Sports Illustrated has released their first NHL Power Rankings of the year. I’ll go over their top 10. For the complete SI rankings, click here.
1. Detroit Red Wings. Can’t argue with that. So far, the transition from Brian Rafalski to Ian White has been seamless. Nicklas Lidstrom continues to get better with age. How Pavel Datsyuk is still underrated is beyond me.
2. Buffalo Sabres. So far, they have impressed me. They’re probably ranked a bit high, but their offense looks a lot better than last year’s. I will never underestimate a team with Ryan Miller in goal either.
3. San Jose Sharks. Blame whoever makes the schedules for this, but they’ve only played one game so far this year. In that one game though, they looked up to par, beating the Coyotes 6-3. Could this finally be the year they live up to their true potential and win a date with Lord Stanley?
4. Philadelphia Flyers. Uh oh. They’ve finally found a good goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov. The days of looking forward to facing Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher are over. If you want to know how big a difference an elite goalie can make, ask the 1999-2000 Buffalo Sabres. Still the tough, physical team that they’ve always been.
5. Nashville Predators. Probably ranked a bit too high since they simply aren’t going to sustain their current level of scoring, but they are my dark horse candidate to win the West. Fun fact: David Legwand already has 5 points in his first two games. It took him his first thirteen games last year to get to 5 points.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins. Definitely ranked a bit too high. Especially since they do not have their two best players in Sidney Crosby (arguably the best center in the league) and Evgeni Malkin. That being said, the Pens are a team that should not be overlooked. They managed to make the playoffs last year despite not having either player during the second half. Knock on wood: Matt Cooke hasn’t gotten into a fight AND hasn’t injured anyone yet.
7. Boston Bruins. Glad to see that everyone isn’t in panic mode. They’ve only allowed four goals in three games so far. They are still the team to beat in the East. No doubt. Once the offense gets going, this will be a very tough team to beat.
8. Washington Capitals. The Capitals are back to what they do best: Giving their fans heart attacks. Tomas Vokoun will improve on his performance on Monday. Expect Vokoun to look more like he did in the second period and overtime of the Lightning game. Bank on it. Power play is definitely a concern though, as is their defense.
9. Vancover Canucks. They’re sitting pretty at 1-0-1, but their goaltending situation is getting very heated. Could definitely prove to be a distraction. Luongo is not helping his cause with his patented inconsistent play.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs. Another young team that has looked very good so far. Let’s see if they can sustain this level of play though. And what the heck has gotten into Phil Kessel? Not that I’m against it since he’s on my fantasy hockey team…