Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Metro Division shows its strength
Everybody talks about the strength of the Atlantic Division.
But maybe we were all sleeping on the Metro Division headed into this season as the Maple Leafs and Lightning struggle in the opening weeks. The Washington Capitals have won four games in a row to push them to the top of the Metro, and John Carlson is off to the best start of his career while putting together a Norris Trophy-worth season. Alex Ovechkin has 11 goals in 16 games to lead the Caps and they are back to having a big, strong and skilled team.
The Isles have won an amazing 10 in a row and are proving that last season’s run to the second round was no fluke, and similarly, the Hurricanes are again in the top 10 of the power rankings after running all the way to the Eastern Conference Final last spring.
Maybe we should have expected all of those teams to be high caliber this season given last spring's playoffs and now they are showing it more than a month in the new hockey year.
Now, on to the power rankings:
31. Detroit Red Wings (4-11-1, rank last week: 30)
The Red Wings have lost three in a row and the 63 goals allowed are by far the most goals allowed in the NHL. They have some serious work to do defensively if they don’t want to be the rock-bottom team all season.
30. Ottawa Senators (4-9-1, LW: 31)
They're better than last season. The minus-10 goal differential is a pretty good indicator of that. But the record isn’t all that much better than it was last season for the lowly Senators.
29. Los Angeles Kings (5-10-0, LW: 29)
Drew Doughty is sick of the media running with his colorful commentary. Be careful, Drew, they might actually just report on what they see on the ice. That isn’t going to go all that well for your team, either.
28. Minnesota Wild (5-9-1, LW: 28)
Matt Dumba and Zach Parise are both a minus-12 this season, and Parise has only five points on the season. The Wild are having some major issues keeping the puck out of the back of their net.
27. Chicago Blackhawks (4-7-3, LW: 24)
The Blackhawks have 33 goals this season. The Bruins top line has a combined 32 goals scored this season. Certainly, the Perfection Line is really good, but it also feels like the Blackhawks have some work to do.
26. San Jose Sharks (5-10-1, LW: 26)
Evander Kane apparently owes Vegas $500,000 in overdue betting markers from last spring’s playoffs. Maybe he should, you know, stay out of the casinos in the postseason? Crazy idea, I know.
25. New Jersey Devils (4-5-4, LW: 27)
Taylor Hall is scoring on 4.8 percent of the shots he’s taken this season and has just two goals in 13 games thus far this year. It feels like his impending free agency is having an adverse effect on him and on the team.
24. New York Rangers (4-5-1, LW: 29)
At least Artemi Panarin is working out with the Rangers with six goals and 12 points in 12 games. The minus-11 for Kaapo Kakko? Yeah, not so good.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-7-3, LW: 20)
The Blue Jackets have lost five in a row and are 3-5-1 at home. Man, that is a rough drop from last season’s squad making it to the second round of the playoffs.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (7-5-2, LW: 22)
Carter Hart looked promising last season, but the Flyers goaltending situation looks like it’s usual big team weakness this year with both members of the tandem.
21. Dallas Stars (8-8-1, LW: 23)
Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski are all coming alive for the Stars offense, but Jamie Benn is still starting slow this season. The Stars have won four in a row, though, and seem to be shaking off the early-season doldrums.
20. Winnipeg Jets (8-7-1, LW: 21)
At least the Jets don’t have to worry about what’s going on with the status of Dustin Byfuglien for the next few months. Winnipeg has bigger worries, like getting out of the .500 hockey rut they are in right now.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (6-5-2, LW: 19)
Tampa is allowing 3.6 goals per game. That’s way too leaky of a defense for a team as talented as the Lightning. It looks like they are trying a different approach than last season's wall-to-wall dominance. We’ll see how this plays out.
18. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-6-1, LW: 10)
The Penguins are finally getting healthy and they are playing at a pretty high level. Despite all of that, they are still losers of two in a row, including a tough loss to the Bruins where they blew a third-period lead.
17. Montreal Canadiens (8-5-2, LW: 18)
The Canadiens are winning and scoring goals and they’re dominant without dominant top tier offensive players. Philip Danault, Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher are doing some great work together as a shutdown line.
16. Florida Panthers (7-3-4, LW: 17)
Jonathan Huberdeau is Mr. Everything for the Panthers right now. He’s got nine goals and 18 points in 14 games and the Panthers are averaging 3.5 goals per game.
15. Anaheim Ducks (9-7-1, LW: 15)
The Ducks are off to a pretty good start this season and so far have enough offense. We’ll see if that can continue, but John Gibson and Ryan Miller are a pretty good puck-stopping tandem.
14. Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-3, LW: 14)
Feels like everybody has got an opinion on the Leafs these days. Alex Ovechkin. Drew Doughty. I can’t wait to hear what Sidney Crosby has to say when the Penguins come to town.
13. Colorado Avalanche (8-5-2, LW: 4)
The Avalanche have lost five in a row and taken a hit in the power rankings as a result. The offense has hit a wall with just seven goals in the five-game losing streak.
12. Calgary Flames (9-7-2, LW: 16)
Milan Lucic is definitely showing that the Flames are a team that isn’t to be messed with. The two-game suspension felt a little heavy-handed for a player protecting his goalie, but then again, I’ve always loved caveman hockey.
11. Vegas Golden Knights (9-5-2, LW: 9)
A great start for Marc-Andre Fleury this season behind a Golden Knights crew right in the thick of things out West. Just a 4-3-2 record at home, though.
10. Arizona Coyotes (9-4-2, LW: 12)
Three goals in 15 games and a minus-3 for Phil Kessel out in Arizona. So much for the great American hero stuff in the desert.
9. Carolina Hurricanes (9-5-1, LW: 5)
The Hurricanes have lost a couple in a row, but they’re in a great spot and Sebastian Aho hasn’t even really got rolling offensively as of yet. Andrei Svechnikov is starting to come into his own for the Canes.
8. Buffalo Sabres (9-4-2, LW: 3)
The Sabres have lost three games in a row and will be fighting all season with the notion that their fast start was more illusion than a change in the way of things in Buffalo.
7. Nashville Predators (9-4-2, LW: 7)
Nine players in double figures in points for the deep Predators who are again near the top of the Central Division. Amazing they’re still being led by a pair of D-men (Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis) at the top of their offensive production, though.
6. Vancouver Canucks (9-3-3, LW: 13)
After a slow start, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser are both back to point-per-game players for the Canucks, who are very clearly on the rise.
5. Edmonton Oilers (10-4-2, LW: 6)
Is Leon Draisaitl the best player in the NHL? He’s certainly playing like it with 13 goals and 27 points in 16 games while averaging 23:54 of ice time.
4. St. Louis Blues (10-3-3, LW: 15)
The Blues have won five consecutive one-goal games since losing to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final rematch. Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn stepping up offensively in the absence of Vladimir Tarasenko.
3. New York Islanders (11-3-0, LW: 8)
The Isles have won 10 games in a row and just continue to enjoy success under Barry Trotz without a ton of star power in their lineup. Impressive all-around start for Mat Barzal, who is a plus-10 in those 14 games with 11 points.
2. Boston Bruins (11-2-2, LW: 1)
The Bruins overcame some sloppy play to beat the Penguins on Monday, but then fell to Montreal despite battling admirably on Tuesday night. It’s tough to ding them too much for a loss every once in a while, but it’s enough to knock them out of the top spot.
1. Washington Capitals (11-2-3, LW: 2)
The Caps have won four in a row and sit atop the Metro while showing early that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with again after last season’s post-Cup respite.