NHL Power Rankings: Where Each Team Ranks Early in the 2013 Season

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent IJanuary 21, 2013

NHL Power Rankings: Where Each Team Ranks Early in the 2013 Season

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    First things first: It is way too early to determine where each team stands based off of one game.

    As I’m sure many of you saw, a lot of teams are rusty, and a few are missing players from overseas. That’s not to say that Saturday’s results were meaningless, but we definitely will see better—and more meaningful—hockey in the future.

    Also, piggybacking off of that notion, this is the time of year where everyone overreacts to everything that happens.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs have a winning record in the first month: They’re going to the Stanley Cup!

    The Vancouver Canucks have a losing streak: They’re going to be disappointing once again!

    The Los Angeles Kings have a winning streak: It’s a dynasty!

    Relax guys.

    I’m as happy as you are that hockey is going to be played and that I can write about actual results rather than my own speculations. One of the joys of the hockey season, at least for me, is that something unexpected always happens.

    I never saw the Ottawa Senators putting it together like they did last season or the Phoenix Coyotes taking out both the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators in the playoffs, and I certainly did not think that the Kings would win it all as an No. 8 seed.

    Hockey’s back! (It’s about damn time).

30. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    First game: 3-2 shootout win in Nashville.

    Undefeated season in Columbus! 48-0! Stanley Cup champions!

    Yeah…when pigs fly.

    It’s still going to be a little bit before the Blue Jackets put things together, but a win in Tennessee to start the season is nothing to sneeze at.

29. New York Islanders

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    First game: 2-1 loss to New Jersey at home.

    There are definitely pieces in place on the Island, but it’s going to be another long season for John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson and Co.

28. Calgary Flames

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    First game: 4-1 loss in San Jose.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this team fares against the Northwest Division this season, which now features two strong teams, Vancouver and Minnesota, as well as two up-and-coming teams in Edmonton and Colorado.

    Starting the season with a loss indicates they might not be up to the task just yet.

27. Winnipeg Jets

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    First game: 4-1 loss to Ottawa at home.

    The Winnipeg Jets got routed in their first game this season. While I expect a couple highlights, this team does have a lot of young talent, it will probably be another year before the people of Winnipeg see their young stars bloom.

26. Phoenix Coyotes

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    First game: 4-3 loss in Dallas.

    It’s one game, so there’s no reason to overreact, but Phoenix did just give up four points to a 40-year-old man.

    Now, granted, it was Jaromir Jagr, a hockey legend, but if the Yotes can’t keep older players on divisional opponents at bay, it’s going to spell trouble against teams with established stars in their division like San Jose, Anaheim and Dallas.

25. Edmonton Oilers

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    First game: First game late Sunday

    It will be interesting to see how Edmonton plays coming out of the gates. I expect good things.

    A lot of the impact players on this team have been playing together in the AHL and, therefore, this is one of the most cohesive teams in the NHL right now.

    A good start will allow the Oil to shock a couple people in the beginning of the season.

24. Montreal Canadiens

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    First game: 2-1 loss to Toronto.

    This one always stings for Montreal. Nobody out there wants to lose to Toronto…even if it is only the first game of the season.

    There will be chance for redemption, however, and the Habs have a lot more to worry about than that one loss. This team cannot repeat the effort it had last season.

23. Colorado Avalanche

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    First game: 4-2 loss in Minnesota.

    Colorado came out firing on all cylinders but were ultimately overwhelmed by a better Wild club in St. Paul on Saturday.

    The Avs could be a bit of a surprise team this year, however. If Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson start producing like they’re supposed to, there’s no reason to count this club out.

22. Nashville Predators

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    First game: 3-2 loss in Columbus.

    Losing to Columbus to start the season is never a good sign.

    It will be an interesting season in Nashville. Yet again the Preds have lost a star—this time it’s Ryan Suter—and yet again they have something to prove.

21. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    First game: 2-1 win in Montreal.

    It’s too early to draw conclusions from this game, but that’s no matter right now: The Leafs have beaten the Habs and everyone in Toronto can revel in nirvana…at least until the next game.

20. Carolina Hurricanes

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    First game: 5-1 loss in South Florida.

    Tough loss for the Carolina Hurricanes—a team expected to make a splash this season.

    It’s just one game, but Carolina has to prove that it can compete with both Floridian teams this year if it wants to make the postseason for the first time since 2009.

19. New Jersey Devils

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    First game: 2-1 win at the Islanders.

    The New Jersey Devils had the pleasure of being the only team to begin its season with an exhibition game (just kidding, Islanders fans!).

    They took care of business, though, and in the end that’s all that matters.

18. Anaheim Ducks

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    First game: 7-3 win in Vancouver.

    Much to the delight of Ron Thompson, this team could really make me look like a fool this season.

    The Anaheim Ducks have a lot of younger players that may provide depth and a slew of established stars. After years of underachieving, Game 1 gives hockey fans in Anaheim hope that this season will be different.

17. Ottawa Senators

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    First game: 4-1 win in Winnipeg.

    The Senators went into Winnipeg, took care of business and then probably said something along the lines of “Haha! We don’t have to fly to the south to play our divisional games!”

    Unfortunately, the Sens do have to face Boston and Buffalo in their own division, but at least they aren’t halfway across North America.

16. Florida Panthers

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    First game: 5-1 win over Carolina.

    The Florida Panthers got a nice win on Saturday, beating a much-hyped team in their own division.

    Brian Campbell looks like he’s found his game again, and people in South Florida (Nick Hahn, I’m looking at you) have to be excited about Jonathan Huberdeau.

15. Dallas Stars

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    First game: 4-3 win over Phoenix.

    Hockey fans in Dallas have to be happy about the way Jaromir Jagr played last night.

    The good thing about that, too, is that this team really shouldn’t have to lean on him too much this season if his production drops due to wear and tear of the 48-game season.

    Loui Eriksson also found the net last night and he, Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow should do most of the heavy lifting for the Stars this year.

14. Minnesota Wild

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    First game: 4-2 win over Colorado.

    Minnesota looked sloppy in the first period, but it has to be happy with the rest of the game.

    Mikael Granlund looks like the real deal and that first line of Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise is really clicking.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    First game: 6-3 win over Washington.

    I went out on a limb and really felt Tampa Bay was going to be a tough team this year.

    Right now, I’m looking pretty smart.

    This team rolled over Washington, a team that has typically dominated the Southeast Division, and had a lot of big-name players contribute—Eric Brewer (two goals), Martin St. Louis (two goals) and Vincent Lecavalier (one).

12. Philadelphia Flyers

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    First game: 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

    Losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home is never going to go over well with the fans.

    Luckily, it’s early and Claude Giroux, who is expected to do great things this year, is already on the scoreboard.

11. San Jose Sharks

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    First game: 4-1 win over Calgary.

    The San Jose Sharks are immaculately talented, but their recent playoff woes have people wondering if this team is ever going to pull it off.

    Stars like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle are aging, and there are some fans wondering whether the window has closed on this generation of Sharks.

    Boyle and Marleau appeared alive and well against Calgary, however—a good sign that this team still has a little life left in it.

10. Buffalo Sabres

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    First game: 5-2 win over Philadelphia.

    Buffalo is a mystery team this year.

    The Sabres have enough talent to make the playoffs and even go on a little run, but they also disappointed last season and have to be wary of getting off to a bad start in a shortened season.

    Their win over Philadelphia, a team with big expectations this year, isn’t a bad start though.

9. Detroit Red Wings

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    First game: 6-0 loss in St. Louis.

    It’s only one game, but this is a bad sign for the Elderly Men of the Winged Wheel.

    The Baby Blues are growing up before their own eyes and look like they could snatch this division away from the once mighty Red Wings.

8. Washington Capitals

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    First game: 6-3 loss in Tampa.

    The Washington Capitals can’t be happy about their start to the season.

    It’s always hard to win on the road, especially against a divisional opponent, but this team is in jeopardy of losing control of their division, and the Lightning are capable of taking it.

7. Los Angeles Kings

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    First game: 5-2 loss to Chicago.

    The Kings had a spectacular playoff run last season but had their banner raising spoiled by Chicago at the Staples Center.

    No worries, though. This team is young, talented and capable of winning it all again this year. The first game is simply a small setback.

6. Vancouver Canucks

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    First game: 7-3 loss to Anaheim

    Corey Schneider is the answer in net…oh, wait.

    The Ducks made a fool out of the man that Vancouver expected to replace Roberto Luongo in net. The Canucks are a talented team, but they need to figure out who they want in net and how to get adequate defense in front of him.

5. Chicago Blackhawks

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    First game: 5-2 win in Los Angeles.

    Perhaps they are vindictive because they didn’t repeat, perhaps it was good timing, but whatever it is, the Hawks ruined the Kings Stanley Cup ceremony.

    It’s a good start for a team that is capable of winning it all this year.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    First game: 3-1 win in Philadelphia.

    Hockey fans in the Steel City have to be ecstatic right now.

    Sidney Crosby is healthy and their team just whooped the Flyers in the opener.

    This is no fluke—the Penguins are expected to be good this year—but it’s never a bad thing to beat up a division rival in the first game (even if play on both sides was a little sloppy).

3. St. Louis Blues

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    First game: 6-0 win over Detroit.

    I don’t mean to jump the gun here, but the St. Louis Blues look ready to take over the Central Division.

    This team is young, talented and, most pertinently, they play extremely well as a team. Hitch has a system going in St. Louis that appears to be working and when you can have a winning team without any superstars the more power to him.

    Let it be known: The Blues are scary.

2. New York Rangers

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    First game: 3-1 loss in Boston.

    The New York Rangers appear to be the best team in hockey on paper, but a loss to Boston in their first game is a harsh reminder that things don’t always work out as planned.

    It’s always hard to march into Beantown and get a win. It’s only one game, but when you’re playing another team capable of winning it all, it’s always meaningful.

1. Boston Bruins

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    First game: 3-1 win over the Rangers.

    When you think of Boston rivalries in hockey, the first team that comes to mind is the Montreal Canadiens. Make no mistake, however: There is no love lost between Boston and New York.

    Both of these teams are capable of winning it all this year. Boston made a statement on Saturday night.

    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com and contributes to Hockey’s Future and Stadium Journey.