It was certainly an interesting week around the NHL. It seemed like the top 14 in these rankings separated themselves from the pack – for the time-being. With the top guns having stellar weeks, Nashville and Vancouver fell further than usual.
1. Los Angeles Kings… LW: 5 As October comes to a close, the Kings are the NHL’s leader in points (without Drew Doughty) and Jonathan Quick leads the west in victories. 2. Washington Capitals… LW: 2 Michal Neuvirth has taken the bull by the horns between the pipes, racking up seven wins and showing great consistency. 3. Detroit Red Wings… LW: 3 Before sustaining a back injury, Jimmy Howard was eliminating any idea of a sophomore slump (4-0-1, 2.14 GAA). 4. Boston Bruins… LW: 6 Tim Thomas may have had the most impressive first month for a goaltender in NHL history: 6-0, 0.50 GAA, and three shutouts in three different countries! 5. Pittsburgh Penguins… LW: 1 Don’t look now, but Brent Johnson is 5-0-1 with a 1.16 goals-against average. 6. St. Louis Blues… LW: 11 The Blues are second in the league in shots per game, while first in shots against. Just wait until their penalty kill gets back on track… 7. Tampa Bay Lightning… LW: 10 Guy Boucher’s first month as coach couldn’t have gone any better. They sit atop the division and conference as the calendar flips. 8. Philadelphia Flyers… LW: 9 Sergei Bobrovsky is starting to get into a groove, winning three straight and leading the Flyers to an impressive week. 9. Chicago Blackhawks… LW: 7 Marian Hossa, who has 11 points, will miss two weeks with an upper-body injury. It’s a good chance for Viktor Stalberg to step up. 10. San Jose Sharks… LW: 12 The top line – Heatley, Thornton, Marleau – combined for 20 points in just two games last week. 11. Nashville Predators... LW: 4 Barry Trotz and company got a little taste of reality with their first two regulation losses of the year. They now travel to the west coast to get back to their winning ways. 12. Montreal Canadiens… LW: 14 How big has Tomas Plekanec been this season? He has a quiet 10 points while averaging over 20 minutes of ice-time per game. 13. Vancouver Canucks… LW: 8 They drop five spots by default. Can Roberto Luongo turn his fortunes around after another uninspiring October? 14. Colorado Avalanche… LW: 15 Peter Budaj will have to continue to hold the fort in net with Craig Anderson out indefinitely with a right knee injury. 15. Dallas Stars… LW: 19 Kari Lehtonen is 1-4 with a 3.42 goals-against average after starting out 4-0. 16. Atlanta Thrashers… LW: 23 The move to defense has paid dividends for Dustin Byfuglien, who has 10 points, three game-winners, and 22-plus minutes of average ice-time. 17. Carolina Hurricanes… LW: 18 Despite not scoring in two home games last week, Paul Maurice has to be content with a 5-5 record after traveling the globe. 18. Calgary Flames… LW: 13 Brent Sutter and company have more soul-searching to do after surrendering 17 goals in three games last week. 19. Toronto Maple Leafs… LW: 16 The Leafs are 1-4-1 since their sizzling 4-0 start. The biggest reason for their current skid? Seven goals in those five games. 20. Phoenix Coyotes… LW: 17 Phoenix has struggled to carry over their success from 2009/10, tied for second-to-last in goals scored (23). 21. Columbus Blue Jackets… LW: 27 I’m not drinking their Kool-aid yet, but you have to give credit to Scott Arniel for avoiding a rough start and winning five of their last seven. 22. New York Rangers… LW: 22 Who is leading the Blueshirts in points? Ryan Callahan, with 11 points in 10 games. 23. Ottawa Senators… LW: 28 Alex Kovalev steered away from his Houdini act last week. The Sens must hope it wasn’t a flash in the pan. 24. New York Islanders… LW: 20 After a 4-1-2 start, Scott Gordon’s club has lost four in a row. It doesn’t get any easier as five of their next six are on the road. 25. Anaheim Ducks… LW: 25 The more the Ducks become allergic to consistency, the hotter Randy Carlyle’s seat will get. 26. Florida Panthers… LW: 26 Peter DeBoer’s gang has a good opportunity to get on a run with four of their next five at home. 27. Edmonton Oilers… LW: 30 Between scoring seven goals IN Chicago and gathering points in all three games, the Oilers climb out of the cellar this week. 28. Minnesota Wild… LW: 29 The only reason why Minnesota is hovering around .500 is Niklas Backstrom, who boasts a 2.08 goals-against and .930 save percentage. 29. Buffalo Sabres… LW: 21 In the next three weeks, Buffalo will face Washington (twice), Boston, Montreal, Tampa Bay, and Vancouver. The reeling Sabres will surely be tested. 30. New Jersey Devils… LW: 24 The power play is ranked last (7.7%); the team is dead-last in the league with 7 points; Zach Parise suffered a knee injury in L.A. It may get worse before it gets better.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.