Power Rankings: Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks are the early front-runners – ESPN

2:54 PM ET

Our committee of 20 hockey experts has voted. Granted, it’s based on a small sample size, but the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins no longer rule the Power Rankings roost. A young, high-scoring squad has roused its long-suffering fan base in Toronto to become the early team to beat, followed by some of the usual suspects — and a few surprises (welcome, Vegas!).

If the first week of hockey was any indication, it’s going to be a fun season.

(How we rank: These rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. So higher-ranked teams would be favored against lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn’t guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn’t guarantee a fall.)

The Maple Leafs have been even better than advertised, with a thrilling overtime win against the Blackhawks worthy of particular note. And of the 20 Maple Leafs who have skated a shift thus far, 19 have at least one point.

Chicago brought the band back together this offseason. And — how about that? — the old Hawks have a few more hits left in them. Get to know 19-year-old rookie Alex DeBrincat (three points in four games). He has lead-singer capabilities.

Alex Ovechkin has cooled off after his first two games — he’s now on pace for only 164 goals — but it’s hard to find a weakness on a team that seemed to have all the boxes checked off last season as well.

The Blues are 4-0 for the second time in franchise history, and — even better — their scoring is balanced, with five players at two-plus goals already. This isn’t just the Vladimir Tarasenko Show (though we’d tune in for that, too).

Those who cited the Penguins’ lack of depth as a

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