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Power Rankings: Have Habs already punched their playoff ticket?

Ken Campbell
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P.K. Subban and Jeff Petry (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Have Habs already punched their playoff ticket?

Ken Campbell
By:

The Montreal Canadiens have a chance to tie the record for the best start to a season when they visit the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night. The Canucks have not won a game on home ice in five tries so far.

It would be just a little presumptuous of the NHL to put an asterisk beside the Montreal Canadiens in the standings, but the fact remains that the Canadiens have all but clinched a playoff spot just over two weeks into the season.

Over the past five seasons, it has taken an average of 93 points to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (although last season it took 98). With a perfect 9-0-0 record going into Tuesday night’s game in Vancouver, the Canadiens already have 18 points. In order to hit the 93-point mark, they Canadiens barely need to play .500 hockey the rest of the way, requiring 75 points in their final 73 games.

With a win Tuesday night in Vancouver, the Canadiens will tie the record for the best start to the season with a 10-0-0 mark, matching the mark set in 1993-94 by the Toronto Maple Leafs and equaled in 2006-07 by the Buffalo Sabres. Both those teams lost in the conference final in those seasons.

To the surprise of no one, the Canadiens top thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings for the second straight week. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Montreal Canadiens (1)
2. Washington Capitals (5)
3. Nashville Predators (9)
4. Chicago Blackhawks (21)
5. Los Angeles Kings (18)
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (6)
7. New York Rangers (11)
8. New Jersey Devils (25)
9. Winnipeg Jets (8)
10. N.Y. Islanders (9)

The Canadiens have not played an overtime game in their first nine and have outscored their opponents 35-15. When the Maple Leafs set the record, they won one overtime game and outscored their opponents by a 45-20 margin. The Sabres won three games by shootout and scored 49 goals (46 not including the three awarded for winning the shootouts) and allowed only 23 goals. After winning their first 10, the Sabres played two more shootout games, losing one and winning the other…The Capitals have scored at least five goals in four games this season, including seven in their win over Edmonton Friday night in which Evgeny Kusnetsov had three goals and five points…Stephen Gionta said the Devils remind him of the team that went to the Stanley Cup final in 2012. “We’re out to prove everyone wrong,” he said. “To all the people that were writing that wer going to finish last, we don’t believe that in our room.”…After dropping their first three games, the Kings won five in a row behind the usual otherworldly play of Jonathan Quick…With just 10 players in the lineup that defeated the Tampa Bay in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, Chicago won the rematch 1-0 in overtime on Jonathan Toews’ first goal of the season.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. St. Louis Blues (2)
12. Dallas Stars (3)
13. Philadelphia Flyers (13)
14. San Jose Sharks (7)
15. Minnesota Wild (12)
16. Pittsburgh Penguins (16)
17. Detroit Red Wings (20)
18. Florida Panthers (15)
19. Boston Bruins (17)
20. Arizona Coyotes (22)

Without Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri, the Blues depth will be tested over the next little while…With a 4-1-0 mark, the Stars have the second-best road record in the NHL this season behind you know who…The Penguins do not have a scorer in the top 50…Mike Green has yet to deliver the offense the Red Wings expected, getting just one assist in his first seven games. Green, who has a well-documented history of shoulder problems, sat out with an upper-body injury for Detroit’s 3-2 overtime win over Vancouver Saturday…After a strong start, Mike Smith had an .875 save percentage during the Coyotes four-game losing streak and watched from the bench as Anders Lindback led Arizona to a 4-1 over Ottawa on Saturday…The Sharks were looking for character, big-game performances and a physical presence when they signed Joel Ward over the summer. But five goals in the first eight games? They probably didn’t see that coming…After collapsing on the bench following an elbow to the head Saturday, Michael Raffl was described as “fine” by Flyers GM Ron Hextall. He has an upper-body injury, which is code for concussion.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Vancouver Canucks (8)
22. Ottawa Senators (14)
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (30)
24. Colorado Avalanche (23)
25. Toronto Maple Leafs (26)
26. Edmonton Oilers (19)
27. Calgary Flames (29)
28. Carolina Hurricanes (27)
29. Buffalo Sabres (28)
30. Anaheim Ducks (24)

The Canucks, who will try to stop the Montreal freight train Tuesday night, have failed to pick up a win in five tries at home. Last season, they were 30-1-3 when taking a lead into the third period. This season, they’ve already blown three third-period leads…The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ryan Johansen was hospitalized this past summer with an accelerated heart rate…Bobby Ryan is 3-for-3 in shootout attempts this season and has five assists, but is still looking for his first goal. “I wish we did shootouts before the games,” Ryan said…Linus Ullmark, who is considered the Sabres goalie of the future, stopped 24 of 28 shots in his season debut in Buffalo’s 4-3 loss to New Jersey Saturday. Ullmark had double hip surgery in the off-season…Karri Ramo’s demotion to the minors gives the Flames goaltending situation some clarity, but Calgary got out of the gate as the second-most disappointing team of the season behind Columbus. The results have been mixed. Jonas Hiller stopped 27 shots in 3-2 overtime win over Detroit Friday night, but was pulled after allowing four goals on 21 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Rangers Sunday afternoon…Jamie Benn, Max Pacioretty and Zach Parise have more goals than the Ducks do so far this season. “I’d be lying if I said it was easy to stay positive right now,” said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler.

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Power Rankings: Have Habs already punched their playoff ticket?