Posted: Tuesday November 2, 2010 4:24PM ; Updated: Monday November 8, 2010 2:06PM
Brian Cazeneuve
Brian Cazeneuve>NHL POWER RANKINGS

Lightning strikes the top this week

Story Highlights

It looks like the biggest threat to the Lightning right now is untimely injury

Playing without thinking worked wonders for the Sharks, but not the Flyers

The sour Ducks are challenging the befuddled Devils for the basement

NOTE: All standings and stats are through Sunday, Oct. 31.

Power Rankings will return on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

NHL Power Rankings
1Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 3
Two solid wins -- over the Penguins, and Dan Ellis's shutout of Phoenix -- had the Bolts looking healthy, in the standings at least. The injury bug lurks. Simon Gagne missed his fourth straight game with what could be a concussion, and defenseman Matt Smaby was out of the Phoenix tilt after rolling his ankle while playing soccer at the team's hotel. Last week: 2-0-0
 
2Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 8
With Drew Doughty sidelined by concussion symptoms, they still held foes to just eight goals in four games, an impressive show of depth and balance. Michal Handzus scored in the fifth shootout round to beat the Wild. Alex Ponikarovsky and Wayne Simmonds tallied nine seconds apart in a win over Dallas. Jarret Stoll had a three-point game in a 3-1 win against slumping New Jersey. Last week: 3-1-0
 
3St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 4
With their 4-3 shootout win over Atlanta on Saturday, they increased their home win streak to a franchise-record 11. Another sign of good times: penalty-killing whiz Jay McClement scored a rare hat trick. "I can't remember the last one," he said afterwards. No wonder. He's never had one in a 410-game NHL career that hasn't produced more than 12 goals in a season. Last week: 2-0-0
 
4Boston Bruins
Last Week: 6
Welcome back, Tim Thomas -- the All-Star, the Olympian, the guy the Bruins relied on as he won 36 games in 2008-09. His two shutouts last week against Toronto and Ottawa, and his three goals allowed in six starts this season, speak of the league's best player, not the guy who got benched at the end of last season. Last week: 2-0-0
 
5Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 1
Around Halloween, it only made sense that the Wings would see the two sides of Chris Osgood. Coming off his first losing season, Mr. Hyde surrendered three goals in the first five minutes of a 4-2 loss to Phoenix on Thursday. On Saturday, Dr. Jeckyll produced a solid 23-save effort against the Predators. Good thing Jimmy Howard is around to help keep things stable. Last week: 1-1-0
 
6Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 15
After three strong wins, they dropped a home game to Florida that was, nevertheless a victory of sorts. Ace defenseman Andrei Markov (torn right knee) returned for his first action in six months. "Of course, I'm exciting," is how he put it to the Montreal Gazette before the game. His continued presence should make the Habs even more formidable. Last week: 3-1-0
 
7Nashville Predators
Last Week: 2
This could get ugly. Their solid start showed signs of ebbing with a pair of setbacks. A home shutout by the Blues was their first loss of the season in regulation time. Falling in Detroit was no way to begin a five-game road trip. "We played a good ten minutes," said goalie Pekka Rinne. "Then we lost our way." Last week: 0-2-0
 
8Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 13
Despite a humbling 7-4 loss to the Oilers, the new-look Hawks showed signs of breaking out of their funk. Marty Turco bounced back from a benching to make 25 stops in a win against the Wild. Troy Brouwer scored his first goal after potting 22 last season. By Brouwer's account, the drought "wasn't so much a little monkey; it was a big gorilla on my back." Brouwer earned ice time with Jon Toews and Patrick Kane, a sign that coach Joel Quenneville quickly rewards those who produce. Last week: 2-1-0
 
9San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 16
In 5-2 wins against New Jersey and Anaheim, the A line of Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton combined for eight of San Jose's 10 goals, including all five against the Devils, with a hat trick by Jumbo Joe. When that line clicks, Heatley says, "We play without thinking." Last week: 2-0-0
 
10Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 22
The Sharks notwithstanding, playing without thinking has its perils. After the Flyers' fifth loss in six games (at Columbus on Oct. 25), coach Peter Laviolette raged, "We played mindless hockey without any energy, without any passion." Fortunately, the Flyers found their passion, taking their next three matches. And it always helps to play the Islanders. Philly's 6-1 rout on Saturday boosted their win mark to 15 of the last 16, including 11 straight at home, against New York. Last week: 3-1-0
 
11Washington Capitals
Last Week: 9
Frustrated by a 2-1 loss to the Wild, after which coach Bruce Boudreau said, "[We] looked like we were playing in quicksand," Alex Ovechkin jumpstarted the Caps in 12 seconds. On Saturday, Ovechkin scored two power-play goals that many ticks apart in a 7-2 win in Calgary. Last week: 2-1-0
 
12Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 5
They're known for early-season bouts with malaise and may be in another. Against Tampa Bay, the Pens scored two shorthanded goals on the same first-period power-play, only to drop a 5-3 decision. Then they sleepwalked through much of a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia. Brent Johnson, who's been a savior during Marc Andre-Fleury's extended funk, came through again on Saturday with a 33-save, 3-0 shutout of Carolina. Last week: 1-2-0
 
13Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 17
One game during the week, but they made the most of it. Mason Raymond's timely poke-check off a defenseman's stick at 28 seconds of OT produced a 4-3 victory over Colorado, the Canucks' fourth straight win at home. A bonus: Peter Schaefer scored his first NHL goal since March 2008. The biggest benefit of the layoff may be rest for workhorse goalie Roberto Luongo, who has been known to wear down. Last week: 1-0-0
 
14Atlanta Thrashers
Last Week: 28
The highlight of their five standings points in three games? Clearly Dustin Byfuglien's end-to-end solo dash that beat Sabres goalie Ryan Miller at 4:31 of OT on Friday. Atlanta's controversial move of putting the bulldozing Big Buff on the backline has worked so far, with few glaring mistakes and good moments like that one. Rookie Alex Burmistrov, 19, also scored his first NHL goal in that 4-3 win and will be sticking around instead of returning to juniors. Last week: 2-0-1
 
15Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 18
Kyle Wilson scored his first NHL goal in a 2-1 win against the Flyers. In a 3-2 shootout win against Edmonton, Steve Mason reached behind his body to block what appeared to be a sure goal by Sam Gagner. But this may be the Jackets' style: highlight moments followed by resounding crashes to Earth, in this case a 5-1 loss to the Avs on Saturday. Last week: 2-1-0
 
16Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 20
With Craig Anderson on IR, they got a lift from Peter Budaj, who made 33 saves in a 5-1 win over Columbus. He also made a key stop on Manny Malhotra with five seconds to play in Tuesday's 4-3 win against Vancouver. Budaj's numbers (3.43 GAA, .875 save percentage) aren't comforting, but for the time being, the Avs must count on him. Last week: 2-0-1
 
17Dallas Stars
Last Week: 10
Dallas Stars (6-4-0)
After a pair of losses in which they surrendered five goals in each, they turned to back-up Andrew Raycroft for his first start of the season. While he produced 34 saves against Buffalo, the Stars reversed their miserable fortunes on special teams, scoring twice on the power play after a 2-for-25 slump and blanking the Sabres with a PK unit that had been ranked last in the NHL. Irreversible miserable fortune: the Stars' season-high six-game homestand took place while the locals were busy watching the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Last week: 1-2-0
 
18New York Rangers
Last Week: 14
Take Marian Gaborik away from a team that must find ways to score and the Rangers will need to play as they did in Saturday's 2-0 win over Toronto. Granted, they gave up 36 shots, but Henrik Lundqvist stopped them all in his 25th career shutout. Still, in giving up 10 combined goals in losses to Atlanta and Carolina, the Blueshirts showed how defense can also be a struggle. Last week: 1-2-0
 
19Calgary Flames
Last Week: 12
In three games, the Flames allowed 17 goals, leaving coach Brent Sutter to use words like "pathetic, "horrible" and "miserable." And they actually won one of those games. At times, All-Star goalie Miikka Kiprusoff seems worn down by all the shots he's been facing and his propensity for allowing rebounds can't be tickling Sutter, either. Last week: 1-2-0
 
20New York Islanders
Last Week: 7
A wise move sending Nino Niederreiter back to juniors. Their strong start faded during a lost week that included home and home losses to Montreal and a 6-1 drubbing by the Flyers. Goalie Rick DiPietro allowed six goals on 29 shots on Saturday in Philly, where they haven't won since April 2007. Revealing stat: The Isles have scored almost as many goals on an efficient power play (12) as they have at even strength (13). Last week: 0-3-0
 
21Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 24
After a fast start that had Leafs' fans dreaming of spring hockey, the offense went into a winter freeze, scoring only seven goals in six games. "No one's going to come in and help us get out of this," defenseman Dion Phaneuf lamented after a second straight shutout defeat (2-0 to the Rangers on Saturday). At least the Leafs managed 36 shots in that one, but if Tuesday's 3-1 win against Florida was any indication, they may need ugly goals to get Ws. Colton Orr plowed over Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen during a game-winner that probably shouldn't have counted. The Leafs don't mind winning ugly, but ugly is all too familiar. Last week: 1-2-0
 
22Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 23
They've scored two goals or fewer in five of their last 10 games and still have none from Ray Whitney, Wojtek Wolski (a healthy scratch in a 3-0 loss to the Bolts on Saturday) and Shane Doan, each of whom must contribute for the Yotes to continue their improvement of 2009-10. "And so far," groaned coach Dave Tippett, "we don't have anything." Last week: 1-1-1
 
23Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 11
Between 3-0 shutouts by the Caps and Pens was a 4-3 road win on Friday over the Rangers that offered a glimpse into Carolina's future. Before the game, veteran Eric Staal had some words of inspiration for 18-year-old newbie Jeff Skinner: "This is your first game at MSG," Staal told him. "There are going to be a lot of people watching, so you'd better put on a show." No pressure, eh? Skinner, the NHL's youngest player, scored a goal, Cam Ward made 40 saves, and the Canes salvaged the week with a 4-3 win. Last week: 1-2-0
 
24Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 27
With three games in which the winning team scored no more than three goals, the new-look, offensive-minded Wild were starting to resemble the same-old, defensively-predictable Wild. Still, that can work. Nicklas Backstrom had the powerful Caps blanked for 58 minutes on Thursday and despite middling results at even strength, the Wild's 11 power-play goals on home ice lead the NHL. Last week: 1-1-1
 
25Florida Panthers
Last Week: 21
Maybe Peter DeBoer should get his dander up more often. During a lackluster run that included a 5-3 loss in Ottawa in which the Cats yielded five straight goals, their coach scratched Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik, and benched David Booth for a period. They responded with the goals in a 3-1 win in Montreal that snapped the Habs' four-game win streak. Last week: 1-2-0
 
26Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 26
Hmmm. Without Jason Spezza (groin), the Sens looked fine, especially in a 5-2 win over Phoenix when Alex Kovalev and Peter Regin scored goals nine seconds apart, and in their 5-3 win against Florida when Brian Elliot made 28 saves. Then Spezza came back and, thud, they whiffed in a 4-0 loss to Boston. "I think we pay attention to the little things when we're short," defenseman Chris Phillips said smartly. Last week: 1-2-0
 
27Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 29
Before Friday's 7-4 win against the Hawks, coach Tom Renney boldly insisted, "We're going to give Chicago something to think about." Indeed. The Oilers scored four goals with their first 12 shots. Prized rookie Taylor Hall, who's sticking with the team for the season, scored his first in a 3-2 loss to Columbus on Thursday. Last week: 1-0-2
 
28Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 25
They were in a celebratory mood. Teemu Selanne had scored his 611th career goal in a 5-2 win over Dallas on Tuesday, moving past Bobby Hull on the all-time scoring list. But after a 2-1 loss to the reeling Devils, the Ducks were playing chippy hockey by the end of a 5-2 stinker against the Sharks. "We're frustrated," coach Randy Carlyle confessed. "It didn't look like we had much structure." Who's to blame for that? Last week: 1-2-0
 
29Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 19
Coach Lindy Ruff lamented that when he coaxed his players into being more aggressive, they took foolish penalties that led to too many opposition power-play goals. The Sabres blew a 2-0 lead against Atlanta on Friday and that snoozer carried into a 4-0 loss in Dallas on Saturday. The Stars game marked Ryan Miller's first rest of the season, but he obviously wasn't the only Sabre who took the night off. Last week: 0-2-1
 
30New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 30
They dropped two more games, and that wasn't even the bad news. Sniper Zach Parise is expected to miss six to eight weeks after surgery on his right knee. Even with him in the lineup, Jersey scored only five goals in three games and can't seem to get consistent production from anyone. It's enough to make an aging Martin Brodeur look even older. Last week: 1-2-0

 
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