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Power Rankings: Habs and Blues will battle for supremacy Tuesday night

Ken Campbell
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Andrei Markov (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Habs and Blues will battle for supremacy Tuesday night

Ken Campbell
By:

All early signs point to the Montreal Canadiens being a much more serious Stanley Cup contender this season than they were last year. The Canadiens are shooting far more and allowing far fewer shots on net.

Well, now, isn't this an interesting little subplot to start the season? It couldn't be more tantalizing if the NHL's schedule maker drew it up all by himself, which he didn't. But one of the more intriguing matchups of the season is on tap Tuesday night when the so-far-perfect Montreal Canadiens host the almost-perfect St. Louis Blues.

It should be a great matchup, pitting the defending Hart Trophy winner and first star of the week Carey Price against one of the league's rising superstars and third star of the week, Vladimir Tarasenko. Both teams have built their early-season success with great play on the road and both are setting themselves up as legitimate early-season Stanley Cup contenders.

And they just happen to occupy the top two spots in thn.com's first Power Ranking of the season. We've changed the format a little for 2015-16. We hope you enjoy:

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Dallas Stars
4. New York Islanders
5. Washington Capitals
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. San Jose Sharks
8. Vancouver Canucks
9. Nashville Predators
10. Winnipeg Jets

The Canadiens have been around for more than a century, yet have never gotten off to a 6-0-0 start until this season. Well, at least the Maple Leafs have one thing on them…The Canadiens are making good on their vow to become a better possession team. After six games last season, they were being outshot by their opponents by a 193-173 margin. This season, they’ve outshot their opponents by a 204-159 margin…And your NHL scoring leader is Vladimir Tarasenko, who is drawing comparisons to Pavel Bure…After selling out their first-ever game at the Barclays Center, the Islanders drew an average of just 11,102 per game for their next three at home. Too bad, because this is a darn good team. Is it the Mets? Disgruntled Long Islanders? Lousy place to watch a hockey game? All three?...Lost a little in Dallas’ great start is the fact that Valeri Nichushkin was a healthy scratch for two games last week…Why would anyone ever carry the puck down Dustin Byfuglien’s side of the ice?...Some good news for the Lightning. Defenseman Victor Hedman is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday night against Nashville.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. New York Rangers
12. Minnesota Wild
13. Philadelphia Flyers
14. Ottawa Senators
15. Florida Panthers
16. Pittsburgh Penguins
17. Boston Bruins
18. Los Angeles Kings
19. Edmonton Oilers
20. Detroit Red Wings

After a 3-0-0 start, the Rangers have faded. Coach Alain Vigneault said his team “got schooled,” in a 3-0 loss to Montreal. Then he juggled his lines, only to see his team get beaten 2-1 in overtime by New Jersey. “You can fool yourself if you find a way to win a game, you feel good about yourself, but the last two games here it comes back to bite you and costs you a victory,” said defenseman Ryan McDonagh…The Wild’s loss to Anaheim Sunday night was the 10th for them in the last 11 meetings with the Ducks. On the positive side, the line of Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter has been showing a lot of good chemistry…As esteemed colleague Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal pointed out today, the Oilers were 4-21-4 against Pacific Division teams last season, 2-0-0 this season. They got their first road win last season on Nov. 7, on Oct. 17 this season…Just to remind you, Sidney Crosby has zero points and is tied for 19th in scoring on the Penguins…Anyone who took David Krejci in a hockey pool is looking really, really smart right about now…With Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, could it be the Flyers have finally solved their goaltending issues?

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Chicago Blackhawks
22. Arizona Coyotes
23. Colorado Avalanche
24. Anaheim Ducks
25. New Jersey Devils
26. Toronto Maple Leafs
27. Carolina Hurricanes
28. Buffalo Sabres
29. Calgary Flames
30. Columbus Blue Jackets

After giving up just two goals in their first three games of the seasons, all wins, the Coyotes surrendered nine in their next two, both losses…Prior to his team beating Minnesota 4-1 for its first win of the season Sunday, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had this to say about his team’s goal scoring woes: “I think the fans are dying to cheer for a goal. You can see it.” To that point in the season, the Ducks had scored just one goal in four games and had been shut out twice in three home games…Interesting development in Colorado. Avs coach Patrick Roy has all but done away with the morning skate. Will be interesting to see how many teams, if any, follow suit…The Devils have not yet played with a lead this season. The only time they’ve led a game was when Lee Stempniak scored in overtime against the Rangers Sunday afternoon…What’s more concerning in Calgary: That the Flames have so many injuries or that a team that made its mark as a such a hard-working group last season is so routinely getting outworked in games this season?...In the four seasons the Blue Jackets have started with Todd Richards behind the bench, they are a combined 7-16-1 in their first six games.

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Power Rankings: Habs and Blues will battle for supremacy Tuesday night