Each month contributor to Eyes On Isles Tom Ballantyne of section 329 takes a glance around the NHL and provides you, the reader, with his power rankings of where teams stand.
With a little over three weeks play in the books, things are beginning to become clear in some divisions and even more murky in others.
What was thought to be in pre-season and training camp is not always what it turns out to be once play begins for real and two points are on the line each night.
We have seen spectacular goals, saves, hits and a plethora of injuries that have seen teams scrambling to fill voids in their lineups. Not to mention suspensions galore as players continue to take liberties with each others livelihood.
So here are the rankings from 1 to 30 as Tom sees them with a brief explanation. I asked him to be as partial as he possibly can (being one of the leaders of the Islanders seventh man) and in all honesty, he did a heck of a job!
NHL Power Rankings – October
By Tom Ballantyne
Well, we’re a month into the season and boy has a lot changed. Some teams have been off to surprising starts, others are off to a disappointing start. There is a lot of movement in the power rankings from my preseason rankings. Nothing else left to say, so let’s get right into it. Note: Power rankings records and stats are as of 10/31/13.
#1 San Jose Sharks (7) (10-1-1 = 21 pts)
The Sharks continue to show their dominance in the regular season, riding a red hot Antti Niemi and offense to an early Pacific Division lead.
#2 Colorado Avalanche (23) (10-1-0 = 20 pts)
Patrick Roy has the Avs believing early, leading the charge to a surprising start, second best team through his first month as a NHL head coach.
#3 Anaheim Ducks (4) (10-3-0 = 20 pts)
The Ducks picked up where they left off last year in the regular season, as Bruce Boudreau’s squad stays in the Sharks’ rearview mirror.
#4 Chicago Blackhawks (1) (8-2-3 = 19 pts)
The defending Stanley Cup Champs kept pace with the red-hot Avs, trailing them by only one point for the division lead through one month.
#5 Vancouver Canucks (18) (9-4-1 = 19 pts)
John Tortorella’s style didn’t work out in New York, but the Canucks are making him look like a genius early, as another unexpected early run has them within striking range of the Sharks and Ducks.
#6 Toronto Maple Leafs (16) (9-4-0 = 18 pts)
The Leafs are off to a fast start, perhaps trying to get me to buy into last year not being a fluke for them. Not quite sure, but Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer are certainly helping the cause, as the Leafs hold the top spot in the Atlantic through the first month of the season.
#7 Phoenix Coyotes (20) (8-3-2 = 18 pts)
The Coyotes are also off to a solid start, riding goaltender/goal scorer Mike Smith to keep themselves within distance of the Sharks, Ducks and Canucks early on.
#8 St. Louis Blues (5) (7-1-2 = 16 pts)
Ten games in, points in nine of them, can’t complain about where they are this early on.
#9 Pittsburgh Penguins (3) (8-4-0 = 16 pts)
The Metropolitan Division has been the weakest division through the first month of the year, and as expected, the Pens lead the way, but haven’t been able to create a lot distance between themselves and the rest of the division.
#10 Tampa Bay Lightning (24) (8-4-0 = 16 pts)
The Lightning, off of great goaltending from Ben Bishop, are right in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis leading the charge offensively, but can Bishop hold up as the season progresses?
#11 Montreal Canadiens (13) (8-5-0 = 16 pts)
The Canadiens are also in the thick of things in the Atlantic, but how long can they hold off the Bruins and Red Wings, two top teams that are off to slow starts.
#12 Los Angeles Kings (6) (8-5-0 = 16 pts)
The Kings are doing what they do best, just trudging along, winning games with great goaltending by Johnathan Quick, and clutch goal scoring.
#13 Minnesota Wild (12) (6-4-3 = 15 pts)
The Wild continue to keep pace in the Central, have to do more in order to catch up to the Avs and Blackhawks, though.
#14 Boston Bruins (2) (7-3-0 = 14 pts)
The Bruins are off to a bit of a slow start, as the hot teams like the Leafs and Lightning jumped out in front early, but the Bruins will probably be back in front of the division once the play more games, as they’re a victim of less games played in comparison to both teams.
#15 Detroit Red Wings (8) (6-4-2 = 14 pts)
The Red Wings are also off to a slow start, probably has to do with getting used to the style of Eastern Conference hockey, they’ll get back into the thick of the Atlantic Division race soon enough.
#16 Nashville Predators (22) (6-5-1 = 13 pts)
Two words: Pekka Rinne. That is all.
#17 Calgary Flames (27) (5-4-2 = 12 pts)
The former Isles goaltender, Joey MacDonald, leading the way to get the Flames off to a surprising early start, but can he keep it going the whole season and get this “rebuilding” team into a playoff spot?
#18 Winnipeg Jets (19) (5-7-2 = 12 pts)
The Jets are where I expected them to be for the most part, as they are still figuring out the Western Conference, so they’ll continue to struggle until they do.
#19 Dallas Stars (21) (5-6-1 = 11 pts)
The hideous jerseys haven’t affected their play, but the inability to win on the road has haunted them early.
#20 Carolina Hurricanes (17) (4-5-3 = 11 pts)
#21 New York Islanders (14) (4-5-3 = 11 pts)
An inconsistent start by the Isles led to the acquisition of top talent winger Thomas Vanek in exchange for Matt Moulson by Garth Snow. Hopefully Vanek is the remedy this team badly needs in order to string some wins together and get things going. Looked a little lost against the Rangers, but will look more at home as the season progresses. The Isles’ season could be a lot worse right now if it hasn’t been for relatively solid goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov to make up for the issues surrounding the defense. With Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait out, Radek Martinek (always radekal), has looked like he’s been playing all season. Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen have been off to a hot start, a major reason why the Isles have been as good as they have been so far.
#22 Columbus Blue Jackets (15) (5-6-0 = 10 pts)
Lucky to be where they are in the Metropolitan Division, will be able to contend for the other two division playoff spots, if they can get into a groove.
#23 Ottawa Senators (9) (4-6-2 = 10 pts)
The Sens are off to a terrible start, and they need to pick their game up fast if they even want to have a shot at making the playoffs this year with the other four teams running away with it in the Atlantic.
#24 Washington Capitals (11) (5-7-0 = 10 pts)
Disappointing start for the Caps, despite the fact the Alexander Ovechkin continues to be the offensive force everyone expects him to be. The Caps have to pick up their game soon or the Isles, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes could create some distance between them.
#25 New Jersey Devils (28) (3-5-4 = 10 pts)
The Devils live and die by the goaltending, which has been great or terrible at times so far this year. Devils need to get more going offensively or it’ll be a long season in Jersey.
#26 New York Rangers (10) (4-7-0 = 8 pts)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Sorry couldn’t help myself) Alain Vigneault is the answer, huh? Henrik Lundqvist has been exposed as an above-average goaltender, under his system, but on the bright side, the offense is there. Well, for the other team it is, anyways. The Rangers might be in need of a new goaltender come July first if they don’t turn things around.
#27 Florida Panthers (30) (3-7-2 = 8 pts)
So far, the Panthers are better than I thought they’d be, but with the way the Atlantic Division is, the season might already be over for them.
#28 Edmonton Oilers (25) (3-9-2 = 8 pts)
Unless the Oilers get hot and string a bunch of wins together, oh who am I kidding, it’s another year without the playoffs for the Oilers because I just can’t see them catching anyone in the Pacific.
#29 Philadelphia Flyers (29) (3-8-0 = 6 pts)
The Flyers are producing offensively, despite Claude Giroux’s inability to score, but Vincent Lecavalier has been able to lead the charge offensively. Terrible goaltending and defense has been their downfall for the most part.
#30 Buffalo Sabres (26) (2-12-1 = 5 pts)
The early trade of Thomas Vanek shows that it’s going to be a long year for the Sabres and their fans. Ryan Miller and newly acquired Matt Moulson will probably be gone before the season ends. Though, at this point, the season’s probably already over for the Sabres.