By scoring a 1-0 victory at Pittsburgh, the Colorado Avalanche proved they are a legitimate postseason threat while shutting down the injury-depleted Penguins offense.
“They been one of the premier teams in the NHL,” Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. “I think if we can come out and have a win, everyone's going to sit back and say, ‘Whoa, the Avs are for real.' ”
The advancing Avalanche rearranged the top end of the NHL power rankings, allowing the San Jose Sharks displace the Penguins as the top team. Take a look:
SAN JOSE SHARKS
GOOD NEWS: Remember all that chatter about Patrick Marleau’s career fade? He scored seven times in his first nine games.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Dan Boyle suffered a concussion on a nasty head-first check into the boards.
BOTTOM LINE: This team is dominating in every phase of the game. The Sharks look like this season's Blackhawks.
GOOD NEWS: The talented young Colorado forwards don’t mind checking.
BAD NEWS: This team still needs to bolster its defense. New coach Patrick Roy, one of the NHL’s all-time great goaltenders, will demand it.
BOTTOM LINE: Is it too soon to tout Roy as next spring’s Jack Adams winner?
GOOD NEWS: Top center Sidney Crosby is playing as brilliantly as ever.
BAD NEWS: Power forward James Neal’s lengthy absence and young winger Beau Bennett’s less serious injury has caused Evgeni Malkin’s production to suffer.
BOTTOM LINE: The absence of key offensive weapons Kris Letang and Neal finally caught up to the Penguins a bit.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Jaroslav Halak played his way out of a platoon with Brian Elliott, winning five of his first six starts.
BAD NEWS: Elliott blew a late lead and lost his only start this season in a shootout.
BOTTOM LINE: With depth everywhere – including goal, with Jake Allen stuck in the AHL – this team has staying power.
GOOD NEWS: Top forward prospect Brandon Pirri does not want to play in the AHL this season. He has two goals in his three NHL games this season.
BAD NEWS: Corey Crawford has already lost two shootout games this season.
BOTTOM LINE: Just wait until Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp really start scoring.
GOOD NEWS: The team started 5-0 at home for the first time in franchise history.
BAD NEWS: An eight-game road trip could provide an early reality check for this team.
BOTTOM LINE: Core forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are rewarding the franchise’s big financial commitments to them.
GOOD NEWS: Thanks to tight team defense and excellent goaltending, the Bruins allowed just 10 goals in their first seven games.
BAD NEWS: New power forward Jarome Iginla failed to score a goal in his first seven games for Boston despite putting 24 shots on goal.
BOTTOM LINE: Playing just seven games in the first 22 days of the season, the Bruins haven’t had a chance to get its offense into gear.
DETROIT RED WINGS
GOOD NEWS: Back-up goaltender Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson won his first three starts filling in Jimmy Howard, who suffered a minor hand injury.
BAD NEWS: Cornerstone defenseman Niklas Kronwall is sidelined by a concussion.
BOTTOM LINE: The Red Wings have some promising young D-men, but the Kronwall injury could cause slippage.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
GOOD NEWS: Power forward David Clarkson should be raring to go after serving his 10-game suspension.
BAD NEWS: Toronto has been allowing about 36 shots per game. That needs to stop.
BOTTOM LINE: The Leafs suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, but they remain formidable.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Drew Doughty came to life offensively by scoring in back-to-back games.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Jonathan Quick has already allowed three or more goals five times this season.
BOTTOM LINE: A great team is even better with Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell back to full strength.
GOOD NEWS: Young forwards Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher have combined to form a dynamic line.
BAD NEWS: Top goal-scoring threat Max Pacioretty is shelved by a hamstring muscle strain, joining Daniel Briere (concussion), Brandon Prust (shoulder), Douglas Murray (upper body) and Alexei Emelin (knee) on the injured list.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Carey Price allowed just six goals in a five-game span to help the Habs overcome all these injuries.
GOOD NEWS: Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa have become elite shot blockers under new coach John Tortorella, who has cleaned up the penalty kill.
BAD NEWS: This team needs to get much better at even strength.
BOTTOM LINE: So far the Canucks have gotten the better of the Rangers in their head coaching swap.
GOOD NEWS: Top center Jason Spezza came out firing this season, scoring five goals in his first seven games.
BAD NEWS: A brutal schedule turn sends them against Detroit, Anaheim, San Jose and Chicago in a four-game span.
BOTTOM LINE: We’ll say it again – goaltender Craig Anderson needs to regain last season’s form. Or else.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
GOOD NEWS: Ben Bishop is still proving that size matters in goal.
BAD NEWS: That 5-0 loss to the Bruins reminded the Bolts they have much work to do.
BOTTOM LINE: Strong goaltending and a high voltage power play could push this team into the playoff bracket.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Mike Smith flashed his offensive skills by scoring a goal.
BAD NEWS: Smith has more goals than teammate Keith Yandle, the team’s top offensive defenseman.
BOTTOM LINE: The addition of center Mike Ribeiro, who excelled for coach Dave Tippett in Dallas, has this offense back to full tilt.
GOOD NEWS: Jordan Staal has picked up his defensive play and become a good match-up center for Carolina.
BAD NEWS: He only scored two points in his first nine games on the counterattack.
BOTTOM LINE: Young defensemen Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy are helping the franchise move past the demise of Joni Pitkanen. Tim Gleason’s return from injured reserve will help as well.
GOOD NEWS: Rookie defenseman Seth Jones is logging Shea Weber minutes. The kid is just that good.
BAD NEWS: With their offense averaging about two goals per game, the Preds have little margin for error.
BOTTOM LINE: At some point this team will have to offload one of its young defensemen (not Jones) for a legitimate top-line forward.
GOOD NEWS: Winger Martin Erat finally sprang to life, giving the supporting cast an offensive boost.
BAD NEWS: Alex Ovechkin isn’t exactly a blur of activity in even strength situations.
BOTTOM LINE: If the Great 8 tunes out coach Adam Oates, this could get ugly fast.
NEW YORK RANGERS
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is in the walk year of his contract, so he has every motivation to overcome his miserable start.
BAD NEWS: This already depleted lineup took another big hit when captain Ryan Callahan suffered a broken thumb.
BOTTOM LINE: It is hard to believe opponents outscored the Blue Shirts 29-11 in their first seven games. It’s no wonder Glen Sather is looking to make a deal or two.
GOOD NEWS: After scoring just once in his first five games, Evander Kane scored four times in his next four.
BAD NEWS: After winning their first two games, the Jets staggered to five losses in a span of six games.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is allowing three goals per game. That won’t get the Jets into the playoffs.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
GOOD NEWS: Winger Kyle Okposo caught fire and scored eight points during a six-game span.
BAD NEWS: Power play quarterback Lubomir Visnovsky is sidelined by a concussion, leaving the team without a proven offensive defenseman. Can Matt Donovan step up?
BOTTOM LINE: There is some thought on the Island that Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller could put this team over the top.
GOOD NEWS: Back-up goaltender Josh Harding did an astonishing job spelling injured starter Niklas Backstrom.
BAD NEWS: Jacob Trouba crashed into the dasher boards head first when he missed a check.
BOTTOM LINE: A sputtering offense limited the Wild to three victories in their first nine games.
GOOD NEWS: Puck-rushing defenseman Dennis Wideman is logging huge minutes in Calgary.
BAD NEWS: Wideman was minus-43 in his previous three seasons. Ray Bourque he is not.
BOTTOM LINE: The Flames have been more competitive than expected – thanks in part to young forward Sean Monahan -- but it is early.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GOOD NEWS: Marian Gaborik shook off a brief illness and continued scoring at a point-per-game pace.
BAD NEWS: Brandon Dubinsky just scored his first goal of the season.
BOTTOM LINE: The Blue Jackets gravitated deep into the NHL pack with a four-game losing streak.
GOOD NEWS: Tyler Seguin quickly emerged as the top scoring threat this offense needed.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Alex Goligoski had no points and a minus-10 rating after eight games. Cohort Sergei Gonchar had one assist and a minus-6 rating for that span. Yeeech.
BOTTOM LINE: Lindy Ruff has the Stars playing like his previous Sabres team. That is not a compliment.
GOOD NEWS: Vincent Lecavalier could return to action this week and bolster the lineup that has left goaltender Steve Mason on his own.
BAD NEWS: Power forward Scott Hartnell will be sidelined a few weeks longer.
BOTTOM LINE: The Flyers sank quickly by scoring just 11 goals in the first eight games of the season. They need Claude Giroux (just three points in his first eight games) to lead the charge back.
GOOD NEWS: Struggling winger Nail Yakupov actually scored a point!
BAD NEWS: Top forward Taylor Hall will miss the next month with a knee injury. Gulp.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Devan Dubnyk made steady progress in his young career. The Oilers hope his slow start was just a blip.
GOOD NEWS: Against all odds, defenseman Brian Campbell had a plus-2 rating in his first 10 games. He was minus-31 in his previous two seasons in Florida.
BAD NEWS: It sounds like a talent sell-off is in the works. Get your bids in for Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, and Brad Boyes ASAP. South Florida, brace for more losing.
BOTTOM LINE: This franchise hasn’t been relevant in a long, long time. Fans must long for the good old days of the rats at Miami Arena.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
GOOD NEWS: They beat the arch-rival Rangers in decisive fashion Saturday.
BAD NEWS: That was their first victory of the season.
BOTTOM LINE: GM Lou Lamoriello is on the prowl for additional talent. But what does he have to trade?
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Ryan Miller is generating lots of trade chatter.
BAD NEWS: The Sabres may not be able to make big sell-off moves until closer to the trade deadline, so that puts Miller and the others in a bad spot.
BOTTOM LINE: It is hard to imagine such an ambitious franchise hitting the skids with such velocity.