1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Firing on all cylinders. Team is for real and poised for a Cup run. They should hover around the top spot all season.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs – No problem scoring, and a recent commitment to defense after a dud in Ottawa. Consistency could be an issue with the young squad; we should learn a lot about their maturity on the Western trip starting at the end of October.

3. Los Angeles Kings – The resurgent Kings are off to a surprising start with only one regulation defeat. Big loss with Jeff Carter, but Anze Kopitar has stepped it up again. A good start to their road trip keeps them top three.

4. Vegas Golden Knights – Waiting for reality to hit eventually, and the current goaltending situation is concerning. However, let’s just enjoy the gritty Knights up here for now.

5. St. Louis Blues – Have played on the road in seven of their first nine games, with a 6-2-1 record. Teams that can win on the road will always be looked upon favorably on this board.

6. New Jersey Devils – Young team off to a fast start. Expecting reality to set in soon for them as well, but for now their road record keeps them ranked higher than where I anticipate they will be shortly.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets – Should not be punished too harshly for back-to-back losses against the Kings and Lightning. Team is for real and Sergei Bobrovsky continues to shine. It won’t be long before they’re in the top five.

8. Chicago Blackhawks – Who are the Hawks? The team that started 3-0-1, or the one that has gone 2-3-1 since? If they’re unable to shore up defensively, they’ll plummet in the rankings.

9. Ottawa Senators – Got through the Karlsson injury and lots of bad luck with four OT losses. They’ll be a fun team to watch this season.

10. Pittsburgh Penguins – Need upgrades behind Matt Murray and forward depth. However, enough front-end talent to keep them in the top 10.

11. Dallas Stars – Four straight wins before running into the Avalanche. However, two of the wins were against Coyotes. Their ability to break the top 10 early in the season will depend on their current Western trip.

12. Anahem Ducks – Slow start due to injuries. Great start for John Gibson, but Cam Fowler injury will be tough to overcome.

13. Nashville Predators – Average start for the defending Western champs. Not surprising. Rinne is still on top of his game. Business will pick up as the season progresses.

14. Philadelphia Flyers – Have been great defensively if you take away the Ducks and first Predators loss. However, with four of the next five games in Ottawa, Toronto, Chicago and St. Louis, the Flyers’ early-season defensive prowess will be tested.

15. Washington Capitals – Maybe the regular season doesn’t mean as much anymore? Unproven defense and inconsistent play keeps the talented Caps in the middle of the pack.

16. NY Islanders – Three consecutive wins against teams with a combined six wins does not inspire confidence yet. Should be an up and down year with the John Tavares distraction always looming.

17. Winnipeg Jets – Have won four of five with Connor Hellebuyck responsible for the wins. Back-to-back games in Pittsburgh and Columbus this week could propel the Jets up the rankings.

18. Calgary Flames – A 4-1 road record has the Flames in the top 20. Surprisingly, the Flames need to tighten up defensively, as they’re placing too much stress on poor Mike Smith. He is playing well, but they’re playing with fire.

19. Carolina Hurricanes – Inconsistent start for a team with high hopes entering the season. However, with three of four losses coming at the hands of top-11 teams, they weren’t punished too much in the rankings.

20. Florida Panthers – They have kept their heads above water playing a very difficult early-season schedule and have been rewarded for it in the power rankings. They do need to take advantage when their schedule eases, or they’ll pay a stiff price in the rankings.

21. San Jose Sharks – Winning three of their last four doesn’t completely erase the 1-3 start, especially with two of those wins coming against teams below them in the rankings. It’s a start, though. Eight of nine at home after this current road trip should enable the Sharks to break into the top 20.

22. Minnesota Wild – Decimated by injuries with Dubnyk struggling. Both of those things should get better. Don’t get used to seeing the Wild down here in the basement.

23. Edmonton Oilers – The most disappointing team of the young season, under the weight of immense expectations. Too early to panic, though. They continue to generate offense, but have been snake bit. That should not continue.

24. Colorado Avalanche – The Avalanche are more competitive this season, but they’re too inconsistent to be placed higher in the rankings. Three of their five wins have been against teams below them in the rankings.

25. Boston Bruins – Injuries to key players and an inexplicable loss to Buffalo after blowing a three-goal lead lands the Bruins in the bottom third. Tuukka Rask’s return should improve the Bruins fortunes.

26. Vancouver Canucks – Smoke and mirrors. They have won three straight, but all against teams in the bottom third of the rankings. Derek Dorsett leads the team in goals. It’s going to be another long season in Vancouver.

27. Detroit Red Wings – Punished significantly in the rankings for being dominated at home against the Canucks. Five straight losses after a 4-1 start has placed the Wings where they will most likely be all season.

28. NY Rangers – A win against Nashville in a game where they only generated 15 shots does not mask their 2-6-2 record. Alain Vigneault may be on thin ice.

29. Buffalo Sabres – Unable to meet high expectations so far this season. Jack Eichel is doing his part, but their defensive issues can not be overstated.

30. Montreal Canadiens – Seven consecutive losses before the Panthers win. Marc Bergevin’s questionable decisions (I’m being kind) are being exposed now. With Carey Price struggling (and not receiving any support), this team has no shot. Expect Price to keep the equipment guys busy this season replacing his broken sticks.

31. Arizona Coyotes – Still searching for their first win and haven’t played a difficult schedule. Now they start an Eastern trip. How much worse can it get for a winless team? We’re about to find out.


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