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NHL Power Rankings, Week 2: When Do Slow Starts Become A Serious Problem?

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As the weak start to the season continues for some teams, we have to ask: when do slow starts cease to be just that? When do we realize that, hey, maybe our team just sucks?

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Much like last week, it's tough to gauge exactly where a hockey team is after just a handful of games. Most NHL teams have only played about five games so far this season, so judging a teams' season now is like picking who will be Miss Universe at the Miss America Pageant. There's still a lot of competition to go.

That doesn't mean there aren't any trends showing, though. Two weeks of impressive play by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars goes a long way in the minds of Power Rankings voters -- and it causes us to not make fun of them anymore as simple anomalies.

The same goes for teams on the opposite side of the spectrum like New Jersey and Anaheim. Two weeks of unimpressive play suggests that, oh, maybe it's not just a typical slow start. That's the question fans of some of these teams have to ask themselves. When do we stop calling the struggles of our favorite teams a slow start and when do we admit that, hey, maybe our team is just bad?

Our 70-plus team bloggers from around our great hockey network vote each week on our rankings. Since the NHL doesn't put much emphasis on cross-conference play, and since the two conferences are vastly different and usually end up that way come mid-April, we take two polls each week -- one for the East, one for the West.

Bloggers in our network who cover a Western team vote in the Western poll, while bloggers who cover an Eastern team vote in the Eastern poll, so don't try to argue that the opposite coast bias kept your team out of a spot. Bloggers with general, non-team sites are free to select the conference in which they vote.

So, here they are, SB Nation's Week 2 NHL Power Rankings.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

15 New Jersey Devils In Lou We Trust
10 last week Martin Brodeur is shaky and the offense isn't scoring. Things need to turn around in Newark sooner rather than later.
1-4-1, 3 pts
14 Buffalo Sabres Die By The Blade
9 last week Five straight losses. Tyler Myers, Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville have combined for 1 goal, 5 assists and a minus-15 rating.
1-4-1, 3pts
13 Ottawa Senators Silver Seven
14 last week Sergei Gonchar's new team, the already struggling Sens, were topped by his old team, the Pens, on Monday night. Ouch.
1-4-1, 3 pts
12 Carolina Hurricanes Canes Country
3 last week Ignoring the "home" game in Helsinki, the Hurricanes have yet to play in Raleigh this year. Since returning to North America, they're 0-2.
2-2-0, 4 pts
11 New York Rangers Blueshirt Banter
8 last week Vinny Prospal's out. Chris Drury's out. Marian Gaborik's out. Can the Rangers hold on at all here?
1-2-1, 3 pts
10 Florida Panthers Litter Box Cats
15 last week Patrick Sharp is in Chicago. His two goals get him NHL Three Stars billing. In Florida, Rusty Olesz gets no love.
2-2-0, 4 pts
9 Philadelphia Flyers Broad Street Hockey
2 last week The usually dull Mike Richards had some choice words for Matt Cooke and the Pittsburgh Penguins following the Flyers 5-1 loss on Saturday.
2-2-1, 5 pts
8 Boston Bruins Stanley Cup of Chowder
6 last week Tim Thomas is surging in Boston. Do we dare say the two word phrase that starts with goalie and ends with controversy?
2-1-0, 4 pts
7 Atlanta Thrashers Bird Watchers Anonymous
13 last week A four-game road trip in the first five games of the season usually isn't good, but the Thrashers were able to pick up four points in those games.
3-2-0, 6 pts
6 Montreal Canadiens Habs Eyes On The Prize
11 last week Finally, after 200-plus days, Carey Price won a hockey game at Bell Centre over the weekend.
3-1-1, 7 pts
5 New York Islanders Lighthouse Hockey
13 last week The fact that the Isles have the record they do with the injuries they do is just remarkable.
3-1-2, 8 pts
4 Tampa Bay Lightning Raw Charge
7 last week Tampa Bay, with their ridiculously high-powered offense and solid goaltending tandem, could actually be the real deal.
4-1-0, 8 pts
3 Pittsburgh Penguins Pensburgh
5 last week Marc-Andre Fleury has not looked good at all, but that's okay – Brent Johnson, to the rescue! The backup has played phenomenal hockey.
4-3-0, 8 pts
2 Toronto Maple Leafs Pension Plan Puppets
4 last week They finally lost last night, but the Leafs made us feel silly for making fun of them last week. Let's see if they keep it up.
4-0-1, 9 pts
1 Washington Capitals Japers' Rink
1 last week The Caps have not allowed a power play goal in 21 shorthanded situations so far.
4-1-0, 8 pts

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

15 Anaheim Ducks Anaheim Calling
15 last week There have been signs of improvement, but a road trip to Columbus, Philadelphia, Detroit and Dallas this week might not be what the doctor ordered.
2-3-1, 5 pts
14 Phoenix Coyotes Five For Howling
10 last week The Coyotes sale could be completed in the next couple of days, but that won't stop David Shoalts from name-calling, will it?
1-2-1, 3 pts
13 Minnesota Wild Hockey Wilderness
14 last week The hardest, longest bag skate any of the Wild have ever experienced was the result of their loss to Columbus on Saturday night.
1-2-1, 3 pts
12 Columbus Blue Jackets The Cannon
11 last week The Jackets could use some middle school type motivation.
2-2-0, 4 pts
11 Edmonton Oilers The Copper & Blue
8 last week A few members of the Oilers were overheard questioning the effectiveness of rookies Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
2-2-0, 4 pts
10 Calgary Flames Matchsticks & Gasoline
13 last week Ian White asstsing on an Oilers goal with his face sums things up rather nicely now, doesn't it? S
2-2-0, 4 pts
9 St. Louis Blues St. Louis Game Time
7 last week The Blues have been one of the leading benefactors of the charity point so far this season, most recently after blowing a two-goal lead against Chicago.
2-1-2, 6 pts
8 Colorado Avalanche Mile High Hockey
5 last week The Avs and Matt Duchene lost to the Isles and John Tavares the other night, but a convincing win over the Rangers helps ease that pain a bit.
4-2-0, 8 pts
7 San Jose Sharks Fear The Fin
2 last week It's amazing what reputation does. San Jose picked up three second place votes this week despite sitting in 13th place in the standings.
1-1-1, 3 pts
6 Vancouver Canucks Nucks Misconduct
4 last week The Canucks haven't had the best start to the season, scoring fewer goals than every team besides New Jersey prior to Sunday's win over Carolina.
2-2-1, 5 pts
5 Chicago Blackhawks Second City Hockey
12 last week Marty Turco has looked great for the Blackhawks.
4-2-1, 9 pts
4 Nashville Predators On the Forecheck
3 last week The Preds are the only Western team without a regulaton loss.
3-0-1, 7 pts
3 Los Angeles Kings Jewels From The Crown
6 last week As Jewels From The Crown says, "Winning while not looking great is something elite teams do." Are the Kings an elite team?
3-1-0, 7 pts
2 Detroit Red Wings Winging It In Motown
1 last week The Red Wings are fine. Some fans are just spoiled and greedy.
3-1-1, 7 pts
1 Dallas Stars Defending Big D
9 last week The Stars are high in the sky, but in their first loss of the season, some disturbing trends finally caught up with them.
4-1-0, 8 pts