NHL Power Rankings 2015-16: Blue Jackets In Huge Trouble After Winless Start


The Columbus Blue Jackets were expected to be an Eastern Conference playoff team this season after making substantial upgrades to their roster over the summer and bringing back a few players who spent most of 2014-15 injured.

Instead, the Blue Jackets have struggled in just about every facet of the game. They are 0-7-0 as a result.

Making a trade might have made more sense to turn things around, but since teams normally are reluctant to make moves this early in the season, Columbus decided to fire head coach Todd Richards on Wednesday. John Tortorella will take over.

The Blue Jackets, who sit at the bottom of this week’s NHL power rankings, need to play over .600 hockey to reach 97 points, which was the minimum mark to make the playoffs in the East last season.

Here are this week’s power rankings, with records entering Wednesday’s games.

1. Montreal Canadiens (7-0-0): Montreal is off to a franchise-best start, and reigning Hart and Vezina trophy winner Carey Price is nearly unbeatable in net. You expect him to win every game he starts — that’s the kind of form he’s in right now.

2. Washington Capitals (4-1-0): The Capitals’ only loss was to a good team (San Jose Sharks), and Alexander Ovechkin didn’t play because he was benched for over-sleeping and missing the morning skate.

3. Dallas Stars (5-1-0): The Stars sure look like a playoff team, especially with superstar forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn providing offense on a nightly basis.

4. Nashville Predators (5-1-0): The Predators are a well-balanced team that’s giving elite goaltender Pekka Rinne plenty of offensive support with 19 goals in six games.

5. San Jose Sharks (4-2-0): Martin Jones’ amazing shutout streak finally ended, but the Sharks definitely are for real this season. Just look at their scoring depth and speed on the back end.

6. New York Rangers (4-2-1): A struggling offense (17th in goals per game, 24th on the power play) isn’t a huge concern right now because Henrik Lundqvist still is playing like an elite goalie (sixth in goals against).

7. St. Louis Blues (5-2-0): The Blues are taking care of business on the road at 4-2 — a hallmark of all good teams.

8. New York Islanders (4-1-1): New York’s only losses were to the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, and it also has wins against quality teams such as the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators.

9. Minnesota Wild (3-1-1): The Wild are the only team above .500 with a negative goal differential (minus-1). Veteran goalies Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper must play at a higher level and not give up so many soft goals if Minnesota is to return to the playoffs from the most competitive division in the league.

10. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2-1): The “Triplets” line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov is picking up right where it left off in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s still the best second line in the league.

11. Winnipeg Jets (3-1-0): Ondrej Pavelec and the Jets’ blue line have given up just 13 goals through six games. The defensive improvement from this team is impressive.

12. Florida Panthers (3-2-1): Veterans Roberto Luongo (.941 save percentage) and Jaromir Jagr (seven points in six games) are leading a young Panthers team up the Atlantic Division standings.

13. Detroit Red Wings (3-2-0): A two-game losing streak has taken a little of the momentum away from Detroit’s good start, but this still is a playoff-caliber team in a weak Eastern Conference.

14. Vancouver Canucks (3-1-2): Ryan Miller’s solid play in net is an encouraging sign for a Canucks team that entered the season with concerns about the quality of its goaltending.

15. Chicago Blackhawks (3-3-0): Losing No. 1 defenseman Duncan Keith for four to six weeks is a huge blow to a blue line that already lost top-four D-man Johnny Oduya in free agency over the summer.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-3-0): Three straight wins and Sidney Crosby’s first point of the season in Tuesday’s victory over Florida has instilled some much-needed confidence in Pittsburgh.

17. Ottawa Senators (3-2-1): Ottawa’s offense (ninth in goals per game and power-play percentage) is carrying the load so far.

18. Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-1): The Flyers have received surprisingly good goaltending from Michal Neuvirth, but the offense has to improve ASAP for this team to win games. Eight goals in five games isn’t good enough for a Claude Giroux-led team.

19. Arizona Coyotes (3-2-1): No team has more goals from rookies than the Coyotes (nine). They won’t compete for a playoff spot this season, but they no longer are an easy two points.

20. Boston Bruins (2-3-0): The Bruins have scored the most power-play goals in the league and just went 2-for-2 on a mini Western Conference road trip. A nice improvement from the first week of the campaign.

21. Anaheim Ducks (1-3-1): The Ducks are not scoring, the goaltending has been average and there’s not enough energy/passion being displayed on the ice. It’s still too early to panic, though, since this still is one of the league’s better teams.

22. New Jersey Devils (2-3-1): New Jersey would benefit from being one of the worst teams in the league and winning the draft lottery, but Cory Schneider is too good of a goaltender for that to happen.

23. Los Angeles Kings (2-3-0): Two straight wins have lessened the pressure a bit after a horrenous 0-3-0 start.

24. Colorado Avalanche (2-3-1): The Avalanche are the worst puck possession team in the league, Semyon Varlamov has struggled in net and the defense makes too many mistakes (turnovers, poor breakouts, bad D-zone coverage) in its own end. Colorado’s power play ranks No. 1 in efficiency, though.

25. Edmonton Oilers (2-4-0): Connor McDavid is proving he already can make a meaningful impact offensively with three goals and two assists in five games, but the Oilers still have genuine concerns in their own end and at goaltender.

26. Toronto Maple Leafs (1-3-1): Closing out games has been an issue for Toronto this season. Fortunately for the Leafs, they haven’t been severely outplayed (just under 50 percent possession), which is a sign of progress.

27. Buffalo Sabres (1-4-0): The Sabres haven’t played too poorly defensively, but the offense has provided just nine goals in five games.

28. Carolina Hurricanes (1-4-0): The Hurricanes are who we thought they were (Dennis Green voice).

29. Calgary Flames (1-5-0): The Flames are regressing, as predicted by the analytics community. It’s not easy to win when you cannot consistently possess the puck and your shooting percentage is not sky high.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (0-7-0): Columbus is the first team to start 0-7-0 since the 1997-98 Blackhawks, and former Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky already is admitting a lack of confidence. Uh oh.

Thumbnail photo via Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Oct 17, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney (30) makes a save on a shot from Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (not pictured) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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