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The Canadiens suffered their first two losses of the season, but still look better than rising challengers the Bruins and Kings.

By Allan Muir
November 03, 2015

With a win Monday night in Chicago, the Kings might have knocked the Canadiens out of the top spot. Instead, Montreal maintains the high ground it’s held since the start of the season. Even after a pair of losses, there’s no denying that the Habs are the class of the field, averaging 3.85 goals-for and 1.85 goals-against for a staggering 2.00 goal differential. Their closest competitors? Washington at 1.10 and the Rangers at 1.00.

Biggest jump: Boston Bruins (21 to 9)

Biggest drop: Arizona Coyotes (16 to 23)

1Montreal Canadiens
last week: 1
record: 11-2-0

The Habs finally ran into some adversity, looking lousy in the process of dropping their first two games of the season and losing goalie Carey Price to a lower-body injury for the next week. Fortunately, backup Mike Condon has been stellar in the early going, becoming the first Canadiens netminder to start his career 4-0 since Wayne Thomas back in 1972. Last week: 2-2-0

2Washington Capitals
last week: 2
record: 8-2-0

With their 2–1 OT win over the Panthers on Saturday, the Caps improved to 8-2-0 on the season to match the best start in franchise history (1991-92 and 2011-12). They also improved to 4-0 on the road and are undefeated in one-goal games. Not a bad way to come out of the gate. Last week: 2-1-0

3Los Angeles Kings
last week: 9
record: 7-4-0

Their seven-game winning streak came to an abrupt end on Monday night in Chicago, but not before the Kings reminded everyone they were Stanley Cup champs just 16 months ago. Big part of their return to form? Jonathan Quick looks like Jonathan Quick, going 6-1 with a .941 save percentage in his past seven starts. Last week: 2-1-0

4Dallas Stars
last week: 4
record: 9-3-0

That Monday night loss in Toronto stung, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. The Stars landed 44 shots in that one, with the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp combining for 20 of them. That trio accounted for 17 points last week, pushing Dallas into second in the league with 41 goals scored on the season. Last week: 3-1-0

5Nashville Predators
last week: 3
record: 7-2-2

There's no shame in coming out of a California swing with three points, but losing to Anaheim? Much, much shame. To their credit though, the Preds allowed just 57 shots over the three games. That’s some air-tight D there. Last week: 1-1-1

6St. Louis Blues
last week: 7
record: 8-2-1

The Blues are making hay on their five-game homestand, capturing seven of eight points through the first four contests. Jake Allen has staked his claim to the No. 1 job, going 3-0-0 with a 0.98 GAA, .963 save percentage and a shutout in the process. Last week: 3-0-0

7Minnesota Wild
last week: 6
record: 7-2-2

Only one team, the Canadiens, has scored more goals at even strength than the Wild’s 26. Minnesota came up with seven of those this past weekend to take three crucial points from Central Division rivals Chicago and St. Louis. Last week: 2-0-1

8New York Rangers
last week: 12
record: 7-2-2

A light week for the Blueshirts, but they probably wish it hadn’t been given the way the top line is going. The trio of Mats Zuccarello (4 goals, 6 points) Derick Brassard (2 goals, 6 points) and Rick Nash (1 goal, 5 points) has hit its stride over the past five games, with Zuccarello accounting for all the scoring in their only contest, a 3–1 win over the Maple Leafs. Last week: 1-0-0

9Boston Bruins
last week: 21
record: 6-3-1

All of a sudden the B’s are 6-0-1 in their past seven games. Didn’t see that coming. This past week was a perfect mix of the old (tight defense) and the new (opportunistic offense) as they outscored their opposition 12-2. With a pair of wins in Florida, Boston is now 5-0-0 on the road, the best mark in the league. Last week: 3-0-0

10New York Islanders
last week: 5
record: 6-3-3

With captain John Tavares sidelined by mystery illness, New York’s offense ground to a halt. He’s really been missed at five-on-five—the Isles scored just twice at even strength in their past three games. Last week: 0-1-2

11Chicago Blackhawks
last week: 10
record: 7-5-0

Our latest reminder that Corey Crawford deserves to be regarded as an elite goaltender: a 19-save third-period effort that allowed the Hawks to come from behind and knock off a very strong Kings team on Monday night. Crawford now boasts a 1.79 GAA and .938 save percentage on the season. Last week: 1-2-0

12Pittsburgh Penguins
last week: 18
record: 7-4-0

An early candidate for MVP? How about Marc-André Fleury, whose 1.71 goals-against average and .942 save percentage allowed the Pens to stay afloat while coach Mike Johnston tried to figure out what to do with his forwards. With a full complement finally on hand, Pittsburgh exploded for seven goals in the past two games, with one power play goal in each. Maybe Johnston’s seat is cooling a bit? Last week: 3-0-0

13Winnipeg Jets
last week: 8
record: 7-4-1

If the Jets hope to force their way into the playoff picture in the tightly packed Central they’ll need to string together a few victories. They’ve managed to win back-to-back three times, but haven’t managed that third triumph. Their schedule this week—on the road against the Leafs and Senators and home to face the Flyers—gives them a good chance of getting it done. Last week: 2-2-0

14New Jersey Devils
last week: 19
record: 6-4-1

The Devils are 6-1-1 in their past eight? Sure, most of that success has come at the expense of some pretty fair-to-spare teams, but this team is finding a way to squirrel away the points that it couldn’t last season. The defense is shaping up nicely, with Andy Greene and Adam Larsson maturing into the reliable shutdown pair. Last week: 2-1-0

15Florida Panthers
last week: 11
record: 5-4-2

Two teams lead the league with an average of 1.00 goals-against per game at five-on-five this season: the Rangers and the surprising Panthers. The Cats also are tied with the Blues for third place in even-strength goal differential at +9. That’s a significant improvement on last season, when they finished 17th with a +2 differential. Last week: 1-1-1

16Tampa Bay Lightning
last week: 14
record: 6-5-2

After being shutout twice in a row—they were blanked only once last season—and scoring just twice in four games, Tampa Bay’s offense finally broke through with four goals on Sunday against the red-hot Hurricanes. Nice to see Tyler Johnson pot his first of the season in that 4–3 win. Don't be surprised if he goes off on a tear now. Last week: 1-3-0

17Detroit Red Wings
last week: 15
record: 5-5-1

The Wings salvaged a .500 October with a solid 5–3 win over the Sens on Saturday. The victory marked the first time they’ve scored more than three goals in a game since Oct. 13. Last week: 1-2-0

18San Jose Sharks
last week: 13
record: 6-5-0

That 4-0 start seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? The Sharks have devolved into the team we all expected them to be: good enough to beat the teams they should, but not quite good enough to contend. And mediocrity makes for a looong season. Last week: 1-2-0

19Ottawa Senators
last week: 17
record: 5-4-2

Tough to figure these Sens out. They’re lousy at home—they finally won a game at the Candian Tire Centre, albeit in the shootout and only after blowing a third-period lead over the Flames—but dynamite on the road. Fortunately, they’ll be out of town for three of their next four. Last week: 2-1-0

20Vancouver Canucks
last week: 22
record: 6-2-4

Love the decision to commit to rookies Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann for the season. Both have struggled at times, but McCann leads the team with five goals and Virtanen is tops with 32 hits. They’re finding ways to contribute while they adjust to this league, which is exactly what the aging Canucks need from them. Last week: 3-0-1

21Buffalo Sabres
last week: 24
record: 5-7-0

The young Sabres might have found their security blanket. Rookie goalie Linus Ullmark was brilliant in a pair of weekend wins, posting a .965 save percentage while holding the Flyers and Islanders to a single goal each. Of course, it helps to play behind a committed defense. Buffalo is allowing just 27.2 shots per game, fifth fewest in the league. Last week: 3-1-0

22Carolina Hurricanes
last week: 26
record: 5-7-0

A solid week for the Canes, who might be building a Jack Adams Award case for coach Bill Peters. The third-best possession team in the league (54.4%) is finally taking control of its own end, limiting the Wings, Isles and Avs to just five goals as they rolled up three wins. Last week: 3-1-0

arizona Coyotes
last week: 16
record: 5-5-1

Tough to win games in this league when your goalie posts a save percentage below .900 in seven consecutive appearances. Mike Smith saved his worst for last, allowing two goals on three shots before being pulled less than five minutes into Friday’s loss to Vancouver. At some point, GM Don Maloney has to look for help, no? Last week: 0-2-0

24Edmonton Oilers
last week: 23
record: 4-8-0

The Oilers may not enjoy a bigger or more dramatic night this season than their Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl-powered, come-from-behind 4–3 win over Montreal on Thursday night. If that’s a sign of things to come, it’ll all be worth the wait. And for what it’s worth, they’ve now beaten Carey Price six times in a row. Go figure. Last week: 1-2-0

25Philadelphia Flyers
last week: 20
record: 4-5-2

The Flyers are getting killed by their special teams. The power play, a reliable source of production last season, is 0-for-12 in the past four games, guilty too often of passing when they should shoot. The penalty kill isn’t much better, especially with Sean Couturier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on IR. Both units are bottom-10 in the league. Last week: 0-3-1

26Toronto Maple Leafs
last week: 25
record: 2-7-2

The results will continue to fluctuate for this team, but that won’t matter as long as it continues to improve the process. The Leafs’ possession numbers (fifth in the league) show they’re making strides under coach Mike Babcock’s system. Now they just need a serious infusion of talent. Last week: 1-2-0

27Colorado Avalanche
last week: 27
record: 3-7-1

Nothing wrong with being a high-event team when you’re the one dominating those events (see: Dallas Stars). But the Avs? They’re high-event by virtue of their opposition having its way with them. Their 40.8 Corsi is the league's worst, and indicates why they can’t seem to stop the bleeding. Last week: 1-3-0

28Calgary Flames
last week: 28
record: 3-8-1

T.J. Brodie made his long-awaited season debut, but even the return of the top-pair blueliner couldn’t stanch the defensive bleeding. The Flames allowed 14 goals in their three games and now are the only team in the league averaging more than four against per game. Yuck. Last week: 1-1-1

29Columbus Blue Jackets
last week: 29
record: 2-10-0

Another ragged week at the office for hockey’s most underwhelming team. Ryan Johansen returned to the lineup, but that wasn’t exactly a plus. The big center still looks as though he’s just going through the motions. You look at the lack of heart on this team and you wonder if GM Jarmo Kekäläinen screwed up by allowing guys like Mark Letestu and Blake Comeau to escape via free agency. Last week: 1-2-0

30Anaheim Ducks
last week: 30

Sure, they managed their second win of the year, but does that begin to compensate for the gut-punch losses they suffered against the Stars (blowing a 3–0 lead) and Blues (Colton Parayko’s winner wasn’t even a shot on net)? If something bad can happen, it’ll happen to this team. Last week: 1-2-0

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