NHL Power Rankings: The ‘it’s still too early’ edition

Two down...uh...a bunch more to go.

Time for our new Friday tradition of power ranking all 31 NHL teams. Once again this week, the Flyers remain at the top and the Rangers remain at the bottom but that might not be obvious by looking at the standings. So let’s look at the chart and get started.

For a review of how the power ranking works, check out last week’s article. But just as a quick refresher, we’ve used a Bradley-Terry model to estimate the abilities of each team based on their head to head results in terms of both expected goals and goals. All data for the model comes via Evolving Hockey.

The Philadelphia Flyers remain atop this week’s ranking. But in an effort to remain on brand, they’ve also made sure no one would know that by looking at the standings. They currently sit in the bottom half of the metro despite a strong start to the season. Their past week hasn’t been great but their dominance in the first few games is enough to keep them near the top. If they continue to get lose the xG battle over the next week, expect to see them start to drop next week.

At the bottom of the list, we see the New York Rangers who had it not been for a good game against the Sabres last night, would have been on an island by themselves in this chart. Prior to that game, they were making an early season run at the 14-15 Sabres in terms of awfulness. That was never going to continue all season. That Sabres team was special and replicating their awfulness would take a concerted effort that this Rangers team almost certainly won’t make. We see that reflected in their goal results. This team still has Henrik Lundqvist and as long as that’s the case, they will never be as bad as their skaters.

Several teams stand out as getting goal results that differ greatly from their performance in expected goals. The Bruins in particular look much better if we focus on goals. They go from being a middle of the pack team to the best in the league.

The Kings and the Red Wings go the other direction. LA has inexplicably been one of the better teams in the league in terms of expected goals but that has not translated into results mostly because of their goaltending. The Wings are a bad team but they look even worse because they’ve gotten poor shooting and poor goaltending taking them from a bottom third team in expected goals all the way to the bottom of the list in goal results.

The team that we cover here at Raw Charge, the Tampa Bay Lightning, continue to sit in the middle of the pack just as they did last week. That’s to be expected as they’ve been inconsistent mixing strong showings with stinkers nearly in perfect alternating fashion. They look better in terms of goals thanks mostly to their shooting talent but also to a couple of good games from Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The other team we pay close attention to here is the Vancouver Canucks. Right now, they sit where they have for the last few seasons: outside the playoff picture but not an outright bottom feeder. In the standings, they look better than that but the model is dinging them for having played some particularly weak competition including two games against the Red Wings and one against the Rangers already this season. If they were to end up the season in this range, they would keep their first round pick for next summer’s draft and that would mean the Lightning get their unprotected first in 2021.

If you’re looking for a fun under the radar game to watch on NHL TV this weekend, the Saturday night game between the Flyers and Blue Jackets features two of the top five teams in the power rankings so far. But Lightning fans will be preoccupied at that time as the Bolts take on the Predators, who rank second on this week’s list.