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Top 5, Bottom 5

Another week of hockey in the books and we are starting to see which teams will be competitive, and which will be in the cellar this season. By Scott Abuso and Andrew Miller

628x471 (26)Craig Berube hasn’t turned anything around in Philadelphia

Scott Abuso-

1. San Jose Sharks (Previous Week: 2)

As it stands, the San Jose Sharks are the only team in the NHL un-beaten in regulation. This is a Sharks team that refuses to quit, dominating opponents on some nights, edging them in a shootout victory on others.  San Jose boasts a lineup full of offensive weapons is complimented by defensive stalwarts, all led by the lights-out netminding of Antti Niemi.  Unbeaten and looking determined to remain that way, the Sharks take the number one slot this week.

2. Colorado Avalanche (1)

They’ve fallen, but only a spot.  Still clinging to an impressive 5-0-0 record on the road, the Roy Era Av’s are clearly one of the top teams in the NHL right now.  Not only has Semyon Varlamov stepped up into the role he has been asked to fill for years, but back-up J.S. Giguere has been near perfect through three starts.  Offensively the Avalanche have been efficient enough to get the job done.  They haven’t exactly blown teams out, but they stepped up in the big time, most notably in a riveting 1-0 victory over the favored Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night.  A hiccup versus Detroit should be disregarded; Colorado is for real this season and has earned their place at number 2 this week.

3. Anaheim Ducks (4)

A shaky start to the season is long in the rear view mirror.  In the midst of a 7 game win streak, the Ducks are rolling their way to victory with two close margin wins followed by a 6-3 trouncing of the Dallas Stars.  Jonas Hiller has made himself a name as the starter so far following a bit of a slump last season that saw Viktor Fasth grab the reigns for a while.  On top of Hiller’s great net minding, the team has combined for 30 goals on the season (second highest total in the West).  The Ducks aren’t going down easy, and they’ll hold (at least) the number 3 slot until they show signs of slowing up.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (Unranked)

The Penguins don’t have stellar goaltending or a top 5 defense, but an explosive offense can, on most nights, mask the issue.  Before falling to Colorado, a strong team undefeated on the road, the Pens secured three impressive victories, the tightest of which was a 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks.  On any given night, this roster can light up their opponents, and recently they’ve done just that.  Limited only because of their weakness in defense, Pittsburgh finds itself the 4th best team in the NHL this week.

5. Boston Bruins (Unranked)

The Bruins have rebounded from a tough outing against the Red Wings with two strong wins.  Boston still boasts the chemistry that brought them to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and their offensive upgrades have proven beneficial.  Rask has been other-worldly between the pipes and played a big role in the two recent wins.  Once this team gets on a roll, it’s hard to stop them.  These two wins look to be the motivation the boys in Black and Gold needed.  For now they are the 5th best team in the NHL, but the Bruins have a lot of fight in ’em and can easily make a rise in the rankings in the coming weeks.

Andrew Miller-

30. Buffalo Sabres (Previous week: 30)

Well the team has found consistency, firming putting themselves as a staple of this piece with one win through ten games. Let the record also show that the Sabres only win came in a shootout courtesy of the Islanders. Circle Friday, October 25 as a potential win when they travel to Florida to take on the Panthers. It’s already selling time in upstate New York.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (27)

New coach, same team. After picking up the first win of the season in Craig Berube’s first game, the Flyers dropped four in a row and sit at the very bottom of the league in points with two. Vinny Lecavalier’s return should help them get some kind of mojo going and Flyers fans can only hope Steve Mason picks up his play.

28. New York Rangers (25)

After showing a glimmer of hope with a shutout against the Caps, New York proceeded to stumble into the Rock and get blown out by the Devils. They sport the worst goal differential in the league at negative 18 and also have a league worst in five and five goal ratio with a 0.26. Their first home game is on the 28th and if play does not pick up shortly after that, expect Vigneault to get the axe.

27. New Jersey Devils (Unranked)

The last team to grab a win in the league (it barely counts because they beat the Rangers), New Jersey has lost 6 games on the road this year without a win. Marty Brodeur has to figure out that he’s not 30 and in his prime anymore and fork over starts to Cory Schneider who is having a decent start with all things considered.

26. Edmonton Oilers (26)

One of these years all of the talent and potential in Edmonton will add up to a very competitive team. Unfortunately, it looks like this year will result in another top draft choice. Devan Dubnyk hasn’t transitioned to his starter role well with one of the worst goals against averages in the league at 4.19 and Nail Yakupov is not nearly mature enough for the big leagues.

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