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Sen-sational start

The Senators lead the Northeast after a 5-2-0 start to the season. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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The Senators lead the Northeast after a 5-2-0 start to the season. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Maybe a strong finish is worth something after all.

In the final third of every NHL season, some team previously thought to be completely out of the playoff chase suddenly starts playing .600 hockey, only to inevitably fall just shy of a post-season berth.

Usually it’s Florida. Last year, it was Ottawa. And Florida.

Typically the late-season surge does nothing but create unrealistic expectations for the following year. The Sens, however, are off to a nice start, sitting atop a Northeast Division that’s going to be extremely weak if Boston doesn’t get it together soon.

Pascal Leclaire has done the job in goal, captain Daniel Alfredsson is leading the way with three goals and nine points in seven games and the team is killing 93.1 percent of the penalties it’s assessed, good for the second-best mark in the league.

The Sens still need more production from top center Jason Spezza, but at least the entire team isn’t procrastinating this time around. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
THE SCOOP
1
Pittsburgh Penguins
1
7-1-0
Old newcomer Jay McKee forms nice 'D' pair with young Alex Goligoski
2
New York Rangers
6
7-1-0
Nice to see a revived Wade Redden on the blueline
3
Columbus Blue Jackets
8
5-1-0
Got their fifth win on Oct. 17; last season, that came on Nov. 5
4
Chicago Blackhawks
7
5-2-1
Did you catch Cristobal Huet's incredible hiccup?
5
Colorado Avalanche
21
6-1-1
Matt Duchene gets first NHL goal versus Detroit, then gets welcome news he is staying with the big club all year
6
Washington Capitals
9
4-2-2
Brendan Morrison is going to win somebody a hockey pool
7
Calgary Flames
5
5-2-1
Big Brian McGrattan records a Gordie Howe hat trick versus Vancouver
8
Ottawa Senators
16
5-2-0
Getting some solid play on the back end from longtime AHLer Matt Carkner
9
Atlanta Thrashers
26
4-1-0
Posted four or more goals in four of five games
10
Philadelphia Flyers
3
3-2-1
Have been outscored 9-4 in third periods
11
San Jose Sharks
4
4-3-1
Eight games and just one assist for Ryane Clowe
12
Phoenix Coyotes
25
5-2-0
Phoenix has best team GAA at 1.43, thanks largely to Ilya Bryzgalov
13
Detroit Red Wings
2
3-3-1
Seems bizarre to contemplate, but this team could finish fourth in the Central
14
Buffalo Sabres
13
4-1-1
Best 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio in the league at 2.4
15
Dallas Stars
19
3-1-3
Captain Brenden Morrow has five goals, eight points after spending much of last season on the shelf
16
New Jersey Devils
17
4-3-0
Martin Brodeur can tie Terry Sawchuk's all-time shutout record (103) Thursday in Madison Square Garden
17
St. Louis Blues
11
3-2-1
Vets Keith Tkachuk, Andy McDonald and Paul Kariya carrying the offensive load early, but don't forget young Erik Johnson's six assists in six games
18
Edmonton Oilers
15
4-2-1
Gilbert Brule finally showing signs of a breakthrough with four goals and seven points in seven games
19
Boston Bruins
12
3-4-0
Losing Milan Lucic to a broken finger won't help middling early-season start
20
Los Angeles Kings
10
4-4-0
Need to straighten out streaky results
21
Anaheim Ducks
14
3-3-1
After filling the Ducks' hole at No. 2 center last year, Andrew Ebbett was placed on waivers and picked up by Chicago
22
Vancouver Canucks
20
3-4-0
Mason Raymond finally using that terrific speed to cut hard to the net
23
Tampa Bay Lightning
24
2-3-2
Six assists, but no goals through seven games for Vincent Lecavalier
24
Florida Panthers
28
2-4-0
Six 5-on-5 goals is worst total in the league
25
Carolina Hurricanes
22
2-4-1
In desperate need of offense; have just 14 goals in seven games, seven of which came in one tilt
26
Montreal Canadiens
23
2-5-0
Good for one really bad period a game
27
Nashville Predators
18
2-4-1
Central Division's lone soft touch right now
28
New York Islanders
29
0-3-3
Matt Moulson starts his Isles career with four goals and seven points through six games
29
Minnesota Wild
27
1-6-0
Injuries piling up; how much can Chuck Kobasew help?
30
Toronto Maple Leafs
30
0-6-1
Winless in seven, Leafs now hit the road for five straight

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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