NHL Power Rankings: Golden Knights, behind Mark Stone and Jack Eichel, reign supreme as best team in league

NHL Power Rankings: Golden Knights, behind Mark Stone and Jack Eichel, reign supreme as best team in league


Golden Knights
Mark Stone and Jack Eichel are both fully healthy, and the Golden Knights are reaping all the benefits. Those two have played more than 116 minutes together at five-on-five, and Vegas is outscoring opponents 9-2 in that time. That duo is becoming a problem for the rest of the league 1 12-2-0

The Bruins’ front office tried to take a blowtorch to the team’s strong start by signing Mitchell Miller last week, but management finally came to its senses and “parted ways” with the defenseman. We should’ve been celebrating the first-place team in the Atlantic Division reintroducing its Pooh Bear jerseys, but instead Cam Neely and Don Sweeney made sure the focus was on their blunder. 1 11-2-0

In the sake of full disclosure, I must own up to a mistake. Prior to the season, I did predict that the Devils would make the playoffs, but I did not have them winning the Stanley Cup. That’s on me. New Jersey has won seven games in a row, and Jesper Bratt might be the best player ever to lace up a pair of skates. 2 10-3-0

Carolina is already stacking wins, and it hasn’t even gotten anything more than average or below average goaltending. After his excellent 2021-22 season, Freddie Andersen ranks 56th in the NHL with -2.89 goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick. If Andersen can get back to anything close to the level at which he played last season, it’s hard to see the Hurricanes faltering at any point. 1 8-3-1

As it turns out, Jason Robertson really doesn’t need training camp. Sitting out while waiting on a new contract didn’t slow him down one bit. Through 12 games, Robertson is tied for fourth in the league with nine goals, and he has scored in six straight contests. He is driving a Stars team that sits in first place in the Central Division. 5 8-4-1

The sputtering Avalanche got exactly what they needed over the weekend: two games against the last-place team in these power rankings. Colorado went over to Finland for a pair of Global Series games against the Blue Jackets and won both of them. Finland native Mikko Rantanen even scored a hat trick in Friday’s tilt. Maybe that trip was the jumpstart the defending champs needed. 7 6-4-1

When the Lightning acquired Brandon Hagel ahead of last season’s trade deadline, it looked like another savvy move by Julien BriseBois. So far this season, it looks like Tampa Bay has a budding star on its hands. With five goals in 13 games, Hagel is on pace for 31 this season, which would blow by last year’s total of 25. 4 7-5-1

The Isles have now won six of their last seven games, and Mathew Barzal still has yet to find the back of the net. He has taken 38 shots on goal, and none of them have beaten the goaltender. He is still contributing by getting the puck to his teammates in dangerous areas for 15 assists, but it has to be a good sign that the Islanders keep winning without Barzal lighting the lamp. 15 9-5-0

Maple Leafs
It’s one step forward and two steps back for the Maple Leafs. The sky was falling until back-to-back wins over the Bruins and Hurricanes quieted some of the criticisms of this team. Then, goaltender Ilya Samsonov goes down with an injury, which means Toronto is now without both of its top two netminders for the immediate future. 6 7-4-3

It’s time to stop messing around and put the Kraken up where they belong. Seattle has won four games in a row, and the team is just playing good hockey of late. Andre Burakovsky already looks like a fantastic signing by the Kraken, and he has provided some much-needed offense with three goals and 13 points in 14 games. 11 8-4-2

Winnipeg continues to win hockey games, and there is something to be said for coming out on the right side of the scoreboard more often than not, but I’m kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop with this team. The Jets rank 23rdin five-on-five expected goals share (45.81%), and I’m not sure Connor Hellebuyck can keep bailing them out of every game. 3 8-3-1

The Panthers are in the midst of a frustrating start. After making a blockbuster deal for Matthew Tkachuk, Florida is 7-5-1 and fifth in the Atlantic Division. That said, I don’t think the Panthers will stay there for long because they have been excellent at five-on-five. The Cats rank fourth in the league with a five-on-five expected goals share of 57.49%, but poor special teams and mediocre goaltending have helped deliver somewhat underwhelming results. 4 7-5-1

Connor McDavid is not of this planet. Through 14 games, McDavid is averaging a goal per game and more than two points per game. The best player in the world has somehow found a way to elevate his production from an already absurd level. Despite McDavid’s jaw-dropping feats, the Oilers have now dropped three of their last four. 7 8-6-0

It took a few seasons, but Rasmus Dahlin is beginning to look like the player the Sabres hoped they were getting when they selected him No. 1 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft. Dahlin’s counting stats – seven goals and 16 points in 12 games – are fantastic. However, his excellence doesn’t end there. Buffalo is dominating play when Dahlin is on the ice at five-on-five, which is an area in which he had previously struggled. 5 7-6-0

Jonathan Huberdeau hasn’t had the easiest time adjusting to his new surroundings. After posting 115 points in 80 games last season with the Panthers, Huberdeau has tallied just one goal and six points in the first 12 games of the 2022-23 season. If there is any good news for the Flames it’s that Huberdeau’s shooting percentage sits at 5.0%, which is far lower than his career average of 12.5%. I wouldn’t expect Huberdeau to stay down for long, but the slumping Flames need him to heat up. 11 5-5-2

The Rangers have lost eight games this season, and four of those have come in starts from Jaroslav Halak, who has yet to pick up a win between the pipes. Halak has allowed 2.69 goals above expected, per Natural Stat Trick, and his high-danger save percentage of 77.1% ranks 48th in the league. The Rangers are probably worried about giving Igor Shesterkin an unsustainable workload, but they may need to give him more starts than they were anticipating. 9 6-5-3

Red Wings
Ville Husso has been spectacular for the Red Wings, and he is a major reason they have gotten off to a decent start. In just seven games played, Husso is third in the NHL in goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick. He has taken a team that is consistently getting out-chanced and propelled them near the top of the Atlantic Division. 9 7-3-3

With his game-winning goal against the Wild on Tuesday night, Gabe Vilardi tied his career high with 10 goals in a single season. The 23-year-old is off to a tremendous start, and he is starting to look more and more like a valuable piece of the Kings’ young core. 6 8-6-1

“Everything about his game, he just needs to be better.” That was a quote from Flyers head coach John Tortorella about defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who general manager Chuck Fletcher signed to a $25.5 million contract in the offseason. That seemed like a very ill-advised decision at the time, and it looks even worse now. 1 7-3-2

Coming into the 2022-23 season, there were questions about where the Wild would get their offense from, outside of Kirill Kaprizov. Those questions remain after the first 13 games of the season. Minnesota’s 35 goals scored rank 27th in the league, and the team has struggled to get production out of a few players at the top of the lineup. 2 5-6-1

Alex Ovechkin scored his 787th goal with the Capitals last week, which put him ahead of the legendary Gordie Howe for most goals with a single franchise. Watching Ovechkin work has been one of the sole bright spots for an inconsistent Washington team so far. 2 6-6-2

The list of Blackhawks leading scorers behind Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews is as follows: Jason Dickinson, Sam Lafferty, Max Domi, Tyler Johnson, and Caleb Jones. Frankly, it’s a small miracle that Luke Richardson has this team at .500 through 12 games. 3 5-5-2

I guess I got a little ahead of my skis when proclaiming that the Penguins’ aging core still had enough juice to propel them into contender territory. Pittsburgh has now lost seven straight games, but there is some good news. The Pens are fifth in five-on-five expected goals share (55.61%), per Natural Stat Trick. That could be an indication that better results are on the way. 7 4-6-2

Montreal has to find some offensive answers behind the top line of Kirby Dach-Nick Suzuki-Cole Caufield. Those three have played well together, both in terms of the underlying numbers and in the actual goals results. However, when that trio is off the ice at five-on-five, the Canadiens have been outscored 13-9. — 6-6-1

The Predators have not played well in front of him, but Juuse Saros has played very poorly in the early going. He is a big reason why Nashville has fallen on its face out of the gate. In extremely uncharacteristic fashion, Saros has allowed 3.74 goals above expected in his 10 games played. For the Predators to remain in the playoff race, Saros has to be at his best the rest of the way. 2 5-7-1

Don’t let the numbers fool you. Karel Vejmelka has played relatively well considering the team in front of him. Vejmelka has a GAA of 3.41 and a save percentage of 90.8%. However, Vejmelka has saved 0.99 goals above average, per Natural Stat Trick. That isn’t anything jaw-dropping, but he has faced the third most expected goals in the league. 2 5-6-1

I thought the Canucks were healing after coughing up multi-goal lead after multi-goal lead earlier in the season, but then they blew a 3-0 lead in a shootout loss to the Predators. 2 4-6-3

The Senators have now lost six straight games, but the crowd did get to cheer when the camera cut to Ryan Reynolds at Tuesday night’s game. When the prospect of Green Lantern being a future owner is the most exciting thing that has happened in a couple weeks, you know it’s a sad state of affairs. 11 4-8-0

The Blues have lost eight straight games, and they rank near the bottom of the league in both shooting percentage and save percentage. That indicates some bad luck, but St. Louis also sits at 21st in five-on-five expected goals share (48.19%). The Blues have some serious issues at both ends of the ice that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. 7 3-8-0

In a bit of a scheduling quirk, the Ducks and Sharks have played twice in the last week, and Anaheim won both games in a shootout. The Ducks won the battle for the 30th spot in these rankings. Congratulations to the city of Anaheim. — 4-8-1

In a bit of a scheduling quirk, the Ducks and Sharks have played twice in the last week, and Anaheim won both games in a shootout. The Sharks lost the battle for the 30th spot in these rankings. — 3-8-3

Blue Jackets
Columbus has lost five games in a row, and its last two losses came over 12 hours away in Finland. The Blue Jackets got swept by the Avalanche in the Global Series. Perhaps worst of all, Patrik Laine was so upset that he called the trip to his hometown a “waste of time.” Talk about a vibe killer. — 3-9-0

#NHL #Power #Rankings #Golden #Knights #Mark #Stone #Jack #Eichel #reign #supreme #team #league

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