NHL Power Rankings: Penguins back to their dangerous selves

Hey everyone, we here at Yahoo! Sports are doing real power rankings for teams Nos. 1-31. Here they are, based on only how I am feeling about these teams, meaning you can’t tell me I’m wrong because these are my feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. Please enjoy the Power Feelings.

31. Detroit Red Wings (Last week: 31)

One last time for saying this, because I generally feel pretty good about where most (but not all) of the teams are on this list by now: You’re not allowed to be mad at me about any of this. That’s because, as I’ve already said, for the first four weeks of the season, teams are sorted 31-1 by win percentage. First tiebreaker is win total. Second tiebreaker is goal difference. Third tiebreaker is shot difference. I have not needed a fourth tiebreaker yet, but if I do I’ll figure it out.

If you bug me about any of this, it’s $15 on Venmo from you to me. I would say I don’t make the rules, but I do and I want $15.

This really does feel like the absolute worst team in the league, though. Worst goal difference through Sunday night, fifth-worst shot difference. I mean, we all knew it was gonna be bad but 2-7-2 in 11 is probably worse than we all thought, right? They’re not gonna play at this putrid pace all year, but if they did they’d finish in the neighborhood of 37 points.

30. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 29)

The skid continues, and boy it doesn’t seem like management has a lot of answers. What else is new?

29. New York Rangers (LW: 28)

28. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 22)

Something has to change in Philly. I’m honestly not even that mad at Dave Hakstol because he’s (mostly) doing the best he can in tough circumstances. But let’s put it this way: When this is your goaltending group, you’re asking to lose most of your games. The Flyers have just eight points from 11 games and how many of those can you just say, “Well look, it’s Brian Elliott” or whatever?

Team save percentage: .864. I don’t know what any coach is supposed to do with that. It’s not a systems thing. It’s a “management can’t find an NHL goaltender” thing.

27. Florida Panthers (LW: 27)

You know what I bet is gonna help this team: Going to Europe for a bunch of regular-season games. Yup, great news for them.

26. St. Louis Blues (LW: 26)

25. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 15)

24. Ottawa Senators (LW: 9)

I swear to you while I was clickin’ around the other day I saw some thing on an Ottawa newspaper website from a week ago that was like, “Is it too early to talk about the playoffs?” First of all of course it is unless you’re anything but a mortal lock like San Jose or Tampa.

But second of all, this is the OTTAWA SENATORS we’re talking about. The team whose face of the franchise is Mark Borowiecki (and time he’s not suspended). And while, yeah they started 4-2-1, guess what buddy: They’ve lost all of their last three games, giving up 14 combined goals, and are now 4-4-2. Which, like, no kidding! This is a bad team! You knew that!

23. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 21)

This isn’t a bad team but they’re starting to pull out of that early, awful skid. They’re 4-1-1 in the last six and absolutely dominating games; we’re talking a plus-72 shot advantage. Again, that’s in six games.

If they can get the offense to actually put the puck in the net, they’re gonna be real scary real soon.

22. Dallas Stars (LW: 25)

21. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 30)

Hey now. Hey nowwwwwww.

Three straight wins, four of the last five. That’s after a 1-4 start, and that win only came in a shootout. Much like Vegas, this is a team that’s just pouring shots on net and couldn’t buy a goal to save their lives. Now they’re making up for lost time with a 7-1 win over Tampa.

Funny stat: They’ve played 10 games, and in their first five, they scored just four goals. Last five? Twenty-two!

On the balance, does this feel like a team that’s gonna go plus-6 in goals every 10 games? If Antti Raanta can keep it up, I bet yeah.

20. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 12)

19. Calgary Flames (LW: 10)

18. New York Islanders (LW: 24)

17. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 20)

The Sabres remind me so much of that Panthers team that went out and signed like a dozen mediocre-to-pretty-good NHL players seven or eight years ago. Never gonna overwhelm you or anything but you go, “Hey, that’s a passable group!” And here we are. This increasingly looks like a passable group, but one with room to grow.

Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel together, by the way? That’s lookin’ real good too.

16. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 19)

You’re gonna wanna check out what these guys did to the Sharks on Friday night if you get the chance. Mighty impressive. Would be nice if the record could follow suit.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 17)

14. Washington Capitals (LW: 16)

13. Chicago (LW: 14)

12. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 5)

I keep waiting for these guys to figure it out and they haven’t yet. But they’re the team that’s going over to Europe to play Florida and stuff, so that seems like it might delay the figuring it out. Obviously lots of room for optimism around this group, and the rest of the Central is so weird right now that they don’t need to be as good as they absolutely can be to stay afloat.

Lucky for them.

11. Minnesota Wild (LW: 13)

You’re gonna climb the chart if you win five straight but let’s not make any mistake here: This is a goaltending thing. Nine goals against on 153 shots in those wins. They’re below-water in terms of just about every underlying metric but if Dubnyk can be the kind of goalie he was that one time a few years ago, these guys will linger.

10. Boston Bruins (LW: 11)

It’s rare you see teams this banged up this early, but Torey Krug, David Backes, Charlie McAvoy, and Kevan Miller are all still out. That’s not the only thing that’s holding these guys back right now (the No. 1 culprit is the lack of depth scoring) but it ain’t helping either.

9. San Jose Sharks (LW: 18)

These guys are so fun to watch. What a blessing.

My theory behind their early struggles is that when you have so many guys who have to have the puck a lot, it makes it hard to figure things out at first. But eventually everyone gets a feel for their roles and you learn more about each other and all that. Karlsson changed the math for them on the ice but now they’ve got it pretty much nailed, y’know?

They’ve got points in all of their last five and the only loss, in a shootout, was to a very good Carolina team in a game where they kinda got speedbagged.

8. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 23)

One regulation loss in eight games and they’re actually playing pretty well, to boot. Not great, or anything, but well enough to win most nights and they have this Connor McDavid kid, which if you ask me is pretty helpful.

I think I said it over the summer but as long as Cam Talbot can be above-average (he’s .918 in his last seven appearances after a slow start), this team’s gonna win a bunch because that’s how much of a difference McDavid and passable goaltending makes.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 7)

Matthews out a month? Hey, how’s Kyle Dubas feeling about those Nylander negotiations now?

6. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 3)

5. New Jersey Devils (LW: 6)

4. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 4)

Y’know if Price can do this all year Marc Bergevin is (wrongly) gonna look like a genius. I still don’t buy them but Claude Julien might have just needed a little more time. I dunno.

3. Nashville Predators (LW: 1)

2. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 2)

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 8)

It’s both the offense and defense driving success in this four-game win streak, but they’ve got a point in every contest for the last six.

During that latter stretch, they’ve scored 28 and allowed 18, and let’s not all look at once, but Matt Murray is .951 in his last three starts. If he’s something resembling what we used to think of Matt Murray as being, look out.


Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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