Rocco’s Rankings: Caps, Leafs Top Early-Season NHL Power Rankings

Story posted January 29, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Rocco

The NHL is back, and there have already been some outstanding games, goals and saves on the young season. Let’s take a look at how the teams stack up a few weeks into the season.

1. Washington Capitals (5-0-3)

Rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek has been great with a .915 save percentage through his first six starts, and the Caps have yet to lose in regulation. This team will be scary good when most of its stars return from injury.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs (7-2-0)

The Maple Leafs will enjoy having Joe Thornton return from his rib injury, but in the meantime, it’s hard to complain when you’re 7-2-0 and your top stars are playing great.

3. Vegas Golden Knights (5-1-1)

Star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has logged almost 26 minutes a game after inking a massive contract this offseason, and the Golden Knights are once again rolling.

4. Montreal Canadiens (5-0-2)

Tyler Toffoli has scored six goals on the young season, the Canadiens are second in goals scored with 33, and goalie Jake Allen has been great while backing up Carey Price. 

5. Boston Bruins (5-1-1)

Brad Marchand has 10 points in just seven games, while free-agent acquisition Craig Smith has had two game-winners. He seems to be an ideal fit for the third line.

6. Winnipeg Jets (5-2-0)

The Pierre-Luc Dubois acquisition makes life in Winnipeg quite intriguing going forward. A one-two punch of Mark Scheifele and Dubois at center gives the Jets one of the best duos in the league.

7. Philadelphia Flyers (5-2-1)

The Flyers did not make any big free-agent signings or have any new impact players, but outside of two blowout losses, they’ve been playing really solid hockey, despite the injury to Sean Couturier.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (3-1-1)

Despite only being five games in, the Lightning look great, even without Nikita Kucherov.

9. Dallas Stars (4-0-0)

The Stars basically have an identical lineup to the one that came two wins shy of a Stanley Cup last season. They’re off to a hot start after being forced to delay their season opener.

10. St. Louis Blues (4-2-1)

Jordan Kyrou has been a pleasant surprise for the Blues with a team-leading seven points in seven games, including two game-winning goals. The 22-year-old center has been very good after getting recalled from the taxi squad at the beginning of the season.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-1)

The Penguins had their four-game win streak snapped Tuesday night after an overtime loss to the Bruins. Tristan Jarry has taken over as the starting goalie after Matt Murray was traded to the Senators, and he’s been awful, posting an .859 save percentage and a 3.92 goals-against average in six games.

12. Florida Panthers (3-0-1)

There aren’t many takeaways from the Panthers’ start. They’ve had four of their first eight games postponed due to COVID-19. Two of Florida’s wins have come against a lackluster Blackhawks team.

13. Minnesota Wild (5-3-0)

Few rookies have been as exciting to watch as Kirill Kaprizov. The 23-year-old has seven points in eight games, including the game-winning goal in the season opener. He will be among the top candidates for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season.

14. Colorado Avalanche (5-3-0)

The Avs have been mediocre to begin the season, but superstar center Nathan MacKinnon is off to a hot start with 10 points in eight games.

15. Calgary Flames (2-3-1)

The Flames needed a bounce-back season from top-six center Sean Monahan, and he’s delivered so far with seven points in six games.

16. New Jersey Devils (3-3-1)

The Devils have exceeded expectations, and one reason for that has been the improvement of Jack Hughes. Hughes leads the Devils with seven points through seven games. Hughes becoming an impact player would be one of the best possible outcomes as the Devils continue to rebuild.

17. Vancouver Canucks (5-5)

The Canucks’ five losses are among the league’s worst. On the bright side, Quinn Hughes has 11 points, and Bo Horvat has 10 points in 10 games.

18. Los Angeles Kings (3-3-2)

The Kings have exceeded expectations in the early goings, thanks in large part to Anze Kopitar. Kopitar has 12 points through eight games.

19. Carolina Hurricanes (3-1-0)

The Hurricanes had six players on the NHL’s COVID Protocol Related Absences list, which led to games being canceled. Four of the Hurricanes’ seven scheduled games have been postponed, which will force them to play their remaining 52 games in fewer than 100 days.

20. Buffalo Sabres (3-3-2)

Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall have been great together on the Sabres’ first line. These two stars have driven much of Buffalo’s success on the power play, where the Sabres rank in the top 10.

21. Nashville Predators (4-3-0)

The Predators rank 24th in goals with just 16. They need Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen to be far more productive, as both have to score a goal through seven games.

22. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-2-3)

The Blue Jackets finally traded disgruntled star Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Jets, along with a 2022 third-round pick, in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. It was a tremendous return for Columbus. Laine is a fantastic player who scored 138 goals in his first four seasons in Winnipeg. The goal for the Blue Jackets now is signing him to a long-term extension.

23. Anaheim Ducks (3-3-2)

The Ducks have given up just 17 goals in seven games, yet they’ve only scored 14 times themselves. Only two forwards—Max Comtois and Nicolas Deslauriers—have found the back of the net more than once.

24. Chicago Blackhawks (2-3-3)

Goalies Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen have not played well, as the Blackhawks are giving up 3.4 goals per game. They also rank toward the bottom of the league in shots against. Chicago needs to be a lot better in the defensive zone.

25. New York Islanders (3-4-0)

The Islanders are seventh in goals-against, but they can’t score at the other end of the ice. They rank 29th in goals with just 14 in seven games. This offensive drought is starting to hurt New York, which has lost three in a row.

26. Edmonton Oilers (3-6-0)

New year, same story for the Oilers. Connor McDavid (14 points) and Leon Draisaitl (13 points) have been great, but the team is struggling. Edmonton ranks 29th in goals against. 

27. Arizona Coyotes (3-4-1)

The Coyotes are 3-4-1, but three of those losses were to the Golden Knights, which are arguably the league’s best team. One bright spot has been Phil Kessel, who has scored four goals in eight games.

28. San Jose Sharks (3-5-0)

COVID-19 restrictions have forced the Sharks to relocate their first two home games to Arizona. It’s not an easy situation for San Jose.

29. New York Rangers (2-4-1)

Alexis Lafreniere has not made much of an impact through the first seven games of his career. The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL draft has one goal on just 13 shots. It’s way too early to be concerned if you’re the Rangers, though.

30. Detroit Red Wings (2-5-1)

Bobby Ryan is just one goal shy of tying his total from last season of five. Unfortunately, Ryan’s play is one of the only bright spots for Detroit.

31. Ottawa Senators (1-6-1)

Rookie Tim Stützle has only one point, Matt Murray has only one win, and the Senators continue to be at the very bottom of the league standings with head coach D.J. Smith on the hot seat already.

 

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at afr5646@psu.edu.

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nhl , power rankings