Welcome to the second edition of NHL Power Rankings where we’ll take a look around the league and break down each team on a weekly basis. It’s still hard to make any conclusions as the season is still young but I think it’s a safe bet to say the top six and bottom six teams will remain intertwined for the majority of the season.
We’re a little under a quarter of the way through the season but there’s some trends we’re seeing thus far. Historically, underdogs have performed well over the course of a regular season, but this is hardly an ordinary season, as favorites have dominated play early on.
Like last week, the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers continue to struggle while we’ve seen a major turnaround in the cities of Phoenix, Nashville, Vancouver and Pittsburgh. Defensive issues continue to haunt the Caps and Flyers, who now sit dead last in the Atlantic and Southeast Divisions with a combined record of 6-13-1. The bipolar opposite took place with the Coyotes, Predators, Canucks and Penguins, who went a combined 12-0-2 over the last seven days.
The biggest storylines coming out of the Eastern Conference this week is the surprisingly great start of the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t long ago when the Canadiens experienced a tumultuous season that saw a franchise player get traded mid-game, coaching changes and a contractual mind game played with Restricted Free Agent, PK Subboff this offseason. Even without Subban, the Canadiens returned to their effective skating ways and have the look of a team that’s going to give the Boston Bruins a run for their money in the Northeast Division. Montreal received Max Pacioretty back earlier than expected from emergency appendectomy surgery, who will be all hands on deck against the Bruins tonight in their first meeting of the season.
In the Western Conference, goaltending controversies already exist for two of the NHL’s hottest teams in Vancouver and Anaheim. What was once a black-and-white situation with Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo is now dominated by shades of gray. Although Schneider was seemingly promised the starting gig while negotiating a new contract in the offseason, Luongo has been that much better than him this season. Heading into tomorrow night’s game in Minnesota, the ole’ tire-kicker boasts a record of 3-0-2, a goals-against-average of 1.53 and a save percentage of .940%, including one shutout. Meanwhile, Schneider has struggled in his four starts on the season with a 2-2 record, 3.13 GAA and .897% save percentage. Even though the expectations are that Luongo gets traded soon, I see the Canucks hang onto both goaltenders and reaccess their goaltending situation in the offseason.
Nonetheless, here are the NHL Power Rankings for week No. 2: