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Oct 7, 2014

NHL Power Rankings - October 21, 2014

In the first update of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks remain the top-ranked team in the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings,ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

Chicago Blackhawks

In the first update of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks remain the top-ranked team in the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings,ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

Some teams have started strong, resulting in big jumps from their preseason ranking.

The Washington Capitals jump from 22 all the way to five, after recording points in each of their first five games, and the New York Islanders climb from 14 to seven with four wins in their first five games.

The Nashville Predators, with no regulation losses in their first five games, move from 24 to 12.

Conversely, there are teams off to slow starts or dealing with significant injuries, and have taken a rankings hit.

The St. Louis Blues slide, from three to 15, with a .500 record and the loss of injured centre Paul Stastny factored in and the Boston Bruins sink from five to 19 with shaky goaltending and trouble filling a void on a scoring line.

Expected to be prime regression candidates entering the season, the Colorado Avalanche have had a particularly rough start and drop from 13 to all the way down to 25.

Among Canadian teams, the Montreal Canadiens are up three spots, to six, the Vancouver Canucks climb six spots to 11 and the Ottawa Senators, riding hot goaltenders, vault eight spots to 13. 

The Calgary Flames, despite a winning record, slide one spot to 21 and  the Toronto Maple Leafs stick at 23.

The Edmonton Oilers hold steady, if unspectacularly, at 27, and the Winnipeg Jets are grounded in a hurry, down from 19 to 29.

 

 

Chicago Blackhawks

3-0-1 | This Week: 1 Last Week: 1

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.75
  • GAPG
    1.75
  • FENCLOSE
    59.5%
  • PP%
    14.3%
  • PK%
    86.7%

The only blemish on the Blackhawks' record through four games is an overtime loss to the Flames, a game in which Chicago outshot Calgary 50-18 and they've received little (no points, 13:47 ATOI) from new C Brad Richards.

Key Injuries: RW Kris Versteeg (lower body).

Pittsburgh Penguins

3-1 | This Week: 2 Last Week: 6

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    4.00
  • GAPG
    2.50
  • FENCLOSE%
    57.6%
  • PP%
    47.1%
  • PK%
    72.7%

The Penguins' only loss came when Tyler Seguin scored with three seconds remaining, a close call. New RW Patric Hornqvist is scoring, with eight points in four games, but he's also fired 28 shots on goal. His 7.0 shots on goal per game is tops in the league, just ahead of Minnesota Wild LW Zach Parise (6.8). 

Key Injuries: RW Beau Bennett (leg).

Anaheim Ducks

5-1 | This Week: 3 Last Week: 8

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.33
  • GAPG
    2.17
  • FENCLOSE%
    54.5%
  • PP%
    25.0%
  • PK%
    83.3%

Since losing to the Penguins in their first game, the Ducks have reeled off five straight wins, with G Frederik Andersen (1.38 GAA, .950 SV%) providing lights-out goaltending.

Key Injuries: LW Kyle Palmieri (ankle), LW Patrick Maroon (knee).

Los Angeles Kings

4-1-1 | This Week: 4 Last Week: 2

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.33
  • GAPG
    1.67
  • FENCLOSE%
    43.7%
  • PP%
    10.0%
  • PK%
    86.4%

After losing the first two games of the season, the Kings have picked up four straight wins, but they're doing it in highwire fashion, leaning on the line of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli to provide offence and G Jonathan Quick, who has come up big in the last two wins, over St. Louis and Minnesota, while being outshot by a combined 84-34. 

Key Injuries: D Jake Muzzin (upper body), LW Marian Gaborik (upper body), D Slava Voynov (suspension).

Washington Capitals

3-0-2 | This Week: 5 Last Week: 22

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.40
  • GAPG
    1.80
  • FENCLOSE%
    52.7%
  • PP%
    25.0%
  • PK%
    90.0%

Working extra time to earn their points, with three of five games going to the shootout, the Capitals are getting scoring from familiar faces -- LW Alex Ovechkin, C Nicklas Backstrom, D Mike Green -- as well as rookie C Andre Burakovsky, who has five points in five games to start his NHL career.

Key Injuries: D Dmitri Orlov (wrist).

Montreal Canadiens

5-1 | This Week: 6 Last Week: 9

2013-14 TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.00
  • GAPG
    3.33
  • FENCLOSE%
    50.7%
  • PP%
    15.0%
  • PK%
    80.0%

Aside from one dud of an effort in Tampa Bay, the Canadiens have been good early in the season, showcasing skilled young players like LW Alex Galchenyuk (2 G, 4 A in 6 GP) and RW Brendan Gallagher (3 G, 2 A in 6 GP), who are moving into bigger roles.

Key Injuries: None.

New York Islanders

4-1 | This Week: 6 Last Week: 14

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.80
  • GAPG
    3.00
  • FENCLOSE%
    56.3%
  • PP%
    28.6%
  • PK%
    58.8%

The Islanders suffered their first loss of the season, against Pittsburgh Saturday, but they've been much improved early in this season -- maybe even better than expected from optimists who lauded their offseason moves. If they could do something about their league-wrost penalty killing, that would be another obvious step for improvement.

Key Injuries: RW Michael Grabner (lower body), D Lubomir Visnovsky (back), C Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), D Travis Hamonic (upper body).

San Jose Sharks

4-1-1 | This Week: 8 Last Week: 4

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.17
  • GAPG
    2.33
  • FENCLOSE%
    41.2%
  • PP%
    21.7%
  • PK%
    82.4%

It's been an odd start to the year for the Sharks, who have fared well enough record-wise, but were outshot in their first five games and then, the one game in which they did outshoot the opposition was a 4-0 loss in New York, against the Rangers, with G Alex Stalock struggling between the pipes. 

Key Injuries: Raffi Torres (knee).

Dallas Stars

2-1-2 | This Week: 9 Last Week: 7

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.00
  • GAPG
    3.20
  • FENCLOSE%
    52.5%
  • PP%
    21.7%
  • PK%
    82.4%

Results have been uneven in the early going for the Stars, and they're highly skilled, but if they're going to join the rest of the contenders in the Western Conference, they're going to need to play with more discipline, both in terms of taking fewer penalties and in terms of team defence. 

Key Injuries: RW Valeri Nichushkin (groin).

Minnesota Wild

2-2 | This Week: 10 Last Week: 11

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.50
  • GAPG
    1.00
  • FENCLOSE%
    58.5%
  • PP%
    0.0%
  • PK%
    92.3%

Found it tougher to move through SoCal, against the Ducks and Kings, than they did in two convincing wins against Colorado to open the season, but even in the loss to the Kings, the Wild dominated play. If they are as strong, possession-wise, as they have shown this early in the year, then maybe the Wild are a team ready to play with the top teams in the West.

Key Injuries: None.

Vancouver Canucks

3-1 | This Week: 11 Last Week: 17

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.00
  • GAPG
    2.50
  • FENCLOSE%
    54.7%
  • PP%
    21.0%
  • PK%
    87.5%

Hard to know just how good the Canucks are when three of their first four games have come against the Alberta teams, but they do appear to be moving the right direction after last year's second-half collapse. 

Key Injuries: None.

Nashville Predators

3-0-2 | This Week: 12 Last Week: 24

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.40
  • GAPG
    1.40
  • FENCLOSE%
    52.3%
  • PP%
    12.5%
  • PK%
    88.2%

Maybe the most encouraging sign for the Predators early is the play of G Pekka Rinne (1.23 GAA, .948 SV%). Improved possession is good too, but if Rinne can perform at a high level, that makes a massive difference over recent seasons for Nashville.

Key Injuries: C Matt Cullen (upper body), C Mike Fisher (Achilles).

Ottawa Senators

4-1 | This Week: 13 Last Week: 21

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.60
  • GAPG
    2.00
  • FENCLOSE%
    40.5%
  • PP%
    13.6%
  • PK%
    82.4%

The Senators have been leaning heavily on goaltenders Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, allowed more than 35 shots in three of five games, but they've been up to the task so far.

Key Injuries: C Marc Methot (back).

Columbus Blue Jackets

3-2 | This Week: 14 Last Week: 18

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.00
  • GAPG
    2.40
  • FENCLOSE%
    52.6%
  • PP%
    15.0%
  • PK%
    100.0%

It hasn't been an easy start to the year for the Blue Jackets, battling a lot of injuries, but they can thank their lucky stars that they got C Ryan Johansen (3 G, 4 A in 5 GP) signed or this season could have gone downhill in a hurry.

Key Injuries: LW Boone Jenner (hand), RW Nathan Horton (back), D Ryan Murray (knee), C Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal).

St. Louis Blues

2-2-1 | This Week: 15 Last Week: 3

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.40
  • GAPG
    1.60
  • FENCLOSE%
    57.1%
  • PP%
    30.0%
  • PK%
    80.0%

Shutout losses at Los Angeles and Anaheim were hard luck, but the bigger concern for the Blues is that they've lost Paul Stastny, for weeks, it appears. They'll figure it out, but others will have to step up to fill that void.

Key Injuries: C Paul Stastny (wrist).

New Jersey Devils

3-2 | This Week: 16 Last Week: 15

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.40
  • GAPG
    3.20
  • FENCLOSE%
    51.5%
  • PP%
    16.7%
  • PK%
    76.9%

Started strong, with three straight wins, before losing the past couple of games. The positives: LW Mike Cammalleri has been on a tear (5 G, 2 A in 5 GP) and rookie D Damon Severson is becoming an integral part of the blueline corps already.

Key Injuries: RW Martin Havlat (face).

Detroit Red Wings

3-1-1 | This Week: 17 Last Week: 16

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.20
  • GAPG
    1.40
  • FENCLOSE%
    47.6%
  • PP%
    9.5%
  • PK%
    100.0%

Back-to-back wins over the Maple Leafs on the weekend helped get the Red Wings going in the right direction and getting Pavel Datsyuk back from injury ought to give the lineup a jolt.

Key Injuries: LW Johan Franzen (leg).

Tampa Bay Lightning

3-2-1 | This Week: 18 Last Week: 10

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.17
  • GAPG
    2.00
  • FENCLOSE%
    55.3%
  • PP%
    26.9%
  • PK%
    90.5%

The Lightning have shown lots of skill early in the year, and the addition of rookie LW Jonathan Drouin only enhances that, but their blueline is taking some injury hits, most notably to Victor Hedman, who was off to a great start offensively, putting up three goals and seven points in five games.

Key Injuries: D Radko Gudas (lower body), D Victor Hedman (hand).

Boston Bruins

3-4 | This Week: 19 Last Week: 5

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.00
  • GAPG
    2.43
  • FENCLOSE%
    55.4%
  • PP%
    13.6%
  • PK%
    79.3%

G Tuukka Rask is off to a slow start (.870 SV% in 5 GP) and the Bruins are still trying to figure out who will be the long-term replacement for Jarome Iginla on David Krejci's wing, but they are getting really solid play out of the third line -- LW Chris Kelly, C Carl Soderberg and RW Loui Eriksson.

Key Injuries: None.

New York Rangers

3-3 | This Week: 20 Last Week: 12

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.67
  • GAPG
    3.33
  • FENCLOSE%
    55.4%
  • PP%
    0.0%
  • PK%
    87.0%

It's a good thing for the Rangers that LW Rick Nash is off to a great start, with seven goals in six games, because the rest of the Rangers have scored nine and G Henrik Lundqvist has already had a couple of clunkers in net.

Key Injuries: C Derek Stepan (leg), D Dan Boyle (hand).

Calgary Flames

4-3 | This Week: 21 Last Week: 20

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.57
  • GAPG
    2.43
  • FENCLOSE%
    39.8%
  • PP%
    17.4%
  • PK%
    74.1%

The Flames have a winning record built on the shakiest of ground, with horrible shot differentials, and they are nearly Buffalo Sabres-level bad when their top defence tandem of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are off the ice.

Key Injuries: RW David Jones (lower body).

Philadelphia Flyers

1-2-2 | This Week: 22 Last Week: 25

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.40
  • GAPG
    3.80
  • FENCLOSE%
    46.7%
  • PP%
    31.8%
  • PK%
    76.9%

 

With massive defensive question marks, the Flyers appear to be ready to play an entertaining run-and-gun style of game, but there's not a lot of evidence that it's going to make them contenders.

Key Injuries: D Kimmo Timonen (blood clots).

Toronto Maple Leafs

2-3-1 | This Week: 23 Last Week: 23

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.50
  • GAPG
    3.17
  • FENCLOSE%
    49.4%
  • PP%
    20.8%
  • PK%
    86.4%

Lots of ups and downs early in the year, with two losses, followed by two wins, followed by two losses. They're basically playing to expectations, with problems on defence and a lack of forward depth already causes for concern.

Key Injuries: LW David Booth (foot).

Arizona Coyotes

2-2 | This Week: 24 Last Week: 26

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.25
  • GAPG
    4.50
  • FENCLOSE%
    51.1%
  • PP%
    26.7%
  • PK%
    71.4%

Lots of goals are being scored in Coyotes games in the early going, though not always in Arizona's favour as Winnipeg and St. Louis have both dropped sixes on the Desert Dogs. 

Key Injuries: None.

Colorado Avalanche

1-4-1 | This Week: 25 Last Week: 13

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    1.50
  • GAPG
    3.33
  • FENCLOSE%
    44.2%
  • PP%
    4.6%
  • PK%
    88.5%

Trouble scoring goals and trouble preventing them, particularly with their top two goalies hurt, but otherwise the Avs are off to a great start. If they can't right the ship soon, with seven of the next nine games at home, the preseason forecasts for regression could start looking conservative.

Key Injuries: G Semyon Varlamov (groin).

Florida Panthers

1-2-2 | This Week: 26 Last Week: 28

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    1.00
  • GAPG
    2.00
  • FENCLOSE%
    52.0%
  • PP%
    8.7%
  • PK%
    75.0%

The Panthers have played well defensively, thanks in part to rookie Aaron Ekblad and veteran addition Willie Mitchell, but goal-scoring remains a problem, as the Panthers have scored on five of 136 shots (3.7%).

Key Injuries: C Dave Bolland (lower body).

Edmonton Oilers

1-4-1 | This Week: 27 Last Week: 27

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.33
  • GAPG
    4.33
  • FENCLOSE%
    50.4%
  • PP%
    17.6%
  • PK%
    76.2%

Earned a much-needed win against Tampa Bay Monday, and really need to make some hay with the next five games at home. As poor as the Oilers' start has been this season, their underlying stats aren't bad, so better goaltending and cutting down on the glaring defensive errors could bring better results soon.

Key Injuries: None.

Carolina Hurricanes

0-2-2 | This Week: 28 Last Week: 29

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.50
  • GAPG
    3.25
  • FENCLOSE%
    47.2%
  • PP%
    26.7%
  • PK%
    73.3%

 

An injury-depleted lineup that is getting its early offence from the likes of Jiri Tlusty, Chris Terry, Zach Boychuk and Riley Nash, the Hurricanes are looking at a long season, but that does present its own incentives.

Key Injuries: C Jordan Staal (fibula), C Eric Staal (upper body), RW Patrick Dwyer (lower body), D Andrej Sekera (upper body), .

Winnipeg Jets

1-4 | This Week: 29 Last Week: 19

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    1.60
  • GAPG
    3.00
  • FENCLOSE%
    44.5%
  • PP%
    0.0%
  • PK%
    95.2%

After an impressive 6-2 win to open the season, the Jets have lost four straight and continue to seek line combinations that can generate more offence. At this point, finding a power play unit that can break their 0-for-14 start would be a positive step.

Key Injuries: LW Evander Kane (knee).

Buffalo Sabres

1-5 | This Week: 30 Last Week: 30

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    1.17
  • GAPG
    3.67
  • FENCLOSE%
    35.5%
  • PP%
    0.0%
  • PK%
    88.0%

Followed up their only win of the year -- at an undermanned Carolina team -- with back-to-back shutout losses. The Sabres' early returns suggest that they're even worse than last season, when they finished 14 points behind 29th-place Florida.

Key Injuries: None.

Notes: While all injuries are taken into account, those listed as key injuries include top nine forwards, top four defencemen and starting goaltenders.

GPG - Goals Per Game, GAPG - Goals Against Per Game

FENCLOSE% - Fenwick Close Percentage. The percentage of unblocked shot attempts, during 5-on-5 play, relative to the opposition. 

PP% - Power Play%

PK% - Penalty Kill%

Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.comwww.puckalytics.comwww.hockeystats.ca and www.naturalstattrick.com

Follow Scott Cullen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen and e-mail him at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca.