1. San Jose Sharks (10-1-2) – The Sharks lead the NHL in goal differential with 27 more goals than they’ve given up. The next closest team is the Colorado Avalanche with a goal differential of 19. It’s really hard to find a weakness in their game right now.
2. Colorado Avalanche (10-1-0) – Colorado started the season off making headlines for being undefeated for their first six games. They ended with with Semyon Varlamov turning himself in to police and the next day trading Steve Downie for Max Talbot. It’ll be interesting to see how November treats the Avs and if Patrick Roy can keep his team plugging along.
3. Anaheim Ducks (10-3-1) – Bruce Boudreau continues to keep his team afloat despite injuries. Teemu Selanne, Viktor Fasth, Saku Koivu, Jakob Silfverberg, Sheldon Souray and Luca Sbisa are all on the injured reserve. Goaltender Frederik Andersen has done a great job with Jonas Hiller to keep pucks out of the net.
4. St. Louis Blues (7-1-2) – Other teams may have a better record, but the Blues are just a down right scary team and while it still feels weird to say, Alexander Steen leads the NHL with 11 goals. Steen is on a 90-goal pace. Don’t expect that to be the case for much longer.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (8-2-3) – Just another Western Conference team… ho hum… Would’ve ranked the defending Stanley Cup Champions higher, but they haven’t looked great against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild recently.
6. Boston Bruins (8-4-0) – The defending Eastern Conference Champions may have lost back-to-back games to Pittsburgh and New Jersey recently, but bounced back to beat the mighty Anaheim Ducks in a shootout.
7. Los Angeles Kings (9-5-0) – After getting off to a slow start, the Kings rattled off three-straight wins before the Lightning recently crushed them 5-1. Anze Kopitar scored a big goal in OT to beat the Sharks. The Kings would really love to have Kopitar back to form.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-4-0) – Believe it or not, but Phil Kessel is actually living up to the eight-year, $64 million contract he signed in the offseason and James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier are one of the better goaltending duos in the NHL. The Leafs were the first and only team in the Eastern Conference with 10 wins.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-4-0) – The injury bug has hit Pittsburgh early this season. Tomas Vokoun, James Neal, Beau Bennett, Chuck Kobasew, and Rob Scuderi are all expecting to miss significant time. The Pens won their first three games and they’ve also experienced a three-game losing streak. Will the real Pittsburgh Penguins please stand up? Not too quickly though – wouldn’t want to pull a muscle.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-4-0) – Ben Bishop has proven to be a viable commodity in net for the Lightning. Bishop ended October posting a 7-2 record, a 2.41 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.
11. Vancouver Canucks (9-5-1) – John Tortorella may have got the better situation between he and Alain Vigneault. The Pacific Division is essentially the Wild West right now and the Canucks are right in the thick of the action.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (9-3-2) – Phoenix is off to one of the best starts in franchise history. They are 6-0-1 at home which is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for most home wins in the NHL. The Desert Defense is just sucking the life force out of their opponents.
13. Minnesota Wild (6-4-3) – Minnesota has too much talent to flounder along for much longer. Josh Harding has been lights out in net posting a 5-2-1 record to go along with a ridiculous 1.00 goals against and a .953 save percentage.
14. Montreal Canadiens (8-5-0) – Injuries have been a big story for a lot of teams and the Canadiens are no exception. Daniel Briere, Alexei Emelin, Travis Moen, Max Pacioretty and Brandon Prust are a lot of quality players to exclude from your lineup.
15. Detroit Red Wings (7-4-2) – Daniel Alfredsson’s career seems to have rejuvenated in Detroit – notching 11 points (3G, 8A) in 13 games isn’t that shabby for any 40-year-old player. The Red Wings snapped a four-game winless streak and have lacked consistency since moving into the Eastern Conference. Perhaps a familiar Western Canada road trip is just what the doctor ordered.
16. Nashville Predators (6-5-2) – Nashville is rebuilding on the fly and doing a pretty solid job at doing so. They could desperately use some goal scoring though. Patric Hornqvist leads the Preds with 4 goals.
17. New York Islanders (4-5-3) – Garth Snow shook things up by trading perennial 30-goal scorer Matt Moulson to the Buffalo Sabres for Tomas Vanek – a bold move for a promising young team in a weak division.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-6-0) – Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t been the player he was last year, but he hasn’t been that bad either. The Blue Jackets have the depth to be able to compete in the Metropolitan Division, but they’re going to have to find their stride soon to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference.
19. Ottawa Senators (4-6-2) – The Sens went on a three-game skid to end October and have played Western Conference teams in eight of their first 12 games. The Sens should start feasting on Eastern Conference teams in November.
20. Calgary Flames (5-5-2) – When you’re riding a goaltending duo of Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo, there’s not much more you should expect from a team. The Flames may actually playing over their heads right now and 2013 first round pick, Sean Monahan leads the Flames with six goals.
21. Washington Capitals (5-7-0) – Another slow start for the Caps. However, Alex Ovechkin is playing at what might be the highest level of his career – netting 10 goals in the first 10 games but is now day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
22. Winnipeg Jets (5-7-2) – The Jets have been competitive enough to stay in most games, they have that going for them at least. Dustin Byfuglien leads all defensemen in the NHL with shots on net, but not one of those have found its way in for a goal.
24. Carolina Hurricanes (4-5-3) – This team goes with Cam Ward wherever he goes… Unfortunately for the Hurricanes Ward is on the Injured Reserve… and now so is pretty much the rest of their team. It’s really hard to win in the NHL with a third string goaltender in net every night.
25. New York Rangers (5-7-0) – I don’t think anybody expected the Rangers to come out of the gate staggering. Starting the season with 9-straight games on the road may have buried them too deep to come back. Hopefully the home cooking will do wonders for them.
26. Philadelphia Flyers (3-8-0) – It took 10 games before the Flyers scored more than three goals and Claude Giroux finished October with a goose egg in the goal column. You almost have to feel bad for Steve Mason. Despite his record, Mason has quietly had a very solid season.
Really, really real.
28. Florida Panthers (3-7-2) – Really rough start to the season and rumors of a fire sale are never ways you want to start a season. The Panthers have a promising young core, but it’s not enough to keep them from being near the bottom of the league.
29. New Jersey Devils (3-5-4) – The Devils have just three wins on the season, but they’ve taken plenty of games into overtime to collect their fair share of cheap points. The one thing they do have going for them is their power play.
30. Buffalo Sabres (2-12-1) – Get used to seeing the Sabres in this spot. They’re awful! They may have won the trade for Tomas Vanek in acquiring Matt Moulson, a first and a second round pick, but these Sabres are as bad as it gets for an NHL team.
1. Sidney Crosby – Crosby, typically a slow starter, nearly averaged 2 points per game in the month of October.
2. Alexander Ovechkin – Looks like the Ovechkin/Crosby debate is about to heat back up.
3. Alexander Steen – When you score more goals in one month than you did in an entire season prior and you lead the NHL in goals after one month, you have to be considered in this category.
1. Ryan Suter – Sure Josh Harding is having a stellar season, but Suter deserves a ton of credit for making Harding’s job a little easier.
2. Derek Morris – Morris is having a phenomenal season in Phoenix. Nine points in 12 games.
3. P.K. Subban – Subban is tied for first for points by defensemen.
1. Semyon Varlamov – Varly played the best hockey of his career in October. However, November might not be as kind.
2. Josh Harding – 5-2-1 with a League leading 1.00 goals against average and a .953 save percentage. Absolutely stingy.
3. Antti Niemi – 9-1-2 with two shutouts a 1.72 goals against for the Leagues best team.