NHL Power Rankings: Central Division Reigns Supreme
Photo: Yahoo Sports
1. Nashville Predators (7-1-0) Previous Rank: 5
The Predators started slow but rattled off five straight wins to capture the number one spot on this week’s rankings. Nashville hasn’t beat anyone of note except for the most part, but they are banking points early in the year before the tough games set in. Their signature win? A 3-0 shutout of their Central Division rival Winnipeg Jets.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-3-0) Previous Rank: 6
The Leafs continue to blister to competition as they sit atop the Eastern Conference. The problem for the Leafs? They’ve only won one game when scoring three goals or less. But with Auston Matthews—10 goals, 16 points—and John Tavares—six goals, 11 points—who needs defense?
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-1-1) Previous Rank: 2
The Lightning picked up right where they left off after their abysmal end to the season in last year’s Conference Finals. Their top line of Miller, Stamkos, and Kucherov is still producing, but it’s been Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde pacing the offense. The Bolts are still the best team in the Atlantic, but will be playing catch up to Toronto for the foreseeable future.
4. Colorado Avalanche (6-1-2) Previous Rank: 19
The Avalanche were expected to contend for the third slot in the Central this year, but they have come out of the gate fast. Their record is a bit inflated because of the fact that they haven’t faced the Preds or the Jets, but Semyon Varlamov is giving up under two goals a game, and Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon have eight goals apiece.
5. Winnipeg Jets (6-2-1) Previous Rank: 3
The Jets have 13 points, but it just so happens that they are in third place in both the Central and the overall NHL. Connor Hellebuyck is giving up over two and a half goals a game, but the Jets look like the most balanced team thus far, with a 6-2-1 record but no player scoring more than four goals.
6. Anaheim Ducks (5-3-1) Previous Rank: 8
The Ducks started the season red hot but just lost two in a row. Rickard Rakell has only one goal so far, but the goaltending by the tandem of John Gibson and Ryan Miller have really stepped up to carry this middling offensive attack. The Ducks might not have the firepower to compete with the elite at the end of the season, but as they await Corey Perry’s return, the Quack Attack remains at the top of the Pacific.
7. San Jose Sharks (4-3-1) Previous Rank: 4
San Jose began the season slowly, but have started to pick it up as of late. They have only given up more than two goals once on the year, but Martin Jones only has a 3-3-0 record in spite of it. Erik Karlsson is still looking for the elusive first goal in a Sharks uniform. This is still, in my opinion, the best team in the West, but they need to start to be more consistent in order to separate themselves from the terrible Pacific Division.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1-2) Previous Rank: 7
When was the last time Sidney Crosby went this far into the season without scoring a goal? Sid the Kid may be struggling to put pucks in the net, but Evgeni Malkin is picking up the slack by leading the team with 12 points. The Penguins have been the definition of roller coaster thus far, but all they have to do is make the playoffs and Matt Murray can put them on his back again.
9. Carolina Hurricanes (5-3-1) Previous Rank: 15
By far the surprise of the year, the Carolina Hurricanes stand atop the Metro with a 5-3-1 record. The Canes have benefited from an easy schedule. Their wins came against the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Red Wings, Wild, and Canucks while their losses include the Lightning, Jets, and Avalanche. The Hurricanes are a nice story but expect them to fade in the coming weeks.
10. Calgary Flames (5-3) Previous Rank: 23
The Flames have been a pleasant surprise to Calgary fans, who might finally have a legit team to root for. They have beaten good teams in the Preds and the Avalanche, but the real test will be when they face the Sharks in a couple weeks. Johnny Gaudreau continues to be the best player on the Flames, with five goals already on the year.
Here are the rest of the rankings:
11. Boston Bruins (4-2-2) Previous Rank: 9
12. New Jersey Devils (4-2-0) Previous Rank: 22
13.Vegas Golden Knights (4-4-0) Previous Rank: 12
14. Washington Capitals (3-2-2) Previous Rank: 1
15. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-3-0) Previous Rank: 10
16. Chicago Blackhawks (4-2-2) Previous Rank: 16
17. Minnesota Wild (4-2-2) Previous Rank: 20
18. Vancouver Canucks (5-3-0) Previous Rank: 29
19. Buffalo Sabres (5-4-0) Previous Rank: 18
20. Philadelphia Flyers (4-5-0) Previous Rank: 17
21. St. Louis Blues (2-3-3) Previous Rank: 14
22. Dallas Stars (3-4-0) Previous Rank: 13
23. Edmonton Oilers (3-3-0) Previous Rank: 30
24. Montreal Canadiens (4-1-2) Previous Rank: 24
25. Los Angeles Kings (2-5-1) Previous Rank: 11
26. Florida Panthers (1-2-3) Previous Rank: 21
27. Ottawa Senators (4-2-1) Previous Rank: 26
28. New York Islanders (3-4-0) Previous Rank: 27
29. New York Rangers (2-5-1) Previous Rank: 31
30. Arizona Coyotes (2-5-0) Previous Rank: 25
31. Detroit Red Wings (1-6-2) Previous Rank: 28
Tune in next week to see if the Kings find out that a power play actually means that they have an advantage, the Bruins figure out their goaltending situation, and Senators decides to move to Antarctica in order to get more fans at the arena than they get in Ottawa
Previous Rankings: Week 1