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Columnists

MORE From TSN'S Hockey COLUMNISTS

Oct 8, 2018

The 7-Eleven Power Rankings: Tampa Bay still the team to beat

Jets 3-in-3: Early season takeaways

VIDEO SIGN OUT

After the first five days of the new NHL season, Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Tampa Bay Lightning remain in familiar territory – atop TSN’s weekly Power Rankings.

Tampa Bay is expected to be a force to be reckoned with again this season after Vasilevskiy made 42 saves in the Lightning’s 2018-19 season opening night shootout win over the Florida Panthers. They’re also the top-ranked team for the second consecutive week in our weekly Power Rankings, according to consensus rankings formulated by the TSN Power Ranking panel of Ray Ferraro, Jeff O’Neill, Jamie McLennan, Craig Button and Darren Dreger. 

The No. 2 Nashville Predators, who finished the 2017-18 regular season with the league’s best road record (25-9-7), move up two spots from No. 4 a week ago after two road victories in their first two games. Making a huge jump to No. 3 this week from their No. 14 ranking a week ago are the rejuvenated and unbeaten Dallas Stars under new head coach Jim Montgomery.

Rounding out the top five this week, according to our panel, are the No. 4 Toronto Maple Leafs, who slip one spot after losing their second game of the season to the surprising Ottawa Senators on home ice, and the No. 5 Colorado Avalanche, who leap 13 spots from their No. 18 ranking last week with convincing wins in Week 1.

The Winnipeg Jets, last week’s No. 2 team, fall four places to No. 6 this week after having an off night in their 5-1 loss to Dallas on Saturday after winning their opener against the St. Louis Blues, also a 5-1 score. Last season, the Jets started their season with less than stellar outings but soon found their winning form and finished second overall with 52 wins and 114 points.

The other top-10 teams in this week's rankings include: the No. 7 Washington Capitals, falling two spots from No. 5 a week ago; the amazing Carolina Hurricanes at the No. 8 spot, leaping 19 places from No. 27 last week; the No. 9 Chicago Blackhawks, led by Jonathan Toews’ five goals to catapult from the No. 29 spot a week ago for the most significant move of the week; and the Anaheim Ducks, who climb to No. 10 from No. 16 a week ago.

The Blues suffer the biggest drop of the week, plummeting 15 spots to No. 26 overall from No. 11 last week after managing just a single point in their first two games of the season.

Besides Toronto, who are led by Auston Matthews’ eight points in three games to sit atop the NHL scoring race and four goals from John Tavares, and Winnipeg, the other top Canadian team this week is the No. 11 Montreal Canadiens, who move up 12 spots after opening the season at the No. 23 position.

Hiding out in the NHL’s basement this week are the No. 27 Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild at No. 28, Edmonton Oilers at No. 29 ­– falling 12 spots after losing their opener to the New Jersey Devils in Sweden, the winless New York Rangers at No. 30 and the No. 31 Arizona Coyotes, who fall from their No. 24 ranking a week ago.

Tampa Bay Lightning
1. Tampa Bay Lightning

  • RECORD
    2-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    56.2%
  • LAST WEEK
    1
Nashville Predators
2. Nashville Predators

  • RECORD
    2-0-0
  • POSSESSION
    51.3%
  • LAST WEEK
    4

Last season’s best road team (25-9-7) with the NHL’s best overall record (117 points) took up right where they left off, winning their first two games, both on the road.

Dallas Stars
3. Dallas Stars

  • RECORD
    2-0-0
  • POSSESSION
    51.6%
  • LAST WEEK
    14

The season couldn’t have started off better with 3-0 and 5-1 wins. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov each have two goals in two games under new coach Jim Montgomery.

Toronto Maple Leafs
4. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • RECORD
    2-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    51.4%
  • LAST WEEK
    3

Auston Matthews and free agent signee John Tavares are already in great form. Between the two of them they’ve scored nine of the 13 Toronto goals in their first three games.

Colorado Avalanche
5. Colorado Avalanche

  • RECORD
    2-0-0
  • POSSESSION
    56.9%
  • LAST WEEK
    18

A great start to the season for the Avalanche with wins in their first two games. Colin Wilson scored two goals in the second game, one third of his total of six from all of last season.

Winnipeg Jets
6. Winnipeg Jets

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    49.1%
  • LAST WEEK
    2

Two 5-1 road games marked the season opening for the Jets. In the opening win over St. Louis they allowed 42 shots, and in the loss to Dallas they allowed three power play goals.

Washington Capitals
7. Washington Capitals

  • RECORD
    1-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    48.2%
  • LAST WEEK
    5

Forget about the Stanley Cup hangover. The Capitals won their opener 7-0 over Boston and scored 13 goals (T.J. Oshie has five points) in their first two games for new coach Todd Reirden.

Carolina Hurricanes
8. Carolina Hurricanes

  • RECORD
    2-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    63.0%
  • LAST WEEK
    27

With Cam Ward gone and Scott Darling injured, the Canes used backup goalies in their first three games (2-1 OT loss, 8-5 win for ex-Flyer rental Petr Mrazek, a 3-1 win for ex-Leaf Curtis McElhinney).

Chicago Blackhawks
9. Chicago Blackhawks

  • RECORD
    2-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    54.6%
  • LAST WEEK
    29

The Blackhawks went to OT in each of their first three games, defeating Ottawa and St. Louis on the road before losing to Toronto at home. Jonathan Toews has five goals and Patrick Kane has four.

Anaheim Ducks
10. Anaheim Ducks

  • RECORD
    2-0-0
  • POSSESSION
    33.7%
  • LAST WEEK
    16

The Ducks have been outshot 74-35 in their first two games but still won both of them. Maxime Comtois is a surprise with two goals and John Gibson made 41 saves in a 1-0 shutout Saturday.

Montreal Canadiens
11. Montreal Canadiens

  • RECORD
    1-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    53.6%
  • LAST WEEK
    23

The Canadiens opened the season on the road in impressive style, winning 5-1 in Pittsburgh and earning a point in an overtime loss in Toronto. Now they get to play five home games in a row.

New Jersey Devils
12. New Jersey Devils

  • RECORD
    1-0-0
  • POSSESSION
    62.2%
  • LAST WEEK
    20

It took Travis Zajac 20 games to score his first two goals last season. This year he did it in his first game, helping the Devils to a 5-2 season opening win over Edmonton in Sweden.

Boston Bruins
13. Boston Bruins

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    45.4%
  • LAST WEEK
    6

Two shutouts, one an embarrassing 7-0 loss and the other a 4-0 win over Buffalo, with ex-Islander Jaroslav Halak earning a shutout. Brad Marchard has assisted on every Bruins goal so far.

Pittsburgh Penguins
14. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    53.9%
  • LAST WEEK
    8

Allowing 11 goals in their first two games is not the way the Penguins want to start the season, but curiously it’s better than last year when they allowed 15 goals in their first two games.

San Jose Sharks
15. San Jose Sharks

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    64.1%
  • LAST WEEK
    7

A mediocre start for the Sharks, who will be tested with five of their first six games on the road. Newly acquired Erik Karlsson had an assist in an OT win over L.A., but Joe Thornton is back on IR (knee).

Philadelphia Flyers
16. Philadelphia Flyers

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    47.4%
  • LAST WEEK
    15

The Flyers opened with consecutive road games, and will play five of their next seven at home. But former Leaf James van Riemsdyk is out five to six weeks with a lower-body injury suffered Saturday.

Columbus Blue Jackets
17. Columbus Blue Jackets

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    56.9%
  • LAST WEEK
    10

Artemi Panarin scored the winner to give the Blue Jackets an opening OT win over Detroit. They’ll have to negotiate the early part of the season without stud D-man Seth Jones who's out at least a month.

Florida Panthers
18. Florida Panthers

  • RECORD
    0-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    53.3%
  • LAST WEEK
    13

Oft-injured goalie Roberto Luongo lasted half of Florida’s opening game before being helped off the ice with what was diagnosed as an MCL strain. The 39-year-old is out for two to four weeks.

Los Angeles Kings
19. Los Angeles Kings

  • RECORD
    1-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    40.7%
  • LAST WEEK
    19

Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t waste any time proving his value, earning two assists in the Kings’ second game playing on a line with Anze Kopitar while former undrafted free agent Alex Iafallo had two goals.

New York Islanders
20. New York Islanders

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    39.5%
  • LAST WEEK
    25

It won’t be easy for the Islanders this season without John Tavares, but they still have Matt Barzal, who assisted on the opening game OT winner and had points in three of their first five goals.

Vegas Golden Knights
21. Vegas Golden Knights

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    56.9%
  • LAST WEEK
    9

The Golden Knights, who started their inaugural season at 7-1, won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season. Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled in the opener but rebounded with a 2-1 shootout win.

Calgary Flames
22. Calgary Flames

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    62.2%
  • LAST WEEK
    12

The Flames avenged a 5-2 loss at Vancouver with a 7-4 defeat of the Canucks at home – scoring one shorthanded goal, two at even strength, three on the power play and two empty-netters.

Ottawa Senators
23. Ottawa Senators

  • RECORD
    1-0-1
  • POSSESSION
    40.0%
  • LAST WEEK
    31

Ranked dead last in our opening power rankings, the surprising Senators opened the season with points in their first two games – an overtime loss to Chicago and a win on the road in Toronto.

Buffalo Sabres
24. Buffalo Sabres

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    52.3%
  • LAST WEEK
    22

The Sabres rebounded from an opening shutout loss to Boston to defeat the Rangers, in large part because of new goalie Carter Hutton who faced 20 third-period shots to earn the 3-1 win.

Vancouver Canucks
25. Vancouver Canucks

  • RECORD
    1-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    37.8%
  • LAST WEEK
    30

In their opening split with Calgary, the Canucks’ newest star in Swedish rookie Elias Pettersson had points in five of the team’s nine goals and scored his first NHL goal on his first shot.

St. Louis Blues
26. St. Louis Blues

  • RECORD
    0-1-1
  • POSSESSION
    47.8%
  • LAST WEEK
    11

Coach Mike Yeo said the Blues loss to Chicago (5-4 in overtime) was brutal. Anything but brutal was newcomer Ryan O’Reilly. The former Sabre assisted on four of the team's first five goals.

Detroit Red Wings
27. Detroit Red Wings

  • RECORD
    0-1-1
  • POSSESSION
    49.2%
  • LAST WEEK
    28

Showing some hope for the future, 2016 first-round pick Dennis Cholowski scored his first NHL goal and Detroit’s first of the season in the opener. In the second game, the defenceman had two assists.

Minnesota Wild
28. Minnesota Wild

  • RECORD
    1-1-2
  • POSSESSION
    42.6%
  • LAST WEEK
    28
Edmonton Oilers
29. Edmonton Oilers

  • RECORD
    0-1-0
  • POSSESSION
    37.8%
  • LAST WEEK
    17

Milan Lucic, who scored just one goal in his last 46 games last season, scored the first goal of the season for the Oilers in their opener in Sweden but they still lost (5-2) to New Jersey.

New York Rangers
30. New York Rangers

  • RECORD
    0-3-0
  • POSSESSION
    45.5%
  • LAST WEEK
    26

The only good news from their 0-3 start is that Henrik Lundqvist has a .933 save percentage after his two starts. Scoring five goals against Carolina would have been good had they not allowed eight.

Arizona Coyotes
31. Arizona Coyotes

  • RECORD
    0-2-0
  • POSSESSION
    57.4%
  • LAST WEEK
    24

It was the worst possible start for the Coyotes, being shut out in their first two games. It’s an early repeat of last season when they received good goaltending but couldn’t score.