1. Colorado Avalanche (10-1-0, 20 points) Last Week: 4
It’s finally time to give the Colorado Avalanche their due. The goaltending duo of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere have put up a combined 1.46 goals against average and .955 save percentage, both tops in the league. Combine that stout netminding to an offense that is producing 3.18 goals per game (6th best in the NHL) and you get the best record in the league. The only real drawback to their fantastic start is that they are giving up more shots than they themselves are putting on net, which advanced stats enthusiasts would call a bad sign when it comes to sustainable success.
2. San Jose Sharks (10-1-1, 21 points) Last Week: 1
Good news NHL, we’ve found San Jose’s kryptonite! All you need is one of the best goalies in the league to have one of the best performances of the year and you are all set to take down the mighty Sharks! Thanks Tuukka Rask and Boston for that enlightening information. Seriously, that might be one of the only ways to beat the Sharks. They are dominating on both sides of the puck, firing off 13 more shots than their opponents per game, and are in the top ten in both the penalty kill and powerplay. The only good news for the rest of the league is that the league leading offense went from averaging 4.88 goals per game last week to 3.92 this week. Hooray…
3. St. Louis Blues (6-1-2, 14 points) Last Week: 5
No one has played less games than the St. Louis Blues (9) and that makes it hard to get grasp on them. So far their offense has been phenomenal, averaging 3.78 goals per game, and their powerplay has been lighting up the opposition to the tune of a 30.3% success rate. Alex Steen continues on his torrid scoring pace, notching four points in two games, and Alex Pietrangelo is living up to his contract by posting eight points in nine games. The Blues will finally get a full work load this week, playing at home against Winnipeg on Tuesday and then making the trip to Florida for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.
4. Boston Bruins (7-3-0, 14 points) Last Week: 9
Hey look, the Bruins offense does actually exist. I guess all it took was a game against Buffalo to give it a boost. Somehow Milan Lucic is already one goal away from tying his 2012-13 total of seven, David Krejci is above a point per game pace (12 points in 10 games) and rookie defenseman Torey Krug leads all NHL d-men with four goals. Their win against San Jose was a definite confidence boost but losing to the lowly New Jersey Devils put a damper on a solid week. They’ll have a tough week ahead though, taking on three teams with winning records.
5. Anaheim Ducks (9-3-0, 18 points) Last Week: 3
The massive eight game, 13 day road trip didn’t exactly get off to the best start. They gave up four goals to Toronto and Montreal (something they hadn’t done in any of their prior eight games) and failed to capitalize on seven PP’s. Things went a little better in Ottawa and Columbus where they came out with two wins but once again their PP was nonexistent, going 1-10. If their special teams were even league average (PP = 30th, PK = 28th), they would likely be 11-1-0 right now and sitting atop of the standings.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (8-4-0, 16 points) Last Week: 10
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to look advanced stats enthusiasts straight in the eyes and give them the middle finger. Their opponents have put the puck on the net 96 more times than the Maple Leafs and yet Toronto has a goal differential of +10. It’s kind of mind blowing, isn’t it? Then again it becomes a little more understandable when you realize that they are in the top ten in all four major statistical categories (goals per game, goals against, PP, and PK).
7. Los Angeles Kings (8-4-0, 16 points) Last Week: 11
It’s tempting to question what is up with Jonathan Quick. He has a 2.53 GA/A and a .907 sv% so far this season and hasn’t exactly looked like the USA’s unanimous goaltending choice for the Sochi Olympics. Then you remember that Quick pretty much takes the regular season off in preparation for the playoffs and realize that everything is just fine. At least it should be if the Kings offense would pick up the slack. Before their seven goal outburst against Phoenix the Kings managed to score more than three goals just twice.
8. Vancouver Canucks (8-4-1, 17 points) Last Week: 15
The Vancouver Canucks finished off their seven game road trip with three extra time wins. The most impressive of those wins was a 3-2 OT victory over the mighty St. Louis Blues. But even with the highly successful road trip (5-1-1) it’s hard to gauge how good they truly are. The three headed monster that consists of the Sedin twins and Kesler have been very effective and Mike Santorelli has offered an extra scoring punch (four goals and five assists) but the rest of the forward corps haven’t produced consistently. It also doesn’t help that Luongo hasn’t been at the top of his game so far this year.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-3-0, 16 points) Last Week: 14
Oh look, Steven Stamkos decided to come out and play. The 23 year old put up a very Crosby-esque seven points in three games which actually puts him just one point shy of Pittsburgh superstar for the league lead. As for the rest of the team: Martin St. Louis continues to defy all logic by posting 14 points in 11 games despite being 38 years old, Ben Bishop is tied for 2nd in the league in wins (7), and Valtteri Flippula is proving to be worth the offseason pickup by posting nine points in 11 games.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-4-0, 14 points) Last Week: 2
The week didn’t necessarily start out that bad. They thoroughly dominated the Avalanche, outshooting them 34 to 14, and then repeated that performance against the NY Islanders who they outshot 42 to 25. Their currently three game skid is pretty much the result of a couple of poor performances by Fluery and Zatkoff and the team’s inability to put the puck in the net on the PP (1-15 throughout the week). The fact that Crosby was held pointless in two out of three games didn’t help things. Look on the brightside Pittsburgh, at least Letang is back in the lineup.
And then the rest…
11. Phoenix Coyotes
12. Minnesota Wild
13. Chicago Blackhawks
14. Detroit Red Wings
15. Montreal Canadians
16. Washington Capitals
17. Nashville Predators
18. Calgary Flames
19. Ottawa Senators
20. NY Islanders
21. Columbus Blue Jackets
22. Carolina Hurricanes
23. Winnipeg Jets
24. Dallas Stars
25. New Jersey Devils
26. Philadelphia Flyers
27. NY Rangers
28. Edmonton Oilers
29. Florida Panthers
30. Buffalo Sabres