Where do the Boston Bruins rank in the first installment of the NHL Power 5 Rankings?
A former Boston Bruins head coach has his team ranked above them, and the surprising Canucks keep on rolling.
Here’s your first installment of Murph’s NHL Power 5:
1.) Vegas Golden Knights (13-3-1, 27 pts)
With a dominant 1-2-3 punch of Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, and Chandler Stephenson up the middle, a blue line full of Redwood trees, and arguably the second-best goalie tandem in the NHL with Logan Thompson and Adin Hill, the Vegas Golden Knights sit atop the Power 5.
Former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and his band of misfits are scoffing at that so-called Stanley Cup hangover as they sat atop the Pacific Division, the Western Conference, and the NHL standings heading into game action on Friday. Just when it looked like maybe the Golden Knights were starting to feel the Stanley Cup hangover in a 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, the Golden Knights bounced back in a big way, lighting the Montreal Canadiens up six times in a 6-5 win at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
The Stanley Cup champs are showing why they’re the champs and why they could repeat.
2.) Boston Bruins (12-1-2, 26 pts)
The Boston Bruins are finally going into at least a retool and regressing in the standings, right? There’s no way they could come close to the record-breaking season they had last season, right?
So far, the Boston Bruins have given an emphatic no to both of those questions!
The Bruins entered Friday night’s NHL game action sitting atop the Atlantic Division five points ahead of the defending Eastern Conference champions and the team that eliminated them from the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Florida Panthers. They were also three points ahead of the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference lead and one point behind the Golden Knights in the Presidents’ Trophy standings.
2023 Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award finalist and Rocket Richard Trophy runner-up David Pastrnak is looking like he will be in the hunt for all those awards again this season. Pastrnak leads the Bruins in goals (11), assists (13) and points with 24. His 11 goals are tied for second in goal-scoring and tied for fifth in points.
While the Bruins have leaned on Pastrnak for offense with a group that could use more scoring, the main reason they’re once again amongst the league’s elite teams has been the NHL’s best goalie tandem of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. Ullmark, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is 6-1-1 with a 2.23 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Meanwhile, Swayman is an early Vezina Trophy candidate himself at 6-0-1 with a 1.69 GAA and a .944 save percentage.
3.) Vancouver Canucks (12-4-1, 25 pts)
Just like they did with the Boston Bruins, the preseason prognosticators (like yours truly) got this one wrong as well. Whoever bet on the Vancouver Canucks to make the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs likely has a big payday ahead of them, as the Canucks have been arguably the biggest surprise in the first quarter of the season.
As of Friday, Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes (6g, 21a) and forwards J.T. Miller (10g, 17a) and Elias Pettersson (8g, 19a) all were tied for the league lead in points with 27.
Between the pipes, former Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko is having a bounce-back season for the ages. Demko is 8-3-0 with a 2.04 GAA and a .932 save percentage. If the season were to end today, it would likely be a toss-up between Demko and Swayman for the Vezina Trophy.
Behind the bench, Rick Tocchet would likely be the Jack Adams front-runner, with Anaheim Ducks head coach Greg Cronin a close second.
4.) New York Rangers (11-2-1, 23 pts)
New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette is known to be one of those coaches to provide that initial bump and always have successful first seasons with a new team. That’s what a Rangers team, whose Stanley Cup window could be closing soon, needed this season, and that’s exactly what the 2006 Stanley Cup winner has provided them.
The Rangers are getting a Hart Trophy-worthy season thus far from forward Artemi Panarin (8g, 16a); Adam Fox is once again providing offense from the blue line (3g, 8a), and Igor Shesterkin has been his usual Vezina Trophy-worthy self between the pipes with at 6-2-0 with a 2.36 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
However, it’s been some unlikely contributors that have been a key to the Rangers sitting atop the Metropolitan Division. With Shesterkin battling an injury lately, former UMass-Amherst and two-time Stanley Cup champion and 2012 Conn Smythe winner with the Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has been lights out thus far. Quick is now 4-0-0 with a 1.98 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
On the blue line, offseason signing Erik Gustafsson has three goals and seven assists, and up-front, 2020 top overall pick Alexis LaFreniere is coming into his own with seven goals and four assists in 14 games.
5.) Dallas Stars (11-3-1, 23 pts)
The Dallas Stars were a preseason favorite to hoist the 2024 Stanley Cup, and so far, they’re quietly living up to those expectations. The Stars lead the Colorado Avalanche by three points for first place in the Central Division and have been a steady team so far.
39-year-old Joe Pavelski (6g, 8a) continues to be the Peter Pan of the NHL, as he’s tied for the team lead in points with Jason Robertson (5g, 9a) with 14 each. Forward Wyatt Johnston leads the team in goals with seven lamplighters. On the blue line, Miro Heiskanen continues to provide offense with one goal and ten assists.
It’s no secret, though, much like the Boston Bruins, this team will likely go as far as their goaltending can carry them, and so far, goalie Jake Oettinger (8-2-1, 2.26 GAA, .926 save percentage) is carrying the Stars.