Power Rankings: Who deserves credit -- or blame -- for each team's fate so far?

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For this week's Power Rankings -- voted, as always, by ESPN's panel of experts -- we give props to the players responsible for some of the best opening two months in the NHL ... and assign blame to those players responsible for rougher starts. The rankings are through Wednesday night's games.

How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams are favored over lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn't guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn't guarantee a fall.

Previous rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 17-6-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 1

Blame Steven Stamkos for helping to power the Lightning's dynamic top line with 36 points in 24 games. He's averaging 1.08 assists per game; in the last decade, only Sidney Crosby (2012-13, 48-game season) and Henrik Sedin (2009-10) have averaged over an assist per game for a full season.

2. Winnipeg Jets

Record: 15-6-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 5

Blame goalie Connor Hellebuyck for finally stabilizing the Jets' goaltending situation and helping them to a plus-15 goal differential. Winnipeg has only been on the plus side of goals for and against once since relocating from Atlanta (in 2014-15).

3. St. Louis Blues

Record: 17-7-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 2

Blame Vladimir Tarasenko for being a shot-generation machine on St. Louis' dominating top line. The Blues winger has 108 shots on goal this season, fourth in the NHL, and is second in the league in individual Corsi (146).

4. Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 16-8-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 3

Blame the remarkable goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky (.935 save percentage) for backstopping the Jackets to the top of the Metro Division. He was third for the Hart last season. Could he win it this season?

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 16-9-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 4

Blame Morgan Rielly for having an outstanding season from a possession perspective as he continues to blossom into a No. 1 defenseman for the Leafs.

6. Nashville Predators

Record: 15-6-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 8

Blame Filip Forsberg for fueling the No. 3 power play in the NHL this season (25.8 percent), notching 12 power-play points and already surpassing his 2016-17 total (9).

7. New York Islanders

Record: 15-7-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 12

Blame Josh Bailey for having the career year of career years as a top-liner with John Tavares and averaging 1.17 points per game.

8. New Jersey Devils

Record: 14-6-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 7

Blame Nico Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick, for energizing the attack with his speed and climbing up the team's point rankings, with 18 in 24 games.

9. Vegas Golden Knights

Record: 15-7-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 10

Blame William Karlsson for being the human embodiment of the Golden Knights: underestimated (by his former team), exceeding expectations (22 points in 23 games) and shocking the competition (he's tied for second in the league with two shorthanded goals).

10. Los Angeles Kings

Record: 14-8-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 6

Blame Jonathan Quick for being Jonathan Quick again and helping the Kings to second in the NHL in team goals-against average (2.28.)

11. Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 13-10-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 9

Blame Phil "The Thrill" Kessel for having what could end up being his best regular season. He leads the Penguins in points (32) and is on track for more than 100 in 2017-18.

12. San Jose Sharks

Record: 13-8-2
Week 5 ranking: No. 23

Blame Logan Couture for ... scoring all the goals? The Sharks center has 13 tallies this season. No other San Jose player has more than seven.

13. Washington Capitals

Record: 14-10-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 14

Blame Alex Ovechkin for being Alex Ovechkin again, netting 18 goals in 25 games, with 13 of them coming at even strength.

14. Dallas Stars

Record: 13-10-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 16

Blame Tyler Seguin for reaching another level as a player, leading the Stars in points (23 points) and earning some praise for his defense as well.

15. Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 12-9-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 17

Blame Alex DeBrincat for sparking the Blackhawks' offense in the past eight games, netting seven goals and four assists. Not bad for a rookie.

16. Boston Bruins

Record: 11-8-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 19

Blame Tuukka Rask for his bumpy November, giving up three or more goals in six of his last seven starts.

17. New York Rangers

Record: 13-10-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 13

Blame Mika Zibanejad for keeping the Rangers' power play relevant, with 11 points on the man advantage.

18. Calgary Flames

Record: 13-10-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 11

Blame the defensive pairing of T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic for their minus-13 Corsi and their minus-6 goal differential at 5-on-5.

19. Vancouver Canucks

Record: 11-10-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 25

Blame defenseman Erik Gudbranson for being a possession black hole when he's in the lineup, with a team-worst Corsi plus/minus of minus-72 at 5-on-5.

20. Colorado Avalanche

Record: 12-9-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 28

Blame goalie Semyon Varlamov for some elephantine goals-against totals in the past few weeks, including allowing five against the Predators and seven against the Knights.

21. Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 10-8-5
Week 7 Ranking: No. 18

Blame center Victor Rask for four goals and three assists in 21 games, as his point averages are way off from his previous three seasons.

22. Anaheim Ducks

Record: 11-10-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 15

No player to blame here: Instead, chalk it up to the stunning collection of injuries that has swept through the Ducks' lineup this season.

23. Montreal Canadiens

Record: 11-12-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 28

Blame center Alex Galchenyuk (5 goals, 6 assists) because it's the natural reflex for so many coaches and reporters in Montreal.

24. Minnesota Wild

Record: 11-10-3
Week 7 ranking: No. 21

Blame Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba for getting smoked as a pairing to the tune of minus-76 in Corsi at 5-on-5.

25. Detroit Red Wings

Record: 10-10-5
Week 7 Ranking: No. 22

Blame the defense of the top line, which, despite the presence of Henrik Zetterberg, is losing the possession battle, despite posting up goals courtesy of Anthony Mantha.

26. Ottawa Senators

Record: 8-9-6
Week 7 Ranking: No. 20

Blame defenseman Cody Ceci for being a special kind of terrible this season and still getting 21:51 per night.

27. Florida Panthers

Record: 10-12-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 29

Blame Nick Bjugstad (5 goals, 6 assists) for being inconsistent again, with a goal and an assist in his last six games. That said, it's an improvement from his injury-ruined 2016-17 season.

28. Edmonton Oilers

Record: 10-13-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 26

Obviously there's a lot of blame to be passed around here, but no matter which player you blame, be sure to include the Edmonton media for pointing out their shortcomings and hurting their feelings.

29. Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 8-10-7
Week 7 Ranking: No. 24

Blame coach Dave Hakstol, because that's what pretty much every Flyers fan is doing these days, so why not join in?

30. Arizona Coyotes

Record: 6-17-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 30

Blame Luke Schenn for being the hockey equivalent of a welcome mat for opposing scorers this season, with a minus-3.87 relative Corsi.

31. Buffalo Sabres

Record: 6-15-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 31

Blame every player who is labeled as a defenseman on this team this season, because ... woof.