NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands for the Week of Jan. 25
The NHL has made it through nearly two weeks of the 2020-21 season.
Not without its bumps, of course. Two teams have been hit with COVID-19 outbreaks that have caused postponements and quarantines, as well as all the other unique challenges the pandemic has created.
Still, good things are happening, too.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner already has 10 points. New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov already has two shutouts. And the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets have already pulled off a deal exchanging the second and third overall picks from the 2016 draft.
The B/R hockey team digested all the news and put its heads together, compiling a bottom-to-top list of all 31 teams and where they stand now that everyone's got some games under their belt.
Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments section.
Nos. 31-26: Blackhawks, Senators, Sabres, Ducks, Canucks, Sharks
31. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 31st)
Maybe team executives can petition the league to avoid games in Florida because once the Blackhawks exited their initial four-game trip to Tampa and suburban Miami, things seemed to get better. Veteran Patrick Kane and youngster Alex DeBrincat are point-per-game players through the first six, and Pius Suter had his first career hat trick Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings.
30. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 26th)
The Senators won one of four at home before heading to Winnipeg and losing 6-3 to the Jets on Saturday. Rookie Tim Stutzle was placed on IR with an undisclosed "nagging" injury after playing two games. The penalty kill was lights-out when it stopped the Jets seven times on Thursday, but Ottawa gave up two on the power play on Saturday and allowed four goals in the third period after leading 3-2.
29. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 25th)
Sharing the sports consciousness with a football team in a conference championship game helps take the heat off a hockey team off to an uneven start. The Sabres split a pair of matches against the Flyers in Philadelphia before heading home to take on the Washington Capitals and splitting two games. Their Sunday game, in fact, was moved up to 3 p.m. to accommodate fans eager to watch the Bills face the Kansas City Chiefs.
28. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 28th)
Defenseman Josh Manson became the Ducks' first big injury problem of the season and will miss at least six weeks after bring placed on IR with an oblique muscle issue. He was injured in Anaheim's home opener against the Minnesota Wild. Consistent offense was expected to be an issue, and it has been, with the Ducks averaging fewer than two goals per game through the first six.
27. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 15th)
One of the week's biggest tumbles goes to the Canucks, who were an interesting playoff team last season and hoped to continue things into the new regular season, but it hasn't happened. Instead, the Canucks have had significant issues keeping pucks out of their net. The week saw them allow five, five, seven and five in four games. Their 33 goals allowed in seven games is 10 more than any other team.
26. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 27th)
The road trip continues for the Sharks, who played their first away from San Jose and won't be a home team on the scoresheet until Feb. 1, when they will "host" the Vegas Golden Knights while playing at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks are unable to play at home because of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County. Through five games, they're 13th of 31 teams in goals per game.
Nos. 25-21: Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Oilers, Stars, Rangers
25. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 29th)
Things were progressing nicely for the Red Wings when they split their first four games before they encountered the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Sunday and were outscored 10-3. Veteran winger Bobby Ryan has been a fine comeback story, however, scoring four goals and registering a plus-three through his first five games. Meanwhile, former first-round pick Dylan Larkin is a point-per-game player with six points in six games.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 24th)
A pair of regulation wins and OT losses summed up the week for the Blue Jackets, who made far bigger news for a transaction that sent disgruntled center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for equally disgruntled winger Patrik Laine and center Jack Roslovic. Laine had two goals and an assist in one game with the Jets this season. "This is a really good deal for us," coach John Tortorella said.
23. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 9th)
The Oilers were historically good on the power play last season and also among the league's best while short-handed. Neither has carried over to 2020-21, as they're just 11.5 percent with the man advantage through seven games and allowed two short-handed goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. Former first-round pick Jesse Puljujarvi has been a bright light and was moved to the top line on Sunday.
22. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 5th)
The Stars were the last team in the league to get their season started thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak, but they won the opener in exemplary fashion with a 7-0 defeat of the Nashville Predators. Injuries have become an early-season issue, with veteran Jamie Benn going down in that opener and Tyler Seguin already out until the spring after undergoing hip surgery. Nevertheless, they should rise quickly.
21. New York Rangers (Last Week: 19th)
It was an uneven week for the Rangers, who won just once in their initial five games. The offensive juggernaut hasn't developed quite yet, with the team averaging just 2.6 goals per game. MVP finalist Artemi Panarin is off to a hot start with six points in five games, but No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere hasn't hit the scoresheet despite playing nearly 15 minutes per game.
Nos. 20-16: Kings, Coyotes, Predators, Panthers, Hurricanes
20. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 30th)
Three straight one-goal losses to start the season were disappointing, but the Kings broke through for their first win over the powerful Colorado Avalanche on Thursday before entering a two-game set with the St. Louis Blues. Free agent Andreas Athanasiou has been an unexpected find for the team after splitting last season with Detroit and Edmonton. He has three goals and an assist in his first six games.
19. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 22nd)
The Coyotes are off to a respectable enough start in terms of scoring goals, which was expected to be an issue this season, but they've had surprising issues keeping pucks out of their own net. They've already surrendered four goals or more in three games but allowed just one in a Sunday game with the Vegas Golden Knights. However, they were shut out for the first time, too.
18. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 10th)
A lot of offense left town in a variety of transactions in the offseason, and the Predators have had trouble spreading the goals around through four games. Seven players have accounted for the team's 10 goals in that stretch, and a 7-0 loss to the Dallas Stars in that team's first game of the season didn't help. Mikael Granlund was added to the active roster Friday and should help after scoring 17 times in 2019-20.
17. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 21st)
The Panthers have already managed to have two series affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, one with the Dallas Stars and another with the Carolina Hurricanes. They've played just two games, winning both against the Chicago Blackhawks, through Sunday. Going forward with an even more condensed schedule, goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger may share more time than initially expected.
16. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 11th)
It's another uneven grade for the Hurricanes, who have played just three games because of a COVID-19 outbreak that's landed six players on the league's protocol list. "We're making the best of the situation," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Are we going to be in tip-top shape? Probably not. We're going to have to figure out different ways to make up for the time we've lost."
Nos. 15-11: Blues, Devils, Bruins, Flames, Penguins
15. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 16th)
The Blues ended last week in ugly fashion, losing 8-0 to the Colorado Avalanche, but they righted the ship three days later with a five-goal effort in a defeat of the San Jose Sharks. Ten players scored at least one goal through their first five games, including one from offseason acquisition Mike Hoffman. In goal, Jordan Binnington struggled early but has bumped his save percentage to .913 through five.
14. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 23rd)
Let's face it, not much was expected from the Devils this season after they were among the seven teams to miss last term's expanded postseason tournament. It's been a bit better to begin 2020-21, thanks in no small part to Jack Hughes, who seems much more confident in his second NHL year. The former No. 1 overall pick had 21 points in 65 games in 2019-20 but already has seven points in his first five this year.
13. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 8th)
Only four goals in your first three games? No problem, just schedule the Philadelphia Flyers. That was exactly the remedy for the Bruins, who followed a 5-4 victory on Thursday with a 6-1 rout on Saturday. The Saturday win was the team's first regulation triumph of the season. Not having goal-scoring ace David Pastrnak hasn't helped, but three players are averaging at least a point per game through five.
12. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 13th)
The Flames dropped to 2-2 with a Sunday loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but there's plenty of reason for optimism in the early going in southern Alberta. The power play is clicking at a 35 percent success rate, opponents have scored just 12.5 percent of the time when up a man and big-ticket free agent Jacob Markstrom has allowed just nine goals in four games with a .928 save percentage.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 14th)
Things in Pittsburgh weren't stellar at this time last week after consecutive losses to the Philadelphia Flyers to start the season, but the Penguins responded with four straight wins over the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. Goaltending, though, is a concern, with both Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith carrying sub-.900 save percentages.
Nos. 10-6: Jets, Wild, Islanders, Flyers, Capitals
10. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 18th)
The Jets started the week with a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday but recovered well with three consecutive wins without Patrik Laine. Then they made off-ice news by dealing Laine to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Early returns give Winnipeg high marks for the deal considering Dubois adds depth at the position and has a 54.1 win percentage on faceoffs.
9. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 20th)
If you expected four wins in six games to begin the schedule for the Minnesota Wild, alongside a one-goal loss, go ahead and take your bow. Baby-faced center Joel Eriksson Ek has five points and is a plus-six to begin his 2020-21 season, while long-awaited Russian import Kirill Kaprizov also has six points and is a plus-four in six games. In goal, free-agent signee Cam Talbot has stopped 98 of 106 shots across four starts.
8. New York Islanders (Last Week: 12th)
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov was one of the stories of last summer's playoffs and helped the Islanders get within two wins of reaching the Stanley Cup final. He's continued that into the new season across his initial three starts, posting two shutouts and allowing a single goal in the other game. On offense, Mathew Barzal was an important signing for a reason. He's got four points in his first five games.
7. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 6th)
It was a stick explosion heard around the world, or at least in Philadelphia, when goalie Carter Hart expressed frustration Saturday after a 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. The Flyers have been hit by injuries and illnesses that have touched Sean Couturier, Phil Myers, Morgan Frost and Shayne Gostisbehere, but coach Alain Vigneault is preaching calm. "Frustration right now won't help our situation," he said.
6. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 7th)
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov tested positive for COVID-19 after the Capitals' 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and three other players, including goal-scoring wizard Alex Ovechkin, are in isolation and unavailable as a result. A 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres followed the diagnosis before the Sabres snapped back with a shootout win on Sunday. Center Nicklas Backstrom has seven points in six games.
Nos. 5-1: Maple Leafs, Avalanche, Canadiens, Lightning, Golden Knights
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 4th)
It's hard to find fault in the early going for the Maple Leafs, who've already beaten five of their six foes in the all-Canadian North Division. The power play is clicking at better than 40 percent, and the overall success has continued in spite of the brief absence of Auston Matthews with a hand injury and the longer-term shelving of Joe Thornton with a cracked rib. Backup goalie Jack Campbell has two wins and a .923 save percentage.
4. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 3rd)
The Avalanche spent the first full week of the season on the road, splitting two with the Los Angeles Kings and two with the Anaheim Ducks. Coach Jared Bednar is always looking for the right lineup combinations, but rookie defenseman Bowen Byram has an assist and is plus-one while averaging 12 or so minutes per game.
3. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 17th)
They were among the biggest surprises in the Eastern Conference playoffs last summer, but they're unquestionably the headline story of the early 2020-21 season across the entire NHL. The Canadiens have scored four or more goals in all but one of their six games, winning four times and losing twice in overtime. Tyler Toffoli has been magical since arriving as a free agent, scoring five goals and eight points overall.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 2nd)
They probably haven't been as surprisingly spectacular as the Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs, but the Lightning remain the wonderfully talented team that won the Stanley Cup in 2019-20. Two series have resulted in three wins across four games, and each of the usual suspects—Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman—is averaging a point per game thus far.
1. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 1st)
It was a week of familiarity for the Golden Knights, who faced the Arizona Coyotes four straight times and came away with three wins, including a 1-0 shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury on Sunday afternoon. Vegas is a few ticks above the middle of the pack with a 12th-ranked offense through six games, but the goaltending is in the upper echelon thanks to Fleury, who's 3-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average.