The National Hockey League campaign is officially in its second month. Where does your favorite team fall in Week 5 of our NHL Power Rankings?
The 2023-24 National Hockey League season is off to a roaring start. But don’t take my word for it — let the evidence speak for itself. There were 114 goals scored on Saturday in the NHL, smashing the previous league record. If you ask any hockey fan what makes the game exciting, it’s not a hard answer. It’s goals. And they’re coming at a prolific clip this season.
With Tuesday marking the official one-month mark of the campaign, the early contenders and pretenders list is starting to take shape. Who would have thought in early October that the Vancouver Canucks would be Canada’s best team, and a bonafide top-1o club? Or that the Anaheim Ducks, buoyed by a slow start, would rack off six wins in a row to return to relevance? What about Pavel Mintyukov and Logan Cooley leading all rookies in scoring, not Connor Bedard?
Finally, 27 days into the campaign, all teams have lost a regulation game after the Vegas Golden Knights fell to the resurgent Ducks in the final game of Week 4. With the early fall vibes of October making way for earlier sunsets in November, the temperature of the rink is starting to match the temperature of the crisp winter air in North America. Here is ClutchPoints’ Week 5 NHL Power Rankings.
1. Vegas Golden Knights (no change)
The Vegas Golden Knights looked like they would remain unstoppable last week, securing three more wins over the Canadiens, Jets, and Avalanche, the finale a 7-0 statement win against a Colorado team that has forgotten how to score goals. But with a chance to go 12-0-1, the Knights blew a 2-0 lead to the Ducks on Sunday night, losing 4-2 and becoming the last team in the NHL to lose a regulation game. Still, at 11-1-1, Vegas has a six-point cushion in the Western Conference, and lead the Bruins by four in the early President’s Trophy race. For the fifth straight week, the defending Stanley Cup champions remain the world’s best hockey club.
The Bruins had another strong showing in Week 4, remaining at the top of the Eastern Conference with one-goal wins over Atlantic rival Leafs and Panthers — both going past regulation — before the floodgates finally opened in a 5-4 loss to the Red Wings on Saturday. Although Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have split every single game in the early going, the former might be slowly stealing the starter’s job from last season’s Vezina Trophy winner after a fantastic start. Still the best defensive team in the NHL, the 9-1-1 Bruins are the Eastern Conference’s premier team.
Artemi Panarin hasn’t gone a game without a point in 2023-24, and the Rangers have surged to first place in the Metropolitan Division after winning six of their last seven. It was shaping up to be a perfect week on the road in Minnesota, but an early three-goal lead evaporated and became a 5-4 shootout loss to the Wild on Saturday. But New York looks fantastic nonetheless, although the true challenge will come over the next few weeks as the team reckons with the losses of Adam Fox, Filip Chytil and Igor Shesterkin. Still, the Rangers have emerged into a top-three team with Panarin’s resurgence and Peter Laviolette’s great fit behind the bench.
The Dallas Stars continue to play less games than almost any other NHL team, but they remain at the top of the Central Division with an impressive 7-2-1 record. Roope Hintz has been phenomenal over the past few weeks, and it’s only a matter of time before Jason Robertson really gets going too. Dallas won three of four games last week, scoring 13 over the three victories before suffering a shutout loss at the hands of Thatcher Demko and the red-hot Canucks. With the Avs trending in the wrong direction, the Stars are looking like the team to beat in the Central.
5. Colorado Avalanche (-2)
A sentence I absolutely did not think I would type this year: the Colorado Avalanche have been shut out in three of their last four games. How is that even possible on a team that boasts Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar? How is that possible against the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, two teams with, objectively, much less skill? Something needs to change quickly in Denver, and the Avs are starting to slide. This team isn’t particularly deep up front, and if the big guns don’t start producing, they may have a tough time keeping pace in the Central. Despite the bizarre week, the Avs remain 7-3 and will have a chance to turn things around in Newark on Tuesday night.
6. New Jersey Devils (+1)
Watching the points leader and ultimately the most exciting player in hockey this year go down was brutal, and not just for New Jersey Devils fans. Jack Hughes was putting together an early Hart Trophy case before crashing hard into the boards against the Blues, and has been labelled week-to-week. It’s an awful update for both player and club, but New Jersey continues to win games; they were victorious in all but the loss in St. Louis in Week 4. Wins over the Wild (twice) and Hawks have the Devils knocking on the door of Metropolitan Division supremacy, but like the Rangers, the next few weeks will be crucial for a team missing its most important player.
7. Carolina Hurricanes (+1)
Finally, the Carolina Hurricanes have figured out how to keep the puck out of their own net. The Canes have won four of five, and only given up nine goals in that stretch. Antti Raanta is playing great in Frederik Andersen’s absence, which could be lengthy considering Jaroslav Halak was brought in for a tryout on Monday. With Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho back in the lineup, this is starting to look like the team that was favored to compete for the President’s Trophy before the season started. Carolina is 7-5, the early-campaign woes are in the rearview, and the rest of the season should be much more enjoyable in Raleigh.
8. Los Angeles Kings (+1)
Like the two teams above them, the LA Kings have jumped up a spot after another phenomenal week. The Kings played three games over the last seven days and won them all, allowing a minuscule three goals in the process. I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong about Cam Talbot; the former Hamilton Red Wing has been a brick wall in California, earning the starting job and then some. This team trails just Vancouver and Vegas for the Western Conference lead, and this is looking like a club that is poised to make noise in the 2024 postseason after two straight disappointing exits.
9. Vancouver Canucks (+2)
If I didn’t grow up cheering for the Canucks, I would probably have them even higher on the list. But top-10 (and climbing) makes sense for a Vancouver team that finally looks like they’ve put it all together. Quinn Hughes looks possessed, leading all defensemen in scoring with an outrageous 16 points and making a strong early Norris Trophy case. The same can be said for Thatcher Demko and the Vezina Trophy; he’s racked off five straight wins, including a statement shutout over the high-flying Stars last week. And Elias Pettersson is somehow even better than he was in 2022-23; his 20 points have him tied for the league lead with Hughes, and he continues to kill penalties and play great defense. JT Miller and Brock Boeser are also thriving on the second line, shutting down opposing teams best players while each scoring at over a point-per-game clip. The Canucks have won three in a row, are 8-2-1, and here’s another sentence I did not think I’d be saying this year (at least this early): Vancouver is a lock to be playing postseason hockey in April.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs (-4)
The 2023-24 season started great in Toronto, but in a market that faces more scrutiny than any other, the sky is falling after the Leafs lost their fourth straight game to the Sabres on Saturday night. Both the goaltending and defensive structure have come under fire over the last few weeks, and not even the prolific offense can plug enough of the holes. It’s crazy that some in Canada are already calling for Sheldon Keefe’s head, but a 5-4-2 record is not at all what this Stanley Cup-starved team was looking for over the first month of the campaign.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (-1)
The Lightning are continuing to tread water as they eagerly await Andrei Vasilevskiy’s return, but the big guns continue to produce. Nikita Kucherov (one and four) and Brayden Point (three and one) combined for nine points in a 6-4 win over the reeling Senators, but it was the only game the team won last week. Still, the Bolts remain 5-3-3 and third in the Atlantic despite discouraging losses to the Kraken and Blue Jackets. As coach Jon Cooper said, this team is still relevant in 2023.
12. Detroit Red Wings (+5)
The Detroit Red Wings went from scorching hot to ice cold, but levelled themselves out in Week 4. The Wings won two of three, including a statement 5-4 victory over a Bruins team we know does not give up many goals. Alex DeBrincat is back on the scoresheet after going four games without finding it, and this 7-4-1 Detroit team continues to exceed expectations, to the tune of eighth place in league standings. One player not getting enough credit is Moritz Seider, who has been a rock on the back end and is quietly tied for third in defensemen scoring.
13. New York Islanders (+5)
We all knew that Ilya Sorokin was a brick wall, but how about Semyon Varlamov recording back-to-back shutouts in 2-0 and 3-0 wins over the Blue Jackets and Capitals, respectively? On the flip side, Sorokin has allowed eight goals over his last two starts, both overtime losses. Still, the Islanders have won three of five, are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 25, and are finally starting to score some goals. That is really the only thing holding the Long Island dwellers back from being a potential top-10 team. As it is, the Isles are fourth in the Metro and continue to battle for every point.
14. Winnipeg Jets (no change)
It was a decent week for a Jets team that is, well, decent. Connor Hellebuyck is struggling mightily, and that could end up unravelling the team, but Winnipeg remains third in the Central after earning four of six points last week. After losing to the powerhouse Rangers and Golden Knights in two games that went past regulation, the Jets rebounded with a 5-3 win over the Coyotes on Saturday. If their star goaltender can settle in, there’s no reason why they can’t be a top-three team in what is shaping up to be a pretty weak Central Division.
15. Anaheim Ducks (+15)
Put your hand up if you were completely wrong about the Anaheim Ducks. I’ll be the first to admit it, and I’ll also admit you probably won’t see another team jumping up (or down) 15 spots in 2023-24. But after a slow start, former Hamilton Bulldogs legend Mason McTavish looks possessed. He has 13 points in 11 games, maybe the most important goal on Sunday night as the Ducks proved they aren’t a fluke by sending the league’s best team its first regulation loss. Frank Vatrano continues to rack up points, rookie Pavel Mintyukov is leading all rookie D-men in scoring, and Anaheim is the hottest team in the NHL. With John Gibson now back from injury, as well as veteran signing Alex Killorn healthy, this team could continue to shatter its preseason expectations.
16. St. Louis Blues (+4)
Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn, who each looked abysmal in the early going, finally had their breakouts. They combined for six points in a 6-3 victory over the Habs, and after a slow start, the Blues are back to relevance in the Central Division. Jordan Binnington is continuing to hold down the fort, key piece Pavel Buchnevich is back from injury, and St. Louis has won three of five. They’ve also given up just 2.7 goals per game, good enough for sixth in the league. The Blues are back to being a middle of the pack team, with an opportunity to continue climbing both the NHL and ClutchPoints’ standings in November.
17. Edmonton Oilers (-1)
Another miserable week for a team we all thought was a Stanley Cup contender coming into the season. There’s really no more excuses with Connor McDavid healthy, but this team has somehow lost six of seven for an equally abysmal and shocking 2-7-1 record. The defensive structure is non-existent, the goaltending from Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell has been atrocious, and the funk is now a month old. The only silver lining: at least they aren’t as bad as the Flames.
18. Florida Panthers (-3)
Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad returned to practice this week, but Sam Bennett was injured in his first game this season and has been labelled week-to-week. The Panthers are trying to tread water until the reinforcements arrive, like the Lightning, they’re just doing a worse job. The Cats went 1-1-1 last week, but have fallen to second-last in the Atlantic. Matthew Tkachuk is not looking like himself, but it honestly could be even worse. A 5-4-1 record isn’t great, but Florida will probably take it and pray Montour and Ekblad are back before the end of November.
19. Pittsburgh Penguins (-7)
It’s been a slow but necessary fall down the list for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, who opened the year in the top-10 and have continued to disappoint since. A 10-2 win over the San Jose Sharks really doesn’t count, but five losses in six games before that certainly does. Tristan Jarry could be better, but Erik Karlsson most certainly could be. He has just eight points in 10 games, which certainly isn’t bad but nowhere near the 101-point pace he was scoring at last year. After missing the playoffs last year, is this aging core simply not good enough to compete with the younger, faster teams in the East? We can’t answer that question just yet, but the answer looms.
20. Buffalo Sabres (+1)
The Sabres are slowly starting to turn things around, getting back to .500 by winning three of their last four NHL games. That was highlighted by a thrilling 6-4 win over the Leafs on Saturday night. The rest of the week was fine, with a win and a loss each in two contests against the Flyers in Week 4. Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner are coming around, which is exactly what this team needs offensively, especially with Dylan Cozens on the shelf. An excellent test awaits against a suddenly surging Hurricanes team in Raleigh on Tuesday.
21. Washington Capitals (+1)
The Capitals got themselves out of the Metropolitan Division basement by winning four of five, and are starting again to look like an NHL team that could challenge for a playoff spot. Washington has given up just 11 goals over those five, and Darcy Kuemper is looking like he’s returning to form, which is crucial for the club. Still, Alex Ovechkin has just two goals in 10 games, which is seriously discouraging for a player who could be hard-pressed to break Wayne Gretzky’s record the way things are going.
22. Minnesota Wild (-3)
The Wild finally halted the losing skid at the end of of Week 4, making a marvellous comeback from down 3-0 to beat the Rangers 5-4 in a shootout. That was an encouraging win, but this team is still reeling. At 4-5-2 and second-last in the Central, it’s been a nightmare start in the State of Hockey. Filip Gustavsson continues to look lost in his sophomore campaign, while the absence of Jared Spurgeon continues to be felt throughout the lineup. Still, Matt Boldy is back, Minnesota has a win under their belt, and a four-game week kicks off against the Islanders on Tuesday.
23. Ottawa Senators (-10)
What a complete fall from grace it’s been for the Senators over the last few weeks. Moving them 10 spots down didn’t feel fair considering the injuries to Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub, but the once 3-1 Sens are now 4-6, and last in the Atlantic. They were even booed by the home crowd in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay, and it’s looking like the bottom has completely fallen out. Pierre Dorion was fired for an improper trade from years ago, Shane Pinto was suspended for half the season for sports betting related activity, and new owner Michael Andlauer said it best: “Why I inherited this is beyond me.” Fans are already chanting “Fire DJ,” and it’s looking like rock bottom in Canada’s capital.
24. Montreal Canadiens (-1)
After an encouraging start, the Habs have fallen back down to earth and closer to their pre-season NHL expectations. Montreal lost all three games it played last week, scoring just seven goals in the process. It could just be course correction for a Canadiens team that is not expected to be very good, and it looks like a hot start has made way for just that. Now stuck in the middle of the Atlantic Division, it’s going to be a serious challenge to not continue falling down in the Eastern Conference, especially with the level of talent on this team. But whether or not the team is playing good hockey, the Bell Centre is always an electric place to watch a game.
25. Nashville Predators (-1)
To their credit, the Predators continue to hang around in the Central Division. Ryan O’Reilly is a big part of that; one of Smashville’s newest residents scored a hat trick and added an assist in a 5-2 victory over the Oilers. Still, the Preds are 5-6, and have scored the same amount of goals as they’ve given up. They’re the definition of mediocre, although a few exciting young players (Tommy Novak, Luke Evangelista) helps to make this team at least a little bit of fun to watch.
26. Seattle Kraken (+2)
After an abysmal start, the Kraken have begun to turn things around. They won two of three last week, including a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory over the Bolts. A 4-6-2 NHL record isn’t terrible considering how the campaign started, but it still isn’t ideal. The Pacific Division is as weak as ever with the Oilers and Flames reeling, and the Sharks barely earning the title of NHL club. There is still a path to the playoffs here, but the defense needs to improve, and Calder Trophy winner Matt Beniers needs to shake the sophomore slump.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (-2)
The Flyers lost their rock in Carter Hart, and they’ve lost five of six games. They gave up 20 goals in those four losses, and are starting to look more like a team that is expected to spend the year at the bottom of the Metro. That’s not to say Philadelphia isn’t better than they were expected to be, especially with Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson returning, as well as the early breakout signs from D-man Travis Sanheim. But the fact remains, this isn’t a great NHL team, and without Hart, it could be a bad one. The Flyers are just three points up of the division basement at 5-6-1.
28. Arizona Coyotes (-2)
The Coyotes continue to battle hard every game, but they’ve lost four of six, including a few tough Ls at the hands of the Ducks and Jets. Logan Cooley being tied for first in rookie scoring is great, but Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz have disappeared. How can both of them not be on the scoresheet on a night where the Yotes put up eight on the Blackhawks? The warning signs are there for an Arizona team that is still right in the mix for a wildcard spot.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (no change)
For those hoping the Blue Jackets would be a different team with Adam Fantilli and a healthy Zach Werenski, that has not at all been the case. Columbus is reeling, with just one win in six games to fall to 4-5-2 and seventh in the Metropolitan Division. Johnny Gaudreau looks like a non-factor, and nobody is contributing with Patrik Laine on the shelf. It really felt like this team had the potential to surprise, but they’re looking like one of the NHL’s worst clubs through four weeks.
30. Calgary Flames (-3)
If the sky is falling in Toronto, I can’t imagine what Calgary, Alberta looks like right now. Firmly entrenched as Canada’s worst NHL team in 2023-24, the Flames are just downright bad. The lack of offensive depth, horrible defensive coverage and another questionable start from Jacob Markstrom has Calgary 3-7-1 and third last in the Western Conference. Although the Oilers are below them, it feels like Edmonton will actually get out of the funk at some point. That just doesn’t seem to be the case for Alberta’s other franchise, and Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri are looking like shells of their former selves. There’s really no silver lining here for one of the NHL’s bottom-three teams.
31. Chicago Blackhawks (no change)
The Blackhawks are probably going to be staying put at No. 31 for quite a while, and that’s what we all expected. Connor Bedard is still chipping in, and he scored a great goal against the Panthers on Saturday. But Chicago is a very bad NHL team, and the return of former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall likely won’t make much of a difference. Honestly, fans in Illinois know what they’re getting this year, and as long as Bedard keeps filling the seats at the United Center, this franchise will happily take another high draft pick in 2024.
32. San Jose Sharks (no change)
It was another phenomenal week for the San Jose Sharks, who are proving that they would probably struggle to be a top team in the American Hockey League. They lost 10-1 to the Canucks, but were much better the next night, only losing 10-2 to the Penguins. For the mathematicians, that’s 20 goals against in two games, the first time that’s happened to a club since 1955. The NHL is a month into its new season, and the Sharks still don’t have a victory. Now 0-10-1, will this team ever win again? Maybe we should just give them the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and let them stop playing altogether. It’s the only way this question won’t be asked: are the 2023-24 San Jose Sharks the worst team of all time?