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NHL power rankings: The West is best

We're three weeks into the NHL season, and it's time to begin taking stock of where each team stands. So far in the early going, the Western Conference has utterly dominated the East, and that's reflected in the first edition of our power rankings.

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1. San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have made it a habit of dominating the early season. Had David Krejci not scored with a fraction of a second remaining, they'd be on a 12-game point streak. Difficult to have them anywhere but No. 1.

2. Colorado Avalanche

As good as San Jose has been, Colorado has been so much fun to watch this year. We wanted to put the Avalanche at No. 1 just because of how terrible everyone projected them to be. But more so, because of how good they've been. Oh, and Matt Duchene? Yeah, you get a Team Canada jersey.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Same thing as Colorado, because Tampa Bay looked like it was going to be terrible this year. While there's still plenty of time left to do that, and we've seen this hot start from them before, the Lightning have jumped out to a fantastic start. Ben Bishop has played well, while Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis continue to play Pinky & the Brain trying to take over the NHL scoring race.

4. St. Louis Blues

The preseason Stanley Cup Champions are competing in the NHL's strongest division and have registered points in all but one game, not to mention they have played at least two fewer games than every other team in the grouping. Also, Alex Steen, everybody. Woo boy, Alex Steen.

5. Vancouver Canucks

Preseason questions swirled about the window closing in Vancouver. Could be true, but there's no evidence thus far. It's a four-game winning streak for the Canucks, and Ryan Kesler has returned from no man's land.

6. Anaheim Ducks

Choosing between Anaheim and Vancouver for No. 5 was really difficult. Anaheim has played fantastic this season, but Vancouver managed to clean up nicely during an extended road trip. Sorry Ducks. We love you but the Canucks have the edge this week. An impressive showing on their four-game Eastern road swing can catapult them up a ways, though.

7. Boston Bruins

The Bruins have struggled a bit at home this season, but they've been road warriors and ended the reign of the Sharks with that last-second Krejci goal. The Bruins aren't perfect, but Boston still holds clout and is one of the top teams in a weak Eastern Conference.

8. Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are probably a bit better than their record given some ... er, bad breaks this season. Still, they have a plus-five goal differential, which is important given their tendency to go quiet offensively at times.

9. Phoenix Coyotes

The Coyotes made it tough. These guys have been on a tear of late, registering points in eight of their last nine games. The only reason they're not on a nine-game point streak? Los Angeles beat them, 7-4. Kings get the upper hand here.

10. Chicago Blackhawks

The champs have registered points in 10 of 12 games. Despite some question marks in the lineup (looking at you, second-line center), Chicago is still doing work and doing it well.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs

Twelve games played with wins in eight. Not a bad start for a team who was viewed as math's greatest enemy. Even with the focus on the goaltender battle and some annoyance to start the year (injuries, suspensions), Toronto has looked pretty good. That is, as long as you stay away from the shot differential chart.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins

Good team, weak start. Of course, that's relative to the expectations for the Penguins. They enter competition on Tuesday night as the top team in the Metropolitan Division, which, quite honestly, should be the case through the entirety of this season.

13. Minnesota Wild

Minnesota had won three straight entering competition on Monday night, which included a 5-3 win over the Blackhawks. Then Monday night happened and the three-game winning streak no longer existed. To memories!

14. Montreal Canadiens

If the playoffs started today, everyone would be really confused because it's October and the playoffs don't start until April. Arena staff would be losing their minds and a lot of ticket agents would probably be fired. But the Montreal Canadiens would claim ownership to the top wild card spot in the East.

15. Detroit Red Wings

Take it away Mike Babcock:

16. New York Islanders

Thomas Vanek is coming to town! Thomas Vanek is coming to town! Thom-- Matt Moulson scored two goals in his Buffalo debut?

Well, at least Thomas Vanek is coming to town!

17. Nashville Predators

Not a lot has changed for the Predators. They're still competitive and they can't score goals. They have Seth Jones, but lost Pekka Rinne. They're hanging in there and have promise, but Rinne's long-term health is a huge question mark.

18. Calgary Flames

The Flames appeared destined to live in the cellar of the standings for the entirety of the year, but have been a pleasant surprise in the early goings of the season. Is it sustainable? Probably not, but it's been fun and placing them this high has more to do with their preseason expectations than who they've beaten or their record over the past week.

19. Ottawa Senators

Not going smoothly in Ottawa. Captain Jason Spezza called a players-only meeting in an attempt to rally the troops. A lot of potential on the roster, hopefully that'll start shining through.

20. Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina had a golden opportunity to make some noise against the Penguins on Monday night. The Hurricanes held their own through much of the game but couldn't muster enough offense to get the job done, and as a result, they're currently on a three-game losing streak and are 1-2-3 at home this season.

21. Columbus Blue Jackets

Coming off an impressive run last season, many viewed the Blue Jackets as a potential sleeper. So far that hasn't been the case. The club has five wins in 11 games and has yet to pick up any points via overtime losses -- all six of their defeats have come in regulation.

22. Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin is on fire, but the Capitals are not. Much like Columbus, their losses are coming in regulation, so their five wins aren't being supplemented by loser points. Currently on a two-game losing streak, the Capitals were previously on a three-game winning streak. Up and down.

23. Winnipeg Jets

Claude Noel is making some noise in the media, but that's about all that's making noise in Winnipeg. While the penalty kill is performing adequately, the power play continues to be an issue. The Jets' next three opponents? St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. Yikes.

24. Dallas Stars

Dallas is a team reshaping itself and it shows. The Stars have put together some strong performances, such as beating San Jose, and they've recorded four goals or more in two of their last three. But for all the good, there's the fair share of bad. Good news: they're currently on a three-game point streak.

25. Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia has won two straight but is still struggling to score goals. Yeah, the Flyers put up five against the Islanders, but New York was on the tail end of a back-to-back and had beaten the Penguins the night before. Steve Mason has been fantastic this season, which is a complete wild card for the Flyers.

26. New York Rangers

Injuries, the schedule and renovations. This is the plight of the 2013-14 New York Rangers. After a grueling nine-game road trip, the Rangers finally had their first home game of the season on Monday night. It was a 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens and Peter Budaj. They're without Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan due to injury.

27. New Jersey Devils

Are things looking up for the Devils? They've registered points in three of their last four games, including a win against Boston. They'll have another test as they face the surging Lightning on Tuesday night.

28. Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers might not want to be considered young, but they're still playing like it. The defense and goaltending have been criticized all season long. It's understandable: Edmonton has scored the ninth-most goals in the league but have a negative-14 goal differential, which amounts to the most goals against of any other team ... by eight goals.

29. Florida Panthers

Not much to say about Florida. The Panthers are basically doing what everybody thought they'd be doing.

30. Buffalo Sabres

Hey, you've got Matt Moulson! You've got Matt Moulson! You've got a future asset who will likely be traded again for another draft pick!

Which is a great thing because Buffalo is rounding up draft picks like you wouldn't believe. Connor McDavid ... soon, Connor McDavid.

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