NHL Power Rankings: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (28) reacts with teammate Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher (11) after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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NHL Power Rankings (Week 4) – Montreal Canadiens continue their dominance over the NHL thanks to Carey Price, New York Rangers challenging for top spot in the near future, Vancouver Canucks continue to sputter.
With three weeks in the books and the month of October now behind us, there is no shortage of headlines to talk about. Over the last seven days, Edmonton began to hit a slight rut, while the Montreal Canadiens continued their dominance riding the shoulders of Carey Price. The Vancouver Canucks are now on a five-game losing streak, and the Toronto Maple Leafs escaped the basement in this week’s NHL power rankings.
As we typically do before getting into things, we’d like to highlight some of the top individual performances over the past week:
Capitals forward Marcus Johansson led all NHL players in scoring over the last seven days with seven points in three games. He had three multi-point games, which includes two goals and an assist versus Vancouver, two goals against Calgary, and a goal and an assist in Winnipeg.
Pens veteran Phil Kessel also had a big week with six points in three games. He started the week off hot with a three-point performance versus the New York Islanders. Speaking of Penguins, both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin potted a pair of goals each in their game against interstate rival Philadelphia.
The best performance in a single game this week goes to Florida Panthers F Colton Sceviour. He scored a hat-trick and added an assist in a 5-2 win on the road in Detroit.
Week 3 was all about the goaltenders though. As teams continue to implement more structure, those low-scoring affairs are becoming more common. Standouts were Devan Dubnyk and Carey Price. Dubnyk wound up with a three-game shutout streak that ended on Tuesday in Buffalo. Still, he allowed just two goals on 89 shots over three games. Price recorded a lone shutout, allowing two goals on 109 shots.
Once the dust settled, 13 netminders recorded a shutout in week 3: Devan Dubnyk (2), Craig Anderson, Corey Crawford, Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Jake Allen, Michael Hutchinson, Sergei Bobrovsky, Cam Talbot, Anders Nilsson, and John Gibson.
NHL Power Rankings: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save during the third period of the game against the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 1 (-)
Team Record: (9-0-1)
Player of the Week: G Carey Price (3 wins 0.67GAA .982 save percentage)
The best goaltender in the world continued his dominance over the last seven days. He closed the door on 30 of 31 shots for the win versus Tampa Bay, then two nights later, allowed just a single goal on 38 shots against the rival Maple Leafs. Price closed out his week on Tuesday with a perfect 42-save shutout vs. Vancouver.
Just imagine what the Habs could do with a better team in front of Carey. It’s definitely trending in that direction, but there’s still some work to do.
On Tuesday, D Shea Weber was named the NHL’s second star of the month for October after his impressive start. Weber had a goal over those three games the past week, bringing his season total to 10 points in 10 games with a +14 plus/minus rating.
Give Nathan Beaulieu some credit. After being asked to play alongside Shea Weber, yielding mixed results, he has since been demoted to a more limited role playing between 13-15 minutes/night. A little less responsibility seems to have Beaulieu responding who now has two assists over his last three games and a +3 rating over that span, bringing him up to +10 in 2016-17.
Habs forwards were slow out of the gates (other than the top line). Over the next little while, players such as Alex Radulov and Artturi Lehkonen were seemingly starting to heat up as Montreal began receiving additional secondary scoring. Now, since Price’s return, the offense has gone somewhat stagnant again. In fact, the only forward that actually had a noteworthy week was Alex Galchenyuk. He scored a goal versus Tampa Bay and Toronto before adding a pair of helpers on Tuesday against Vancouver. Alex is up to 10 points in 10 games, and could be in line to lead the Habs in scoring this year.
NHL Power Rankings: Pittsburgh Penguins players Sidney Crosby (87), Chris Kunitz (14), Kris Letang and Justin Schultz (4) celebrate after a goal in the third period against the Anaheim Ducks during a NHL hockey match at Honda Center. The Penguins defeated the Ducks 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Marc-Andre Fleury started the first two games of the past week collecting wins in both contests. He stopped 35 of 37 shots against the Isles, then two nights later earned the victory despite allowing four goals on 42 shots. Still, it’s worth noting that Fleury has played extremely well in 2016-17, which could make an eventual trade a little easier.
Matt Murray finally made his season debut after starting the year on the shelf. He got the nod in Anaheim and looked great allowing just a single goal on 33 shots for a win. it should be interesting to see how the Pens handle their goaltending moving forward now that Mike Condon is out of the mix.
The Pens got a much-needed boost on Tuesday night in Anaheim. After leaning a little more on their forwards for the previous five games, Pittsburgh got Kris Letang back in the lineup. He recorded a goal, an assist, +3 rating, and six shots on goal. There aren’t many guys on the back end that can create the type of offense that Letang can. You could probably make a case for the Pens struggling more without their star defender than when one of Crosby or Malkin is out.
All three of Pittsburgh’s star forwards (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel) had five or more points over the three games this past week. Phil the Thrill had a goal and five assists as he continues to show off his playmaking abilities in Pittsburgh. Sid had three goals, two assists, including a two-goal game against interstate rival Philadelphia. POW winner Evgeni Malkin scored four goals, one assist, including two goals against the Flyers as well (one was the game-winner). Even Patric Hornqvist had four points, bringing his season total up to nine points in 10 games. The other three are either matched/or exceeding a point-per-game pace early on.
King Henrik was between the pipes for two of three contests over the last seven days. He allowed three goals on 21 shots in a Loss to Carolina last Friday. Two nights later vs. Tampa Bay, the Rangers decided to go with Antti Raanta. It was just his second start, but he bounced back nicely after allowing four goals vs. SJ back on Oct.17. He stopped 31 of 32 shots against a potent Lightning squad. Turning back to their start against St. Louis on Tuesday, Lundqvist delivered a perfect performance stopping all 35 shots for the shutout.
Ryan McDonagh is making an early case for his name in the Norris Trophy conversation. Whether he remains consistent over the course of 82 games, we’ll have to wait and see. McDonagh is currently on an eight-game point streak (nine points over that span) in which he’s also a +8 plus/minus rating. A lot of credit is admittedly due to the Rangers offense, but there’s something to be said for the early performance of the American defenseman.
It was nice to see Chris Kreider back in the lineup on Tuesday night after missing the previous four games. He came back with an immediate impact posting a pair of helpers for a season total of nine points in six games.
Several players had a solid past week for New York. Rick Nash had three points bringing his season total up to eight points in 10 games. This is a great sign that he might have that bounce back year after a dreadful 2015-16. You have to wonder if his performance affects expansion decisions at all because Nash was presumed to be a nice target to leave available.
Rookie Jimmy Vesey continues his tear after a three-point night vs. St. Louis. With four points in the last seven days, the former Hobey Baker winner now has nine points in 10 games. Let’s not forget J.T. Miler who also had a three-point night, but his came against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Miller now has 10 points in 10 games as the Rangers continue to produce goals at a high rate.
NHL Power Rankings: Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) stops a shot from the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Capitals won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Grubauer was handed his second start of the year after posting his first career shutout back on Oct.18. He stopped 23 of 25 shots for a road win in Vancouver on Saturday. Philipp has two wins in two starts with a 1.00GAA and .953 save percentage.
Holtby started both games on Sunday and Tuesday on the road. He got a win stopping 21 of 22 shots vs. Calgary and collected another victory versus Winnipeg after allowing just two goals on 45 shots. Braden is now 4-2-0 with a 2.13GAA and .925 save percentage in the early season.
Karl Alzner was the top defenseman over the past seven days for Washington. He logged north of 20 minutes/night in all three games and scored a goal in two of three contests. On a bit of a side note, Alzner, Carlson, and Niskanen were each a +2 plus/minus rating over the last seven days.
Forward Marcus Johansson had a monster three games this past week collecting seven points over that span. He stood out on the Western Canada road trip posting two goals, one assist in Vancouver, two goals in Calgary, and a goal and an assist in Winnipeg on Tuesday. Marcus now has 11 points in 9 games.
Among the other notable performers in the last week: Jay Beagle had three points after tallying a pair of helpers in Calgary and scoring a goal in Winnipeg. Evgeny Kuznetsov also had three points as he collected an assist vs. Vancouver and two more in Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
NHL Power Rankings: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot (33) makes a save during the pre game warm up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 5 (-)
Team Record: (7-2-1)
Player of the Week: G Cam Talbot (1 win 1.34GAA .949 save percentage)
After collecting five wins in a row (including the first game of this past week) where he only allowed four goals and recorded two shutouts, Cam Talbot cooled off a bit with a pair of losses. That depends on your definition of cooling off though since he posted two more solid outings. In those three starts over the last seven days, Talbot began with a 26 save shutout in Vancouver. Two nights later, the Oilers were shut out in an emotional game with the return of Craig Anderson. Talbot stopped 20 of 21 shots but received no goal support. On Tuesday, Cam allowed more than two goals (three vs. TOR) for the first time since his ugly six-goal outing at home to Buffalo back on Oct.16.
It was a quiet three games on the score sheet for Oilers defenders, but the blue line continues to be a strong suit in Edmonton. Larsson and Klefbom are proving a dominant top pairing, while Sekera, Russell, and Nurse continue to be outstanding complimentary pieces. It will be interesting to see if Darnell Nurse can cut into Kris Russell‘s ice-time a little more as the season grows older. He’s yet to top 20 minutes in a single night, but he could be averaging close to that by the time April rolls around.
Oilers phenom superstar Connor McDavid was named the NHL’s first star of the month in October after an impressive start to the new season. The scary part is, there’s nothing to assume that pace will slow much moving forward. He did have a quiet three games over the past week recording a single goal, but he still has an impressive 12 points in 10 games.
Only two Edmonton forwards managed to record more than one point over the last three contests. Anton Lander had a goal and an assist for two points in three games. Before that, Lander recorded a mere assist in his first six games. Milan Lucic also had two points and was the only Oilers forward to have a multi-point game since last Thursday. He had a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win in his hometown Vancouver on Friday. Lucic now has seven points in 10 games playing alongside Connor McDavid.
NHL Power Rankings: Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) celebrates the win after the game against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild beat the Dallas Stars 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 9 (+3)
Team Record: (6-3-1)
Player of the Week: G Devan Dubnyk (2 wins 0.67GAA .978 save percentage)
Dubnyk’s three-game shutout streak began last Tuesday and wasn’t broken until seven days later against Buffalo. He stopped 38 shots for the SO in Buffalo on Thursday and stopped all 29 shots two nights later versus Dallas. Buffalo had no plans of being shutout once again on Tuesday and managed two goals on 24 shots to knock off a hot Wild team.
Minnesota was dealt a tough blow as it was announced that Marco Scandella is considered week-to-week with a lower body injury. It should open up a spot for Christian Folin and Mike Rielly to assume additional minutes.
Turning to performers, hats off to Ryan Suter. He had another good week with three assists bringing his season total up to 10 points in 10 games. Ryan is also a +5 plus/minus rating proving why he’s still one of the better all-around defenders in the NHL. Heck, at this point, Suter is vying for Norris Trophy consideration – whether or not the consistency continues, we’ll have to wait and see.
Again, the Wild were dealt another tough loss after learning that star forward Zach Parise is also considered week-to-week with a lower body injury. The injuries didn’t stop there. Zal Dalpe is expected to be out multiple weeks with a lower body injury, while Erik Haula is still at least a few days away from returning. Perhaps opportunity knocks for guys like Joel Eriksson Ek and Tyler Graovac to have an impact in his absence.
Two forwards led the charge offensively over the last seven days. Eric Staal recorded a point in each game and has only been left off the score sheet in three of 10 games this season. Poised to bounce back from a rough 2015-16 campaign, the former Canes captain now has four goals, four assists (eight points). Mikael Granlund also had three points and now has five points in his last five games as he starts to heat up. He’s starting to find more ways to be creative on the wing opposed to playing up the middle, which could yield a solid year once the dust settles.
NHL Power Rankings: Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) celebrates his gaol against Calgary Flames with his teammates during the third period at the United Center. The Hawks won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 18 (+11)
Team Record: (6-3-1)
Player of the Week: G Corey Crawford (3 wins 1.00GAA .969 save percentage)
After a rough start to the year, Crawford has put together four solid outings in a row now, three of those coming in the past seven days. He recorded the win versus New Jersey on Friday allowing just two goals on 31 shots. Two nights later, Corey got his first shutout of the season stopping all 32 shots versus LA. Then, on Tuesday, Crawford stopped 33 of 34 shots for the win against Calgary.
Brent Seabrook was arguably Chicago’s top defender over the last seven days. He had a pair of helpers in three games, including one assist and +3 plus/minus rating vs. Calgary. Brent now has seven points in 10 games and a +6 rating.
Duncan Keith posted one assist over those three games, but continues to prove one he’s one of the NHL’s best all-around defenseman. He now has a season total of seven assists in 10 games with a +5 rating.
It seems the NHL’s hottest line from 2015-16 is beginning to heat up over the past couple of weeks, although they’ve begun to split up the trio a bit in 2016-17. Patrick Kane had four points in the last three games, including one goal and two assists vs. Calgary on Tuesday. Artem Anisimov reached the scoresheet in all three contests scoring a goal against New Jersey and LA before racking up a goal and an assist vs. Calgary. Last year’s Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin had four points in his last three games, including two multi-point nights. He had a goal and an assist against both New Jersey and Calgary. For season totals, Anisimov leads the charge with 13 points, Kane with 12, and Panarin with 10 – all scoring at or above a point-per-game pace.
Even a couple veterans had a decent week. Hossa began the year on a four-game point streak before missing one and being kept off the score sheet in his two games upon return. In those last three, Marian Hossa scored a goal in New Jersey and had two points versus Los Angeles. He has a season total of seven points in nine games. Even Jonathan Toews racked up the points with a multi-point effort against a struggling Kings squad. The elite two-way center now has five points in 10 games.
NHL Power Rankings: Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The team struggled as a whole this past week, but the offense/defense sorta hung the goaltending out to dry. Andrei Vasilevskiy started one of three games allowing three goals on 23 shots. The .870 save percentage on the game does little justice to the performance the Russian netminder put on with some big saves.
Starter Ben Bishop had a decent showing in their loss to Montreal stopping 23 of 25 shots. He took the biggest loss of the early season three nights later allowing six goals on 37 shots versus the New York Rangers. Luckily, he bounced backstopping 26 of 27 shots for the win in Brooklyn versus the Islanders. Hoping the 6-1 win is a sign of things to come after slumping for a little bit prior to that.
It was a tough four games over the last seven days for Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison. Both posted goose eggs on the score sheet while accumulating a -6 plus/minus rating. Only three defenders actually recorded a point. Victor Hedman had one assist in Montreal and a pair of helpers in the 6-1 win against the Isles. Anton Stralman also had an assist against the Canadiens and another one in the lopsided loss to the NYR. On a positive note, Slater Koekkoek made his season debut on Tuesday and made some noise in game one recording a pair of assists. This young man figures to be a core piece in the Lightning’s future defense corps.
Tampa Bay got some recent exciting news. After missing roughly five months after undergoing surgery to repair a labral tear, forward Ryan Callahan returned to the lineup Saturday versus the Rangers.
Our POW Nikita Kucherov earned the award solely on his 4-point (2g 2a) performance versus the Islanders on Tuesday. Otherwise, the Lightning didn’t generate too many goals in their previous games.
NHL Power Rankings: St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) skates on the ice after being named the first star of the game for shutting out the Los Angeles Kings at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues
Previous Ranking: 6 (-3)
Team Record: (5-3-2)
Player of the Week: G Jake Allen (1 win 1.90GAA .932 save percentage)
It was a slow week for St. Louis which made it difficult to identify the POW. Other than allowing four goals on 20 shots on Tuesday, Allen put in two solid outings on Thursday and Saturday. He only allowed one goal on 27 shots vs. Detroit and recorded a shutout at home against LA. Jake Allen now has four wins on the season with a 2.22GAA and .910 save percentage.
Having scored just two goals in the three games over the past week, St. Louis received virtually no offensive help from their blue line or forwards. The only defenseman to record a point from those two goals was Kevin Shattenkirk who scored the lone goal in the Blues 2-1 loss to Detroit. If St. Louis still has plans to move Shattenkirk before the deadline, six points in 10 games is a promising sign to ensure decent trade value.
There are some concerns surrounding Alex Pietrangelo after getting tangled up with Rangers forward J.T. Miller on Tuesday night, so we’re still waiting for further information to see if Alex is expected to miss any time. It doesn’t sound as though he’ll miss any time, but it’s a situation worth monitoring.
Seeing as the Blues only scored two goals over the last seven days, there are no real highlight performances to discuss. Jaden Schwartz scored the goal in their 1-0 win against LA, which was assisted by Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera. The only other forward to record a point was Patrik Berglund who assisted on Shattenkirk’s goal in Detroit.
It’s been a slow start for Jaden Schwartz, but its understandable after missing time to begin the year. It takes a few extra games to shake the rust off and once that happens, we should see Schwartz and the Tarasenk-show go to work in establishing themselves as one of the NHL’s premier duos.
NHL Power Rankings: Detroit Red Wings center Andreas Athanasiou (72) celebrates his goal against Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The week started out hot for Red Wings goaltending. Petr Mrazek had his best outing of the year allowing just one goal on 32 shots for a win versus St. Louis last Thursday. Two nights later, Jimmy Howard got the nod in a first of back-to-back games against Boston and Florida. Howard stopped 35 of 36 shots for the win in his best performance of the early season as well. They gave Mrazek the start against Florida the next night, but he was quickly chased out of the crease after allowing four goals on 10 shots. Howard was excellent in relief stopped 13 of 14 shots. Jeff Blashill went back to his starter Mrazek on Tuesday, and while a decent performance, Detroit came up a goal short in a 4-3 loss where Mrazek stopped 36 of 40 shots.
After flying out of the gates, Mike Green slowed down a bit going pointless over a five-game stretch leading halfway into this past week. He finally found the score sheet again on Tuesday and now has eight points in 11 games. Only two of those eight points have come on the man-advantage, which is somewhat unusual for Green. Once he starts collecting more points on the PP, it could wind up being a monster year statistically for Mike Green once the dust finally settles.
The Red Wings were given some bad news of late. It was announced that Thomas Vanek will be out week-to-week with a middle-body injury. This is devastating when you consider his hot start to the 2016-17 campaign. In a bit of side news, Detroit re-claimed Martin Frk off waivers from Carolina and sent him down to AHL Grand Rapids.
In terms of performers over the last seven days. Frans Nielsen led the way with three points over those four games, but a -6 plus/minus rating is a nasty blemish. Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist didn’t fare a whole lot better, both posting a -5 rating. On a positive note, Larkin now has four points in his last five games after posting goose eggs through the first five.
Nov 1, 2016; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) makes a save in the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 17 (+6)
Team Record: (6-3-0)
Player of the Week: G Craig Anderson (2 wins 0.49GAA .986 save percentage)
Full disclosure, Craig Anderson was taking home POW honors whether he played or not this past week. Given the personal struggles that he and his wife are currently dealing, there’s no better feel good story in the NHL right now. The fact that Craig managed to record a shutout versus Edmonton upon return was unbelievable. We wish Craig and Nicholle the very best in this difficult time.
Erik Karlsson had a decent Western Canada road trip even though it lacked the flash of his seven points in four games to start the year. He had a goal and an assist and continues to maintain a point-per-game pace with nine in nine games thus far.
With a lack of top performers on the recent road trip, we should probably take a moment to acknowledge Dion Phaneuf. After being kept off the score sheet through his first six games, he responded with two assists in his last three games. That -7 plus/minus rating is a bit alarming early on though.
Ottawa’s top point producer over the last seven days was Kyle Turris. He had a point in each of the last three games bringing his season total to seven points in nine games. The only other forward to record more than a single point was Mike Hoffman. He had a goal and an assist for five points in nine games now and seems to be trending in the right direction with his recent play. Getting that first goal and monkey off his back must certainly be a relief.
NHL Power Rankings: San Jose Sharks left wing Mikkel Boedker (89) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the third period against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Martin Jones gets an honorable mention as he was also vying for Player of the Week after collecting three straight wins the past seven days. He stopped 24 of 25 shots vs. Columbus, 27 of 28 shots against Nashville, and 27 of 30 shots on the road in Arizona. Jones now has five wins on the season with a 2.26GAA and .914 save percentage.
Despite still scoring at a point-per-game pace with 10pts in 10 games, Brent Burns has recorded just one assist over his last five games, this after posting nine points in the first five contests. Although he’s not finding the scoresheet of late, he’s still having a major impact on the Sharks blue line. Heck, he’s averaging 5.6 shots per game right now, coming off 11 shots in Arizona, so he’s getting his chances, just needs a little more puck luck.
Tomas Hertl was an easy selection for POW honors. He had two goals, three assists in three games, including a pair of multi-point contests. First, he scored twice in a 3-1 win vs. Columbus, added an assist versus Nashville, and topped it off with a pair of helpers down in the Desert on Tuesday. An honorable mention should go to captain Joe Pavelski and veteran Joe Thornton. Both have been consistently good so far with Thornton racking up a trio of points over the last week and Pavelski adding a goal and an assist. On a bit of a side note, Joonas Donskoi looked to be suffering from the sophomore slump early on with just one assist through his first six games, but he’s come on of late with four points in his last four games.
NHL Power Rankings: New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid (1) make a pad save during the third period at Prudential Center. The Blackhawks won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
It was a short week for New Jersey. Keith Kinkaid started the first game against Chicago and was dealt the 3-2 loss. He stopped 26 of 29 shots in his first start of the season. The Devils turned back to Schneider against Tampa Bay on Saturday and got a solid outing that led to a 3-1 victory. Cory stopped 32 of 33 shots to knock off the Eastern Conference powerhouse. He’s now 4-2-1 on the year with a 1.86GAA and .941 save percentage.
Our POW was an easy choice considering he had a multi-point night versus Tampa Bay, including the game-winner. Damon Severson continues to prove a capable replacement for Adam Larsson now with six points in eight games, while averaging close to 20 minutes/night of ice-time.
John Moore continues to chew up big minutes on the back end for the Devils and even scored a goal against the Blackhawks on Friday. Free agent signing Yohann Auvitu added his second helper of the season in Friday’s match-up. We still haven’t seen Steve Santini, and Jon Merrill should be returning soon, so things are looking up for New Jersey.
After exploding for three points against the Coyotes last Tuesday, Hall has since quieted in the last couple of games. He had an assist vs. Chicago and was left off the score sheet in Saturday night’s win.
The standout versus the Lightning aside from Severson was Adam Henrique. He also had a goal and an assist and now has four points in his last four games after going pointless in his first four contests.
Moving forward, keep an eye on rookie Pavel Zacha. He continues to see more ice-time and had his first multi-point game versus Arizona last Tuesday. Heading into November/December, we could start to see Zacha make more noise in the Calder Trophy race.
NHL Power Rankings: Columbus Blue Jackets center Sam Gagner (89) celebrates a goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at Nationwide Arena. Columbus defeated Dallas 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Goalie Bob continues his dominance from the World Cup of Hockey. He could still use a lot more goal support, but he’s giving the Blue Jackets a chance to win on a nightly basis. Last Thursday, Bobrovsky stopped 26 of 28 shots for the loss, then recorded a 35-save shutout in Anaheim, and got another win on Tuesday versus Dallas allowing just two goals on 38 shots.
The Blue Jackets got a key player back in Ryan Murray on Tuesday night. His return pushed David Savard to the third pairing and roughly 17 minutes of ice-time. John Tortorella instead saw it as an opportunity to give Jack Johnson extra time (22:18) despite failing to record a point so far in 2016-17. It’s obviously not about stats, but it sends a message that Tortorella thinks Johnson is a better defenseman? I’m not sure, that one’s a bit confusing.
On a positive note, Zach Werenski continues to tear things up and quietly making a strong case for Calder Trophy consideration. He had three assists over the past week and now has eight points in eight games while logging nearly 22 minutes/night.
We gave Goalie Bob POW honors, but perhaps Brandon Saad is arguably more deserving for his performance in the last three games. He had an assist in San Jose, two goals in Anaheim, and two more helpers vs. Dallas and now has seven points in eight games. Even Nick Foligno is starting to show shades of his former 2014-15 self with nine points in eight games – largely thanks to his three assists in Anaheim last Friday.
NHL Power Rankings: Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek (93) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against Detroit Red Wings at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings, 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Overall, it was a rough week for Flyers netminders. Steve Mason started the first two games back on Thursday and Saturday. He allowed five goals on 25 shots vs. Arizona and three goals on 13 shots versus Pittsburgh before getting yanked. Neuvirth admittedly fared a little better over the last seven days. Allowing two goals on 14 shots in relief of Mason wasn’t overly pretty on Friday night, but he responded with two decent outings on Sunday and Tuesday. Neuvirth stopped 26 of 29 shots for the win in Carolina and 22 of 25 shots for another victory at home versus Detroit.
Philly got some good news of late, it sounds as though Michael Del Zotto is nearing a return after starting the season on the shelf. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so he could be playing for a contract in 2016-17. It will be interesting to see who draws out of the lineup as a result of his return.
Three Flyers defenders had a trio of points over the past four games. Sophomore stud Shayne Gostisbehere had a goal and two assists, bringing his season total up to seven points in 11 games. Veteran Mark Streit also had a goal and two assists and leads all Philly defenders with eight points in 11 games. Even Radko Gudas found the score sheet for the first time after serving an early suspension. He now has three points in five games.
In more good news, Scott Laughton has been practicing with a non-contact jersey and it seems he could re-join the team this week. Similar to Del Zotto, Laughton also began the year on the IR, opening extra spots for rookies. Only thing is, those rookies aren’t going anywhere, so who draws out? Michael Raffl is also making his way back into the lineup after starting the year on the IR, which could give the Flyers a nice boost up front.
Several Philadelphia forwards had a productive four games over the past week. POW winner Wayne Simmonds had a point in each game, including a pair of multi-point contests. He now has 12 points in 11 games. Claude Giroux had five points in four games and is now up to a team-leading 13 points in 11 games. Brayden Schenn also had a big week after his slow start tallying six points in four games. That brings him up to eight points in eight games.
NHL Power Rankings: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (77) congratulates goalie Robin Lehner (40) on a win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Sabres win 2-1 over the wild. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 27 (+11)
Team Record: (4-3-2)
Player of the Week: G Robin Lehner (2 wins 1.00GAA .970 save percentage)
After a rough start for Lehner, Buffalo turned to Nilsson in three straight games starting last Tuesday (Oct.25). He played fairly well allowing three goals on 41 shots in Philly, three goals on 21 shots versus Minnesota, before closing the door for a 33-save shutout against Florida. Buffalo turned back to Lehner on Sunday and Tuesday, and those two starts alone were impressive enough to earn POW honors. Robin stopped 37 of 38 shots for a win on the road in Winnipeg, then 27 of 28 shots for another road victory vs. Minnesota. Those last two starts were important because Lehner is finally starting to look comfortable – something he was never able to do during his time in Ottawa.
Zach Bogosian injured his knee at some point in Tuesday’s game vs. Minnesota. It’s unclear if he’ll miss any time at this point, but both Cody Franson and Casey Nelson will be ready to step up if needed.
An overall quiet week on the score sheet, few Sabres defenders even managed to record a point. Top d-man Rasmus Ristolainen added another assist bringing his season total to seven points in nine games. This is a great sign for Buffalo. For the past couple of years, their Finnish defender was challenged to raise his game on the defensive side. He did that. The next step to prove you can be a no.1 defenseman is by showing there’s another gear offensively for someone who was already contributing plenty enough. This is similar to what Toronto is asking Morgan Rielly to do in 2016-17, and so far it’s not going so well for the Maple Leafs promising d-man. Ristolainen, on the other hand, is doing exactly what many of us expected – proving himself to be one of the game’s top up-and-coming blueliners.
With Kane and Eichel sidelined to begin the year, Johan Larsson was slotted to assume a lot of extra minutes in the pair’s absence. He had a decent start, but only managed two assists through his first six games. Larsson’s line came to life over the last seven days as he scored two goals over that span, while Gionta had a point in each of the past three games. Things could be worse. At least the Sabres are getting a bit of extra support with key injuries which has allowed to collect some points in the standings, but you can tell this team desperately needs their star players back for this team to start turning some heads.
Give veteran Matt Moulson a lot of credit. He now has four goals, one assist for five points in nine games. It’s a great sign for a guy who recorded just five points between November 1st, 2015 and March 5th 2016 (three month plus span).
NHL Power Rankings: Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save against the Florida Panthers in the third period at BB&T Center. The Bruins won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 21 (+4)
Team Record: (5-4-0)
Player of the Week: G Tuukka Rask (2 wins 0.50GAA .983 save percentage)
It was a short two-game week for the Bruins, fortunate for them given their recent injury history and goaltending conundrum they were dealing with. Luckily, Rask was able to return when eligible to come off the IR Saturday and made his impact felt right away posting a 24-save shutout in Detroit. On Tuesday, Tuukka stopped 33 of 34 shots in a 2-1 victory.
With limited games and so few goals scored over the last seven days, the only defender to record a point was Zdeno Chara with an assist. On the upside, the big veteran d-man continues to be a force on the blue line. His play began to digress for a couple of years, but he’s responded nicely since the start of 2015-16. We also want to acknowledge rookie Brandon Carlo. He was a +1 over the last week, making him a +7 plus/minus on the season. His superb play has resulted in extra ice-time which peaked to an average of 23:49 over the last three games. It’ll be interesting to see how he used as more bodies become healthy on the back end.
On a positive note, the Bruins are set to welcome back David Pastrnak after a two-game suspension. His presence is much-needed on that top line if the B’s hope to make some noise in 2016-17. They’ll also welcome back David Backes, who is expected to re-join the team on Saturday.
The only player to record more than a single point over the last two games was veteran Dominic Moore. They only scored three goals in the last seven days, so there weren’t too many points to go around. Marchand potted another goal on Tuesday, bringing his total for the year to 11 points in nine games.
NHL Power Rankings: Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) makes a save in the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins during a NHL hockey match at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 13 (-5)
Team Record: (4-5-2)
Player of the Week: F Rickard Rakell (2gp 1g 2a 3pts)
It was a bit of an up-and-down week for Ducks starter John Gibson. He began with a rough outing versus Columbus in which he allowed four goals on 32 shots. Four nights later, he responded with a perfect 30-save shutout against a struggling Kings squad. Then on Tuesday playing back-to-back, Gibson had his toughest outing of the year stopping just 29 of 34 shots for a loss against the Cup Champion Penguins. After such a solid start in 2016-17, this was easily John Gibson’s toughest seven-day stretch so far. Don’t expect too many of these moving forward though.
Anaheim should soon get a massive boost on the back end after re-signing defenseman Hampus Lindholm. He’s working out some visa issues but should join the team in the next little while. It will be intriguing to see if any further tweaking is done to the roster since GM Bob Murray insists he’s not moving out any big contracts.
On a side note, Cam Fowler had another solid week despite only recording a goal in three games. He’s up to eight points in 11 games and has proven himself capable of handling the extra minutes, so it’ll be intriguing to see how Carlyle uses his defenders once Lindholm returns.
Given the Ducks struggles over the last seven days, it’s only fitting that returnee Rickard Rakell be deemed Player of the Week. After all, he made a strong impression with a goal and two assists in his debut versus Los Angeles on Tuesday. He was kept off the score sheet on Wednesday, but the Swede’s return is big news. Especially, considering that both Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Ritchie are currently dealing with ailments, the timing couldn’t be better to get Rakell back in the lineup.
NHL Power Rankings: Florida Panthers center Jonathan Marchessault (81) celebrates his goal during the first period against Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 15 (-4)
Team Record: (4-5-1)
Player of the Week: F Jonathan Marchessault (4gp 3g 0a 3pts)
Luongo saw three of four starts over the last seven days. Although the numbers aren’t pretty with a 2.73GAA and .899 save percentage over that span, it’s worth noting that Lu still played particularly well. As teams continue to lock things down defensively, a lot of offensive groups are leaving their netminder hung out to dry with no goal support. Luongo allowed three goals on 28 shots in Toronto, three goals on 25 shots in Buffalo, and two goals on 26 shots as the Panthers were held to just one goal vs. Boston on Tuesday.
James Reimer recorded the only win of the week in his lone start at Detroit. He stopped 34 of 36 shots and got plenty of goal support as Florida found the back of the net five times.
New arrival Keith Yandle had a slow start to the season recording one assist through his first six games. He has since begun to heat up with three assists in his last four games. The only game in last seven days where he failed to record a point, he had a season-high seven shots vs. Buffalo. On a bit of a side note, Jason Demers was also slumping early on with one assist in his first eight games, but he recorded two helpers vs. Detroit on Sunday, hopefully, a sign of things to come.
On Tuesday, forward Jonathan Marchessault was named the NHL’s third star of the month. He’s off to a hot start and filling in admirably for an injured Jonathan Huberdeau. One has to wonder how long his torrid pace can continue. On a bit of a side note, it was announced that Jussi Jokinen is expected to miss at least another week and a half to two weeks with an injury.
Only one other player challenged Marchessault for POW honors this week, and that was Colton Sceviour. He had a monster night in Detroit posting three goals, one assist, but was left off the score sheet in the other three games.
You’ve gotta be torn on Semyon Varlamov if you’re an Avs fan. Here’s a guy that usually gives you a solid outing whether the numbers suggest that to be the case or not; yet, he’s struggling at times early on in 2016-17. Allowing five goals in three of his six starts is absolutely alarming. Meanwhile, Calvin Pickard stepped up for a second time on Saturday and recorded his second win in two starts allowing just two goals on 26 shots. At what point will the Avs listen to our preseason advice of giving Pickard the majority workload. It was unlikely they were protecting Varlamov in expansion anyways, so wouldn’t you want to be comfortable that Pickard can be a future starter? Bad coaching and management decisions, should we honestly be surprised?
The only Avs defenders to record a point over the last seven days were Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, and Eric Gelinas. The latter is an interesting one because he finally made his season debut back on Oct.22. He was pretty quiet playing limited minutes (12-13 min. range), but had a season-high 15:21 with an assist and two shots vs. Arizona on Saturday. Gelinas is a guy worth keeping an eye on. He was a highly touted Devils prospect that never panned out, but there’s still hope he can put it all together in the Mile High City. There’s a long season ahead so we’ll have to wait and see.
Duchene captures back-to-back POW honors after posting six points last week and following it up with another three points this time around. He had two goals on the road in Arizona on Saturday and an assist versus Nashville on Tuesday. Matt now has five goals, three assists (eight points) in eight games. The only other forward to record more than one point in the past seven days was captain Gabriel Landeskog. He had an assist on Saturday in Arizona and another helper on Tuesday vs. Nashville. Landeskog now has five points in nine games.
NHL Power Rankings: Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the overtime period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 20 (-1)
Team Record: (3-5-1)
Player of the Week: F Craig Smith (3gp 3g 0a 3pts)
Rinne only recorded a single win over the last seven days, but he still played well despite posting a 3.02GAA and .906 save percentage. He stopped 42 of 45 shots vs. LA last Thursday, 23 of 26 shots in San Jose two nights later, then shut the door allowing a single goal on 29 shots in Colorado on Tuesday.
Matt Irwin finally worked his way into the lineup on Thursday replacing Matt Carle. He went pointless in his first two games not factoring in much with an average 12 minutes of ice-time, but scored a goal and was a +2 plus/minus rating in the Preds 5-1 win on the road versus Colorado.
Filip Forsberg got off to a hot start with five points in his first five games. He then disappeared for four games (including two over the last seven days), but finally re-emerged on the score sheet with a pair of helpers in Colorado on Tuesday. It’s been a bit of a slow start for the Preds big forwards thus far. They’ll need Forsberg, Johansen, and Neal to pick things up moving forward. Speaking of Neal, after recording just one assist in his first eight games, he responded with a goal in San Jose on Saturday and a pair of helpers in Colorado on Tuesday. Sign of things to come? Johansen had three four assists in his first three games before disappearing for the next five contests. He re-emerged in Tuesday’s lopsided win against the Avs scoring his first goal of the season and adding an assist.
NHL Power Rankings: Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (23) celebrates his goal with teammates against Ottawa Senators during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 22 (-)
Team Record: (4-6-1)
Player of the Week: F Mikael Backlund (3gp 2g 1a 3pts)
Brian Elliott had a tough night on Tuesday after posting four superb starts in a row after a shaky beginning to the year. He allowed two or less goals in four straight games, with two of those starts coming in the past week. Elliott recorded a win stopped 31 of 33 shots vs. Ottawa, but didn’t enough goal support versus Washington after allowing just two goals on 28 shots. He’s bound to have a bad night every now and again, and that’s precisely what happened Tuesday as mentioned when he allowed four goals on 21 shots against a dangerous Blackhawks squad.
Dougie Hamilton gets an honorable mention for being in the mix for POW honors after his three-point (2g 1a) performance versus Ottawa. Unfortunately, he was kept off the scoresheet in the two games since. The only other defenseman to record a point in the last three games was T.J. Brodie who had an assist and a +3 plus/minus rating against Ottawa. Sadly, he managed to match his -4 rating from the previous eight games in those last two vs. Washington (-1) and Chicago (-3). Brodie needs to be a lot better moving forward because a -8 through 10 games just isn’t who he is. This a guy known for providing an offensive spark, but being able to lock it down defensively when need be, and unfortunately he’s struggled to do that so far.
Michael Frolik also gets an honorable mention for POW since he too posted three points (1g 2a) over that three-game span the past week. Backlund ultimately won because of the extra responsibility he assumes playing up the middle.
It’s worth noting the performance of rookie Matthew Tkachuk. He drew out of the lineup for a couple of games on Oct.22/24, but made a strong impression in his four games since – so much so that he may have made a strong enough case to stick around in 2016-17. If you include his assist on Oct.25 in his hometown St. Louis (born in Scottsdale, played minor hockey in STL), Tkachuk has three assists and a +4 plus/minus rating over his last four contests.
NHL Power Rankings: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller (30) stops a shot on net by the Edmonton Oilers during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 12 (-11)
Team Record: (4-5-1)
Player of the Week: G Ryan Miller (0 wins 1.53GAA .936 save percentage)
Veteran Ryan Miller got two of three starts over the last seven days. Truth be told, Canucks goaltenders were absolutely hung out to dry this past week. Miller received zero goal support through his two starts against Edmonton and Montreal. He actually played extremely well, giving his team a chance to win in both games. Ryan stopped 25 of 26 shots vs. EDM and 19 of 21 shots vs. MTL. Markstrom at least got a bit of a goal support in his lone start. Unfortunately, it came against the juggernaut Capitals who beat Vancouver 5-2. Jacob allowed four goals on 34 shots, against giving his team chance to win as he has all year long.
When you only manage to score two goals in three games and get shut out in two of those contests, there are very few positive notes to discuss. Vancouver’s six defenseman combined for a whopping one assist and -12 plus/minus rating over the last three games. It was a tough week in particular for Ben Hutton who had such a strong start to his sophomore campaign. As it is with young d-men, there are bound to be growing pains. Playing alongside Erik Gudbranson should help to limit too many weeks like this.
After a promising start in 2016-17, the Canucks are starting to fall off the map a bit. A lot of that has to do with their top line. The question heading into the year was, “where will the rest of the offense come from”. Right now, we’re asking where is this top line that was supposed to carry this team? Loui Eriksson and the Sedin Twins failed to record a single past over the last seven days. In fact, the trio has severely underwhelmed through 10 games. Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson only have four points, while Henrik Sedin leads the group with five. That’s good enough for the team lead with Brandon Sutter.
NHL Power Rankings: Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) makes a save in the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild beat the Dallas Stars 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 14 (-10)
Team Record: (3-4-2)
Player of the Week: F Tyler Seguin (3gp 2g 0a 2pts)
It’s difficult to blame Stars netminders for Dallas’ recent struggles due to injuries. Kari Lehtonen saw his first major blemish to his stats after being yanked when he allowed four goals on 15 shots vs. Minnesota. It was just the second time he allowed four goals in 2016-17, having allowed two or fewer in his other three contests.
Antti Niemi’s struggles continued as well. He got the nod in Winnipeg and took the loss allowing four goals on 36 shots. Then on Tuesday, Niemi took a loss in Columbus after stopping 25 of 28 shots. He has two wins in five starts with a 3.65GAA and .893 save percentage so far.
If you’re looking for something positive from the past seven days, perhaps the play of John Klingberg will suffice. A -5 plus/minus over his last five games is a bit troubling, but it’s also worth noting he’s logging top minutes against the opposition’s best players. After recording a mere two points in his first six games, it’s an encouraging sign that he has two helpers over his last three games and is shooting the puck a lot more often of late. Let’s not forget, this is the same guy that outranked second place Erik Karlsson for being on the ice for most team goals for in 2015-16. He’s an offensive force that needs to get going if Dallas wants to string together some wins while half their team is on the IR – obvious exaggeration but that’s how it is when you’re missing so many key players.
The Stars were dealt another major blow in terms of injuries. It was announced that Ales Hemsky will now miss the next five months (rest of the season) due to a labral tear which will require surgery. The injury was sustained at the World Cup of Hockey, putting a bit of exclamation mark on this one.
Although Tyler Seguin took home POW honors, it was hardly a noteworthy performance. The only reason he won is because he scored two of Dallas’ three goals over their three-game losing streak the past week. Otherwise, it was a disappointing showing overall with the rash of injuries the Stars are currently dealing with. No other player besides Seguin posted more than a single point over the last seven days.
NHL Power Rankings: New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) and New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrate after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
New York Islanders
Previous Ranking: 25 (-)
Team Record: (4-6-0)
Player of the Week: F Brock Nelson (3gp 1g 3a 4pts)
News broke on Saturday after agent Allan Walsh went on a twitter rant. It seems the Islanders are actively shopping Jaroslav Halak. Whether they’ll find a taker for his pricey cap hit is a whole different question. One thing is for sure, Mr.Walsh has a good point regarding the three-headed monster in Brooklyn – it needs to change. Prospect Ilya Sorokin can’t get here fast enough.
Travis Hamonic and Dennis Seidenberg each had a big week with three points each. Seidenberg had a pair of assists vs. Toronto and scored the lone goal in their 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Hamonic had a goal and an assist in Pittsburgh and potted another goal versus Toronto on Sunday.
Several players had a solid week, but Brock Nelson led the charge over the last three games with two multi-point games. He first recorded a pair of helpers in Pittsburgh last Thursday and followed it up with a goal and an assist in Sunday’s beatdown of the Maple Leafs. Shane Prince gets an honorable mention for having an instant impact after missing the previous five games. He had a goal and an assist against both Pittsburgh and Toronto for four points in five games.
An honorable mention goes to both Winnipeg Jets netminders for their performance over the last seven days, particularly Connor Hellebuyck. He made two starts and came in relief once recording a win with a 1.68GAA and .949 save percentage. His only major blemish statistically was three goals on 27 shots vs. Washington, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story as he received little goal support until the end of the game and made some outstanding saves to keep his team in the game. Backup Michael Hutchinson recorded a 37 save shutout in Colorado before being forced out of the next game two nights later vs. Buffalo after allowing three goals on 15 shots.
It’s worth noting now that we’re into November, the deadline to sign Jacob Trouba nears closer with December 1st just around the corner. It doesn’t feel like a trade is imminent (although that could change in a hurry if another GM is willing to pay up), so this could come down to the wire with Trouba signing just to avoid wasting a year.
If you’re looking for answers to Winnipeg’s recent struggles scoring goals, perhaps it starts with the ailing blue line. Myers is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and has missed the last two games. Mark Stuart also missed Tuesday night’s game forcing the call-up for Julian Melchiori. Neither defender contributes a ton offensively, but it certainly disrupts how effectively they move the puck out of their own end.
Winnipeg was dealt a difficult blow when it was announced that Bryan Little is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. The NHL and its teams are getting less and less descriptive when it comes to injuries, making it difficult for fans and experts to gauge exactly what’s going on. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more. Drew Stafford was also placed on the IR with an upper-body injury.
Among the notable performers over the last seven days, Joel Armia had three assists over those four games. He actually has four assists in his last five since seeing a spike in ice-time. Nikolaj Ehlers had a decent week after starting slow out of the gates with two points in his first six games. He had a goal and an assist in the last four contests. Ehlers ice-time was limited to 13:52 in Dallas (one assist) and hit a season low 12:40 on Friday in Colorado. Two nights later, he scored a goal and logged a season-high 22:18 of ice-time. Calder favorite Patrik Laine had a promising start to the week scoring a pair of goals against Dallas, but has since been left pointless in his last three games. Still, six goals (eight points) in 10 games is very impressive at the Jets rookie challenges a trio of Maple Leafs for top honors.
NHL Power Rankings: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) makes a save during the warm up against the Edmonton Oilers Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs
Previous Ranking: 30 (+3)
Team Record: (3-4-3)
Player of the Week: G Frederik Andersen (2 wins 2.03GAA .944 save percentage)
You might be able to argue that Toronto had a better performer over the past seven days, but perhaps none was more important than starter Frederik Andersen getting on track after a shaky start. We might still see some of those early woes rear their ugly head throughout the year, but it’s good to see three solid outings in a row. Andersen stopped 29 of 31 shots for the win vs. Florida last Thursday, 29 of 31 shots again on Saturday, this time being dealt the loss in Montreal. After turning to Enroth in the big loss Sunday, Frederik returned to the crease to record another win versus a hot Oilers team stopping 44 of 46 shots.
There’s no doubt that Jake Gardiner was the Leafs top defenseman through the first seven games of the season. Morgan Rielly was playing decent, but he was still making a few bad decisions with the puck and the occasional positional error. Fans were hoping 2016-17 would be the year Rielly took another step in his development. Well, his past three games are definitely an encouraging sign. He didn’t do anything flashy with a single assist over three games, but he looked much stronger defensively and was able to limit those early mistakes. Nikita Zaitsev also quietly had a decent week with a lone assist over three games. He continues to log north of 20 minutes/night and figures to be a big part of the Leafs future plans. Personally, I project Zaitsev to be the perfect second pair RHD logging roughly 20 minutes/night serving as a no.3/or 4 option.
Even after an impressive four-goal debut, Auston Matthews fell short of Rookie of the Month honors in October. Instead, teammate William Nylander won the award after a solid start to the 2016-17 campaign.
Several Leafs had a solid past seven days. We’d like to point the one player who could challenge Frederik Andersen for POW honors. Nazem Kadri had three goals, one assist in his last four games, which was highlighted by his performance on Tuesday night. Mike Babcock asked him to shadow phenom Connor McDavid, and Kadri went to work. Not only did he shut McDavid down, but he managed to throw a number of Oilers off their game (i.e. Lucic, Kassian, etc.) with his pest-like behavior.
NHL Power Rankings: Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters talks to his players during t a time out during the third period at PNC Arena. The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Ranking: 28 (-)
Team Record: (2-4-3)
Player of the Week: F Jeff Skinner (3gp 3g 2a 5pts)
Cam Ward had a rough start to the season losing his first three games allowing three or more goals in each match-up. He is since playing a little better, which is hopefully a sign of things to come. Ward recorded his first win vs. a tough Rangers squad last Friday stopping 28 of 30 shots. He got beat up a little bit against the Flyers allowing four goals on 28 shots, but responded nicely on Tuesday despite the loss stopping 30 of 32 shots.
After a slow start and fears of a sophomore slump, Jaccob Slavin is starting to find the score sheet after recording a single assist in his first six games. He had an assist vs. New York on Friday and scored his first goal of the year on Tuesday in Ottawa. On a bit of a side note, Ryan Murphy made his season debut vs. the Sens going -1 with 13:48 of ice-time. It’s a major make or break year for Murphy who showed so much promise at the beginning but has since hit a wall in the past couple of seasons.
Jeff Skinner won POW honors after continuing his hot start to the new season. He had two goals and an assist against the Rangers, then followed it up with a goal and an assist two nights later vs. Philadelphia. Despite being left off the scoresheet for just his second game in Ottawa, Skinner now has five goals, six assists (11 points) in eight games. Victor Rask also had a solid week recording three assists over the last seven days. He had a pair of helpers vs. NYR and another one against Philly. Rask is also scoring above a point-per-game pace early on with 10 points in nine games.
NHL Power Rankings: Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj (31) defends the goal against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Kings
Previous Ranking: 23 (-6)
Team Record: (4-6-0)
Player of the Week: G Peter Budaj (1 win 2.41GAA .905 save percentage)
Poor Peter Budaj was hung out to dry over those four games in the past week. He recorded his first win of the year last Thursday before the Kings threw up a trio of stinkers in which the team failed to a score a single goal. Allowing nine goals on 86 shots is nothing to brag about, but if it weren’t for Budaj, it could have been much uglier.
The Kings were dealt a rough blow learning that Brayden McNabb is considered week-to-week with an arm injury. This causes a bit of confusion on the back end since McNabb has been the one to pick up the slack since Slava Voynov left a while ago.
All those losses and lack of goal scoring took a toll on defensive plus/minus ratings of the last seven days. Doughty was a -3 putting in the minus column on the season (-2). Martinez was a -2, which now makes him a minus in 2016-17. Meanwhile, Muzzin was a -1, which puts him at -5 through 10 games.
In positive news, Marian Gaborik is due back in mid-to-late November, so that could be a much-needed boost up front to get Peter Budaj some added goal support. We’ll keep you updated as he nears closer to return.
Three goals in four games after being shutout multiple times doesn’t exactly yield top performers. In fact, only one forward managed more than a single point over that four-game stretch – that was Nic Dowd with two helpers. Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli were the only two forwards to score a goal over the last seven days. Both Tanner Pearson and Dustin Brown went pointless the past week, which virtually erases their hot starts.
Although Louis Domingue’s numbers haven’t improved a ton over the last seven days, he has played considerably better overall. He got the win vs. Philadelphia despite allowing four goals on 32 shots last Thursday. You could argue he had a better outing two nights later vs. Colorado in a 3-2 loss stopping 31 of 34 shots. His best performance of the year came on Tuesday against the Western Conference Champion San Jose sharks as he allowed just two goals on 41 shots to record the win. Hopefully, that last game is a sign of things to come, but the fact that he allowed three or more goals in his previous six starts is a bit scary.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a somewhat quiet start with two goals in his first five games. He has since come alive in his last four games. He had two goals against New Jersey back on Oct.25, another goal last Thursday in Philly, and an assist in each of his last two games vs. Colorado and San Jose for a four-game point streak. Seven points in nine games is actually quite impressive for the NHL’s early bottom feeder.
There aren’t many big performers to talk about down in the Desert, but perhaps no other player is being more overlooked for their strong start than Brad Richardson. He recorded four points over the last seven days and now has four goals, four assists (eight points) in nine games. Hats off to Richardson for the quietest strong start in the NHL.
On a bit of a side note, Martin Hanzal left Tuesday’s match-up vs. San Jose and is considered day-to-day at this point, although his status is somewhat unknown. Luckily, the Coyotes welcomed free agent signing Jamie McGinn into the lineup for the first time on Oct. 25. He has since has two goals in the four games since returning. Oh, and by the way, Anthony Duclair finally got that monkey off his back with his first point of the year in Philadelphia. A +3 plus/minus rating over his last four games in a promising sign, so it’s only a matter of time before the production starts to follow.
NHL Power Rankings: Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders with teammates during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Games of the Week (Nov.3-Nov.9)
Thursday, November 3rd
Edmonton Oilers at New York Rangers (7pm et) Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot head to Broadway to face Cam’s former team in this clash of hot starts.
Friday, November 4th
Montreal Canadiens at Columbus Blue Jackets (7pm et) Two of the NHL’s hottest goaltenders square off as Columbus looks to knock off another premier team.
Saturday, November 5th
New York Rangers at Boston Bruins (7pm et) NY took the first game at home back in October 5-2. Now, Jimmy Vesey heads home to play in front of friends and family in what should be an exciting original six match-up.
Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks (10:30pm et) A Stanley Cup Finals rematch, it will be the second time they meet in 2016-17. Pittsburgh won the first game back in October 3-2.