Welcome back to another NHL Power Rankings recap! The Boston Bruins have remained at the top for a second consecutive week as they sit second in the NHL with 20 points in 11 games. It is worth noting that this is entirely on-ice performance as the Bruins took a colossal L this week by signing former renounced draft pick Mitchell Miller to a contract. Otherwise the Bruins would have taken a nosedive to the bottom.
The Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres have continued their respectable starts, currently sitting third and fourth in the Atlantic Division respectively. This is throwing a major wrench into the power dynamics of the Atlantic, as most expected the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers to dominate the top spots. Granted, all of these teams are still within just a few points of each other.
For the Dallas Stars, we are learning that they are more than just a goalie. With Jake Oettinger out of the lineup, the Stars have still put up an undefeated week, going 3-0. They’ve scored 18 goals in those three games as well. It must instill some confidence in Stars fans that the team can succeed even when their star goalie is out of the lineup.
The biggest story of the week is the New Jersey Devils and their early season rise to the top of the Metro Division. We’re also going to take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights making the most of their roster to lead the NHL. And after a hot start, the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have hit a roadblock. What’s going on for the Penguins?
Time to Apologize to Lindy Ruff?
The New Jersey Devils were not expected to compete in the Metro Division. It’s still quite competitive even as the Thunderdome status moves over to the Atlantic. But 12 games in the Devils sit at the top of the division, with a one point cushion over the Carolina Hurricanes (who have one game in hand).
The most intriguing part of the Devils’ hot start is that they are actually playing like the best team in the league. The underlying numbers suggest that this is no fluke. New Jersey leads the league in expected goals percentage and expected goal differential. Their possession and shot attempt numbers are also top of the league. Honestly the only thing that might be holding the Devils back is goaltending, as Mackenzie Blackwood has a goals saved above average of -3.5.
After Miles Wood’s comments on being “sick and tired of being on a bad team” just one game into the season, the Devils have been nothing short of dominant. Jesper Bratt leads the way with 17 points in 12 games, while Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are also putting up point per game paces right now.
Lindy Ruff was hearing it from the boo-birds during the home opener, but after the way the team rebounded since, is it time to apologize?
Golden Knights on a Roll
The expectations on the Golden Knights were not too high heading into the season. After years of poor asset management and losing significant value in trades, the roster was looking a bit weak and shallow. Add in the shaky goaltending tandem of Adin Hill and rookie Logan Thompson and it was hard to see them as a legit contender.
But here we are 13 games in and the Golden Knights lead the league with 22 points, an 11-2 record. They are tied for fourth in the league with 46 goals for and tied for first with just 27 goals against. They are scoring nearly two goals more per game than they are giving up.
The scoring depth on this team is incredible at the moment as they already have seven players with 10 or more points and all but three regulars have scored a goal. The skaters, top to bottom, have been on their game to start the season.
Hill and Thompson have also been outstanding, with a combined goals saved above average of 10.1 after 13 games. Their performance, combined with the excellent defensive system in place that supports their goalies, ensures that the Golden Knights compete in every game. This is led by one of the best defensive pairings in the league in Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore.
A huge difference for them this season is the health on the roster. It held them back last season but with most of the biggest names on the roster actually playing, they are able to reach the full potential of the team.
ALSO: Check the latest power rankings below!
Pittsburgh Penguins Showing their Age?
The Penguins started the season on an absolute tear, with a few early wins scoring over five goals per game. They went 4-0-1 in their first five games. And in the seven games since, they have a record of 0-6-1. What happened?
The easiest answer is that the Penguins are starting to show their age. The core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are hitting the last few years of their career and the pipeline for the team was leveraged in years past for the Stanley Cup runs. This type of fall was inevitable. But so soon and sudden? Could this just be a brief slump?
It is never a wise idea to count the Penguins out, they’ve shown time and time again that even if it looks like it is time to close their window, they keep finding ways to stay relevant. And that does seem to be the case again, on paper anyways.
The underlying numbers on the Penguins’ season overall show they’ve been solid overall, for example sitting top-10 in expected goal differential and having positive possession numbers. But they may be getting let down by some poor special teams, like a 15% powerplay or 72% penalty kill during the slump. Or some slightly below average goaltending, with a team total .903 SV% on the season.
It is not yet time to worry for Penguins fans.
That’s the end of another week of NHL action. Make sure to check out the power rankings and drop a comment down below with who is ranked too high (or too low)!
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