UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
NHL

San Jose Sharks toughen up as they stay No. 1 for third week

Photo: Dave Reginek/NHL via Getty Images

After winning with high-powered offense, the Sharks made a defensive statement against Detroit.

We've hit one of the season's milestone moments. With every team either at, or approaching, the 10-game mark, this week is all about taking stock. A time for fine-tuning a hot start or considering options if things haven't played out as planned.

The Sharks have already made a move, bolstering their toughness with a trade for Mike Brown of the Oilers on Monday night. His kind of game may have fallen out of favor in the press, but he's the sort of guy you want on your bench in certain contests. We might see similar deals over the next few weeks from some of the top contenders (other than Detroit, of course).

There won't be panic from any of the underperforming teams -- Minnesota, Washington and the Islanders, for example -- but they have to start examining their options. A big move may be coming if the next 10-game segment doesn't bring an obvious improvement.

At the other end of the scale, the Sabres, Devils, Rangers, Flyers, Oilers and Panthers have fully used up the one bad stretch of hockey each team is allowed per season. If they can't get back on track by the end of the month, they may want to start focusing on the draft.

Here's how the league stacks up after Week 3:

Notable rise: Nashville Predators (25 to 11)

Notable drop: Toronto Maple Leafs (4 to 14)

NHL Power Rankings
1San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 1
Coming into Monday's tilt against the Red Wings, San Jose had been carried by an offense that averaged a league-leading 4.9 goals per game and had never been held to fewer than three. But the Sharks proved they could win the tight defensive battles as well in a 1-0 shootout thriller that kept them unbeaten in regulation. (Last week: 3-0-1)
 
2Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 6
They may have lost the Battle of Cole Harbour, but the Pens dominated the game against the Avs, controlling the play most of the night and limiting Colorado to just 14 shots. That's the best defensive effort yet for a team that ranks third in shots allowed (25.6). (Last week: 3-1-0)
 
3Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 3
Memo to Steve Yzerman: Ask Patrick Roy to pick Team Canada's goalies. After tapping J-S Giguere to start against the high-flying Pens on the road and watching him blank them for his second shutout in three starts, it's clear that Colorado's coach is a master at handling his keepers. The 1-0 win gave the Avs their best start in franchise history. (Last week: 3-1-0)
 
4Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 7
Memories of their 6-1 loss to Colorado in the season opener have been erased by seven straight wins, including an impressive come-from-behind effort against Dallas on Sunday night. The Ducks are riding the league's second-best five-on-five offense, which is a good thing because the power play is sputtering along at 9.8 percent. Only Philadelphia and Buffalo are worse. (Last week: 3-0-0)
 
5Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 9
Yeah, they've lost two straight, including Saturday night in Phoenix where they blew a two-goal lead, but a pair of hard-fought games against the league's top two teams gave a good indication of where the Wings are at. Their defense allowed just 27 shots to the Sharks on Monday -- that's a downward trend that needs to continue. (Last week: 2-1-1)
 
6Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 5
Their win over the Leafs on Saturday was arguably their best effort of the season, and the first victory that didn't require them to protect a lead in the final minute. But even some line juggling by Joel Quenneville couldn't get the offense fully on track. The Hawks have gone seven straight without scoring a goal in the third period. (Last week: 2-0-1)
 
7Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 11
A gut-check win over the Red Wings on Saturday made it six straight without a regulation loss for the surging Coyotes. No. 1 center Mike Ribeiro is finally clicking, with points in six straight and a renewed commitment to battling for space closer to the goal. (Last week: 1-0-2)
 
8St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 2
The full week between games couldn't come at a better time for the Blues and their reeling special teams. The power play is on a 1-for-11 skid while the penalty kill has allowed a whopping seven goals over its last 20 chances. Their South Carolina-based mini-camp might be exactly what they need. (Last week: 1-1-1)
 
9Boston Bruins
Last Week: 10
An emotional win over old buddy Tim Thomas on Oct. 17 highlighted another strong week from Tuuka Rask, who now leads the league with a ridiculous .954 save percentage and 1.29 GAA that's good for third overall. Antti Niemi's hot on his shoulder, but at this point, Rask looks like the starter for Finland in Sochi. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
10Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 8
They should have fattened up on a soft early season schedule. Instead, after losing to both Tampa Bay and Calgary this past week, they're 4-3 against teams that failed to make the playoffs last spring. And Jonathan Quick still doesn't look like himself. (Last week: 2-2-0)
 
11Nashville Predators
Last Week: 25
The Preds have posted losing road records just twice since 2005-06. It's probably no coincidence that they missed the playoffs both times. After dropping their first two games on the road this season, they needed to get back on track. Decisive wins in Montreal and Winnipeg did the trick. (Last week: 3-0-1)
 
12Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 15
Carey Price is willing his way into the starter's role for Team Canada with a brilliant start. The Habs rank 22nd in shots allowed (32.5), but fourth in goals-against (1.88). He'll need to stay hot with Montreal's forward corps decimated by injuries. Daniel Briere (concussion, out indefinitely) and Brandon Prust (shoulder, four weeks) are the latest to be sidelined. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
13Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 22
The Canes have managed to earn points in seven of their nine games, and better times might be ahead with Jiri Tlusty, who had 23 goals last season, and Jordan Staal finally getting on the board in Saturday's win over the Isles. (Last week: 2-0-1)
 
14Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 4
Much to the delight of the advanced stats geeks, it looks like the numbers might finally be catching up to the Leafs. Toronto's been outshot in six straight, including a 40-20 margin in Chicago on Saturday, and their inability to control the puck is starting to cost them games. (Last week: 2-0-1)
 
15Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 19
Ben Bishop has given the Bolts the reliable netminding they've needed this season, allowing no more than two goals in each of his first four starts. So here's hoping that his four-goals-allowed-on-17-shots against the Bruins on Saturday was a blip, not a course correction. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
16Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 18
Picking up five points through the first four stops on a seven-game road trip sounds swell, but there's no great joy to be taken from beating the league's two worst teams. The Canucks are still struggling to find their identity under John Tortorella. At least the PK is clicking at a league-high 91.4 percent. (Last week: 2-1-1)
 
17Calgary Flames
Last Week: 12
It looked like their five-game West Coast road swing might humble the Flames, but they rebounded nicely from losses to the Ducks and Sharks with a special teams-powered win over the Kings. Jiri Hudler's assist extended his points streak to nine games. He's the only player in the league to score in every game this season. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
18Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 16
Proving that the final score doesn't always tell the story, the Sens were lousy in a win over the Devils, but rebounded nicely in a loss to the Oilers. Penalties continue to be a problem. Ottawa has spent 29:20 more on the PK than on the power play, the worst differential in the league. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
19Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 13
If there's any solace to be taken from the current offensive drought that's seen the Wild score just five goals in the span of their last four games, it's that they recovered to make the playoffs after a similar stretch last February during which they managed a total of seven goals in six games. (Last week: 1-2-1)
 
20Dallas Stars
Last Week: 20
Dallas Stars (3-5-0)
They were magnificent early in the week, earning a split while outplaying unbeaten Colorado and San Jose by wide margins, but left coach Lindy Ruff saying that "everything" needed to be fixed following sloppy blowout losses in L.A. and Anaheim. After allowing 47 shots in goalie Jack Campbell's first NHL start, they might want to start with defensive zone commitment. (Last week: 1-2-1)
 
21New York Islanders
Last Week: 14
The Isles are playing like a young team going through growing pains, which doesn't usually work out for the best on the scoreboard. They're about to get younger with Michael Grabner suspended and Lubomir Visnovsky headed to the IR, so Jack Capuano might want to buckle up. On the bright side, they have been disciplined. New York has been shorthanded just 23 times this season, the third lowest total in the league. (Last week: 1-1-1)
 
22Washington Capitals
Last Week: 17
For maybe the first time this season, the Caps put together an aggressive defensive effort in a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets. They'll need to make that their religion as they embark on a season-high five-game road trip this week. (Last week: 1-1-0)
 
23Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 21
Bryan Little says there's no holdover of the old Atlanta Thrashers mindset, but the evidence on the ice suggests otherwise. The Jets are 2-3 so far on a six-game homestand after another listless effort against the Preds on Sunday. With four tough games on the road against Central Division foes coming up, Winnipeg may be painted as a playoff pretender before Halloween. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
24Florida Panthers
Last Week: 23
It's already looking like this season will be less about wins and more about asset maximization. To that end, the Panthers have to be happy with the return of deadline bait Tim Thomas. He's allowed just two goals on his last 63 shots-faced and showed how effective he can be in the shootout as he sealed a win over the Wild (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
25Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 24
Sunday's 3-1 win over the Canucks ended a four-game skid and was the Jackets' first victory at home -- key for a team that plays eight of its next nine at Nationwide Arena. They also managed to score all three goals at even strength after scoring just twice at five-on-five in their previous four games. (Last week: 1-3-0)
 
26Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 27
It took nine games, but the Oilers finally earned a win in regulation. It'd be nice to say that it signals a turnaround in this spirit-crushing season, but when you've got a power play that's shot blanks in four straight and Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Smyth are nursing injuries, it's probably more like a brief respite. (Last week: 1-3-0)
 
27New York Rangers
Last Week: 26
Remember when we all thought Alain Vigneault as going to take the chains off the Rangers and free them up to make the most of their offensive gifts? Seven games into the season, just three of the team's forwards have lit the lamp and New York's 11 total goals is tied with Philly for worst in the league. (Last week: 1-1-0)
 
28Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 28
Their scoring struggles have plumbed epic new depths. With just 11 goals through eight contests -- none from first liners Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek -- Philly's offense is off to the league's worst start since the 1964-65 Boston Bruins. You have to believe aht a trade is coming in the next week or so. Sean Couturier seems the most likely to move. (Last week: 0-2-0)
 
29New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 29
Martin Brodeur wearing a ball cap for the latest installment of the Battle of the Hudson highlights the changing of the guard in New Jersey's net. While the veteran has been plagued by soft goals in each of his four appearances, Cory Schneider was solid while leading the Devils to their first win of the season, a 4-0 shutout of the Rangers. His numbers are outstanding -- 1.99 GAA and .927 save percentage. (Last week: 1-1-0)
 
30Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 30
It's not just Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek that the Sabres have to figure out how to handle. A bigger concern is the future of Mikhail Grigorenko, one of the pillars of the team's rebuilding effort. He's played less than 10 minutes in four of his last five appearances and is without a point in 14 straight. They simply cannot afford to screw up his development. (Last week: 1-0-2)

More NHL

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.