NHL Power Rankings - Opening Day Edition

Dennis Wierzbicki / USA TODAY Sports

1. Los Angeles Kings

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
46-28-8 +32 56.8%

At some point the Los Angeles Kings, hockey's best tournament team, will put together the sort of 'signature season' we all expect from a club with dynastic ambitions ... right?

And if not, at least they get to winter in Southern California...

2. St. Louis Blues

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
52-23-7 +57 53.1%

Other contenders busied themselves with making a great escape from salary cap prison this summer, meanwhile the Blues went out and added a bona fide top-line talent in center Paul Stastny. 

Now if only Ken Hitchcock would loosen the reins a bit.

3. Chicago Blackhawks

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
46-21-15 +47 55.5%

Losing puck-moving ace Nick Leddy hurts, but at least the Chicago Blackhawks replaced Michal "slow, aging center who couldn't hang with the Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs" Handzus, with Brad "slow, aging center who couldn't hang with the Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs" Richards.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning 

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
46-27-9 +25 51%

Now that they've grafted some useful veteran experience onto their enviable, nubile young core, the Lightning are ready to take their place as the elite club in the Eastern Conference.

5. San Jose Sharks

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
51-22-9 +49 53.70%

Let's not overrate the "off ice turmoil" angle here, though that's certainly present.

Despite the hard feelings and uncertainty off of the ice, on it – y'know, where the games are actually played – the Sharks are still the league's most consistently elite club. 

Heck, they'd win 50 games this season with John Goodman as their captain.

6. Boston Bruins

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
54-19-9 +84 53.9%

The Bruins lost heart-and-soul players like Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton this offseason and seem intent on developing a new, faster, more skilled identity. Or maybe not if the Bobby Robins experiment is any indication.

Whatever the Bruins do should work so long as the trifecta of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask remain all but impossible to score goals against. 

7. Anaheim Ducks

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
54-20-8 +57 49.8%

Ryan Kesler is a massive upgrade on the second-line-center-by-committee approach Bruce Boudreau used last season and the Ducks have any number of young players primed to morph into stars. 

If their affordable goalie platoon holds up, the Ducks will be among the NHL's elite again.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
51-24-7 +42 48.7%

The Pittsburgh Penguins are deeper and added a first-pairing quality defender in Christian Ehrhoff, which should more than offset the loss of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. 

Also that Sidney Crosby guy is still decent and Evgeni Malkin is reasonably good at the whole hockey thing, too.

9. Minnesota Wild

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
43-27-12 +1 48.6%

The Minnesota Wild have as dangerous a top-six forward group as any team in the league, and with a stable of young players only scratching the surface of their abilities, they could even be fun to watch for the first time in franchise history.

10. Dallas Stars

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
40-31-11 +7 50.5%

The Stars are young and fast and skilled, but won't be truly formidable until their defense corps amounts to more than a rough patchwork.

Still, this team should be excited. Tyler Seguin might even emerge as the NHL's leading scorer in-season this year, too:

11. New Jersey Devils

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
35-29-18 -11 54.4%

Pete DeBoer's club lost 13 shootouts last season, started the worst regular goaltender in the league 39 times, and still only missed the playoffs by a measly five points. 

The Devils should make noise in the East now that they're done shooting themselves in the foot for the sake of Marty's legacy.

12. Montreal Canadiens

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
46-28-8 +11 46.7%

Carey Price and P.K. Subban are high-end building blocks, but "Alexei Emelin: first pairing defenseman" should send a shiver down Habs fans' spines. 

Should and does:

13. New York Islanders

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
34-37-11 -42 49.4%

The Islanders have an elite first line, the depth to matchup with any team in the East and even have the goaltending to be threatening this year (the importance of which can't be understated):

We're through the looking glass. 

14. New York Rangers

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
45-31-6 +25 52.4%

The Rangers lost a lot of depth this summer and the Derek Stepan injury hurts, but Henrik Lundqvist has single-handedly dragged lesser lineups to the playoffs.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
43-32-7 +15 49.9%

Now that Ryan Johansen is finally under contract, the Blue Jackets can focus on out-muscling opponents and qualifying for the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history. 

Speaking of Blue Jackets history, here's a six second interpretative dance dedicated to their existence as a franchise to this point:

5,6,7,8

16. Phoenix Arizona Coyotes

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
37-30-15 -15 50.5%

The Arizona Coyotes aren't sexy or profitable, but they have the two-way centermen and the back-end speed to surprise in the Pacific Division.

17. Colorado Avalanche

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
52-22-8 +30 47%

The Avalanche played over their heads last season, got schooled with their season on the line in the playoffs, and then got worse this summer. Now they're talking about how they keep opponents to the outside and only take quality shots, which sounds oddly familiar ...

18. Washington Capitals

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
38-30-14 -5 47.7%

If Alexander Ovechkin scores 50 goals again this season, will he receive more than just one fifth-place vote for the Hart Trophy?

19. Detroit Red Wings

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
39-28-15 -8 51.5%

You might as well call them the E Wings because they have no RD.

20. Vancouver Canucks

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
36-35-11 -27 51.3%

Over the past eight months, the Canucks have lost two star players – Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo – in respective lopsided trades. On the other hand, John Tortorella is gone, so they're poised to bounce back.

21. Ottawa Senators

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
37-31-14 -29 52.4%

Above average forward depth and Erik Karlsson will give the Senators a chance, but they could use at least one other defender with wheels.

22. Toronto Maple Leafs

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
38-36-8 -25 42.9%

Excellent goaltending, revamped systems, a killer top-line and a potent power-play make the Maple Leafs an improved team that should challenge for a playoff spot. 

Or in other words the Maple Leafs might be good enough to break their fans' hearts in the most gut-wrenching and improbable way imaginable. 

23. Florida Panthers

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
29-45-8 -72 51%

Now that the Florida Panthers have a goaltender they can can count on (in the regular season at least), they should be somewhat more than just another doormat.

24. Philadelphia Flyers

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
42-30-10 +1 50%

The Flyers defense is frightening enough, but that defense playing in front of Steve Mason? Nightmare fuel.

25. Nashville Predators

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
38-32-12 -26 48.5%

In the summer of 2012 and again in 2013, the Predators doubled down on grit and character in the wake of the Alexander Radulov experience. Now they've doubled down on character issues, skill and talent in the wake of the Matt Hendricks experience. 

Smashville needs to pick a side.

26. Calgary Flames

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
35-40-7 -32 46.3%

Calgary will at least try hard every night, as team president Brian Burke will tell you about at length while utilizing his trademark immense vocabulary. They also have a pretty serious top-pairing in Mark Giordano and the massively underrated TJ Brodie. 

Now, if only Flames fans would realize that Gawd-reau is a much better nickname than Johnny Hockey. 

27. Edmonton Oilers

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
29-44-9 -67 44.3%

The Oilers added beef and intelligence this summer, but still don't have the whole knowing-how-the-CBA-works thing down pat. That's not a good sign.

28. Winnipeg Jets

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
37-35-10 -10 50.1%

The Winnipeg Jets have the talent of a Stanley Cup playoff team, but the goaltending of a Calder Cup playoff team. Which brings us to this equation: Ondrej Pavelec + Michael Hutchinson + Peter Budaj = Connor McDavid?

29. Carolina Hurricanes

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
36-35-11 -23 50.3%

In the wake of untimely injuries to Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal, the Carolina Hurricanes might want to opt out of playing preseason games altogether next year. That is unless they want to give their fans an opportunity to watch Jack Eichel play in an exhibition game or two.

30. Buffalo Sabres

2013-14 Record Goal Differential 5on5 Corsi For%
21-51-10 -91 43%

The Sabres are hosting the NHL Draft Combine for the next two years and hosting OHL games featuring Connor McDavid's Erie Otters for a reason: they stink, they know they stink and they'll stink for a while. Sabres players may not like it, but stinking is actually a critical part of the plan. 

(Courtesy Puck Daddy)

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NHL Power Rankings - Opening Day Edition
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