Hockey World Blog

NHL Power 5: January 29

We are 10 days in the new season and already we have seen a ton of action in the league this season. One thing that has appeared to happen is the greater amount of high-scoring, blow out games compared to years past. This could be attributed to teams still getting accustomed to each other or a new coach still trying to employ their coaching style.  But if there’s anyone who benefits, it’s the fans as they are starting to see the game more wide-open and more goals being scored. On the other end, the goalie’s allowing such goals might need to invest in sun block from the burning sensation on the back of their neck caused by the red light behind them. Some players are already on a 2+ point per game streak, which is a stark contrast to last season when Evgeni Malkin was the only player to surpass the 100-point mark.

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1. Chicago (LW: 1) – The Blackhawks are one of two teams with perfect records this season. They came close to losing their first game Sunday against Detroit, but it was Nick Leddy who scored in overtime to give his team a 6-0 record. They have 14 goals when teams are even-strength, placing them one behind Tampa Bay for the league lead. They topped last week’s season-opening power ranking and by the way they have been playing this season they could spend a lot of time in the Power 5. This week they embark on a six-game road trip due to Disney On Ice taking place at United Center. Because of this, more home games will be back loaded than other teams. When it comes to fighting for playoff spots this will be a huge advantage for them.

2. St. Louis (LW: 2)– The Blues appear to be the only team that’s trying to prevent the Blackhawks from running away with the division after the first week. Last week they posted a 3-1 record with their only loss being to Chicago. The most impressive thing they did this week was beat Minnesota Sunday evening 5-4. They appear to not miss a step from last season when they made a deep playoff run. If you don’t have Vladimir Tarasenko in your fantasy lineup, I suggest you pick him up right now. He appears to be the real deal, which is always a question when you have a European player making the transition to the more physical, smaller NHL style of play. The Blues have two games on the schedule this week, when they have a Columbus-Detroit back-to-back series Thursday and Friday.

3. San Jose (LW: NR)– This is the second straight week with a third West team in the Power 5. The Sharks have gotten off to a good start considering they have left the state of California only once when they opened the season with the Alberta swing. They are in the middle of a six-game home stand, there they can increase their confidence with a solid start to the season. The regular season has never been a problem for the Sharks, especially under coach Todd McLellan. Look for Patrick Marleau to continue his hot start, where he’s lit the lamp nine times in the first five games.

4. Boston (LW: NR)- Boston has managed to come away with at least a point in every game this season. Being one of two (New Jersey being the other) East teams to not have a loss on their record, the Bruins have gotten to this point with their defense. They have killed off all 23 power play chances,which is what you need if you want to contend in such a short, compact season. It also helps that they have managed to win all three contests at home this season. Goalie Tuukka Rask has made fans forget about Tim Thomas- at least in the interim as he’s posted a 1.96 GAA and a .925 save percentage in four games this season. Their tough test will be at home against New Jersey tonight before finishing the week against Buffalo and Toronto.

5. New Jersey (LW: NR)- Unlike most teams so far, the Devils have maintained their zero-loss record with quality defense and low scoring games. Entering today the Devils are 17th in goals per game but are tied for second in goals allowed per game behind Martin Brodeur. That won’t be kept up for too long, as they plan on using backup Johan Hedberg more often in the coming games as they have several sets of back-to-back games on the horizon. Four games are ahead of them this week, including a back-to-back set over the weekend against Pittsburgh and New York Islanders on the road.

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