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NHL Power Rankings, Western Conference: Chicago Leads The Way, Columbus Is Still Bad

In our Western Conference Power Rankings, the Chicago Blackhawks lead the way and Columbus is bad. In the middle? Well, let's just say things are different than usual.

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Through one month, the Western Conference, and thus, the Western Conference Power Rankings, are like Opposite George:

Up was down, black was white, good was ... bad. Day was ... night.

The Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, and Colorado Avalanche are all in the top-8, while the Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, and Detroit Red Wings are all much lower than usual.

SB Nation's NHL Power Rankings are back for 2011-12 and the Chicago Blackhawks top the list. The free-spending Columbus Blue Jackets are living in the basement. 

Our power rankings are based on ballots submitted by each of our Western Conference blogs. Each week, we tally the votes and deliver the results with insight on each team. Eastern Conference Power Rankings will debut next week. 





Chicago Blackhawks
- The Blackhawks are the best in the West so far.  Things are going well when the major concern is an AHL injury.
San Jose Sharks
- Life is so good in San Jose, fans have time to review every goal scored this season so far.  The top of the Sharks' lineup has become a shots machine.
Los Angeles Kings
- The addition of Mike Richards is paying dividends as the Kings are 4th in the conference with 14 points.  And they're about to get Simon Gagne back from injury.
Dallas Stars
- The Stars hot start even has their fans wondering if Lehtonen, Benn and Souray can can keep this up.
Edmonton Oilers
- The Hall-Hopkins-Eberle line is getting all of the attention, but hot goaltending, home cooking, a veteran line handling the tough minutes and a vastly improved penalty kill are the primary drivers behind Edmonton's success.
Vancouver Canucks
- The Canucks were near the bottom of the conference for a brief time, but they're coming on strong.  The numbers say it's just a matter of time before the juggernaut is back.
Detroit Red Wings
- Detroit's slow start doesn't have Ken Holland concerned.  He's focused on the long-term, and managed to negotiate another long-term deal for less than market value.
Colorado Avalanche
- Gabriel Landeskog has been thrown into a defensive role with Ryan O'Reilly and Daniel Winnik and the three of them have been one of the best lines in hockey so far.  Even a headshot to the rookie can't stop them.
Nashville Predators
- The Predators have been outscored but are just 4 points back from #1 in the conference.  Pekka Rinne has been the team's MVP, holding the Preds together while they play through major injury problems.
Phoenix Coyotes
- Pundits predicted the Coyotes would finish on the bottom of the Western Conference, but their play thus far, especially the goaltending of Mike Smithhas surprised everyone.
St. Louis Blues
- Jaroslav Halak is taking plenty of blame in the media, but plenty of folks are to blame for the Blues terrible start.  The worst special teams in the league (30th on the PP, 28th on the PK) should be first in line.
Anaheim Ducks
- As is their custom, the Ducks lead the league in fighting majors and are 5th in penalty minutes.  Also, as is their custom, the bottom of the Ducks' lineup is missing in action.
Minnesota Wild
- Things aren't much different this year in Minnesota, except Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding are back in 2008-09 form.
Calgary Flames
- Fans are already mocking their own in Calgary.  One Sutter took the fall last season, how long can the other last this season?
Columbus Blue Jackets
- James Wisniewski thinks the Jackets can get back to .500 by Christmas.  He'll have to stop hitting people in the head to be a part of that.