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Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Habs off to red-hot start

by Joey Alfieri
Updated On: January 26, 2021, 12:48 am ET

After I posted our very first U-24 Power Rankings last week, the "normal" Power Rankings are back. 

There are definitely some surprises (good and bad) to start the year and that's reflected in my rankings this week, but the sample size is still relatively small. For most fans, it's just too early to panic if your team is off to a bad start.

These rankings are based on what each team has done since the start of the year. In some cases, teams have moved up because they've rattled off a few wins in a row (see the Pittsburgh Penguins). 

Next week, I'll be ranking the best 32-plus year-old players on each team, so keep an eye out for that next Monday. 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @JoeyAlfieri on Twitter.

1 – Montreal Canadiens (4-0-2):

The Habs opened the 2021 regular season with a six-game road trip and all they did was come away with 10 of a possible 12 points. Montreal leads the league with a plus-11 goal-differential and they’re also at the top of the NHL when it comes to goals scored, with 29. The Canadiens don’t have a superstar skater, but they’ve been winning with balanced scoring. They’ve iced 19 different skaters so far and each one has picked up at least one point. Claude Julien’s team is off to an incredible start.

2 – Vegas Golden Knights (5-1-0):

The Golden Knights have just one regulation loss in their first six games of the season and it came against an Arizona team that they played four times and have beaten three times. Vegas is averaging just over three goals scored per game, but they’ve also given up just 12 goals in six contests. They have a pair of home dates against the St. Louis Blues coming up this week.

3 – Toronto Maple Leafs (5-2-0):

Everyone knows that the Leafs are one of the more top-heavy teams in the league. And so far, their high-end players have helped lead them to a very good start. Mitch Marner (10 points), John Tavares (seven points), William Nylander (seven points) and Auston Matthews (six points but he missed a game) have all delivered for the most part. This team will continue to be good, but their level of success will depend on their defense and goaltending.

4– Washington Capitals (3-0-3):

The Capitals have picked up at least one point in each of their first six games, but what’s most impressive is that they have three points in their last two games without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov. Each player is out of the lineup because of a mandatory quarantine, but the Caps have found a way to get results without them. Washington played their first four games on the road and they’re now two games into a six-game homestand.

5– Dallas Stars (2-0-0):

The Stars have only played two games because a Covid-19 outbreak delayed the start of their season, but they’ve looked really good so far. They dismantled Nashville, 7-0, on Friday night and they followed that up with another win against the Preds on Sunday. Dallas has two home games against Detroit and a pair of road games in Carolina this week. What’s even more impressive is that they’ve done this without Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn is day-to-day after suffering an injury on Friday. Veteran Joe Pavelski has seven points in two games.

6 – Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-0):

After opening the season with a pair of losses to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins have rattled off four consecutive wins (two against the Washington Capitals and two against the New York Rangers). Even though only one of those victories came in regulation, it remains a significant accomplishment for a team that had a lot of question marks heading into the season. The scary part is that Evgeni Malkin has just one goal and one assist in six games. He’s going to heat up eventually.

7 – Boston Bruins (3-1-1):

The Bruins lost Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara during the off-season and David Pastrnak started the season on injured reserve, but they’ve found a way to get off to a nice start. Their two losses came against New Jersey (shootout) and the Islanders (a 1-0 defeat). They’re coming off a pair of big wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and things seem to be trending up. The Bruins will play two home games against the Penguins next week before traveling to Washington over the weekend.

8 – Tampa Bay Lightning (3-1-0):

The defending Stanley Cup champions beat up on the Chicago Blackhawks twice to open the season and they followed that up by splitting two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Even though they won’t have Nikita Kucherov this season, this team still has enough firepower to make some noise. Having a healthy Steven Stamkos helps, as he’s accumulated two goals and six points in the first four games of the year.

9 – New Jersey Devils (3-1-1):

Who expected the Devils to be in the top 10 of any power rankings at the start of the season? One of the big reasons why they’re here is because of the play of two of their youngest players. 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes has amassed three goals and seven points in five games, while defenseman Ty Smith has six points in five contests. Whether or not those two can keep this up remains to be seen, but the Devils seem to be heading in the right direction. They’ll play two home games against the Flyers this week before heading to Buffalo to play the Sabres on Saturday and Sunday.

10 – Winnipeg Jets (4-1-0):

Yes, the Jets have beaten up on the Ottawa Senators three times so far this season, but I won’t hold that against them (you can only play the team that is in front of you). It was a busy weekend in Winnipeg, too. Not only did they play two games (one against Ottawa and one against Edmonton), they also made a blockbuster trade with Columbus involving Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Unfortunately for the Jets, they won’t get Dubois in their lineup this week because he’s going to be in quarantine, but the 22-year-old gives them a big boost down the middle.

11 – Minnesota Wild (4-2-0):

The Wild roster isn’t the greatest on paper, but a lot of their younger players have delivered early on in 2021. Minnesota opened the season with four games on the road and they managed to win three of them. They also split a pair of home games against the San Jose Sharks this weekend. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Wild lead the NHL in High Danger Chances For percentage (72 percent). That number will come down, but it’s still really impressive. Rookie Kirill Kaprizov has been fun to watch. The 23-year-old leads the team in scoring with six points in six games.

12 – Carolina Hurricanes (2-1-0):

It’s tough to get a proper read on the Hurricanes because they’ve had a bunch of games postponed. They played their first three games on the road and they managed to beat Nashville and Detroit. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t been able to suit up in their last three games. It’s a small sample size, but the Hurricanes lead the league in CF% at 58.09 percent, per Natural Stat Trick. Andrei Svechnikov was off to a great start, as he had three goals and two assists in three contests.

13 – Calgary Flames (2-1-1):

The Flames opened the season by picking up five of a possible six points, but they cooled off after having five days between games. They were back at it on Sunday, but they suffered their first regulation loss of the season (the Maple Leafs beat them, 3-2). The Flames will now hit the road for five consecutive games in Montreal (twice) and Winnipeg (three times). Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm each have five points in four games.

14 – Florida Panthers (2-0-0):

Like the Hurricanes, it’s tough to evaluate the Panthers this season because they’ve only played two games due to Covid-19 precautions. Florida won both their games against the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re scheduled to play in Carolina on Thursday and Saturday, but there’s some doubt as to whether or not those games will actually be played. It would be nice to see the Panthers pick up where they left off whenever they're allowed back on the ice. 

15 – Colorado Avalanche (3-3-0):

The Avs were supposed to be the class of the NHL in 2021. They aren’t off to the greatest start, but there’s little reason for anyone to be concerned about this team. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar have all produced offensively so you know the wins will start coming. Four of their first six games have come on the road, but four of their next six will be at home. They'll be fine. 

16 – New York Islanders (3-2-0):

The Islanders are playing a very Islanders style through five games this season. They’ve only found the back of the net nine times, but they’ve only given up eight. The funny thing is that eight those nine goals scored have come in two games. This team isn’t the flashiest or the most fun to watch, but that’s exactly how Barry Trotz wants them to play. They’ll have four road games in Washington and Philadelphia next week.

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17 – St. Louis Blues (3-3-0):

The Blues have alternated wins and losses through six games (one of those defeats was an 8-0 loss to Colorado). St. Louis played their last four games against San Jose and Los Angeles at home and they’ll now hit the road to play Vegas and Anaheim this week. Jordan Kyrou has been a pleasant surprise, as he’s picked up six points in six games. That’s something to keep in mind for all you fantasy general managers out there. 

18 – Los Angeles Kings (2-2-2):

After dropping the first two games of the season to Minnesota in overtime, the Kings have split four decisions against Colorado and St. Louis. Given the expectations for Los Angeles heading into the season, this is a decent start. Anze Kopitar had a solid 62 points in 70 games last year, but he’s flying offensively in 2021. He’s scored just once, but he’s also picked up nine assists in six games. That’s important production from a key leader.

19 – San Jose Sharks (3-3-0):

The Sharks are a .500 team so far in 2021, but all six of their games since the start of the season were played on the road. They’ll play two more road games in Colorado this week and then they’ll finally get two games at home against Vegas. But the four games after that will also be played on the road. That’s 12 of their first 14 games away from their home. Based on what they did last season, they probably won’t get the benefit of the doubt from anybody. This is still a team that has key veterans that can do damage. 

20 – Philadelphia Flyers (3-2-1):

The Flyers got off to a nice start with a pair of home wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they’ve struggled badly since then. Outside of a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres last Tuesday, they’ve looked pretty mediocre. Philadelphia lost two games (one to Buffalo, one to Boston) by a 6-1 scoreline and they dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to Boston. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Flyers are in the basement of the NHL when it comes to CF% (43.35 percent). There’s no need for anyone in Philly to panic yet. 

21 – Anaheim Ducks (2-2-2):

The Ducks opened the season with a pair of losses in Vegas, but they’ve found a way to go 2-1-1 over the last week against Minnesota and Colorado. Goaltender John Gibson has been sharp in 2021, as he’s posted a 2.01 goals-against-average and a .938 save percentage in five starts. If Anaheim is going to sneak into a playoff spot, it’ll be because their starting netminder drags them there.

22 – Columbus Blue Jackets (2-2-2):

It’s been an eventful start to the year for Columbus. Head coach John Tortorella and forward Pierre-Luc Dubois have made several national headlines and all that finally resulted in a massive trade over the weekend. The Jackets got off to a rocky start with two losses to Nashville, but they’ve gone 2-0-2 in their last four games including two regulation victories over Detroit and Tampa Bay. Adding Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to the roster should help. 

23 – Buffalo Sabres (2-3-1):

The Sabres are off to a mediocre start, but their early-season schedule wasn’t exactly easy. They dropped two home games to the Washington Capitals and then followed that up with games in Philly and in Washington. The Sabres got a big shootout win over the Caps on Sunday and they’ll get to enjoy four home games against the Rangers and Devils this week. It’s time for them to string some wins together. Jack Eichel has seven assists in six games, but he still hasn’t scored a goal, which is pretty surprising.

24 – Edmonton Oilers (2-4-0):

The Oilers dropped three of their first four games this season including two to the team at the top of this power rankings. Since then, they’ve come away with two victories in three contests. They beat the Leafs in a snooze fest last Wednesday and they won in Winnipeg on Sunday. As you probably expected, Connor McDavid (10 points in seven games) and Leon Draisaitl (nine points in seven games) lead the team in scoring. It’ll be interesting to see how far this positive momentum carries them.

25 - Nashville Predators (2-3-0): 

The Predators came out of the gates with a pair of wins over a distracted Blue Jackets team, but things have gotten ugly since then. The Preds have dropped three games in a row including a 7-0 defeat to the Dallas Stars on Friday night (that was Dallas' first game of 2021). They'll play two winnable games against Chicago next, but they'll also see Tampa Bay four times over their next eight contests. 

26 – Arizona Coyotes (2-3-1):

The Coyotes picked up three of the first four points available to them this season, but they’ve now lost three of their last four games (all to the Vegas Golden Knights). Phil Kessel had a bit of a quiet first year with the ‘Yotes, but it’s nice to see him score four times in the first six games. Conor Garland is also off to a nice start, as he’s picked up six points in 2021.

27 – Chicago Blackhawks (2-3-1):

The Blackhawks are in the middle of a rebuild and they’ve been without captain Jonathan Toews to start the year. That will never be a recipe for success. They dropped their first four games (0-3-1), but they’ve posted back-to-back wins over the Detroit Red Wings. Rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen is 2-0-1 in his first three NHL outings.

28 – Detroit Red Wings (2-4-0):

The Wings opened the season with a reasonable 2-2-0 record, but back-to-back losses to the Chicago Blackhawks (4-1 and 6-2) helped them come tumbling down this power rankings. I didn’t expect the Red Wings to be good this year and that’s okay. There’s still a lot of work for GM Steve Yzerman to do before this team becomes competitive again. Detroit will get two games in Dallas and two at home against Florida this week.

29 – New York Rangers (1-3-1):

The Rangers are still in a rebuild, but there was an expectation that they’d be an improved team in 2021. New York hasn’t looked very good so far though. Artemi Panarin has six points in five games and Adam Fox has five in five, but Mika Zibanejad (two points in five games), Chris Kreider (one point in five games) and Ryan Strome (one point in five games) all have more to give. In fairness to the Rangers, their last three losses have all come in one-goal games.

30 – Ottawa Senators (1-3-1):

The Senators had the luxury of playing four of their first five games on home ice, but they managed to come away with just one win. The Sens managed to win their opener against Toronto and followed that up four consecutive losses to the Maple Leafs (once) and three to the Winnipeg Jets. Ottawa will play three games in Vancouver and a game in Edmonton over the next week.

31 – Vancouver Canucks (2-5-0):

The Canucks just finished playing three consecutive games at home against the Montreal Canadiens and they came away with one shootout win. They didn’t look very good at all and neither did their key players. Young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes have struggled to open the year and that’s obviously a problem. The Canucks have given up a league-high 33 goals so far in 2021.