With two weeks of games under his belt, it’s time for the first NHL Power Rankings for the 2022-23 season.
In terms of power rating, it’s not an easy time of the year to properly rank every team. I can’t let the sample size of seven games completely outweigh my pre-season impression of the team, but I also have to reward teams for real game wins. Conversely, even pre-season darlings must be baffled for a slow start. It’s a delicate balance.
For example, the Minnesota Wild looked like the dark horse of the Western Conference when the puck went down on Opening Night, but they got off to a terrible start. On the other side of the coin, the Blackhawks seemed destined for the top two picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, but they are on a four-game winning streak.
With a lot of volatility in the first month of the season, here are CBS Sports’ first strength ratings for the 2022-23 campaign.
Biggest driving forces
Early game wins against the Avalanche, Oilers, Golden Knights, Hurricanes and Penguins are good enough to put the Flames in first place. Calgary didn’t have much of a transition period during the offseason. Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Vigar made an immediate impact and the Flames have lived up to their high expectations so far.
The Hurricanes were once again the dominant team at five-on-five. Carolina controls 63.95% of expected goals in these situations, according to the Natural Stat Trick, and has been rewarded with a 4-1-1 record so far.
I started the season wondering how the Bruins would handle injuries early in the season. Now I wonder if the rest of the league will survive Boston’s injury problems. Even without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins were a machine for seven games. With new head coach Jim Montgomery, this team is playing well and should only get better once McAvoy and Marchand are back in action.
The disappointment from the 2021/22 season did not linger at the beginning of this season. The Golden Knights were once again a real threat in the Western Conference, and Logan Thompson was the real number one goaltender. He is currently fifth in the NHL with 3.93 goals above average according to the Natural Stat Trick.
The Penguins heard all of our questions about their aging backbone during the offseason and answered them categorically. Pittsburgh’s key veterans apparently still have plenty of gas in their tanks. Sidney Crosby has already scored 11 points this season, Evgeni Malkin looks completely healthy for the first time in a long time, and Chris Letang is still one of the best defensemen in the league.
Rick Bowness is gone, as is his defensive hockey. Under Peter DeBoer, the Stars already seem to be a much more experienced offensive team. In years past, Dallas relied on one lane to generate all of his attacks. During the first two weeks of the 2022–2023 campaign The Stars were much better at hitting the slots and creating dangerous scoring chances.
The Blues challenged all expected goalscoring patterns last season and they are doing the same this year. In four games, St. Louis controls 45.5% of expected goals in a five-on-five game, according to the Natural Stat Trick. However, the Blues are 3-1-0. I’m looking forward to another season with this team embarrassing me.
The 2022 Stanley Cup champions aren’t out of the gate yet. Their first results were average, and the base statistic backs up this vision test. However, the slow start is understandable given what the team lost in the offseason. The Avs have had dominant moments and I expect them to kick in sooner rather than later.
The first results of the deal with Matthew Tkachuk were promising. Tkachuk has nine points in seven games, and Florida controls a five-on-five game with him on the ice. The problem for Florida is now ticking over while Aaron Ekblad is on LTIR. Without Mackenzie Vigar, the blue line looks much thinner this year.
The Rangers started the 2022-23 season with a pair of convincing victories over the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota Wild, and Mika Zibanejad was on the ice. Since then, the Rangers have been defeated by the San Jose Sharks and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Go find out. At the beginning of the year, the Rangers still have a lot to like.
The Jack Campbell era didn’t start well in Edmonton. He conceded 1.17 goals above average and his .750 high-risk save percentage is ranked 47th in the league by the Natural Stat Trick. The Oilers have invested heavily in Campbell this off-season and they need him to stabilize to reach his potential.
Auston Matthews has one goal in seven games. Maple Leafs lose to Canadiens and Coyotes. Burn it down. Time to recover. On the other hand, maybe the Maple Leafs aren’t going to keep throwing 5.99% on five-on-five. Toronto was slightly bitten by a snake earlier in the year, but it shouldn’t last.
The Senators in their new look are currently on a four-game winning streak. Young stars are in the lead, and the process seems to be going well too. This 4-2-0 start is no accident. Ottawa controls 56.93% of expected goals in a five-on-five game. I’m still skeptical about this particular team’s chances of making the playoffs, but it’s going to be a fun year for Senators fans.
The Lightning started off so-so this year, but that’s not unusual…