NHL Power Rankings: Blackhawks, Maple Leafs come out firing

by theScore Staff
Dennis Wierzbicki / USA Today Sports

With hockey season underway, so are theScore's NHL power rankings, which will be published every other Monday. Our inaugural rankings have been put together by editors Josh Gold-Smith, Flip Livingstone, and Ian McLaren.

1. Chicago Blackhawks (2-0-0)

If you beat the defending Stanley Cup champions 10-1 right out of the gate, you deserve to jump to the top of the list. A follow-up win over Columbus and a plus-13 goal differential through two games sealed it. - McLaren

2. Toronto Maple Leafs (2-0-0)

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

Tied with Chicago in goals for (15), Toronto's offense appears rather unstoppable. If the defense can lock things down, these Leafs will be the ones doing the raking this season. A Monday showdown with the Blackhawks is a must-watch. - McLaren

3. Washington Capitals (2-0-0)

Alex Ovechkin has scored seven goals, and tales of the two-time defending Presidents' Trophy winners demise are proving to be a tad premature. - McLaren

4. St. Louis Blues (2-0-0)

St. Louis spoiled banner-raising night with an overtime win in Pittsburgh, and beat a Stars team coming off another mythical "offseason championship" to start the season on an undefeated note. - McLaren

5. Los Angeles Kings (2-0-0)

Jonathan Quick has allowed one goal in two games and Anze Kopitar is scoring again. That all bodes well for a bounce-back season for the Kings. - McLaren

6. Vegas Golden Knights (2-0-0)

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

Thanks in large part to James Neal, an expansion hockey franchise based in Las Vegas is undefeated in the regular season. What a time to be alive. - McLaren

7. Detroit Red Wings (2-0-0)

Raise your hand if you had Detroit winning two games to start the season. To their credit, the Red Wings have exceeded expectations by beating Minnesota and Ottawa, two playoff teams from last season. - McLaren

8. Philadelphia Flyers (2-1-0)

Tasked with starting the season on a California road trip, the Flyers escaped with a pair of wins. No easy feat at any point in the season. - McLaren

9. Boston Bruins (1-0-0)

One of the only teams to have played one game to date, the Bruins impressed with a win over the Western Conference champions from Nashville. A soft schedule through the first few weeks should help them rise. - McLaren

10. Anaheim Ducks (1-0-1)

Beset by a long list of injuries, Anaheim amassed three points in two games. Until everyone is healthy, it'll be tough to keep flying this high. - McLaren

11. Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-1)

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

A wacky week for the champs: an OT loss to the Blues, a beating at the hands of the Blackhawks, and a dominating shutout of the Predators. Pittsburgh will be fine. - Gold-Smith

12. Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0)

The Lighting split their first two games, both against the Panthers, and the team many are pegging to win the Stanley Cup gets a much tougher test Monday against the Capitals. - Gold-Smith

13. Florida Panthers (1-1-0)

Playing their cross-state rivals tight was an encouraging sign for the Panthers, who'll have to ensure they're not complacent when they face the Blues on Thursday after four days off. - Gold-Smith

14. Columbus Blue Jackets (1-1-0)

The Blue Jackets scored a handful of goals in a shutout of the Islanders, but then gave up five in a loss to the Blackhawks. At least they're consistent. - Gold-Smith

15. Edmonton Oilers (1-1-0)

Connor McDavid scored an insane goal, notched a historic hat trick, and provided all of the offense in a season-opening win over the Flames, but the Oilers didn't look like the same team in a loss to the Canucks. - Gold-Smith

16. Calgary Flames (1-1-0)

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

The Flames couldn't contain McDavid, and who can blame them. Calgary got back on track by doubling up the Jets, and it'll ride that momentum into a two-game California road swing. - Gold-Smith

17. Vancouver Canucks (1-0-0)

It's going to be a painful season for Vancouver. but beating the high-flying Oilers to start things off provided some hope. - Gold-Smith

18. Carolina Hurricanes (1-0-0)

The Hurricanes are a trendy pick to make the playoffs and they took a small but encouraging step toward that long-term goal with a strong showing in a shootout win over the Wild. - Gold-Smith

19. New Jersey Devils (1-0-0)

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

The Devils are undefeated! Plan the parade!

Reality check: New Jersey's lone victory came against lowly Colorado. The Devils have some growing to do, but the future does look bright, as Nico Hischier and Will Butcher impressed in their respective debuts. - Gold-Smith

20. Colorado Avalanche (1-1-0)

Don't get accustomed to seeing the Avalanche ranked this high.

Colorado earned a solid road win over the Rangers in its season opener, but was significantly outplayed by the Devils. - Gold-Smith

21. Ottawa Senators (0-0-2)

Two close Ls for the Sens could easily have been Ws, so keep an eye on this team, especially when Erik Karlsson returns. - Livingstone

22. New York Islanders (1-1-0)

The Islanders may spend most of the year below No. 22, but for now, they've earned their current spot thanks to a big win at home over the Sabres. - Livingstone

23. New York Rangers (1-2-0)

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

The Rangers have the dubious distinction of losing - at home! - to the lowly Avalanche, while also allowing 12 goals in three games. - Livingstone

24. Montreal Canadiens (1-2-0)

If the Canadiens continue to play like they did against the Capitals and Rangers, it's going to be a very long season in La Belle Province. - Livingstone

25. Minnesota Wild (0-1-1)

When you lose to the Red Wings and Hurricanes to start the year, you deserve to be ranked near the bottom. However, the Wild are much better than their start indicates, so look for them to bounce back. - Livingstone

26. Buffalo Sabres (0-1-1)

Eichel-mania may be in full swing in the Nickel City, but that hasn't translated into any wins. A close loss to the Canadiens was promising. Getting blown out by the Islanders was not. - Livingstone

27. Dallas Stars (0-2-0)

A new top-six forward and No. 1 goalie haven't yet been enough to turn around the lackluster Stars. Still, the club has more than enough talent to compete, so expect Dallas to climb up this list. - Livingstone

28. Arizona Coyotes (0-1-1)

Despite two losses, Arizona has shown flashes of being a quality hockey club. Clayton Keller looks like the real deal, and, soon enough, so should the Coyotes. - Livingstone

29. Nashville Predators (0-2-0)

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

Nashville failed to exact revenge for its Stanley Cup loss by getting blanked at the hands of the Penguins, and has looked lost at times in the offensive zone. - Livingstone

30. San Jose Sharks (0-2-0)

Four goals and two losses in two games is just not going to get the job done, regardless of how early it is. The Sharks will need to be much better if they hope to be contenders in the West. - Livingstone

31. Winnipeg Jets (0-2-0)

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

An opening night shellacking at the hands of the high-flying Maple Leafs followed by another six-goals-against loss to the Flames have soured what was supposed to be an exciting start to the campaign for the Jets, a club looking to take the next step. - Livingstone