NHL Power Rankings: Don’t write off San Jose

Zach Parise on Hockey Central at Noon to discuss the Wild ready to take the next step, compete with the top dogs in the Western Conference, go further in the playoffs and contend for a Stanley Cup.

One hundred forty-two minutes and fifty-one seconds.

That’s how long it took an NHL team to finally score on the San Jose Sharks, who became the first team in history to kick off their campaign with back-to-back shutouts posted by different goaltenders (Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock).

“They play a full team game,” Eric Fehr told the Washington Times earlier this week, before losing to San Jose. “They’re one of the better teams in the league. They don’t spend a lot of time in their D-zone.”

This was a club supposedly entering the season in disarray. Joe Thornton was stripped of his captaincy in favour of no one. Logan Couture thought about the team’s opening-series collapse to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings every day. A revelation up front, Brent Burns was shifted back to the blueline as the team watched Dan Boyle walk east. And uncertainty surrounded the team’s crease: Who’s their true No. 1? Do they need one?

Yet the regular-season darlings came out blazing, undefeated.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman opined that the regular season doesn't really matter to this club, one forever trying (and failing) to get over the post-season hump. It's all an "82-game dress rehearsal," he said. And it's hard to argue that point. The Presidents' Trophy doesn't mean all that much, and it would probably mean even less to Sharks fans.

But this team's assertive start has quieted a lot of the extraneous noise and -- we're guessing -- rebooted some of the confidence this talented outfit lost in April.

Here are our first NHL Power Rankings of the season. (Note: We used our pre-season predicted order of finish as the baseline to gauge upward and downward movement.)

Rank Team

Doesn’t matter who’s in net, the Sharks win. A league-best 3-0-0, outscoring the competition 13-5. Even thuggish, ruggish John Scott sniped a goal-scorer’s goal this week. Really.

Previous: 8


They have yet to allow a goal. They have yet to play any team not named the Colorado Avalanche.

Previous: 11


So what if Marc-Andre Fleury (.889 save percentage) isn’t seeing the puck so well? The Penguins’ power-play has been scary-good, and they still own the best player in the world. And he’s playing like it, much to the benefit of Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist is the new Kuntiz!

Previous: 5


The Perry-Getzlaf duo looks as scary as ever. Frederik Andersen already has three victories. And the Ducks haven’t even had a home game yet. (P.S. They’re nearly unstoppable at Honda Center.)

Previous: 2


You know it’s early in the season when the Islanders and Devils are running the Eastern Conference. But Cory Schneider is (finally!) thriving in the No. 1 spot (.937 save percentage), and new guy Mike Cammalleri (four goals in three games) has transitioned into the lineup seamlessly. Besides Cammalleri, the only player to score in each of his first three games as a Devil? Doug Gilmour.

Previous: 20


The Isles’ offence is rolling — 15 goals in three games — due in no small part to 22-year-old centre Brock Nelson. Who? The guy with seven points already. First 3-0-0 start on the Island in 13 years.

Previous: 21


The champs look like it. Landmark week as coach Darryl Sutter earned his 100th victory with L.A while GM Dean Lombardi got his 300th. That 70s Line combined for seven points against Edmonton Tuesday, and Drew Doughty said he felt “crappy” that the Kings even allowed the Oilers to score one goal.

Previous: 6


Despite injuries to depth players Kris Versteeg and Michal Rozsival, the Blackhawks look as solid as ever. They’d be undefeated were Jonas Hiller not so incredible Wednesday night. ‘Hawks won’t face a true test until Oct. 25, when they take on the Blues.

Previous: 1


Radim Vrbata and the Sedin twins have struck quick chemistry. By scoring the game winner in his season opener, Vrbata now has 13 goals in his team’s first game of the season, the most opening-day goals of any active NHLer. Eleven points for that line through two games.

Previous: 17


Steven Stamkos’s eighth career hat trick marked the second straight season he opened up his scoring with a three-goal affair. Victor Hedman (seven points) is off to another fantastic start, and the Lightning’s drubbing of the Habs must’ve tasted sweet.

Previous: 7


Tomas Plekanec led the four-A Habs to three straight wins to start the season, followed by a vengeful beatdown courtesy of Tampa. (Bonus: the Peter Budaj trade is looking good for Montreal, as the netminder was waived by Winnipeg.)

Previous: 7


Fantastic 2-0-1 start for the revamped Predators, fourth in goals-against. Remember Pekka Rinne? He’s baaaack…

Previous: 23


If this is Ryan Johansen out of shape, we’ll take him. Five points in three games as Nathan Horton, Boone Jenner, Ryan Murray and Brandon Dubinsky miss time with injuries.

Previous: 13


The Bruins lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since March 2012, and New York Islanders D-man Johnny Boychuk is looking like the one that got away.

Previous: 3


The exciting Vladimir Tarasenko appears to be set for a big year as the Blues ease into the season losing a close one to New York and beating up the Flames.

Previous: 4


Karri Ramo has stood on his head and Jonas Hiller out-dueled Chicago, as the try-hard Flames are off to a better-than-.500 start. Captain Mark Giordano became the first defenceman in franchise history to notch an assist in each of the team’s first four games of a season.

Previous: 29


So what if no one comes to their road games and they can’t choose a goalie? The Senators are bringing a winning record into their home opener versus Colorado.

Previous: 26


Pavel Datsyuk is still nursing his injured shoulder, but the Wings survived a nasty opening schedule — Boston, Anaheim, Boston again — with three points.

Previous: 15


What I like about Washington this year is the Caps are going with Braden Holtby — for now, at least — as their clear No. 1. He’s responded with a .933 save percentage and a 1.78 GAA.

Previous: 18


Toronto’s formula after four games: When the top line of Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk is flying and James Reimer gets the start, the Leafs win.

Previous: 19


The Coyotes, in desperate need of some scoring, have been boosted by Mikkel Boedker (five goals in three games). A big help for a decent defence corps that keeps them in games and makes goalies look good. Look, Devan Dubnyk has an NHL career again!

Previous: 22


He scores in bunches. Tyler Seguin tied for the NHL lead in hat tricks last season. He earned his fifth career hat trick Tuesday during a win at Columbus. More important: He and linemate Jamie Benn filmed an incredible viral video in which they perform shootout theatrics with a glazed doughnut.

Previous: 14


Colorado was the trendy pre-season pick to take a step back. Well, the Avalanche have set team record for fewest goals scored through its first four games of the season: four. Even worse, we were deprived of an Iginla-Phaneuf fight.

Previous: 12


As if Evander Kane’s season could not have started under worse conditions, the star went and injured his knee. On the flip side, Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t been as awful as some imagined, and the Jets’ schedule eases up after a tough loss to L.A.

Previous: 25


For the first time in Henrik Lundqvist’s career, he has allowed five or more goals in consecutive starts. And the Rangers gave up six or more goals in back-to-back home losses for the first time since 1990. Maybe it was a blessing they started last season with a marathon road trip.

Previous: 10


Fantasy sleeper Wayne Simmonds has seven points in three games, and the special teams are solid, but when you give up 3.5 goals a game, you find yourself still searching for a W.

Previous: 16


Yes, the home attendance is an embarrassment. But when you don’t average more than a goal per game, you have bigger problems.

Previous: 29


The Sabres were called a peewee team by their own head coach and got called out by Donald Trump on Twitter. Welcome to the 2014-15 NHL season, Buffalo.

Previous: 30


The Eric Staal trade rumours have already started.

Previous: 27


Viktor Fasth’s injured groin won’t help a league-worst minus-12 goal differential. If there’s a defensive system here, we can’t find it.

Previous: 28