NHL Power Rankings: Panthers pounce on top spot behind play of Sergei Bobrovsky between pipes


There was never any doubt that the Panthers had the talent to be one of the best teams in the NHL. The biggest doubt was whether Sergei Bobrovsky could find his game after a shaky first two seasons with Florida. So far, so good for Bobrovsky and the Panthers. He has stopped 94.3% of the shots he’s faced through four games, and the team is rolling. 2 5-0-0

Last week’s No. 1 team suffered their first loss of the season against the Predators, and that knocked them down a spot. Still, Minnesota has played like one of the best teams in the league, and they were able to provide some fireworks with an insane comeback win in overtime against the Jets. 1 4-1-0

Jesperi Kotkaniemi let the boos fuel him in his return to Montreal and he scored his first goal as a Hurricane in a 4-1 win over his former team. Carolina followed that up with a 5-1 beatdown of the Blue Jackets. Despite some key losses in the offseason, the Hurricanes haven’t missed a beat yet. 1 4-0-0

Boston suffered its first loss of the season last week, but the team has looked sharp through four contests. At 33, Brad Marchand is still as strong as ever. He’s got four goals and seven points already and his line with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is still very much a problem for opposing teams. 3 3-1-0

The Connor McDavid Show is back in full effect. In just five games, McDavid has tallied six goals and 13 points. The already flimsy narrative that McDavid just feasted on a weak North Division in the 2020-21 season is being torched in a hurry by the Oilers superstar. Maybe this year everyone can just sit back and enjoy the best player in the league slice through world-class players like they belong in pee wee hockey. 6 5-0-0

The Avalanche just haven’t looked like themselves in the season’s first couple of weeks. Colorado was underwhelming in a loss to the Capitals and followed that up with another disappointing showing against the Panthers. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper still has yet to look comfortable on his new team, but maybe a shootout win over the Lightning on Saturday night will get things moving in the right direction for the Avs. 4 2-3-0

It was a rough week for the defending champions. The Bolts dropped their first rivalry game of the season against the Panthers and then they lost to Colorado despite not playing all that poorly. Tampa Bay will be without Nikita Kucherov for a while, but things turned out fine the last time the team had to place him on LTIR. 2 2-2-1

New York lost its first two games of the season, but it has since rattled off four straight wins. Igor Shesterkin has put on a show between the pipes and has allowed just one goal in each of his last three outings, including an impeccable performance in the Rangers’ thrilling overtime win against the Maple Leafs. 5 4-1-1

The veteran Capitals had another impressive week. They completely dominated the Avalanche in a 6-3 win and handed the plucky young Devils their first loss of the season. Washington did suffer an overtime loss against the Flames to end the week, but they look like the real deal thus far. 3 3-0-2

Still short-handed, the Penguins went into Toronto and hung a touchdown and an extra point on the Maple Leafs. Six different players found the back of the net and sent Leafs fans in search of their panic buttons just six games into this season. 2 3-0-2

The Blues are 4-0, but how sustainable is this start for them? St. Louis is scoring on an absurd 15.83% of their shots in all situations, which is the best in the NHL. That isn’t going to last forever. Once that shooting percentage comes down to Earth, the Blues will start to take a few losses, but for now I’m sure they’ll enjoy the ride. 4 4-0-0

Maple Leafs
If anyone in Toronto is selling their Maple Leafs stock, I would like to buy it. That’s because the Leafs have the opposite problem of the Blues. Toronto leads the league in expected goals for in all situations, but they are shooting a dismal 5.71%. That will change with players like Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner. When it does, Toronto will look much better. 6 2-3-1

The Islanders haven’t played their best hockey, but Ilya Sorokin has posted back-to-back shutouts to help his team rack up points while they find their game. The Isles have been surprisingly loose on defense, but the goaltending has bailed them out so far. 3 3-2-1

Golden Knights
Vegas is another team suffering from a bit of bad luck in the early going. The Golden Knights have been getting outplayed far too often, but losing Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone will do that to any team. For now, Vegas must find a way to manufacture some wins. 5 1-4-0

Calgary Flames | Elias Lindholm is off to a blazing start. In his first four games, Lindholm has scored six goals. Three of them came in an overtime win against the Capitals over the weekend. He won’t be able to keep scoring at this pace for 82 games, but even if Lindholm returns to his almost point-per-game pace from the 2018-19 season, that’s a great development for Calgary. 3 2-1-1

One of the more surprising teams to this point, the Devils are currently 3-1. It is a small sample size, but this looks like it might be sustainable for New Jersey. They are currently fifth in the NHL in expected goals share (55.68%) and they have even suffered from some poor shooting luck in the process. 7 3-1-0

The Flyers are cooking offensively through the first four games of the season. New addition Cam Atkinson leads the team with four goals, and young star Joel Farabee already has six points. That’s certainly encouraging, but Philadelphia has definitely gotten some puck luck to this point. 3 2-1-1

The Stars took a shot on Braden Holtby in the offseason, and it might have paid off. Holtby has quietly been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL so far, and he has kept Dallas afloat while the offense has struggled to get going. 2 3-2-0

Winnipeg has scored five or more goals three times in its first five games. That type of offense won’t continue for very long, and that’s concerning when you see that the Jets are 24th in the league in expected goals share at five-on-five (45.59%) and first in shooting percentage at five-on-five (13.54%). — 2-2-1

The Sharks have been out-chanced at five-on-five in every game since their season-opener, and yet the team is 4-1. That probably has a lot to do with a high shooting percentage for San Jose through five games (13.87%). 5 4-1-0

The league’s hottest team last week suffered back-to-back losses to the Bruins and the Devils, but the Sabres have still been surprisingly competitive. They probably deserved a better result against the Bruins, so Buffalo continues to climb even with two straight losses. 7 3-1-1

The good news for the Canucks so far is that Conor Garland looks like a strong addition to the team’s forward group. The bad news is that Vancouver seems to be over-reliant on strong goaltending from Thatcher Demko because he has carried them in a couple of wins. 5 3-2-1

The Kraken looked like a potential playoff team in the Pacific Division on paper prior to the start of the season, and they still might be, but it has been a discouraging start to the season. On a brighter note, the atmosphere for Seattle’s first ever home game looked incredible and it’s fun to see more markets around the country embrace the sport. 9 1-4-1

Blue Jackets
The Jackets currently have a winning record, but there is some concern when you look under the hood. For instance, Columbus is 31st in the league in expected goals share at 41.48%. If that keeps up, the wins will get harder to come by for the Blue Jackets. — 3-2-0

Red Wings
The Red Wings have played relatively well in their first six games, and Tyler Bertuzzi has been a big part of that. He is tied for the league lead in goals with six. Lucas Raymond, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored a hat trick in a win over the Blackhawks. Both of those players are giving Detroit fans a reason for optimism. 5 3-2-1

Promising prospect Philip Tomasino scored his first two NHL goals last week, and he is starting to look like the player the Predators hoped he would be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft. — 2-4-0

The Kings’ goaltending is off to a slow start, and that has resulted in a poor start for the team in general. Anze Kopitar is still cruising at 34-years old. He has six goals and nine points in just five games. He will need to keep that up in order for the Kings to fight for a playoff spot. 5 1-3-1

Goaltender Matt Murray has been placed on IR, which means the goaltending tandem of Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson will have to carry the load in the meantime. That doesn’t bode well for the team’s chances. 1 2-3-0

The Ducks are riding a three game losing streak and already look like one of the worst teams in the NHL. The only reason they aren’t lower is because the three squads below them have been exceptionally awful. 2 2-3-1

Montreal got on the board with its first win of the season against the Red Wings, but it has still been a miserable start. Prior to that victory over Detroit, the Candiens had been outscored 19-4 in five games. 1 1-5-0

The Blackhawks made history on Sunday night. They set a new NHL record for the longest start to the season without holding a lead at any point. That number currently stands at 360 minutes, and the team got booed off the ice in their loss to the Red Wings. This is a disastrous start for a franchise that is scraping its head on the salary cap and doesn’t currently own its 2022 first-round pick. 10 0-5-1

The Coyotes can’t score, can’t defend and can’t stop the puck. Other than that, Arizona is just fine. Just one player, Clayton Keller, has scored more than one goal on the season. These are tough times in the desert, but that is kind of by design. — 0-4-1

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