We're still early in the 2013-14 NHL season, and a few teams are separating themselves from the pack. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been consistently good in the unpredictably bad Metropolitan Division, while in the Atlantic the Tampa Bay Lightning are putting a shock into the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, and Red Wings. Meanwhile, in the West, the Sharks, Ducks, and Coyotes (yes, the Coyotes) are keeping the Pacific very interesting. But everyone is trying to catch the Avalanche, who have been unstoppable through the first few weeks of the season.
There's still a lot of hockey to play, as well as an Olympic break in February, so anything can still happen. But what's a certainty is that this is going to one wild season!
Check out this week's NHL Power Rankings and tell us in the comments section where you think your team should be ranked!
1. Colorado Avalanche (12-1-0, Last Week: 2)
The Avs are on their second six-game win streak of the season. That's pretty incredible, even if the wins have come against mostly mediocre teams. (The one loss came against the Red Wings.) Colorado is winning with grit and excellent goaltending. In other words, this is truly Patrick Roy's team.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-4-0, Last Week 5)
The Pens rebounded from a three-game losing skid by dominating new division rival Columbus in back-to-back games. One of those wins was a shutout from backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who might have finally found a rhythm. The Metropolitan Division is pretty bad, and if Pittsburgh has a solid number two goalie, they could run away with the division (and the conference).
3. Anaheim Ducks (11-3-1, Last Week: 4)
While the Sharks are starting to limp a bit, the Ducks are starting to turn it on. Anaheim has gone 4-3 after a seven-game win streak, but its making the most of an easy early schedule. If the Ducks continue to take care of business, they should find themselves in first place in the Pacific in short order.
4. San Jose Sharks (10-1-3, Last Week: 1)
San Jose opened the season with a six-game win streak, but since then the Sharks have been up and down. Two wins, a loss, two wins, a loss. And now the Sharks are nursing back-to-back losses for the first time this year. San Jose is finding ways to win, but sooner or later this uneven play will catch up to the Sharks.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-4-0, Last Week: 6)
Steven Stamkos is near the top of the league in points and goals. Goalie Ben Bishop is second in the league in wins. And Tampa Bay is beating some quality teams. The Lightning might be for real, which should make the rest of the Atlantic Division really nervous. No team has started to pull away yet, but if anyone has the jets to do it it's the Bolts.
6. Phoenix Coyotes (10-3-2, Last Week: 12)
Phoenix is struggling against quality opponents, but with a pretty soft schedule to start the season the Coyotes are putting themselves in position to be competitive in the Pacific. They're not talented enough to challenge the Ducks, but they could give the Sharks a run for their money. It'll be fun to see how far the Coyotes can go this season.
7. Chicago Blackhawks (9-2-3, Last Week: 9)
It's too early to say the Hawks are back to their championship form, but Chicago has definitely found its footing. The Blackhawks put together another three-game win streak and are putting away less talented teams. But they need to start winning against contenders on a consistent basis.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-5-0, Last Week: 3)
The Maple Leafs have been streaky, which has kept them competitive in the Atlantic. But with the Lightning starting to come alive, Toronto will need to play better, consistent hockey to keep pace. The Leafs are averaging a little more than 4 goals a game in their wins, but allowing an average of nearly 3.5 goals in their losses. Sooner or later that will catch up with them.
9. Vancouver Canucks (10-5-1, Last Week 7)
Vancouver has been an up and down team in the early part of this season, but the Canucks are hanging in there in a tough division. They're only two points out of first, but they've lost twice to the Sharks already. To win the Pacific, Vancouver need to be able to beat the best, and right now that's San Jose.
10. Detroit Red Wings (9-4-2, Last Week: 10)
The Wings are riding a three-game winning streak, which has put some distance between them and the Bruins and Canadiens. Detroit is tied for first in the Atlantic, and with as weak as the division (and conference) are this season, first place is there for the taking.
11. St. Louis Blues (8-2-2, Last Week: 11)
After a hot start, the Blues have cooled down. Which is bad news for a team in the same division as white-hot Colorado.
12. Los Angeles Kings (9-6-0, Last Week: 13)
Los Angeles is playing playoff-caliber hockey again, but can the Kings keep pace with the Sharks and Ducks?
13. Boston Bruins (4-2-3, Last Week: 16)
The Bruins should be a playoff team again, but right now Boston is underachieving.
14. Minnesota Wild (7-4-3, Last Week: 15)
Minnesota is quietly making a run in the Central. Too bad the teams the Wild is looking at up are the Avs and Hawks.
15. Montreal Canadiens (8-7-0, Last Week: 14)
Like the Bruins, the Habs are playing down to their talent. Fortunately, the Atlantic Division is weak enough for Montreal to easily catch up.
16. New York Islanders (6-5-3, Last Week: 16)
The Isles are playing so-so hockey, and it says a lot that that's good enough for second place in the Metro Division.
17. Nashville Predators (7-5-2, Last Week: 17)
The Predators won't keep pace with the Avalanche or Blackhawks, but they could make a run at a seventh or eighth playoff seed.
18. Washington Capitals (7-7-0, Last Week: 20)
The Capitals are finding their groove again. If Ovechkin stays healthy, they could give the Penguins a real challenge for the Metro crown.
19. Dallas Stars (6-6-2, Last Week: 23)
The Stars are a solid .500 club. Nothing better, nothing worse.
20. New York Rangers(6-7-0, Last Week: 28)
After a terrible start, Henrik Lundqvist has two shutouts and the Rangers are scratching their way up the standings.
21. Calgary Flames (5-6-2, Last Week: 19)
The Flames are keeping things interesting, but sooner or later their Pacific rivals will bury them.
22. Winnipeg Jets (3-5-0, Last Week: 21)
The Jets are in last place in the Central, but there's not much separating them from the middle of the pack.
23. Ottawa Senators (4-6-4, Last Week: 24)
Senators fans used to competitive hockey are in for a rough season.
24. Carolina Hurricanes(4-7-3, Last Week: 18)
A couple weeks ago, the Canes were in second place in the Metro Division. Now, they're on their fourth goalie. Not good.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-8-0, Last Week: 22)
Last season, Columbus made a late run at the postseason. That's not going to happen this year.
26. New Jersey Devils (3-6-4, Last Week 27)
The Devils are grasping at respectability, but the best Jersey can hope for is .500 hockey.
27. Florida Panthers (3-8-3, Last Week: 26)
At least the Panthers have the Sabres between them and the worst of the East.
28. Edmonton Oilers(3-10-2, Last Week: 25)
Edmonton is settling in to the position everyone expected them to this season: The Pacific basement.
29. Philadelphia Flyers (4-9-0, Last Week: 29)
The frustration is taking its toll on the Flyers: Philly's brawl at the end of their 7-0 loss to the Capitals was shameful.
30. Buffalo Sabres (2-13-1, Last Week 30)
The other 29 clubs are going to feast on the Sabres all season.
Photo: AP Photo/Gerry Broome