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Top 5, Bottom 5

Were through the first full week of the NHL season, and a lot teams are exceeding or playing below expectations. Let’s take a look at the best and worst teams in the league right now. By Andrew Miller and Scott Abuso

hawks1The Sabres can’t keep the puck out of their own net

Andrew Miller-

Bottom 5

30.  Buffalo Sabres

It’s really not close; the Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the NHL. Six games played and one measly point to show for it. Buffalo is also sporting a miraculous six goals TOTAL on the season. Is it too early to trade Ryan Miller and Tomas Vanek for drafts picks?

29. Florida Panthers

It’s a surprise that they have 13 goals on the year. Not necessarily an impressive number, but not the worst in the league. However, 24 goals given up is good for third worst in the NHL and they also played the Flyers and the Stars, both pretty weak teams. Get comfortable in the basement Florida.

28.  Nashville Predators

Seth Jones is proving he can handle the big leagues, leading all rookies in ice time. Don’t get too caught up in that stat, because the other options are limited on this team. Shea Weber has to feel like Jarome Iginla the last few years on the Flames: a bona fide super star on a very depressing team. There’s not a lot of upside on this team, other than the fact that Mike Fisher is married to Carrie Underwood.

27. Philadelphia Flyers

Three games is all it took for Peter Laviolette to get the axe. That’s comparable to an NFL coach getting fired at half time. There’s plenty of talent on the team and Claude Giroux is still a god among men when it comes down to it, but, as usual, goaltending is the gaping hole in the equation. No one has played steady yet, although the numbers aren’t terrible. That being said, I would guess Philly would turn it around quickly with new coach Craig Berube at the helm.

26.  Edmonton Oilers

One of these days the Oilers will figure out how to compete at the NHL level. Taylor Hall is destined to be a super star along with Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Out of the last ten teams in the league, they have the most goals for at 17. It’s on the shoulders of Devan Dubnyk in the net, who is still looking for his first win this year.

Scott Abuso-

Top 5

1. Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are on an absolute tear. The reign of Roy is in full effect in Colorado, and this young, exciting team is firing on all cylinders.  A stellar offense has been solidified with the addition of rookie Nathan MacKinnon, and the otherworldly net minding of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere has supported a defensive corps that was in question.  Sure, it is a small sample size, but the Avs look to be a serious contender in the West this season, and are without a doubt the top team in the NHL this week.

2. San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are flying up and down the ice, undefeated in their first five games as well.  Offensive efforts have been the real story for this team, winning all but one of their games by three goals or more.  While they have scored more than the Avalanche, four of their 5 victories have come on home ice.  The Sharks remain an extremely impressive team in the West, but fall just short of the Avs as the second best team this week.

3. St. Louis Blues

St. Louis has been a strong team in recent years, and this season looks to be no different.  Undefeated through their first four contests, the Blues are rolling along.  Halak has been solid between the pipes to date, aided by timely scoring and a solid defensive corps.  Obviously, their efforts are on par with the aforementioned clubs, but the Blues come in as the number three team this week because they have not yet faced a team on the road.

4. Anaheim Ducks

The new-look Ducks have been impressive thus far, holding a 4-1 record thanks to their current four game win streak.  The offense has been dynamite, with all but three skaters on the roster contributing at least one point to the team.  After a breakout season, Fasth has struggled out of the gate, but the more seasoned Jonas Hiller has stood tall in the crease and backstopped the Ducks to three of their four wins with a whopping .959 SV% and 1.3 GAA.  This is an exciting team with the ability to make some serious noise.  They sit pretty at the number four slot this week, but don’t be surprised if they jump further up the list as the season progresses.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

It’s a bit odd to see the Maple Leafs on a “top” anything list, but they have more than earned their keep this time around.  This team is showing the NHL they want to be the real deal.  There have been some close match ups, but a young, fast paced and energetic offense has come through in the clutch to rake in the wins.  They don’t ask how, they ask how many, and Toronto has let the league know they have what it takes to earn those wins sitting on a 5-1 record. Sure, they may not be up here all season, but the Maple Leafs are the best in the East at the moment and deserve to be called the fifth best team in the NHL right now.

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