Here are my power rankings of the top 10 teams after the first weekend of the 08-09 NHL regular season. The list takes into account current level of play and recent, past success.
1. Detroit Red Wings – The dominant Wings look to defend last year’s Cup win, aided by the free-agent signing of Marian Hossa. With even average goaltending from Chris Osgood, they should find themselves at the top.
2. San Jose Sharks – The Sharks are flying under the radar right now, with the Wings being hailed as everyone’s favourites to repeat this year. They’ve looked great so far under new coach Todd McLellan.
3. Montreal Canadiens – The Habs are very deep offensively, and look to build on last year’s success. Hockey’s most Stanley Cup-winning franchise sinks or swims this season with the play of sophomore netminder Carey Price.
4. Philadelphia Flyers – With a plethora of young forwards, they will have to make a run for it in the next couple years. GM Paul Holmgren will have his hands full trying to keep all of this talented youth in Philly.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins – They lose Hossa to free agency, and now injuries have taken their toll on the blueline. Sidney Crosby will have to be nothing short of spectacular, not to mention healthy, for Pittsburgh to contend again.
6. Washington Capitals – They’ve got a healthy mix of dangerous snipers and slick set-up men, plus a new goalie. If Jose Theodore is consistent, they’ll win the division for a 2nd straight year.
7. Dallas Stars – After a strong run in the playoffs last year, the Stars’ have added super-pest Sean Avery and Swedish league sensation Fabian Brunnstrom. They may struggle early on without star d-man Sergei Zubov.
8. New York Rangers – A seemingly endless list of changes in the offseason hasn’t hurt the Rangers. They’ve opened the season on a tear, going 4-0-0.
9. Minnesota Wild – The Wild bolstered their defense corps this summer by adding veteran Marek Zidlicky. Their roster is strong all around, and if they can stay healthy, they should remain in the rankings.
10. Vancouver Canucks – Led by captain Roberto Luongo, the Canucks have stormed out of the gates this season. Many people questioned where the goals would come from. 11 through two games so far isn’t too shabby.