1. Montreal Canadiens (4-0-0) – Montreal is only the third team in NHL history to open a season with four straight wins on the road. Furthermore, the other three times in franchise history that the Canadiens have won their first four games, they have captured the Stanley Cup. Obviously these stats mean little in mid-October but it’s hard to argue that Montreal is not off to an excellent start.
2. San Jose Sharks (3-0-0) – Similar to Montreal, San Jose is basically off to a perfect start. The Sharks have scored 12 goals and have only allowed one coming off a 5-0 shutout at Washington on Tuesday. Goaltender Martin Jones has picked up back-to-back shutouts and he looks poised for a big season in his first chance to be a full-time starter in the NHL.
3. Detroit Red Wings (3-0-0) – The Red Wings are also unbeaten and they picked up one of the most impressive wins of the young season by beating Tampa Bay, 3-1, on Tuesday. Detroit has only allowed four goals in its first three games. They host Carolina on Friday before heading out on a tough four-game road trip in Canada (Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver).
4. Nashville Predators (3-0-0) – Nashville hasn’t scored many goals yet (7) but when you allow less than one a game (2), it’s easy to pile up the points. The Central Division still looks like the gold standard in the NHL, after five of its eight teams made the playoffs last season. A healthy Pekka Rinne (3-0-0, 1 shutout, .975 save percentage, 0.67 goals against average) always makes them a contender, he’s still one of the top goaltenders.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (2-1-0) – After losing to the Rangers on Opening Night, the defending champs have bounced back with two wins in a row. They should remain in this upper echelon all season based on their abundance of talent and experience. They have back-to-back road games at Philadelphia on Wednesday and Washington on Thursday.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (3-1-0) – The Eastern Conference champions opened up with three straight wins before running out of steam in Detroit. Like Chicago, they still look like the class of their respective conference. If you enjoy offensive hockey (a rarity these days), their game vs. Dallas on Thursday should be a very entertaining contest.
7. New York Rangers (3-1-0) – The Rangers were also 3-0 before they got humbled by Winnipeg on Tuesday. They are at Montreal on Thursday in an early season showdown. They host the Devils on Sunday, kicking off a three-game homestand at Madison Square Garden.
8. Vancouver Canucks (3-0-1) – Given their propensity to choke in the playoffs, this seems like a bit of a mirage but you have to admit that Vancouver has looked good thus far. The Canucks blanked the reeling Kings 3-0 on Tuesday as Ryan Miller picked up one of the easiest shutouts of his career (15 saves). This great start should continue as the Canucks are about to embark on a five-game homestand at Rogers Arena.
9. Winnipeg Jets (3-1-0) – Given that they haven’t played a home game yet this season, the Jets are off to a fantastic start. By winning 4-1 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, they showed that last season’s playoff appearance probably wasn’t a fluke. Their reward is six games in a row at MTS Centre. Winnipeg’s next road game isn’t until Halloween in Columbus.
10. Minnesota Wild (2-0-0)– It’s a small sample size here but the Wild appear to be a quality team once again. Center Zach Parise opened his campaign with a hat trick in their crazy 5-4 comeback victory in Colorado. After a lazy first week, Minnesota will be busy with three games in four days on the road starting on Thursday (Arizona, Los Angeles and Anaheim).
11. Arizona Coyotes (2-0-0) – This can’t be real but the Coyotes began the season with wins against much more heralded teams (Kings and Penguins). The next couple days should bring them back down to their true level as they play at Anaheim on Wednesday then host the Wild. Rookie Max Domi scored a beautiful goal against LA, the first of his NHL career.
12. Florida Panthers (2-1-0) – Are you buying into the Panthers yet? Yes it is extremely early but this team is loaded with good players that are mostly on the younger side. Then there is 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr (2 goals, 1 assist), who said that he wants to play until he’s 50. At this point, who could doubt him?
13. St. Louis Blues (2-1-0) – St. Louis picked up a 4-3 win in Calgary on Tuesday but star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk left with the dreaded lower body injury. The Blues are in Canada for another week with games remaining in Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. They’ll have their work cut out for them this season in the Central Division with Winnipeg’s improvement along with Nashville, Minnesota and Chicago’s steady play.
14. Dallas Stars (2-1-0) – The Stars are off to a positive start and Jason Spezza scored a hat trick in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over hapless Edmonton. Dallas heads out on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip to Tampa Bay, Florida, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Their next home game isn’t until Oct. 24 vs. the Panthers.
15. Ottawa Senators (2-1-0) – Fittingly at the halfway mark of the power rankings, Ottawa is the final club over .500. The Senators won their first two games before losing 3-1 to Montreal on Sunday. Goaltender Andrew Hammond returned to practice on Tuesday so he should make his 2015-16 debut sometime soon.
16. Colorado Avalanche (1-1-0) – Colorado has only played twice but their 6-3 win over Dallas on Saturday was impressive. They host the stumbling Bruins on Wednesday before a visit to California this weekend to meet the Ducks and Kings. The Avalanche have scored 10 goals already so their offense has started out really well right out of the gate.
17. New York Islanders (1-1-1) – So far the Islanders have been the only team to beat the Jets as they picked up a 4-2 victory on Columbus Day at Barclays Center. New York has two more intriguing matchups there this week as they take on Nashville on Thursday and San Jose on Saturday. The Metropolitan Division continues to be a dumpster fire as four of its eight teams have started 0-3.
18. Washington Capitals (1-1-0) – Alexander Ovechkin missed a rare game on Tuesday (5-0 loss to San Jose) as a punishment for missing morning skate. You can bet that he’ll be ready to go when the Capitals host the Blackhawks on Thursday. Washington is definitely an under-the-radar threat in the East.
19. Anaheim Ducks (0-1-1) – It’s tough to say why the Ducks have gotten off to such a slow start. Anaheim has only scored one goal in two games as they search for their first win after losing 2-1 to Vancouver in overtime on Monday. Expect them to turn things around any day now.
20. Philadelphia Flyers (1-1-1) – A 1-1-1 mark isn’t a great start for most teams but for a club expected to be one of the worst in the NHL, the Flyers don’t look too shabby. They blanked Florida 1-0 on Columbus Day behind backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth. The roof could cave in at any moment though as they host Chicago on Wednesday.
21. Calgary Flames (1-2-0)– Conversely, for a team that’s picked to be on the rise, Calgary’s start isn’t so hot. Friday at Winnipeg should be a tough game and they return to Calgary the next night to play the Oilers. I have faith in the Flames, they are better than this.
22. Buffalo Sabres (1-2-0) – The Sabres might not be quite ready for primetime but rookie Jack Eichel (2 spectacular goals) is the real deal. Goaltender Robin Lehner (ankle) got hurt in the opener and is expected out for 6-10 weeks. Even if Buffalo isn’t good, at least they are fun to watch which is more than you could say about the last few forgettable years.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs (0-2-1) – The beat goes on for the team ranked as the worst franchise in professional sports by ESPN. Mike Babcock is a great coach but there is not much that he can reasonably be expected to do with this flawed roster. The best that the Leafs can hope for is a World Series run by the Blue Jays to take the focus off of them.
24. Pittsburgh Penguins (0-3-0) – Now I get to rank seven teams that all have zero points. Of that group, Pittsburgh seems like one of the clubs most likely to dig themselves out of this mess. They showed some life in a 3-2 loss to Montreal on Tuesday.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (0-3-0) – The Blue Jackets had the misfortune of starting with a home-and-home against the Rangers who smoked them both times. Their 4-2 loss at Buffalo on Columbus Day is a little harder to understand. If they don’t beat Ottawa on Wednesday, I bet their first win will come on Friday against Toronto.
26. Boston Bruins (0-3-0) – When you look at the scores and pathetic numbers, the Bruins probably deserve to be No. 30. However, this is a sympathy ranking since they still have so many good players that they can’t possibly be this bad. Boston has allowed an NHL-worst 16 goals.
27. Los Angeles Kings (0-3-0) – What has happened to the once mighty Kings? They have been nothing but lifeless in their first three games. They have been outscored 12-2 which is the worst goal-differential in the league.
28. Carolina Hurricanes (0-3-0) – Carolina was expected to be awful and so far they’ve lived up to that billing. The next seven games for the Hurricanes are all on the road. Could they be 0-10 when they return to PNC Arena on October 30 to take on the Avalanche?
29. Edmonton Oilers (0-3-0) – Rookie Connor McDavid scored his first NHL goal in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss at Dallas. So far, that’s been about the only highlight for the Oilers. They have only scored three goals this season and their next five games are daunting to say the least: vs. St. Louis, at Calgary, at Vancouver, vs. Detroit and vs. Washington.
30. New Jersey Devils (0-3-0) – The Devils might be the only team in the NHL that I would say have absolutely no hope this season (barring some big changes). Honestly, if you are a fan of this team what can you be happy about besides goaltender Cory Schneider? They used to run the Tri-State area but now the Rangers and Islanders are light years ahead of them while even the Flyers and Sabres are moving out of their lowly neighborhood.