Capitals No. 1 in NHL Power Rankings

Scott Cullen

10/24/2011 5:17:51 PM

The undefeated Washington Capitals open the season on top of the NHL Power Rankings in the first update of the season.

While the Capitals have cruised to a 7-0 record, with a league-best plus-16 goal differential, they've been achieving this success with a more balanced approach. As Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, most notably, have seen their ice time go down, the supporting cast has been providing offence for the Caps, as second-year centre Marcus Johansson and veteran left winger Jason Chimera are tied for the team-lead with four goals apiece.

Backstrom, it should be noted, is bouncing back from a down season, leading the Capitals with ten points in seven games.

Coming out on the wrong end of a pair of shootouts hurts the Chicago Blackhawks' overall record, but doesn't make them any less likely to win a seven-game series, so they come in second spot. Patrick Kane's move to the middle has helped Chicago's forward lines, allowing them to match up well with virtually any team.

Considering that the Pittsburgh Penguins are still without Sidney Crosby and, for the last six games, have been without Evgeni Malkin, their early success has been remarkable. That they sit third without two injured superstars should be a scary proposition for the rest of the teams in the league.

Among the early surprises, the Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche are unexpected entrants in the top ten. The variance of small sample sizes means that there will be rather sizeable shifts until more games are played, but the Stars, Leafs and Avs can revel in their favourable early results.

At the other end of the scale, the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues were not expected to be better than in the bottom third, while the Columbus Blue Jackets certainly had higher hopes than a winless start through the first eight games.

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