The San Jose Sharks have suffered major injury hits during this young season, losing the likes of defenseman Dan Boyle and wingers Brent Burns and Raffi Torres. And don’t forget that Martin Havlat is still on the mend from off-season repairs.
But they have plowed on undeterred, racking up the league’s best point total coming into this week. Depth players like forward James Sheppard have stepped up to fill the void.
Coach Todd McLellan loved how the group responded to its first defeat of the season. “I don’t know if it’s more important in this league to win multiple games or to stop the losses,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “This is the first time we’ve had to put the breaks on a loss. The response from our group was excellent.”
Here is a look at this week’s power rankings:
SAN JOSE SHARKS
GOOD NEWS: Journeyman goaltender Alex Stalock joined the party, making 38 starts to beat Ottawa 5-2 in his first Sharks start.
BAD NEWS: None to report.
BOTTOM LINE: With Boyle making a quick recovery from his concussion, the Sharks will continue terrorizing the Pacific.
GOOD NEWS: Center Matt Duchene scored nine times in October.
BAD NEWS: Scouts still wonder if Erik Johnson and Co. can hold up on defense.
BOTTOM LINE: The Avalanche started the season 10-1 for just the second time in franchise history.
GOOD NEWS: The return of offensive defenseman Kris Letang makes a great offense even better.
BAD NEWS: Reliable stay-at-home defenseman Rob Scuderi may be sidelined for than a month.
BOTTOM LINE: Once high-scoring winger James Neal returns to active duty and helps center Evgeni Malkin elevate his game, the Penguins could regain their No. 1 ranking.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
GOOD NEWS: Handyman Alex Steen is scoring goals like Alexander Ovechkin.
BAD NEWS: They lost some front line depth with the short-term loss of Maxim Lapierre (suspension) and Magnus Paajarvi (injury).
BOTTOM LINE: Their easy early schedule guaranteed a fast start. Will they hold up once the heavy grind begins?
GOOD NEWS: Prospect Brandon Pirri is settling into his second-line center roll and adding offensive balance to the group.
BAD NEWS: The Blackhawks gave up 11 goals in a two-game span. They avoided such lapses last season.
BOTTOM LINE: Now that the secondary scoring is falling into place, the Blackhawks appear quite capable of defending their Stanley Cup.
GOOD NEWS: Power forward Jarome Iginla finally got a payoff for all those shots on goal, delivering a six-point week.
BAD NEWS: Winger Loui Eriksson is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
BOTTOM LINE: The Bruins lost some ground while splitting their first six home games.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
GOOD NEWS: They won seven times during a nine-game span to restore order.
BAD NEWS: Their sputtering offense has forced them to win four times in the shootout and once in overtime.
BOTTOM LINE: The Kings narrowly avoided a poor start to the season. They can’t bank on shootout victories to earn a high seed.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
GOOD NEWS: Steven Stamkos had another ho-hum week – scoring seven points – to lead his team to three victories.
BAD NEWS: Power forward Ryan Malone scored just one goal in his first 11 games.
BOTTOM LINE: The Lightning rode Ben Bishop’s goaltending and one of the league’s top lines to an outstanding start.
GOOD NEWS: They went 5-1-1 on their seven-game road trip, their longest excursion of the season.
BAD NEWS: Vancouver isn’t getting much offense from its second, third and fourth lines. Injuries to David Booth, Jannik Hanse, Dale Weise and Jordan Schroeder have contributed to that.
BOTTOM LINE: With Ryan Kesler playing like himself again and Alexandre Burrows back to full health, coach John Tortorella has the grit his covets.
GOOD NEWS: No. 3 goaltender Frederik Andersen won his first three starts as the fill-in.
BAD NEWS: Veteran center Saku Koivu joined the NHL’s concussion club and young forward Jakob Silfverberg will be out for at least a month with a broken hand.
BOTTOM LINE: The injuries are ill-timed for the Ducks, who started their eight-game road with two losses in their first three games.
DETROIT RED WINGS
GOOD NEWS: Franchise cornerstones Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still point-per-game scorers.
BAD NEWS: They earned just two points during a four-game winless stretch. They allowed the Coyotes to score five goals and the Senators to score six times during that span.
BOTTOM LINE: The Winged Wheel must take off its parking brake during its four-game road trip out West.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
GOOD NEWS: Phil Kessel scored five goals on just 10 shots last week.
BAD NEWS: He won’t be able to sustain that 50 percent shooting percentage all season.
BOTTOM LINE: This team has firepower. After 12 games, seven players had nine points or more.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Josh Harding is back in action after a minor tweak and No. 2 center Charlie Coyle could return to active duty Friday.
BAD NEWS: Jonas Brodin was emerging as one of the NHL’s top young defensemen before suffering facial fractures.
BOTTOM LINE: Their 5-1 loss to Chicago reminded the Wild they are still back in the conference pack.
GOOD NEWS: The Coyotes came into the week with the league’s fourth-best offense.
BAD NEWS: They ranked 25th in goals against.
BOTTOM LINE: These are not Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers. They can’t win enough high-scoring games to earn a high conference seed.
GOOD NEWS: No. 2 goaltender Peter Budaj chipped in with a shutout victory over the Rangers in New York.
BAD NEWS: Losing home games to Nashville and Edmonton is no way to keep pace in the East.
BOTTOM LINE: The Habs are getting eager for scorer Max Pacioretty to return from his hamstring injury.
GOOD NEWS: Unheralded goaltender Carter Hutton has held up so far.
BAD NEWS: An infection in Pekka Rinne’s surgically repaired hip will sideline him for at least a month.
BOTTOM LINE: No team is more reliant on great goaltending, so Rinne’s medical problems are ominous.
NEW YORK RANGERS
GOOD NEWS: After wandering North America on an epic nine-game road trip, they finally got to play a home game.
BAD NEWS: They lost that home game 2-0 to Montreal. Also, there is no indication that power forward Rick Nash is recovering from his concussion.
BOTTOM LINE: The Rangers lost six of those nine road games, so they have some digging to do. Beating the Red Wings 3-2 was a two-shovel effort.
GOOD NEWS: Coach Paul MacLean has reunited his top line of Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan flanking Jason Spezza.
BAD NEWS: It’s still October and the team has already convened a players-only meeting about its disappointing play.
BOTTOM LINE: Even elite young defenseman Erik Karlsson is bickering with the media. In the Post-Alfredsson Era, this is not one happy family.
GOOD NEWS: Winger Alexander Semin came to life with five points in four games.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Cam Ward will miss another two to three weeks with a lower body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: Carolina earned just one regulation victory in its first six home games. This is how you miss the playoffs.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
GOOD NEWS: Adding high-scoring winger Thomas Vanek for the rest of the season should bolster this offense.
BAD NEWS: Vanek could walked an unrestricted free agent and Islanders GM Garth Snow spent two high picks (2014 first round, 2015 second round) in addition to pending UFA Matt Moulson to get him.
BOTTOM LINE: Snow better sign Vanek to a long-term deal or this could become a devastating blunder.
GOOD NEWS: After scoring just one point during a six-game span, Mikhail Grabovski scored four points in his next four games to add some offensive depth to this attack.
BAD NEWS: Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth had identical 3.07 goals-against averages after the first 12 games.
BOTTOM LINE: Once again the Capitals are playing sluggishly early in the campaign. Can coach Adam Oates inspire a surge somewhere down the trail?
GOOD NEWS: Their penalty killing has been well above average.
BAD NEWS: The Jets went 0 for 25 power play during an eight-game span. They converted just five of their first 49 opportunities with the man advantage this season.
BOTTOM LINE: That power outage is causing them to fade from the Western Conference playoff race.
GOOD NEWS: Mike Cammalleri scored five points in his first four games back from a hand injury.
BAD NEWS: Goaltenders Karri Ramo and Joey MacDonald have save percentages below .900. The loss of top defenseman Mark Giordarno won't help that.
BOTTOM LINE: In a buyer’s market for goaltender, new hockey czar Brian Burke needs to go get one.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Kari Lehtonen returned from the injured list in style, allowing just two goals in his first 125 minutes back.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Alex Goligoski used to be a pretty good player. But he had a no points and a minus-10 rating in his first nine games.
BOTTOM LINE: New coach Lindy Ruff keeps shuffling his defensive pairings. So far, nothing is working.
GOOD NEWS: Forwards Vincent Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell returned from the injured list.
BAD NEWS: Veteran offensive defenseman Kimmo Timonen played his way off the top power-play unit.
BOTTOM LINE: Only one Metropolitan Division team came into the week with a winning record, so the Flyers can play catch-up with behind Steve Mason’s hot goaltending.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GOOD NEWS: Winger Marian Gaborik is scoring at a point-per-game pace.
BAD NEWS: Sergei Bobrovsky has not been the same game-stealing goaltender this season.
BOTTOM LINE: With Nathan Horton still recovering from his shoulder surgery, this team lacks the firepower to trade scoring chances. The Jackets need to zip up their defense.
GOOD NEWS: Enigmatic winger Nail Yakupov actually scored a goal! Also, center Sam Gagner has finally recovered from his broken jaw.
BAD NEWS: Goaltending remains a problem. Richard Bachman arrived from the AHL to absorb a shootout loss. Is he the answer?
BOTTOM LINE: With just three regulation victories in their first 13 games, the Oilers seemed destined for still another high draft pick.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
GOOD NEWS: Old-timer Jaromir Jagr is doing his part. He scored nine points in his first 11 games for New Jersey.
BAD NEWS: High-price power forward Ryane Clowe remains shelved by a concussion.
BOTTOM LINE: They earned just two regulation victories in their first 11 games, giving fans flashbacks to the bad old days.
GOOD NEWS: Journeyman defenseman Tom Gilbert is providing 21½ solid minutes per game.
BAD NEWS: Opponents outscored them by 17 goals in their first 12 games. Forward Tomas Kopecky had no points in those games despite playing 16 minutes per game.
BOTTOM LINE: The Panthers organization is putting its full energies into the next draft.
GOOD NEWS: The Sabres got some near-term help in the Thomas Vanek sell-off, acquiring Matt Moulson as part of the Islanders trade package.
BAD NEWS: Moulson could become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Why would he stay in Buffalo?
BOTTOM LINE: The Sabres are starting over and gaining a first-round pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015 in the Vanek deal should help immensely.