NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes find another impact player; Islanders struggling

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings the Carolina Hurricanes maintain their hold on the top spot with a four-game winning streak that has been driven in part by their latest impact player: 19-year-old rookie Seth Jarvis.

Jarvis has a goal in three straight games (a stretch where he has also recorded 12 shots on goal) and looks to have secured a permanent spot on the roster.

Carolina is now 14-2-0 on the season owning the league’s best points percentage and goal differential.

On the other end of the rankings, the New York Islanders keep sliding down the rankings with a shorthanded lineup that is currently riding a six-game losing streak that has seen them score only six goals. There is still hope they can turn this around when they start getting some players back, but they have already given themselves quite a deficit to start the season.

Where does your team sit this week?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 1). As if their roster was not already good enough, here comes Jarvis to start making an impact.

2. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 2). Everybody knows about Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and their power play. But did you also know their penalty killing unit is second best in the NHL? Special teams is carrying this team right now.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 4). The offense gets all of the attention here, but they have been very good defensively and are getting outstanding goaltending. They have allowed two goals or less in 10 of their past 13 games.

4. Florida Panthers (LW: 7). Sergei Bobrovsky‘s bounce back is one of the more overlooked storylines in the league this season.

5. Washington Capitals (LW: 5). Every season you wonder if it is the year they will start to slow down. They never do.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 6). Even when you take a couple of top-line players out of the lineup they just keep rolling.

7. Calgary Flames (LW: 14). They already have seven shutouts this season. This is what happens when Darryl Sutter hockey and great goaltending meet.

8. New York Rangers (LW: 10). It feels like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad still have an even bigger breakout ahead of them this season. In the meantime, Igor Shesterkin is their MVP right now.

9. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 11). Hopefully you did not count this team out during its slow start, because it is starting to roll and still has a lot of help on the way.

10. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 13). They have scored 24 goals over the past four games since Nathan MacKinnon left the lineup. Still an insanely deep team.

11. Minnesota Wild (LW: 3). The Wild’s transition from all defense/goaltending and no offense to all offense and no defense/goaltending the past two years has been fascinating to watch. They need more from their goalies this season.

12. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 9). Pierre-Luc Dubois very quietly has 10 goals and is averaging a point per game for the Jets this season. That trade might still work out.

13. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 12). Still not sure how good they actually are this season and if that winning streak was just a mirage. But it was fun to watch.

14. Boston Bruins (LW: 15). All of the talent is still there, and you can see it all starting to come together. Still think they could use somebody like, oh, say, Tuukka Rask, in goal for the long haul.

15. St. Louis Blues (LW: 8). Things have cooled off considerably here after a fast start. The Blue have just one regulation win (and only two wins overall) in their past eight games.

16. Nashville Predators (LW: 16). They had a nice hot streak here recently, but overall this is probably a pretty average ranking for a pretty average team

17. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 23). Really nice weekend to get back-to-back shutouts in Montreal and Toronto. This is still a good team that is going to figure it out.

18. Dallas Stars (LW: 24). The Stars showed some signs of life this past week winning three out of four. But what a disaster in Minnesota. Not the game, but for the way Rick Bowness handled the last minute scratching of hometown kid Riley Tufte.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 21). The Blue Jackets always seem to find a way to overachieve and be better than their roster looks.

20. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 20). Great goaltending is elevating an ordinary Flyers team. Welcome to the bizarro Flyers season.

[Related: Carter Hart’s turnaround carrying Flyers right now]

21. New Jersey Devils (LW: 22). Dawson Mercer looks really good and has really stepped up offensively in the absence of Jack Hughes.

22. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 25). It has not always looked pretty but they are 4-1-0 since the coaching change. Marc-Andre Fleury has a lot to do with that.

23. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 17). Since winning their season opener the Kings have gone on a six-game losing streak, that was followed by a seven-game winning streak, that is now being followed by an ongoing four-game losing streak. It all balances out to a .500 team.

24. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 19). This was never supposed to be a playoff season. Just see progress and hope young players develop. Both things are happening.

[Related: Calder Trophy Watch: Battle of Red Wings early on]

25. San Jose Sharks (LW: 26). They are 4-8-1 since that 4-0-0 start. Never jump to conclusions based on early season results.

26. New York Islanders (LW: 18). Just a confluence of bad things happening. The 13-game road trip to open the season, COVID-19 protocols, injuries, bad luck on the ice. When they have a full roster you have to imagine this team can turn it around. But they are also facing a pretty big uphill climb.

27. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 28). Their moving up one spot has more to do with everybody below them being worse than anything they did.

28. Seattle Kraken (LW: 29). This is probably true for any team, but I want to see what this team looks like with good goaltending.

29. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 27). Such a frustrating situation. They have high-end talent at the top of the roster, but everything else here is just so average to below average and has been for seven years now.

30. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 31). At this point you are just hoping that players like Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki keep developing into impact players.

31. Ottawa Senators (LW: 30). Almost impossible to rate them right now given that they have not played in a week, and when they have played they have had a fraction of a roster.

32. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 32). After winning one of their first 15 games the Coyotes are now 3-0-1 in their past four games. Not the prettiest wins, but they are not going to turn them down right now.

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    Penguins plot a way forward as Letang recovers from stroke

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    Kyle Ross/USA TODAY Sports
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    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang returned to the ice on Thursday, just three days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

    The “twirl” the longtime Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman took at the club’s practice facility was approved by team doctors, a spin designed to help Letang’s mental health and nothing else. While the 35-year-old remains upbeat, it remains far too early to put a timeline on when his familiar No. 58 will return to the lineup.

    Though Pittsburgh general manager Ron Hextall indicated this stroke isn’t as severe as the one Letang endured in 2014 – when a hole in the wall of his heart led to a stroke that forced him to miss two months – the six-time All-Star is continuing to undergo tests.

    There are no plans for Letang to participate in any sort of hockey-specific drills anytime soon, with coach Mike Sullivan stressing the club will “err on the side of caution” when it comes to whatever rehab Letang might need.

    While Letang – one of the most well-conditioned players in the NHL – essentially went through the motions by himself, his teammates were 30 minutes south at PPG Paints Arena getting ready for a visit from Vegas and trying to plot a way forward without one of the franchise cornerstones, at least in the short term.

    Letang made it a point to help break the news to the rest of the Penguins following a 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina on Tuesday. Pittsburgh scratched Letang from the lineup with an unspecified illness and he spent a portion of the game watching from the press box next to Hextall.

    Afterward, Letang informed a somber locker room about his condition, a revelation that came as a shock even as he did his best to reassure those around him that he was and is OK.

    “It’s very serious health stuff,” defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said. “You hear about strokes and it’s never really good so we’re just glad to see he’s doing well and everything is good with him.”

    Sullivan understands it would be practically impossible for any of the other defensemen on the roster to replicate what Letang brings to the ice, so he’s not going to ask any one player to try. There are few players at the position in the NHL who have Letang’s mix of speed, skill and almost bottomless energy.

    The highest-scoring defenseman in franchise history is averaging a team-best 23:54 of ice time and has long been a fixture on the power play and in just about every crucial late-game situation.

    “I just think Tanger is not an easy guy to replace,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think from a tactical standpoint things change drastically. It’s just personnel based. But as you know, personnel can mean a lot in those types of situations.”

    It’s more than that, however. This isn’t a routine injury. There’s an emotional component and an unknown element to Letang’s status even as the Penguins insist they don’t believe his condition is career-threatening.

    “This is a whole different circumstance than an ankle injury or a shoulder injury,” Sullivan said. “This is a very different circumstance.”

    Letang’s on-ice presence is just one aspect of his importance to a team that has never missed the playoffs since he made his debut in 2007. He’s become a mentor to younger teammates like 23-year-old defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, who like Letang is French-Canadian and who, like Letang, plays with a graceful fluidity.

    Joseph, who declined to get into specifics about Letang’s message to the team on Tuesday night, believes the best thing the Penguins can do during Letang’s absence is attack the game with the same passion he’s shown for 17 seasons and counting.

    “The way he plays for the team every single night and the way he puts his heart and soul into the game on the ice, it’s the least we can do is have our thoughts of him whenever we get on the ice,” Joseph said.

    Sullivan shuffled the lineup on Tuesday, elevating veteran Jeff Petry and Brian Dumoulin to the top defensive pair. Petry possesses a skillset that’s not too far removed from Letang’s, but it’s also his first year in Pittsburgh. Asking him to provide the leadership that’s innate to Letang is unfair. It’s one of the reasons Sullivan is insistent that it will take a group effort to fill in for a singular presence.

    “We have some diversity on our blue line right now,” Sullivan said. “We feel like we have guys capable of stepping in and getting the job done for us and we’re going to try and do that.”

    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

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    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.

    UP NEXT

    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.