The 2018-19 National Hockey League season just turned two weeks old. The festivities of opening nights across the league have begun to die down and the early season surprises are starting the reveal themselves. All the more reason to introduce this year’s first edition of the Power 10, the weekly ranking of the 10 best teams in the NHL.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1-0)
What’s not to love about the Maple Leafs to this point? They have yet to lose in regulation and their scorers, well, are putting the puck in the net. Auston Mathews is on a tear, leading the league in goals with 10. New Leaf, John Tavares is third in the league with six goals. In addition, Mathews leads the league in total points with 14 followed by teammate Morgan Reilly, who has 13 points.
Something to keep an eye on for the Leafs is the play of goaltender, Frederick Anderson. Despite sporting a 4-1 record on the season, Anderson has allowed 15 goals those 5 games and sports a save percentage of just .899 thus far. Given the Leafs prowess on offense, Anderson has a bit of leeway to get things right. Right now, there are very few teams that can outscore the Leafs.
2. Washington Capitals (2-2-0)
Winning the Stanley Cup gives a team a bit of leeway when it comes to the first Power 10 of the season. After a special opening night in which they raised their first Stanley Cup Banner and hung a touchdown on the Bruins, they have gone just 1-2-1, including a 4-2 loss to the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs.
The offense hasn’t been an issue for the Caps. Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the way with nine points (4G, 5A) with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom not far behind with seven points apiece. However, goaltending has been an issue early on for the Caps. Since the opening night shutout of the Bruins, Braden Holtby has allowed 13 goals in three games. Backup Pheonix Copley let up six in his lone start of the season thus far.
3. Nashville Predators (4-1)
The defending “Western Conference Regular Season Champions” are off to another strong start in 2018. After reaching the Finals just two seasons ago, the Predators are looking to add a more legitimate banner to the rafters in the near future. Filip Forsberg and Victor Arvidson are leading the way on offense with five points and three goals apiece. In net, perennial Vezina trophy candidate Pekke Rinne is off to a 3-0 start. He sports a .946 save percentage and a 1.64 goals against average. His save percentage is near the top of the league and his GAA is third among goalies with at least three starts on the year.
4. Boston Bruins (4-1)
Just like the Leafs, the Bruins are led by a few of the league’s leading point getters. The top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand have combined for 30 points through the first five games. A hat-trick for Pastrnak in Saturday’s win over the Red Wings gives him 10 on the season. Second to only Auston Matthews. Bergeron is third in the league behind Matthews and Rielly in total points with 11. Marchand has 10 of his own.
The Bruins and in particular, goaltender Tuukka Rask have shaken off the opening night debacle against the Capitals. Rask has won his last two starts while new backup, Jaroslav Halak has been impressive in his two starts so far. Both victories for the Bruins. After a surprising season last year, the Bruins look like they have picked up where they left off.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (3-1-0)
The Hurricanes are off to a hot start after finishing in the bottom third of the leagues with 83 points last season. They were one of just three teams that have yet to lose a game in regulation entering Sunday. That changed with their 3-2 loss to Winnipeg. However, their nine points trail just the Maple Leafs atop the NHL. In addition, their 23 goals are second to only the Leafs 29.
Sebastian Aho leads the team in points with 10. His four goals and six assists both are tied for the team lead. Curtis McElhinney has been a nice surprise between the pipes after being signed off waivers following injuries to Petr Mrazek and Scott Darling. He is 3-1 with a 2.64 GAA and a .900 save percentage.
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6. Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1)
The Bolts have played just three games so far this season and after scoring just three times through the first two games, the Lightning offense exploded for eight goals in an 8-2 win over the Blue Jackets. Brayden Point netted a pair (his second and third goal of the season) and Nikita Kucherov, J.T. Miller, and Yanni Gourde all picked up their first of the year. With the impending return of Tyler Johnson and Ryan Callahan, they are only going to get better.
In addition, Andrei Vasilevsky has been superb through three games, sporting a .950 save percentage and a 1.64 goals against average. He has stopped 96 of 101 shots faced so far. Vasilevsky was a workhorse for the Bolts last year, starting 64 of the 65 games he appeared in. His 44 wins were a league-best last season.
7. Colorado Avalanche (3-1-1)
Nathan MacKinnon was a driving force for the Avalanche in their late-season playoff push a year ago. It garnered him some Hart Trophy talk but ultimately that went to the Devil’s, Taylor Hall. However, he seems to be picking up right where he left off so far with six goals through the first four games of the season.
Semyon Varlamov has yet to lose in regulation between the pipes, sporting a 3-0-1 record to start the year. His save percentage of .946 is near the top of the league and he has a stellar 1.75 goals against average. Now, of course, the big question is, will it last? We will see. For now, they have earned a spot in the Power 10.
8. New Jersey Devils (3-0)
Goaltender Keith Kincaid has been a big reason for the Devils undefeated start to the 2018-19 season. Through three games (3-0), Kincaid has allowed just six goals. A big reason why the Devils are the only team with no losses in either regulation or overtime.
Another reason for their hot start is the hot start from Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri added two goals in the Devils 3-2 win over the Sharks on Sunday to extend his goal streak to three games and his team lead in goals to six. As a team, the Devils have the best goal differential thus far with a plus/minus of +10.
9. Dallas Stars (3-1)
Their only loss of the season so far was to the Maple Leafs several days ago. A 7-4 thumping. However, they rebounded on Saturday with a win over the Ducks. Their 17 total goals rank within the top the top third of the league and they are doing it with a potent power play. Currently, they lead the league in converting with the man advantage at a 55 percent clip. Of course, that is not sustainable over the entire year, however, the firepower coming from the sticks of guys like Tyler Seguin is sustainable.
10. Anaheim Ducks (4-1-1)
Thus far, the Ducks do not have one single player or several players that are carrying the load like the Bruins or Maple Leafs in the East. Jakob Silfverberg leads the team with seven points (3G, 4A) but they are getting contributions across the board in the early going. 11 different players have tallied at least a goal over the first six games. In addition, they have gotten solid goaltending from Ryan Miller (1-0, .946%, and 1.52 GAA) and John Gibson (3-2, .944%, and 2.07 GAA) in the early goings.