How are we all feeling about the new NHL divisions so far? If you’re looking for fun, the Canadian circuit has definitely paid off early with eight of the top 10 scorers in the league hailing from the North teams and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk already making new enemies. Every team has now played at least a couple of games and while we are seeing some pandemic-related re-schedulings, this was expected from the outset. In the meantime, the majority of teams have already played at least a half-dozen games and there have been some pleasant surprises. So let’s run down some power rankings to get a sense of where everyone is right now.
1. Montreal Canadiens: Pretty much everything has gone right for the Habs so far, from goaltending to defense to Tyler Toffoli. Montreal has the best goal differential in the league.
2. Vegas Golden Knights: Less of a surprise than the Habs, Vegas has gone about its business as Western faves with Mark Stone leading the charge. Marc-Andre Fleury has been an ace in net, too.
3. Washington Capitals: Even after the World’s Worst Hotel Party, the Caps have managed to grab at least one point in every game this season. Once the Russians return, look out.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs: Finding different heroes each night has propelled the Leafs, already bitten by the injury bug. Having said that, Mitch Marner is off to a fantastic start.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins: Ever since I slandered the Pens on our podcast last week, they’ve gone undefeated. So, you’re welcome, Pittsburgh…
6. Dallas Stars: Are the Stars really good, or just really good at beating Nashville? Their next two games are against Detroit so – we still might not know. But they are undefeated.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning: Andrei Vasilevskiy is doing his usual star work in net while the Steven Stamkos Comeback is for real with the veteran center potting six points through four games.
8. New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes has found his mojo. Should the rest of the NHL be afraid? Quite possibly. Also, the development path of Ty Smith is officially paying dividends.
9. Colorado Avalanche: Their record isn’t great right now, but this is a team we expect to figure it out. Nathan MacKinnon is getting his points and Philipp Grubauer has a .923 save percentage.
10. Boston Bruins: Commend Boston for taking care of business with David Pastrnak out, while a radically different ‘D’ corps gels. That ‘C’ looks great on Patrice Bergeron, doesn’t it?
11. Florida Panthers: Undefeated, but only after two games and only against Chicago. So we only really know that the Panthers aren’t horrible.
12. Minnesota Wild: They have one of the better records in the West, but have literally only played bad teams. Having said that, all hail Kirill Kaprizov, everyone’s new favorite hockey son.
13. Winnipeg Jets: Already playing pretty well, the Jets will be stacked down the middle once Pierre-Luc Dubois is cleared to join the team.
14. Calgary Flames: Jacob Markstrom has been the goalie Calgary needed. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are putting up more than a point per game. The Flames are in a good spot.
15. St. Louis Blues: Look, the Blues are still figuring things out, OK? Splits with Colorado, Los Angeles and San Jose are all indicators of that.
16. Carolina Hurricanes: Yes, the Canes have a winning record through three games, but you don’t get a cookie for splitting with Detroit. And you certainly don’t get a southern-style biscuit.
17. Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have a losing record, but Jesse Puljujarvi is finding chemistry with Connor McDavid and that just might be the spark needed for a positive run soon.
18. New York Islanders: Scoring just nine goals in five games is concerning, but surrendering only eight in that span is comforting. Semyon Varlamov is looking hot.
19. Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart going Full Hextall may be the spark this team needed. Or, it’s a sign that they need to get their act together before it’s too late.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets: Patrik Laine brings potent goal-scoring to town, but it cost Columbus its best center. Can they survive with no high-end help down the middle?
21. Los Angeles Kings: Wins over Colorado and St. Louis are great confidence-boosters for the rebuilding squad. Getting 10 points in six games from Anze Kopitar doesn’t hurt, either.
22. Buffalo Sabres: They asked the monkey’s paw for more offensive help behind Jack Eichel. Now they’re still losing, but in slightly higher-scoring games.
23. Chicago Blackhawks: Let the Pius Suter era begin! OK, it’s all gravy this season for a team with no expectations, but it is nice to have some positives so soon.
24. Anaheim Ducks: The Battle of California is now The Brittle of California, but the Ducks are at least getting some wins and John Gibson is rocking a .938 save percentage.
25. San Jose Sharks: All the California teams are the same this season. I mean, they have different players and uniforms, but you get the idea.
26. Arizona Coyotes: During the world juniors, my kids wondered why Sweden had a player named ‘Victor SodaStream.’ They’re not really into hockey.
27. Vancouver Canucks: It is strange and upsetting to see Elias Pettersson look tentative with the puck. Maybe not playing Montreal every game will turn things around this week.
28. Nashville Predators: The Preds have been outscored 14-4 in their past three games and have only two players (Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg) with more than two points.
29. Detroit Red Wings: The Wings have two wins and some guys to cheer for (Bobby Ryan, Sam Gagner), so this is…better than expected? Also, Moritz Seider is killing it in Sweden.
30. New York Rangers: K’Andre Miller is looking good, Phil Di Giuseppe has been a pleasant surprise and Adam Fox is a point-per-gamer. For more positives, check out my burner account on Twitter.
31. Ottawa Senators: The win over Toronto was fun, but since then the Sens have reverted back to ‘young and scrappy’ as opposed to ‘maybe good.’