Some clear trends have already emerged, and for fans of the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, those trends -- in spite of a disappointing weekend for the latter -- are surprising in a good way. The season has been surprising for the Calgary Flames too, but for different reasons. Scoring is up, youngsters are creating an unprecedented vibe around the league and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem destined to blow a multiple-goal lead in dramatic fashion every single game.
1. (last week: 10) Montreal Canadiens, 4-0-1
The Habs have shown that they are much more than just goalie Carey Price, who finally returned to the lineup following an early-season illness. The Canadiens are averaging four goals a game and have a league-best plus-11 goal differential and a three-game win streak to show for their efforts. Montreal is the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss.
2. (12) Edmonton Oilers, 5-1-0
Welcome to the near-top of the Power Rankings, Edmonton. The Oilers blitzed the Winnipeg Jets for three second-period goals on Sunday to win the Heritage Classic 3-0. Apart from a 6-2 loss last Sunday, they've given up just 10 goals in their five other games. Is it too soon to say the Oilers are the "real deal?"
3. (4) Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1-0
Their slight hiccup against Colorado aside, the Bolts have been as expected -- deep, dangerous and built for the long haul. Tampa's early schedule tilted toward home play, so we'll see if they can tighten things up defensively on the road as they begin a five-game trip within the conference.
4. (2) St. Louis Blues, 4-1-0
The Blues have ridden solid special teams to an impressive record, even though the lineup has been juggled because of injury. St. Louis is 2-1-1 on the road and has allowed just one power-play goal on 20 attempts. Impressive.
5. (29) Detroit Red Wings, 4-2-0
6. (26) Washington Capitals, 3-1-1
The Capitals are off to an impressive start, having allowed just 10 goals in five games.
7. (5) Florida Panthers, 3-1-1
The Panthers continue to impress in spite of injuries to top-six forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau. Jonathan Marchessault has proved to be a crucial offseason addition, as he leads the team with seven points.
8. (17) New York Rangers, 4-2-0
The Rangers earned their fourth win with Sunday's 3-2 win over lowly the Arizona Coyotes and have benefited from the quick integration of their new, young parts, including rookie Jimmy Vesey and Mika Zibanejad.
9. (8) Vancouver Canucks, 4-1-1
Who knows how long this will last, but credit general manager Jim Benning and coach Willie Desjardins for getting consistent efforts from a team widely expected to finish last in the conference. "Gritty," "tenacious" and "resilient" were not exactly the adjectives expected to be associated with the Canucks this season, but they're off to a strong start in spite of going winless in two games on the weekend.
10. (1) Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1-1
Coach Mike Sullivan's early deployment of goaltenders has been interesting, as Marc-Andre Fleury has played all but 20 minutes for the Penguins so far. Fellow goalie Matt Murray should be back soon, but what about captain Sidney Crosby, who continues to recover from another concussion and has yet to suit up for the Pens this season?
11. (16) Colorado Avalanche, 3-2-0
Stinkers like a 5-2 loss in Florida on Saturday remind us that the Avs have a long way to go, but early returns are positive for rookie coach Jared Bednar. Colorado will play seven of its next 10 games at home.
12. (23) Boston Bruins, 3-2-0
The Bruins are happy to get Patrice Bergeron back but are still a work in progress, as they showed in a disappointing loss to the archrival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Goalie Tuukka Rask battling general soreness early in the season isn't a particularly promising sign.
13. (18) Chicago Blackhawks, 3-3-0
This is not a misprint: the Blackhawks have allowed a whopping 12 goals on 21 power-play chances against. That will correct itself, but it goes a long way toward explaining the uneven start for the perennial Stanley Cup contenders.
14. (6) Ottawa Senators, 3-2-0
The Senators continue to leak defensively, having given up four goals per game.
15. (11) Philadelphia Flyers, 2-2-1
The young Flyers showed nice resiliency in bouncing back from disappointing losses to Chicago and Anaheim with a dominant performance against Carolina on Saturday.
16. (3) San Jose Sharks, 3-3-0
The Sharks ended their first lengthy road trip with a disappointing 2-3 record and now head home to play three in a row -- and five of their next six -- at SAP Center before hitting the road for another six-game Eastern Conference swing. Ah, life in the Western Conference.
17. (30) Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-2-0
Credit Columbus for turning in back-to-back impressive efforts in wins over Chicago and Dallas to reach .500. Rookie Zach Werenski is having an immediate impact on the young Blue Jackets blueliners and leads the team with five points.
18. (14) Dallas Stars, 2-2-1
The Stars have had an uneven start, as they look solid defensively one night but come up empty offensively the next. Injuries and illness among the team are making life difficult for coach Lindy Ruff. Getting shut out by Columbus on Saturday was clearly a low point for the defending Central Division champs.
19. (19) Minnesota Wild, 3-2-1
A disappointing loss to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Sunday blunted some of the early optimism for the Wild. Minnesota has yielded just one power-play goal on 17 attempts.
20. (13) Nashville Predators, 2-3-0
The Predators were laid low by food poisoning, but they came up with huge effort against the defending Cup champs on Saturday. Nashville's power play has been on fire, with nine goals on 19 opportunities, but -- needless to say -- must be better 5-on-5.
21. (25) New Jersey Devils, 2-2-1
Five games into the season, this is the line for the Devils -- eight goals for (fewest in the NHL), nine goals against (tied for fewest in the NHL). It's amazing that New Jersey has cobbled together a respectable record, given its paucity of offense.
22. (21) Buffalo Sabres, 1-2-1
23. (24) New York Islanders, 3-3-0
The Islanders are off to an up-and-down start. They whipped Minnesota on Sunday, but news about still-wretched ice at Barclays Center continues to cast a shadow over the team and its new home. This situation isn't likely to get any better any time soon.
24. (26) Anaheim Ducks, 2-3-1
The Ducks finally got their first win of the season under their belts against Philadelphia and then followed that up with a big victory on Sunday against red-hot Vancouver in Anaheim's home opener. The team needs to resolve Hampus Lindholm's contract situation, but salary-cap jail will make life very difficult for GM Bob Murray moving forward.
25. (20) Winnipeg Jets, 2-3-0
The Jets, who were shut out 3-0 by Edmonton outdoors at home in the Heritage Classic, can't seem to find any early rhythm. Edmonton has three early Central Division tests -- two games against Dallas and one against Colorado -- this week. The Jets have to stop chasing games or they're going to chase the season.
26. (28) Los Angeles Kings, 2-3-0
The Kings have won two in a row after starting the season with three consecutive losses, but goaltending issues still remain a concern. They have given up 18 goals in five games and faces a long stretch without Jonathan Quick, who is out with core body injury. And the Kings are now without Jeff Zatkoff, who injured a groin during practice on Saturday morning.
27. (9) Toronto Maple Leafs, 1-1-3
Boy, oh boy, are the Maple Leafs fun to watch. Boy, oh boy, are they going to lose a lot of games this season unless they can learn how to protect a lead -- and get decent goaltending.
28. (22) Carolina Hurricanes, 1-2-2
Some people liked the 'Canes to finish third in the Metropolitan Division (OK, one person). So far that looks like a stretch, as Carolina is off to its annual grisly start. Its goaltending is not nearly good enough thus far to make it a playoff team; the Hurricanes have allowed four goals against per game.
29. (15) Arizona Coyotes, 1-4-0
After their opening-night win, the Coyotes were winless in their next four following Saturday's 3-2 loss at Madison Square Garden to the Rangers. Youngsters Max Domi and Anthony Duclair -- who have two assists, combined -- need to get going or Arizona is going to get buried early in the Pacific. The loss of goalie Mike Smith was a big blow.
30. (27) Calgary Flames, 1-4-1
You can preach patience, but things are quickly turning into a disaster in Calgary, where the Flames are a general mess with a league-worst minus-9 goal differential. Their power play stinks and, at 1-for-25, is the worst in the league. I still don't get why Brian Elliott wasn't in goal for Saturday's loss to St. Louis; it seemed to send the wrong message about who the team believes it can count on.