NHL Power Rankings 10-18-21
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The NHL season is only a week old, and it is officially time to overreact. All measured analysis from the preseason is thrown out the window in the face of a two-game sample size.

The Buffalo Sabres are undefeated and might be the best team in the NHL at the moment, and the New York Islanders are dead in the water after a winless start. In all seriousness, some teams did come out of the gates firing on all cylinders and others showed at least a little bit of cause for concern.

After a somewhat surprising season last year, the Minnesota Wild picked up right where they left off, and the Florida Panthers are already racking up wins. On the other side of that coin, teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens proved that they have some kinks to work out in this young season. Still, it's far too early to panic at this point.

With so few games to work with, the power rankings can see some wild swings, but we're going to embrace some of the weirdness. Here are the full NHL power rankings after just one week of play.

Biggest Movers
7 Wild
6 Golden Knights
1 Wild The Wild were a sneaky team last year, and they are off to a strong start this season. Minnesota has beaten two teams - the Kings and the Ducks - that failed to make the playoffs in 2020-21, but the Wild played well in both games. It remains to be seen how long Minnesota will last at the top, but they earned it this week. 7 46-25-11
2 Avalanche The Avs opened their season by hammering the Blackhawks at home. In that game, they looked every bit like the Stanley Cup favorites everyone thought they were. However, goaltending failed them in a loss to the Blues. If there was one concern about this team in the preseason it was how well Darcy Kuemper would hold up between the pipes for a full season. -- 51-24-7
3 Panthers Sam Bennett has picked up where he left off after the trade deadline last season. He scored a hat trick in a convincing win over the New York Islanders. If Bennett's production at the end of last season turns out not to be a flash in the pan, then the Panthers are even more dangerous than anyone thought before the season. 4 42-32-8
4 Hurricanes If anyone was wondering whether Andrei Svechnikov was still good at the game of hockey, he is. The Canes forward has four points in two games, and the Hurricanes are off to a 2-0 start as a result. 5 52-21-9
5 Lightning Tampa Bay just needed a hair of the dog because the Stanley Cup hangover looked unbearable when a depleted Penguins team ran the Bolts out of the building on opening night. Tampa Bay has since rebounded with a pair of wins, one of which was a wild shootout against the Red Wings. 4 46-30-6
6 Maple Leafs In classic Toronto fashion, they dropped an early-season game against the Senators so that everyone could get their jokes out of the way. The good news for the Maple Leafs is that they got some immediate revenge against the Sens, and Auston Matthews will be making his 2021-22 debut in the coming days. 2 50-21-11
7 Bruins After investing some decent money in former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, the Bruins decided to go with Jeremy Swayman in net for their season-opening game. Swayman rewarded them with a quality start and a win. It'll be interesting to see how Boston handles that tandem throughout the year. 1 65-12-5
8 Penguins Even without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to start the season, the Penguins have been impressive. Pittsburgh went into Tampa Bay and spoiled a banner-raising ceremony, made mincemeat out of the Blackhawks, and took the Panthers to overtime. If the Penguins can sustain this level of play until Crosby returns, they should be just fine. 4 40-31-11
9 Golden Knights The Golden Knights were the beneficiaries of a controversial call in their win over the Seattle Kraken, but that's about the only thing that has gone right for them so far. Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone are both battling injuries already, so Vegas will have to find some wins without them in the lineup. 6 51-22-9
10 Islanders The Islanders rewarded my faith in them by getting outscored 11-4 in their first two games. Still, the Isles should be just fine. It's hard to imagine this being anything more than a team shaking the rust off at the start of the season against two strong opponents. 5 42-31-9
11 Oilers Through two games, Mike Smith seems to be on a mission to make fools out of many people, myself included. In the Oilers' two wins last week, Smith stopped 81 of the 85 shots he faced. As long as he can maintain a high level of play, the Oilers will be a very tough team to beat with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisitl giving nightmares to opposing defenses. 3 50-23-9
12 Capitals Alex Ovechkin is 162 goals away from breaking Wayne Gretzky's all-time goals record, and he's on a mission to get that done this season apparently. Ovechkin has three goals through two games, and anyone thinking that the Russian sniper would finally start to slow down can probably forget it. 1 35-37-10
13 Rangers The Rangers made some offseason additions because they felt the need to address a lack of toughness and grit. That wasn't really on display in the team's 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Capitals in the first game of the season. Perhaps this team need some time to gel under head coach Gerard Gallant. 2 47-22-13
14 Kraken Nothing says, "Welcome to the NHL," quite like losing on a blown call in your inaugural game. That's what happened to the Kraken, but they didn't have to wait long for their first win. Seattle went down to Nashville a couple of nights later and made history against the Predators, who probably won't appreciate being a trivia answer for the rest of time. 4 46-28-8
15 Blues The Blues have only played one game, but it was a road win over the Avalanche. At the very least, it's an encouraging start for a team that is hoping to bounce back and compete atop the Central division. 1 37-38-7
16 Stars Dallas just suffered back-to-back road losses to the Bruins and the Senators, and the offense has yet to get going. In fairness to the Stars they have already had to play three games in four days, for whatever reason. 1 47-21-14
17 Canucks Much like the Stars, the Canucks must have upset the schedule-makers to play three games in four days right out of the gate. The latest of those games was a loss to the Red Wings, but newcomer Conor Garland already looks like he will be a reliable contributor. 4 38-37-7
18 Flames Goaltender Jacob Markstrom is hoping for a bounce back campaign this season, but he got off to a shaky start in the team's first game. In Markstrom's defense, he faced the Oilers, and it's easy for any goalie to have a bad night against that a team with that kind of offensive firepower. -- 38-27-17
19 Jets Southern California was not kind to the Winnipeg. They suffered a pair of losses at the hands of the Ducks and the Kings. If there is any consolation for the Jets, it's that they played well against Anaheim, but John Gibson committed larceny and stole two points for the Ducks. 2 46-33-3
20 Flyers Carter Hart needed to build some confidence after a disastrous 2020-21 season, but that didn't exactly happen in the Flyers' home-opener. Some horrific bounces and a bad-angle goal painted an all too familiar picture for Hart and the fans in Philadelphia. -- 31-38-13
21 Blackhawks The Blackhawks had the distinct displeasure of opening the season against the Avalanche in Colorado. Chicago looked outmatched for much of that game, but that's perfectly reasonable against one of the best teams in the league. Losses to the Devils and Penguins were much more concerning. 2 26-49-7
22 Kings In their thumping of the Golden Knights in the home-opener, the Kings looked like the team that some thought would break out this year. However, 19-year old forward Quinton Byfield will be out indefinitely with an ankle injury, and that's bad news for the Kings and hockey fans everywhere. 2 47-25-10
23 Devils The Devils had an ideal start on home ice against the Chicago Blackhawks. Big free agent acquisition Dougie Hamilton scored in his debut with the team, and Jack Hughes scored a pair of goals, including a dazzling game-winner in overtime. 2 52-22-8
24 Blue Jackets Columbus is off to a 2-0 start, and they got to put on an offensive exhibition against the Coyotes. Seven different Blue Jackets scored in an 8-2 win as Carter Hutton surrendered five goals on 22 shots at five-on-five. That's a lot of cannon blasts in Nationwide Arena. ENT doctors in the Columbus area must've had a good week after that. 2 25-48-9
25 Sharks Tomas Hertl had a pair of points in the team's first game, and he's already on his way to getting paid on his next contract. Whether that is with the Sharks is still to be determined, but the young star is off on the right foot in 2021-22. 2 22-44-16
26 Predators Coming into the season, it was fair to wonder where exactly the Predators' production would come from on a nightly basis. Through two games, it looks like Nashville might struggle to win any game in which Juuse Saros brings anything less than his best effort. 4 42-32-8
27 Senators Not only did the plucky Senators win two of their first three games, including one against the Maple Leafs, but they also managed to sign Brady Tkachuk long-term. It wasn't a bad first week of the season for Ottawa. Now they just have to find a way to maintain the positive vibes for 79 more games. 1 39-35-8
28 Sabres The Buffalo Sabres are undefeated. Not only that, but they also lead the NHL in expected goals share at five-on-five. I'm not sure how to feel about that stunning development, but Buffalo fans just need to ride the wave as long as it lasts. 4 42-33-7
29 Canadiens The Canadiens are winless through three games, and they have scored a total of three goals. With everything Montreal lost in the offseason, it was fair to expect this year to be a struggle for the team, especially in the early stages. 6 31-45-6
30 Red Wings Impressively, the Red Wings held two separate three-goal leads over the Lightning last week (in the same game). Somehow, Detroit managed to blow both of those leads in a 7-6 overtime loss. That is not as good, but the Red Wings just need to focus on the positives these days. 1 35-37-10
31 Ducks Anaheim has not played very well through two games, but the goaltending tandem of John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz has made the Ducks a competitive team. They might be able to drag the Ducks into relevance in the Pacific division if their play keeps up. 1 23-47-12
32 Coyotes In terms of the franchise's short-term goals, this last week couldn't have gone any better. The Coyotes got shelled by the Blue Jackets in the first game of the season, and they suffered a head-to-head loss against the Sabres. That will go a long way in the battle for positioning in the 2022 draft lottery. 1 28-40-14