously 16 (6 points)
They are no longer undefeated, but the train keeps on rolling for the expansion team. They even got tested on Tuesday, when the Sabres came back from a 4-1 deficit to force overtime. David Perron sealed the win in the extra period with a snipe from straight away for his second goal of the game. Malcolm Subban, who was waived by the Bruins before the season, allowed just one goal to his former team on Sunday for his first NHL victory.
14. New Jersey Devils: 10 points
Previously 19 (6 points)
New Jersey has become one of the more surprising teams in the young season. At 5-1-0, they dispatched some marquee opponents this week while maintaining the best power play percentage in the NHL (30.8%). Like Jesper Bratt, undrafted journeyman Brian Gibbons has made his previously invisible presence felt early. He has scored in three of New Jersey’s first six games, including a gritty one in the crease on Tuesday, and is on the verge of doubling his career goal total in one month.
15. Edmonton Oilers: 2 points
Previously 9 (2 points)
Welcome to the spotlight, Edmonton. Success is not a familiarity to the Oilers in the 21st century, but the scrutiny has increased following last season’s playoff run. Connor McDavid has just three assists during Edmonton’s four-game losing streak, and Leon Draisaitl is on the injured reserve with a concussion. Add on the fact that Cam Talbot and the defense has been invisible, and the Oilers are looking like horrible disappointments early.
16. Winnipeg Jets: 6 points
Previously 24 (2 points)
Connor Hellebuyck continues to impress while Steve Mason continues to implode. When one goalie is undefeated and the other is losing by a blowout, something needs to be done. In other news, Nikolaj Ehlers remains the best offensive weapon while Bryan Little is proving that he still belongs on a top line. He had two assists in a tough road win in Vancouver on Thursday.
17. Dallas Stars: 6 points
Previously 13 (2 points)
The Dallas offense has been bad, but that did not seem to matter on their latest home stand. They won both home games by a 3-1 score against Colorado and Arizona. Ben Bishop had a save percentage of 96 percent in those two wins, and defensive stiffness has put the Stars in a decent position early in the season.
18. Nashville Predators: 7 points
Previously 17 (2 points)
This is more like it. They have points in their last four games, including wins in all three home games, and Nashville looks to be on track to keeping pace in the Central Division. In every game that the Predators have scored (not their road loss to Pittsburgh), Filip Forsberg has provided at least one point, including two assists in Nashville’s 4-1 win over Colorado.
19. New York Islanders: 5 points
Previously 14 (3 points)
The Islanders were not very successful in California, winning just once. After a visit to Madison Square Garden, New York will face the Western Conference in five straight and nine of the next 10. Thomas Greiss was outstanding on Saturday, holding the Sharks to just one goal on 41 shots to preserve the much-needed win.
20. Philadelphia Flyers: 8 points
Previously 23 (4 points)
Guess which team really wanted to go home? Philly has played just two home games so far, but they already have 13 goals at Wells Fargo Center. With wavering defenses in Nashville, Edmonton, and Anaheim coming to town, the Flyers have the chance to make a huge statement. Claude Giroux is no stranger to leading the Flyers to the playoffs, and his latest production may lead to another surge. He has a four-game point streak, and that includes two goals and two assists in an eight-goal outburst against Washington on Saturday.
21. Boston Bruins: 4 points
Previously 20 (2 points)
The only win to their supposedly easy road trip was a blowout victory in Arizona. With Vancouver, Buffalo, San Jose, and Los Angeles coming to TD Garden, the Bruins really need to recover to avoid digging too deep a hole early in the Atlantic Division. Zdeno Chara had a great night in the desert, getting his first three points of the season to help the Bruins run away from the Coyotes. Despite the team’s struggles, the 40-year-old captain has a +/- of 5.
22. Minnesota Wild: 4 points
Previously 21 (1 point)
The offense has picked up, especially from recent trade piece Tyler Ennis. Unfortunately, they lost 5-4 in extra time for the second time in their first four games at their home opener. Devan Dubnyk can at least feel good about winning in Chicago on Thursday, which has so far been Minnesota’s only win of the season. Ennis was not the only player to score twice in a game, as Chris Stewart scored twice in the third period to help Minnesota pull away. The Wild will be without Charlie Coyle, who has a broken leg, for 6-8 weeks.
23. Florida Panthers: 4 points
Previously 22 (2 points)
Getting out of Florida has proved to be an issue, as the Panthers lost both games at the Keystone State. With Pittsburgh and Washington visiting South Florida, it may take longer for them to recover. For a team that may find a playoff spot difficult, that could be deadly for their season. Roberto Luongo held the previously undefeated St. Louis Blues to two goals on 29 shots on Thursday, and he is now tied for fourth in the all-time wins list.
24. Colorado Avalanche: 8 points
Previously 25 (6 points)
Colorado has been the busiest team in the league, and their weariness may have shown on the road. After two division losses in which they only scored one goal each, the Avalanche need to recover before they run into a drought similar to last season. Sven Andrighetto has given the fans plenty to cheer about. He followed a two-goal performance in the home opener with assists on both non-empty net goals in Friday’s victory over the Ducks.
25. Detroit Red Wings: 8 points
Previously 27 (4 points)
They have been the only team to solve the Golden Knights, but they have not won since. Losses to Tampa Bay and Toronto show that they still have some work to before they can pencil themselves in as a legitimate playoff contender. Henrik Zetterberg has done his best to deflect Father Time, and he showed it with a nifty goal and three assists in the Strip.
26. New York Rangers: 3 points
Previously 18 (2 points)
The Rangers are halfway done with their 10 home games in October, but their only win through seven games was against the miserable Habs. They at least were close against New Jersey and Pittsburgh, but the Rangers are quickly digging a hole in the Metropolitan Division. If they cannot get things together before going to Montreal on October 28, then the season may already be in jeopardy. J.T. Miller has been of the few positives for New York, and he helped the Rangers get one point with a goal and three assists.
27. San Jose Sharks: 4 points
Previously 31 (0 points)
The Sharks found some consolation in their five-game home stand to open the season. They pulled off two needed wins against underachieving Eastern Conference foes. The way LA, LV, and Calgary have played, however, the Sharks will need to capitalize on their Eastern road trip to keep pace in the Pacific Division. After limited production through the first four games, Logan Couture busted out on Tuesday, scoring two wide open goals and adding two assists.
28. Buffalo Sabres: 4 points
Previously 26 (1 point)
Buffalo got off the back burners with their first win in Anaheim, but they will need to start compiling wins. They almost did that in Las Vegas, when they came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period to force overtime. It was not meant to be, however, as the clutch Golden Knights struck again. Evander Kane continued his torrid pace, contributing to three of Buffalo’s four goals on Tuesday. That included scoring the game-tying goal that was originally called off for a supposed high stick.
29. Vancouver Canucks: 5 points
Previously 30 (3 points)
For now, the Canucks are treading water. Despite falling flat at home against Winnipeg and Calgary, they have fared well in their Canadian-heavy schedule. They have two wins a got points in both games against the suddenly dangerous Senators. Will that luck continue with Boston, Buffalo, and Detroit on the road? Anders Nilsson shut out the Senators on Tuesday in his first start with Vancouver, and the 32-save effort was his third career shutout.
30. Montreal Canadiens: 2 points
Previously 29 (2 points)
Want bad? There are plenty of bad teams, but the Canadiens are ugly. There is no offense to speak of at the moment (1.4 GAA is the worst in the NHL), and Carey Price cannot save the offense for not getting good chances. Jonathan Drouin, who had a goal and an assist each on Saturday and Tuesday, has made the front office look smart in trading for him, but guys like Max Pacioretty, and Tomas Plekanec, and Alex Galchenyuk might as well be healthy scratches.
That is how useful they have been to the sorry offense right now.
31. Arizona Coyotes: 1 point
Previously 28 (1 points)
Arizona is officially the only team in the NHL without a win, and it is not hard to figure out why. They have just 12 goals in six games and a league-worst GAA over four. Louis Domingue and Antti Raanta have not worked out so far, so 2015 third-round pick Adin Hill made his NHL debut on Tuesday. He stopped 31 of 33 shots against the Stars, but the offense let him down. This is starting to look like another long season in the desert.
Nico Hischier picks up the hat trick at MSG on Saturday. Less is more. Hischier had just one assist, but that was enough to help New Jersey win.
Rickard Rakell scores two goals in overtime. He, like the rest of the team, struggled offensively this week.
San Jose defeats Montreal by at least four goals. One short! So close!
Henrik Lundqvist shuts out the Nashville Predators.
Cam Atkinson nets a hat trick against Los Angeles on Saturday.
The Red Wings allows less than 20 shots on goal against Buffalo on Tuesday.