We're still at the beginning of the 2013-14 NHL season, but a few realities have begun to emerge: The West is stacked. The East is not very good. The Pacific Division might be the toughest in the league. The Metropolitan Division might be the worst. Superstars (on and off the ice) are going to dominate.
It's the first full season of hockey teams, players, and fans have had in two years. And it's shaping up to be a wild one. Check out this week's NHL Power Rankings and tell us in the comments section where you think your team should be ranked!
1. San Jose Sharks (7-0-1, Last Week: 5)
The Sharks know how to win — at least in the regular season. (The playoffs are another, nightmarish story.) And right now San Jose is the only team that has not lost in regulation. One bad injury or a serious losing skid could derail things quickly, but right now the Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division, and that's good enough to be called the best team in the NHL (right now).
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-1-0, Last Week: 4)
Sidney Crosby is scoring an average of 2.13 points per game (the Kid has 7 goals and 10 assists through 8 games), which is a monster number. If Sid keeps up that pace, and Marc-Andre Fleury continues his 2009-like play in net, there might be no stopping the Penguins.
3. Colorado Avalanche (7-1-0, Last Week: 2)
First-year coach Patrick Roy has the Avalanche playing out of their minds. Colorado had the second fewest points last season, but already that seems like a very distant memory. This is a young team playing hungry and with a chip on its shoulder. But questions remain: Can this untested squad can keep it going through a full 82-game season? How will it deal with adversity?
4. Anaheim Ducks (7-1-0, Last Week: 7)
Like the Sharks, the Ducks are big-time in the regular season, and this year is no different. Anaheim is currently riding a seven-game winning streak — no small thing, even if most of the wins came from far worse teams. The Ducks are a point behind San Jose in the Pacific, and the two teams will likely switch places in the standings throughout the season.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (5-1-2, Last Week: 8)
After a slow start, it looks like the Blackhawks have found some kind of rhythm. Chicago has scratched its way back to the top of the Central Division standings, but two losses against divisional foe St. Louis in five games is cause for concern. The Blues are legit, and the Hawks will need to find ways to defeat them.
6. St. Louis Blues (5-1-1, Last Week: 1)
After opening the season with a four-game win streak, the Blues have cooled a bit, going 1-2 in their last three games. But St. Louis is winning games in its division, especially against the Blackhawks, and should get back on track quickly. The Blues are too good to be overlooked.
7. Los Angeles Kings (6-3-0, Last Week: 10)
The Kings are off to a slow start, and they're staying competitive with the rest of the Pacific, but you have to wonder how long that will last. Four of LA's six wins have come in overtime or shootouts, and in its losses it's being outscored 13-5. The Kings need to close out teams in regulation and goalie Jonathan Quick needs to keep pucks out of the net. Otherwise, the Kings will be eaten alive by the rest of the Pacific Division.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-3-0, Last Week: 3)
The Atlantic Division is the most competitive in the East right now, and at the moment Toronto is leading the pack. The Leafs have rebounded nicely from its crushing playoff exit last season, taking care of business against teams it should defeat. But its losses have all come against good teams: Colorado, Chicago, and Carolina. If the Leafs aren't careful, Detroit and Boston will blow right by them.
9. Boston Bruins (5-2-0, Last Week: 6)
Goalie Tuukka Rask is a beast. He's shutting down teams left and right, allowing only 1.29 goals against and leading the NHL with a .954 save percentage. And as Rask goes, so does Boston. The Bruins are in the thick of it in the Atlantic and should be at the top of the standings all season — as long as Rask is healthy, that is.
10. Detroit Red Wings (6-3-0, Last Week: 9)
The Red Wings have taken to the East nicely. In it's first season in the conference, Detroit is at the top of the Atlantic Division and playing like a much younger team. The Wings had a four-game win streak snapped by the Coyotes, but they're playing good, consistent hockey. Will that last all season? All signs point to yes
11. Vancouver Canucks (5-4-1, Last Week: 15)
After a three-game win streak, the Canucks have slipped back into inconsistent play. Their days as an elite team in the West might be numbered.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (5-2-2, Last Week: 12)
Phoenix is playing some solid hockey. But will it be good enough to overtake the Sharks and Ducks in the Pacific?
13. Carolina Hurricanes (4-2-3, Last Week: 16)
The Hurricanes are taking advantage of a weak Metro Division, but if the Islanders or Capitals get hot Carolina will sink in the standings.
14. Montreal Canadiens (5-3-0, Last Week: 12)
The Habs ran off a four-game win streak before losing to Nashville. They'll need more of that to keep pace in the Atlantic.
15. New York Islanders (3-3-2, Last Week: 11)
The Islanders are in the thick of it in the Metro Division, but a three-game losing streak hurts.
16. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-3-0, Last Week: 17)
Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are breathing life back into the Bolts.
17. Nashville Predators (5-3-1, Last Week: 23)
The Predators are looking for some consistency, but if they find out they could give some teams fits.
18. Calgary Flames (3-2-2, Last Week: 14)
The plucky Flames are giving it their best, but in the Pacific they're outgunned and outmatched.
19. Minnesota Wild (3-3-3, Last Week: 20)
Three straight losses, three straight wins, three straight losses — it's going to be that kind of season in Minnesota.
20. Winnipeg Jets(4-5-0, Last Week: 18)
The Jets are hanging with clubs, defeating the Blues in a shootout, but a three-game losing streak is a momentum killer.
21. Ottawa Senators (3-3-2, Last Week: 22)
Ottawa misses the leadership of Daniel Alfredsson right about now.
22. Dallas Stars (3-5-0, Last Week: 21)
The Stars have sunk to the bottom of the Central, and it's not very likely they'll climb out of the cellar soon.
23. Florida Panthers (3-6-0, Last Week: 24)
The wins have been few, but more troubling is that when the Panthers lose, they lose big.
24. Washington Capitals(3-5-0, Last Week: 25)
The Caps are up and down once again — winning against bad teams, losing against good ones.
25. Edmonton Oilers (2-6-1, Last Week: 26)
The Oilers are hanging with good teams, but they don't have that killer instinct yet.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-5-0, Last Week: 19)
A four-game losing streak is not how Columbus wanted to start this season.
27. New Jersey Devils (1-4-3, Last Week: 28)
The Devils got a win over a worse Rangers club, and they should savor it because there won't be many this season.
28. New York Rangers(2-5-0, Last Week: 27)
A thumb injury to captain Ryan Callahan is a tough one for a Rangers team struggling to find an identity.
29. Philadelphia Flyers (1-7-0, Last Week: 29)
That trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 feels like a long time ago.
30. Buffalo Sabres (1-8-1, Last Week: 30)
Is it too early to be thinking about the next draft?
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images