NHL Top 10 Team Power Rankings
10. Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews loves to start the season strong, scoring a goal in each of his four initial NHL games. The Leafs feasted on the Ottawa Senators in front of their fans to start the campaign. Though they dropped a 6-5 decision at home to Montreal, which required the lottery of a shootout, this is a fun team to watch. That being said, Toronto demands a good product with their rich history. They hope to make a deep playoff run as Mike Babcock tries to replicate the success he had as Detroit Red Wings head coach years ago.
9. Colorado Avalanche
Colorado was a great story last year, getting to within one win of having the chance to play in the NHL Western Conference Final. They have won their first two games, scoring nine goals. Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi, who came over from the San Jose Sharks after a four-year stint, each scored two in their victory against the Calgary Flames. They are getting on the power play quite frequently, converting on twenty-five percent of their opportunities. Goaltender Phillipp Grubauer, who was part of Washington’s Cup ride, looks for a good sophomore season.
8. Nashville Predators
Matt Duchene assisted on three of Nashville’s five goals last Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, and they needed him to help beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg each got their second goals against the Detroit Red Wings. Though they eventually lost, I thought they showed a lot of fight twice tying the game after getting behind. The Predators peppered Jimmy Howard with forty-two shots, but the netminder was just a little bit better. They bounced back against a San Jose side that has started out slowly, but they got some of the bad taste out of their mouth. Forsberg scored again, but this time, it was defenseman Roman Josi setting the tone and getting his side the early lead, not looking back. They will be a tough out again in the NHL Central Division.
7. Anaheim Ducks
In the first game of the NHL 2019-20 season, the Ducks grinded out a 2-1 win, one in which both teams were very disciplined on the ice. There were only two penalties throughout the game. While John Gibson was the game’s number one star stopping thirty-one shots, center Derek Grant in his seventh season had a big impact on the ice with a plus-two rating. Anaheim carried the momentum to a home divisional win against San Jose. Right-winger Ondrej Kase recorded two assists in their 3-1 decision. This past Tuesday, they carried their game outside southern California, getting contributions from different players in the third period against Detroit. That included veterans Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell finding the net to get their team across the finish line. They should be playing hockey past mid-April.
6. Vegas Golden Knights
While Vegas still may not totally shake off the memories of Game 7 in the Bay Area last spring, they were able to get off the front foot. They did it against San Jose, the team that eliminated them in convincing fashion, 4-1. They have a proven goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury, so the Golden Knights will have a chance with him between the pipes. Reilly Smith had a pair of goals against their Pacific Division foes. Forty-eight hours later, they humiliated them in their own crib 5-1 with Tomas Nosek striking twice. They did come back down on earth to the defending NHL Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins, but they got off the deck down 4-1 and made it a tight finish, so they showed great character even in the defeat.
5. Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid came through when his team needed him versus the Vancouver Canucks. He was part of the story against the Los Angeles Kings, but it was veteran James Neal who netted the most important goal in a contest that saw the puck go inside the pipes eleven times. He was not done, lighting the lamp four times against the New York Islanders in a comfortable win for the Oilers. I do not know if they will go far should they get back to the postseason, but they will not be a pushover.
4. Washington Capitals
The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Champions showed great character, getting help from their superstar Alex Ovechkin to begin the comeback trail after being behind by two in Saint Louis in their first game. Dmitry Orlov put them on level footing. Then it was capped off by Jakub Vrana during the three on three overtime period. Though they had losses to Carolina and Dallas, they have taken at least a point in their first four matches.
3. Boston Bruins
Danton Heinen scores the game-winning goal on the league’s second night of play against the Dallas Stars. A couple of nights later, Jaroslav Halak only faced 26 attempts versus the Coyotes but all of them were needed for Boston to preserve a 1-0 win in Arizona. They then finished off the league’s opening week by holding off the Golden Knights as they have had a successful west coast swing. They scored twice in the first two periods, so they showed great skill away from TD Garden against a quality side in Vegas. The Bruins had a great week having yet to play their home opener.
2. Saint Louis Blues
The defending NHL Stanley Cup champions had a fast start in the season opener against Washington before letting it slip. Opening games on banner raising night require a special type of energy as the champions celebrate but also face a very hungry opponent that uses that team as a measuring stick. They have recovered with two wins. Saint Louis trailed the Dallas Stars 2-1 until Brayden Schenn and Sammy Blais scored even-strength goals in the third period. Alex Pietrangelo had a milestone, picking up his 400th point. More importantly, it was the game-winning goal on the road in Toronto Monday.
1. Carolina Hurricanes
The NHL Eastern Conference finalists have hit the ground running, taking all eight possible points in the first week. They needed Dougie Hamilton’s heroics in the shootout to get past the Montreal Canadiens, then Jake Gardiner, who spent eight years with the Maple Leafs, netted an overtime winner against the Capitals, last year’s first-round playoff opponents. Another sign of a good team is having different players step up. Jaccob Slavin ended the game against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that many think will make a Stanley Cup run. The Hurricanes did not get to experience a comfortable win until facing the Florida Panthers. 6-3 was the final score in Sunrise as Ryan Dzingel scored twice. Carolina put up a four-spot in the first period thanks in part to Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, and Hamilton. James Reimer had to deal with fifty shots in that game on Tuesday. To me, this team has a lot of depth, and they are hungry for more following a deep run last term.
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Works cited: NHL app