ESPN.com's first Power Rankings of the season are out, and the placing of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks may surprise you.
They're not No. 1. That goes to the Vancouver Canucks, who have bowed out of the playoffs at the hands of the Blackhawks the last two seasons. But an offseason makeover has them sitting atop the league. The Canucks addressed both their defense issues -- with Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis -- and leadership issues -- they took away the captaincy from Roberto Louongo -- and now have no excuses come spring.
The Detroit Red Wings are second, and it's hard to argue that they don't belong in the top five. But to be ahead of the Hawks, who ousted them for the Central Division title and then went on to win it all, is a bit curious. The Wings return the status quo -- with the addition of Mike Modano -- while the Hawks experienced plenty of roster turnover.
That seems to be the rub when it comes to the Hawks, who are ranked No. 4. Most wonder if they can overcome such change. The one stable part of their team from last season -- their defense -- also has adversity to face with the loss of Brian Campbell for at least a month.
The next Central Division team to appear in the rankings is the Nashville Predators at 13, while St. Louis is 18, and Columbus checks in at 28.