Don't look now, but with the one-month mark of the NHL season nearly upon us, the Vancouver Canucks look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Now, under the guidance of head coach Rick Tocchet, the team knocked off the San Jose Sharks 10-1 on Thursday night. Along with this, they have also racked up victories over the Florida Panthers, St Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators. Now, sitting just six points back of the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the Pacific Division, after a down season by many of their top players a year ago, the Canucks superstars have led the way. Lauded by many as the front-runner for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman, Quinn Hughes has racked up 16 points in 10 games while playing over 23 minutes a night. In a busy week for the NHL, here are the power rankings.
1. Vegas Golden Knights
With no change at the top this week, the defending Stanley Cup Champions are continuing to roll. Vegas has picked up 21 of a possible 22 points to start the year. The Golden Knights have five players who have racked up eight more points. Moreover, Adin Hill and Logan Thompson give the team a chance to win every night.
2. Boston Bruins
Boston has silenced any doubters who believed the team would regress without Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Off to a franchise-best start through 10 games (9-0-1), the Bruins lead the NHL with just 1.6 goals allowed per contest. Along with this, Jeremy Swayman has stepped up and solidified himself as one of the best young netminders in the league. Perfect on the season, the 24-year-old owns a 1.38 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage.
3. Dallas Stars
After a slow start out of the gate, the Star's offense has come alive of late. Matt Duchene has racked up four points in his last five games. Winners of three in a row, the team knocked off the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Columbus Blue Jackets. They will have another tall task this week with the Jets on deck on Saturday night. Did I mention Jake Oettinger is really good, too?
4. Colorado Avalanche
Colorado rattled off six wins in a row. However, the team stumbled against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. The team failed to score a goal in either game while being outscored 8-0. One question for Jared Bednar's group will be, can they ride their star players throughout an 82-game campaign? Alexandar Georgiev has started every game so far. Moreover, Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen are each averaging over 21 minutes of ice time per night.
5. New York Rangers
New York received tough news on Friday afternoon. It was announced that star defenseman Adam Fox would be placed on the injured reserve list. The 2021 Norris Trophy winner left the game against the Hurricanes on Thursday night, following his collision with Sebastian Aho. Still, after sweeping their Western Conference road trip for the first time in nearly a century, the Rangers can win in all sorts of ways.
6. Vancouver Canucks
The biggest surprise to date, there's a different vibe around the Canucks this year. Playing with more structure under Tocchet, the longtime Philadelphia Flyer has gotten Vancouver's top players to buy in and play hard each night. Elias Pettersson is going to break the bank of his next contract. The former fifth-overall pick is on pace for his second consecutive 100-point campaign. He is second in the NHL in points (19), behind only Jack Hughes.
7. New Jersey Devils
New Jersey has looked every bit like the team that many picked to win the Stanley Cup in the offseason. All the spotlight will go towards Jack Hughes. We have to give love to Jesper Bratt. Fresh off an eight-year $63 million contract extension, the Sweden native has recorded eight goals and 11 assists in 10 games.
8. Los Angeles Kings
Las Vegas plays with a structured, even keel feel under head coach Todd Mclellan that makes them hard to beat every game. Meanwhile, the team can get point production from players all over the lineup. We can't overlook how good Cam Talbot has been, too. The Kings came into the year with significant questions in between the pipes. Nevertheless, the 11-year veteran is posting his best numbers since 2016
9. Detroit Red Wings
Detroit was the hottest team in the league early on. However, the Red Wings have begun to enter a skid of late by losing four of their lost five. Remaining one of the best offenses in the NHL, you have to wonder what would happen if the group's goal scorers began to cool off. But for now, this is a top-ten franchise that deserves respect.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs
There are a lot of things to like with the Maple Leafs. William Nylander has opened on a 10-game point streak as he looks to cash in on his next contract extension. Furthermore, Joseph Woll has been a bright spot for the team, helping to solidify the net. Nevertheless, with Timothy Liljegren placed on the long-term injured reserve list, Toronto is already without both Jake Mccabe and Connor Timmins. This means that Mark Giordano and John Klingberg will have to play significant minutes.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay took down the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. Led by Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, the former posted a hat trick, while the latter had five points. Jonas Johannson stopped 24 of 28 shots in the victory. Likely to remain in the middle of the pack all year long, you have to imagine Jon Cooper's group will take off once star netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy returns.
12. New York Islanders
The Islanders did not make any upgrades to their roster in the offseason. Still, the team has continued to win early on this season. This is despite ranking 23rd in the NHL in goals per game (2.7) and 18th in shots on net per game (30.9). Primarily due to the play of Illya Sorokin, the 28-year-old has been rock solid in net for New York. He owns a .911 save percentage across seven starts.
13. Carolina Hurricanes
Coming off a 113-point season a year ago, the Hurricanes have been plagued by inconsistent play. Even on the back of rattling off four victories in their last five, Carolina still allows nearly four goals per game. On the flip side, both Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Teuvo Teravainen are off to career starts with 21 points combined between two through 12 games.
14. Montreal Canadiens
If you are a Montreal fan, you have to love the progression the franchise has shown under head coach Martin St Louis. The Canadiens have picked up points in three of their last five. Aided by their power play, the team is clicking at 20.45 percent with the extra man, the 11th-highest mark in the league. Furthermore, it's nice to see Sean Monahan playing big minutes and contributing again, despite a sour ending in Calgary.
15. Florida Panthers
Put your hand up if you had Sam Reinhart as a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate through one month of the season. While he is bound to cool off, the former 15th overall pick's eight goals have kept the Panthers in a position to land a playoff spot. This is a team that is hopefully going to get reinforcements once Sam Bennett, Aaron Ekblad, and Brandon Montour all return.
16. Anaheim Ducks
Arguably the hottest team in the game, Anaheim handed the Golden Knights their first regulation loss on Sunday night. Rallying from two goals down, Mason McTavish scored with 3:40 left in the game to give the Ducks the lead. Up to fourth place in the Pacific division with 14 points, Greg Cronin's group is loaded with young talent and will be fun to watch all year.
17. Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg has been one of the hardest teams in the league to get a gauge on through four weeks. Following their three straight wins over the Oilers, St. Louis Blues, and Red Wings, the Jets dropped back-to-back games to the Canadiens and Rangers. Furthermore, they also lost to Vegas. Destined to be a middle-of-the-pack group in a loaded Western Conference, number 17 feels like the right spot for them.
18. Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia has been a pleasant shock to many. The Flyers entered the season in the middle of a rebuild, with the expectations of picking in the draft lottery. Still, the team has seen many of their young players take a major leap forward in their development. Travis Konecny looks like a true top-six winger. Furthermore, Travis Sanheim has all the makings of a shutdown number-one defenseman.
19. Buffalo Sabres
Picked by many to take a leap forward and contend in the Atlantic Division, Buffalo has stumbled to a 6-6 start. The Sabres are struggling on the power play. They are clicking at just 11.4 percent with the man advantage. Additionally, after entering the year with significant question marks in net, the team has just a .895 save percentage.
20. Arizona Coyotes
Arizona may not be a playoff team this season. Nonetheless, the Coyotes will play important games down the stretch and take points off a lot of teams. With young, talented pieces all over the lineup, Sean Durzi has blossomed in a more prominent role. The longtime Los Angeles King has seven points in 11 games. He plays on the first pair alongside J.J. Moser.
21. Washington Capitals
Washington has begun to turn the corner. The Capitals have won three straight games on the back of their 1-4 start. Regardless, Spencer Carberry's group needs to get more out of the bottom half of their lineup. Behind their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Strome, and Tom Wilson, only two other players have scored multiple goals.
22. Seattle Kraken
Seattle made the playoffs for the first time in their second season. The story for the team was depth and scoring production from all four lines. Notwithstanding, Dave Hkstol's group has lacked offensive firepower to begin their 2023 campaign, leading to just one regulation win in their first 10 games. On the heels of capturing the Calder Trophy, Matthew Beniers has yet to score.
23. Ottawa Senators
When it rains, it pours for the Senators. What a week for Ottawa. First, the news came down that young center Shane Pinto would be suspended 41 games for gambling-related activity. Along with this, the franchise was also docked a first-round pick for the botched Evgenii Dadonov trade. This led general manager Pierre Dorion to be fired. Making matters worse, Ottawa has lost four of their last five and now sits in last place in the Atlantic division. Go figure.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets
New head coach Pascal Vincent has begun sending messages to his Blue Jackets team, which currently is barely treading water. He benched Johnny Gaudreau in the third period of Columbus's 2-1 loss to the Capitals on Saturday night. With a 4-5-2 record out of the gate, things are not pretty in Ohio. Adam Fantilli looks like the real deal, though.
25. St. Louis Blues
St Louis gave us a glimpse of the team that had 109 points just two seasons ago in their win over the Canadiens. Jordan Kyrou finally broke out of his goal-scoring slump. He had three points, including his second goal of the season. Joel Hofer stopped 30 of 33 shots in the victory. You just hope this can continue and the Blues finally hit their offensive stride.
26. Nashville Predators
Nashville has been able to cover up their goal-scoring deficiencies through strong play in their own end. The Predators rank 11th in the NHL in goals allowed (2.91) and 10th in shots on goal (29.6). While the Ryan O'Reilly signing drew question marks in the offseason, the veteran is currently on a point-per-game pace.
27. Minnesota Wild
Things are looking bleak for the Wild after losing four straight games last week. Despite that, I expect this Minnesota group will get rolling. Hit hard by the injury bug, the team has been scrambling to fill holes in their lineup, with Jared Spurgeon, Matt Boldy, Alex Goligoski, and Frederick Gaudreau all missing time already.
28. Pittsburgh Penguins
When they acquired the reigning Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson, in the spring, many thought the Penguins were gearing up for one last run at the Stanley Cup. Instead, Pittsburgh has come out flat many nights to begin the season. Furthermore, if the team can't get any help from their bottom six, it could be a case of too little too late come February.
29. Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton looks far from the team many people picked as their Stanley Cup champion before the season. It is not just that the Oilers are losing; they are being defeated by a wide margin on most nights. Connor McDavid and Leon Drasaitl will pick it up and will the franchise into playoff contention. However, if they can't get timely goaltending, it may not matter.
30. Chicago Blackhawks
Connor Bedard has made Chicago a must-watch on a nightly basis. Through 11 games, the reigning number one overall pick has five goals and two assists while playing over 19 minutes a night. More impressively, he has done this without Taylor Hall flanking him on the wing after he suffered a shoulder injury. Hopefully, the Blackhawks can continue to stockpile talent around their young superstar.
31. Calgary Flames
Calgary has made headlines around the league not for its on-ice play but for reports that the team has begun shopping some of its players. With Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov all set to hit the open market after the season, new general manager Craig Conroy has called around the league and started to gauge the market.
32. San Jose Sharks
How long can San Jose go without winning a game? The Sharks have extended their franchise-record losing streak to 11 games. They allowed back-to-back 10-goal games to the Penguins and Canucks. With a roster that lacks any top-end talent, it's going to be a long year.
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