NHL Power Rankings: Extremely Small Sample Size Edition

Vancouver Canucks right wing Nikolay Goldobin (77) celebrates with Elias Pettersson. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are on track to pour in a mellow 410 goals, with Auston Matthews outscoring nine NHL teams by himself.

The Carolina Hurricanes will go undefeated as they snap their 10-year playoff drought.

And Elias Pettersson wins the Calder Trophy in a walk.

That’s right, kids. The best predictor of future behaviour is this past week’s behaviour.

It’s our annual NHL Power Rankings: Extremely Small Sample Size Edition, in which we use the trends of hockey’s first seven days to wildly and confidently extrapolate season-long conclusions.

All 31 teams are ranked in order of the power they’ve showed since Opening Night. The write-ups glance into the future with the assumption that Week 1’s trends are only bound to continue.

It’s science.

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1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Despite some numbskull picking them to win it all, due to a deficit in games played, Tampa ends up finishing sixth in the Atlantic — a stumble all the more remarkable considering Andrei Vasilevskiy’s record-breaking .977 save percentage.

2. Nashville Predators

Nashville’s top two scorers will both be defencemen. (Note: This one might actually hold up.)

3. Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin will kick off 33.3% of all games by skating out with the Stanley Cup and kissing it gently.

4. Anaheim Ducks

No Anaheim forward is healthy enough to play hockey. Which makes the Ducks’ 82-0 record all the more impressive.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews’ 144-goal Rocket Richard campaign is something to behold, but his 41 spreads in fashion magazines rankle old-school hockey men.

6. Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes’ new choreographed celebration keeps getting more and more elaborate. By February, they’re chartering a post-victory jet to Green Bay just so they can all do the Lambeau Leap.

7. Chicago Blackhawks

With their identical 164-point seasons, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remind the world they’re worth every penny.

8. Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor bucks the sophomore slump with a tidy 109-point campaign.

9. Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have a tough time deciding which they’re more excited about next spring: their 55-27 regular-season record or their four first-round picks.

10. Dallas Stars

Acquired for a song, Connor Carrick leads all Dallas defencemen in scoring, piling up 123 points. Roman Polak doesn’t get any.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins

Kris Letang’s goal-a-game pace and 40 per cent shooting percentage put him in the hunt for the Rocket Richard Trophy and the William Karlsson Commemorative Plaque.

12. Florida Panthers

Frank Vatrano wrecks 82 of his own goalies’ knees, repeatedly sending an infuriated NHL Power Rankings author back to his fantasy league’s waiver wire, where he sees nothing but scrubs left over.

13. Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand’s remarkable, unusual 2018-19 stat line — 0 goals, 191 assists, 519 penalty minutes — is reason to celebrate, just not around him.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets

By the trade deadline, eight Blue Jackets will let the media know they don’t intend to stick around Columbus beyond this season.

15. Philadelphia Flyers

Forever looking to improve his club’s goaltending, Ron Hextall claims a record 27 goaltenders off the waiver wire. Gritty says they can crash at his pad if they don’t mind the mess.

16. New Jersey Devils

Cory Schneider’s delayed recovery grows tiresome, but Keith Kinkaid’s continued progression toward the 280-emjoi tweet puts a smile on everyone’s face.

17. Calgary Flames

Mike Smith’s 246 goals allowed is not a good look. But his series of throwback masks honouring every Flames goaltender who came before him is.

18. Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights’ 55-point season sparks a zillion told-you-so columns from sportswriters who just knew Vegas’s early success was too good to be true.

19. Montreal Canadiens

To hell with the critics: Marc Bergevin decides to exclusively draft centres with his first pick from now until eternity.

20. Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick’s tender lower body continues to give 36-year-old Peter Budaj legitimate NHL work in April.

21. Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres get booed off the ice 27 times but rally to secure a playoff berth.

22. Ottawa Senators

Thomas Chabot outscores the departed Erik Karlsson 137-27 and wins the Norris.

23. San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson will skate 28:14 a night but never score a goal for the Sharks. Although his minus-109 rating will cripple his worth on the UFA market, the stylish defenceman’s suit choices will earn positive reviews every Saturday on “Coach’s Corner.”

24. New York Islanders

If Robin Lehner posts a 1.000 save percentage at home but no one is there to witness it, does it still count?

25. St. Louis Blues

Blues fans hit send on 5,989,872 angry Jake Allen tweets.

26. Minnesota Wild

The Wild waste Devan Dubnyk’s .963 save percentage by only mustering a grand total of 82 goals.

27. Vancouver Canucks

Elias Pettersson’s 82-goal rookie showing makes him a unanimous Calder champion.

28. Detroit Red Wings

The colour of the seats at Little Caesars Arena get changed from red to black to white to blue to yellow to green to purple to pink to gold to beige to…

29. Edmonton Oilers

There is a silver lining to the Oilers’ inability to win any actual NHL contests in 2018-19: They absolutely own the Cologne Sharks, going 41-0 in the friendly series and racking up crazy Airmiles.

30. Arizona Coyotes

Ah, to heck with it. They move to Houston.

31. New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist stays loyal as the Rangers tumble to 0-82. Kevin Shattenkirk, New York’s big UFA prize in 2017, gets healthy-scratched 26 times.

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