The Boston Bruins may have their share of question marks, but if you are going to be a top-heavy team you better have one hell of a top line and a darn good goalie to help mask whatever flaws your roster may have. Fortunately for the Bruins, they have both of those things.
Their top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron has been the ultimate game-changer in the NHL this season, and when you sprinkle in some great goaltending from the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak it has helped power them to an 8-1-2 start and the top spot in this week’s PHT Power Rankings.
The Pastrnak-Marchand duo is the one grabbing headlines here. Entering play on Monday both players are among the top-five point producers in the league, while they rank first and second in points-per-game. They each have eight points apiece (in only three games) over the past week alone. When they are on the ice at 5-on-5 for the season the Bruins are controlling 60 percent of the shot attempts and outscored teams by a 14-4 margin. When neither player is on the ice those numbers drop to 49 percent (shot attempts) and a minus-2 goal differential (8-10). They are as dominant as a line can get.
Is it a sustainable way to win? Probably not, and eventually they will need some help. But the Bruins have time to address the depth issues again, and there is certainly room for improvement from within. For now, though, they get the top spot.
Where does everyone else fit this week? To the rankings!
1. Boston Bruins. The forward depth after the top line is a concern, but we have said this for about two years now and it never seems to slow them down.
2. Colorado Avalanche. Mikko Rantanen‘s injury is a big loss but they should have enough to overcome it for as long as he is sidelined, especially after their big offseason to improve their depth.
3. Washington Capitals. They keep scoring goals and piling up wins and it still feels like they have another level they can still get to.
4. Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres can not collapse again. They can not do that again to a loyal fan base that has waited so long for something to get excited about. Do not do this to them again, Buffalo.
5. New York Islanders. This season was going to be a big test to see how much of last year’s turnaround was Barry Trotz and how much of it was the two goalies. Even with a different goalie in place they just keep right on winning. Seven in a row entering Monday.
6. Arizona Coyotes. After losing their first two games (and only scoring one goal) the Coyotes are 6-1-1 in their last eight and are averaging more than four goals per game.
8. Carolina Hurricanes. They cooled off a bit after their fast start, but they are still waiting for their top players to start filling the back of the net. Still a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.
9. Florida Panthers. There is probably no team in the NHL that wants to ban the shootout more than the Panthers, consistently one of the league’s worst teams in the tiebreaker.
10. Edmonton Oilers. There is still a glaring lack of talent around the top four forwards, and that will eventually do them in.
11. Vancouver Canucks. Who knows how many games the Canucks are capable of winning this season, but this much is certain: With Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes they will be worth watching every night.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning. What is mildly concerning about this team after 10 games is that they are one of the league’s worst teams in shot-attempt differential, a strong indicator they are spending way too much time defending and not enough time dictating the pace of the game. Something to watch.
13. Vegas Golden Knights. The results have been inconsistent but the process is there and the roster is still full of talent. They will put it together.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins. They are starting to get healthy and for the first time this season we might get to actually see what their roster was intended to look like. Evgeni Malkin said on Monday he’s targeting a Saturday return to the lineup.
16. Philadelphia Flyers. It is actually surprising they have collected as many points as they have given how poorly Carter Hart‘s season has started.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets. They may take a step backwards but they are not going to go away quietly.
18. Montreal Canadiens. Jonathan Drouin becoming the impact player Montreal hoped he would be when he was acquired a couple of years ago would be a big development.
19. Toronto Maple Leafs. They still have their share of questions on defense, but the biggest thing sinking them right now is goaltending. Frederik Andersen has not played up to his standard and Michael Hutchinson has been a mess in the backup role.
20. Minnesota Wild. They are starting to show some signs of life after a horrendous start. The recent schedule has helped, but beating the teams you are supposed to beat is a good start.
21. Calgary Flames. In the three years before joining Calgary Elias Lindholm scored 38 goals in 235 games. He already has 34 goals in 94 games with the Flames.
22. Anaheim Ducks. This team is going to need goaltending to carry it, and fortunately for them they might have the best duo in the league.
23. Winnipeg Jets. Given the way their entire defense disappeared on them in the span of six months they have probably overachieved a bit. They still only have two regulation wins all year and none since Oct. 10. Not a great sign.
24. Dallas Stars. They won a few games this week to maybe start getting back on track, but they did not look particularly good in doing so. Still a team with a lot of flaws.
25. San Jose Sharks. The goaltending still stinks and the rest of the team is not playing well enough to cover it up as it did a year ago. Bad combination.
26. Chicago Blackhawks. Playing one of the few teams that has been worse than them so far (Los Angeles) was just what they needed on Sunday. There are still a lot of problems with this team.
27. Los Angeles Kings. This is a bad team, but Jonathan Quick is giving up four-and-a-half goals every time he starts. How much longer can they continue running him out there even semi-regularly?
28. New York Rangers. If Mika Zibanejad has to miss any time that would make an already sluggish offensive team even worse.
29. New Jersey Devils. This team has already blown a season’s worth of multiple-goal leads. On the plus side, Jack Hughes has points in three consecutive games (five points total in those games).
30. Ottawa Senators. Do you know what the best news for Ottawa is right now? A lot of players that could be used as trade chips (Conor Brown, Anthony Duclair, Vladislav Namestnikov) are having decent starts.
31. Detroit Red Wings. If Steve Yzerman wasn’t already aware of how big of a job he had to do when he took over, he certainly does now.