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NHL Power Rankings: Early season reactions (and overreactions)

NHL Power Rankings

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 16: Anthony Duclair #10 of the Florida Panthers scores against Goaltender llya Sorokin #30 of the New York Islanders at the FLA Live Arena on October 16, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at some early season reactions (and overreactions, if the case may be) to the first week of play around the league.

Buffalo and Columbus are undefeated. Montreal and Vegas are winless. Pittsburgh keeps winning without its superstars. The Islanders forgot how to defend. Some of these things will continue. Some will not. We take a look at all of that and more.

Where does your team land in this week’s NHL Power Rankings?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Carolina Hurricanes (Last week: 4). If Frederik Andersen (and/or Antti Raanta) rebounds this team is going to be awfully difficult to beat. Andrei Svechnikov also looks like the breakout season is going to arrive.

2. Florida Panthers (LW: 6). Two impressive wins to open the season, rallying late against Pittsburgh and then crushing the Islanders. A lot to prove for this team this season with real expectations for the first time ... ever?

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 12). No Sidney Crosby? No Evgeni Malkin? No problem here. The Penguins got five out of six points in a tough stretch to open the season, scoring 15 goals in the process.

4. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 1). No Nathan MacKinnon to start the season and then losing Gabriel Landeskog to a suspension is a tough way to begin.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 2). Little bit of a sloppy start to the season early on, but they still managed to win two of the three games. When you spend two seasons playing Stanley Cup Final games it can sometimes be tough to find that same motivation early in the season.

6. Boston Bruins (LW: 7). They paid big money for Linus Ullmark this offseason, but what if Jeremy Swayman ends up taking the job and is better? He might!

7. Minnesota Wild (LW: 9). They have a lot to build on after last season. They did what they are supposed to do in the first two games: Beat a couple of rebuilding teams.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 8). They haven’t impressed or disappointed so far. Just pretty much done what they are supposed to do. Great start for the perpetually underappreciated William Nylander though.

9. St. Louis Blues (LW: 10). David Perron had two goals in their impressive season opening win against Colorado. He has been tremendous during his most recent tour through St. Louis.

10. Washington Capitals (LW: 11). The two big questions here are goaltending and Evgeny Kuznetsov bouncing back. Through two games Vitek Vanecek has a .938 save percentage and Kuznetsov has three assists already. Good signs.

11. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 3). They needed a controversial call to beat Seattle and then got crushed by LA. Early season injuries to Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty are not helping things.

12. New York Islanders (LW: 5). Their 13-game(!) season opening road trip is off to an uninspiring start having allowed 11 goals in two losses. Not too worried about that continuing.

13. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 17). Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are putting up numbers, which is no surprise. They have to love the development of Jesse Puljujärvi, who continues to build a nice career for himself.

[Related: Puljujärvi showing he belongs after rocky start to NHL career]

14. Dallas Stars (LW: 13). Slow start for Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov in their returns this season. Their presence should be the source of optimism.

15. Seattle Kraken (LW: 19). Solid start with three out of a possible six points. It probably should have been at least four points if they could have gotten a call late in that Vegas game.

16. New York Rangers (LW: 16). Adam Fox will win another Norris Trophy in his career. What a player.

17. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 15). Four goals against in the season opener is probably not what the Flyers wanted to see from Carter Hart. Having to face 39 shots is probably not what Carter Hart wanted to see, either.

18. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 24). A monster year from Anze Kopitar will really help this team take a big step this season. He already has seven points in two games.

19. New Jersey Devils (LW: 22). Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton will make this team worth watching.

20. Calgary Flames (LW: 18). A week ago we wrote that they are not contenders and not rebuilding, just existing in a state of perpetual mediocrity. It still seems like a fitting entry for this team.

21. Ottawa Senators (LW: 26). Filip Gustavsson and Anton Forsberg have given them .937 goaltending through three games. Not surprising that it has resulted in two wins. Gustavsson is the intriguing one here. He, and not Matt Murray, is the future of this position here.

22. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 27). All aboard the Moritz Seider Calder Trophy bandwagon. Buy your tickets now.

23. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 30). Great starts for a lot of important players here, especially starting goalie Elvis Merzlikins. But the competition is going to get a lot tougher than Arizona and Seattle.

24. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 32). Not sure how many more times this season they will win back-to-back games, but a nice surprising start for a team that needs something positive.

25. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 23). J.T. Miller is an outstanding player that does not get enough credit for how good he is. Already four points in three games for him.

26. San Jose Sharks (LW: 28). This still seems like a bleak situation with the contracts, aging core, and goalie questions.

27. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 14). Do not get used to see them this low. Bad start. It happens. But losing back-to-back games against San Jose and Anaheim is not what you want to see.

28. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 29). The good news: Mason McTavish, Trevor Zegras, and Jamie Drysdale might be real building blocks here. Star potential with all of them. The Ducks need that. Very desperately.

29. Nashville Predators (LW: 25) Juuse Saros has been pretty solid so far and the team is still 0-2. That is not a good sign.

[Related: Predators are not really rebuilding or contending]

30. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). Brutal start for Carter Hutton to allow eight goals in the season opener. Good start for Karel Vejmelka to stop 32 out of 33 shots in his NHL debut.

31. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 21): This was always going to be a tough season after the excitement of last year’s Stanley Cup Final run, and this was about as frustrating of a start as they could have had.

32. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 20) Not a very good team that is never ready to play. They have allowed a goal in the first five minutes of all three games this season, including goals in the first 20 seconds of each of the past two games. By the 10-minute mark of each game this season they have trailed 3-0, 1-0, and 3-0 respectively. Just terrible.