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NHL Power Rankings: It's a Close Fight at the Top

The trade season has officially kicked off, and look for the buyers to subsequently move up the Power Rankings. But for now, the top teams are keeping things close.
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The Colorado Avalanche moved the first domino acquiring Josh Manson for the Ducks, and a subsequent trade sending Tyson Jost to the Wild as a potential cap dump might be a precursor to something even bigger down the road. The Habs also sat out Ben Chiarot, which means a trade is imminent.

The trade season has officially kicked off, and look for the buyers to subsequently move up the Power Rankings. This past week saw many of the elite teams stumble a little bit and others bound for the lottery play the spoiler, which means a slight shakeup at the top with most of the movement concentrated among the middle class once again.

(All fancy stats are 5v5 and courtesy naturalstattrick.com)

1. Carolina Hurricanes (41-13-5, +59 goal differential. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 5th. PR: 1)

A 4-2 loss to the Pens almost cost the Canes the top spot, which they’ve now held for a league-leading seven weeks since Nov. 1, but it was the second half of a back-to-back. Raanta will get more starts down the stretch to keep Andersen fresh, and despite the recent loss, the drop-off has been marginal.

2. Florida Panthers (41-13-6, +73. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 3rd. PR: 3)

The Panthers came a shootout goal away from claiming the top spot, but the situation with Bobrovsky definitely raises some eyebrows. After announcing Bob would start Tuesday against the Sharks, it was Knight who started instead, and for the second straight game.

3. Colorado Avalanche (43-13-5, +66. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 10th. PR: 2)

Back-to-back shutout wins for Kuemper is a great sign because it means their biggest worry going into the season – goaltending – isn’t a huge concern anymore. A shutout win against the Flames following an overtime defeat just a week ago definitely made a statement.

4. Calgary Flames (36-16-7, +61. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 2nd. PR: 5)

A 3-0 loss to the Avs prevents the Flames from moving higher, though the analytics grade the Flames higher. This is the best Flames team ever in the cap era based on points percentage, and also ranks 2nd in both GF/GP and GA/GP.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning (38-15-6, +29. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 6th. PR: 4)

A 2-1 win against the Canucks snapped a tough three-game losing streak, but they also needed an excellent Vasilevskiy performance to do so. They’ll be on the road again for four games following Saturday’s home date against the Rangers.

6. Boston Bruins (37-18-5, +21. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 1st. PR: 9)

They’ve lost just one game in regulation in March though the schedule hasn’t been particularly tough. But results are results, and they’re really emerging as a potential dark horse without any obvious flaws on their roster.

7. New York Rangers (38-17-5, +27. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 28th. PR: 6)

Losses to the Wild and Blues showcase how important Shesterkin is to their success because their analytics have been poor all season. They’ve done a great job of keeping it together all season, but despite having one of the league’s best records don’t seem to be strong buyers. They’ll need to do better than eking out wins against the Ducks and trading goals to join the rest of the East’s elite.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (38-17-5, +42. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 4th. PR: 7)

Is Erik Källgren going on a run like Garrett Sparks in 2015? It just wouldn’t be a complete Leafs season without goaltending being a headache.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (36-16-9, +34. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 8th. PR: 10)

They’re fine when Jarry is in net but with a playoff spot all but locked up, resting him for DeSmith probably isn’t a bad idea. They’ve won five of their past eight and Mike Sullivan continues to steady the ship, and should at least be recognized as a Jack Adams finalist this season.

10. St. Louis Blues (34-17-8, +46. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 24th. PR: 11)

Re-order the Blues, Preds and Jets anyway you like, because there’s little separating them and the margin for error is tiny. The Blues took care of the Preds easily in a 7-4 win, but fell flat in an overtime loss to the Jets.

11. Nashville Predators (35-21-4, +27. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 16th. PR: 12)

The wins are picking up again with five wins in their past six games, with their only loss coming against the Blues. The Preds have allowed 15 goals in three games against them and trail 1-2-0 in the season series.

12. Los Angeles Kings (33-21-8, +2. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 7th. PR: 8)

A sudden scoring drought, goaltending woes and injuries to key players, and suddenly the Kings don’t look like a lock anymore. Their upcoming schedule is favorable – San Jose, Chicago and Seattle twice – but their grip is slipping with the Oilers four points behind with two games in hand.

13. Edmonton Oilers (33-23-4, +8. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 13th. PR: 18)

The process is ugly but they get the job done. Koskinen has won three straight games even though he’s hardly reliable, and as a testament to the Oilers’ woeful goaltending history, already ranks sixth all-time in wins.

14. Washington Capitals (33-18-10, +29. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 14th. PR: 16)

The only reason Samsonov started last week was that the Caps were playing back-to-back. Otherwise, they’ve been committed to Vanecek, who has been very good. They will go only as far as their goaltending takes them.

15. Vancouver Canucks (30-24-7, +2. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 19th. PR: 15)

A much-needed win Tuesday against the Devils keeps them in the thick of the race and the road ahead is even tougher. The Canucks have three more games in their homestand but following the trade deadline play six of their next eight on the road, including two games each against the Blues and Knights.

16. Dallas Stars (32-23-3, -3. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 15th. PR: 13)

The lengthy breaks did them no favors with two losses and a combined 11-4 score. Oettinger was going to be their No. 1 anyway, but losing Khudobin for the season does take away one of their trade chips and a safety net should Oettinger or Holtby get hurt.

17. Winnipeg Jets (28-23-10, -1. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 17th. PR: 19)

They’ve woken up with four wins in five games and sit two points out of the final wild-card spot though both the Canuck and Stars, who have three games in hand, are ahead of them. They’re 4-2-1 with Ehlers back in the lineup, the second-best P% in the Central trailing only the Preds and Coyotes.

18. Vegas Golden Knights (32-26-4, +5. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 9th. PR: 14)

They went 0-5-0 on their road trip with 23 goals allowed, including a 3-1 loss to the Sabres, but at least it provided us with one of the best passive-aggressive potshots ever.

19. Minnesota Wild (34-20-4, +25. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 11th. PR: 17)

The Wild should at least be on the verge of full panic mode as their goaltending continues to implode, having allowed 35 goals in March, second-most in the league and third-most on a per-game basis. A 6-2 loss to the Preds that would’ve moved them to third in the Central was particularly deflating.

20. New York Islanders (24-24-9, -6. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 18th. PR: 24)

They went 3-0-1 since last week but it’s too little, too late, a little bit long and I just can’t wait. The Isles have curiously gone back to a rotation even though Sorokin has been excellent, but that might be an early sign of waving the white flag.

21. Columbus Blue Jackets (30-27-3, -23. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 31st. PR: 20)

Fun fact: This is the highest-scoring Blue Jackets team ever, averaging 3.25 goals for per game and on pace to set a new franchise record in total goals for by more than 10 goals.

22. New Jersey Devils (22-33-5, -32. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 12th. PR: 21)

Their offense is fun to watch but their goaltending and defense are a complete mess. Consecutive wins against the Avs and Blues were impressive, but then they lose two of their next three games and needed a shootout to beat the Ducks.

23. Arizona Coyotes (20-36-4, -57. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 32nd. PR: 25)

If you consider the goalies the Coyotes have faced recently – Murray, Gustavsson, Nedeljkovic, Mrazek, Montembeault – then their offensive outburst is easy to understand. Still, six wins in seven games is impressive; this is the Coyotes’ highest ranking this season.

24. San Jose Sharks (26-25-8, -29. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 23rd. PR: 30)

They beat up the rival Kings twice to loosen their footing in the Pacific Division and then pushed the Panthers to overtime, using three different goalies in all of their games. Sometimes, fixing leaks with band-aids does work, but just don’t expect it to last.

25. Chicago Blackhawks (22-30-9, -48. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 29th. PR: 23)

Marc-André Fleury has not had a losing season since his first year as the Pens’ starter and he’s one game below .500 for the season. It would be nice to at least see him extend that streak though somewhat improbable considering the Blackhawks’ losing record.

26. Montréal Canadiens (16-36-8, -80. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 26th. PR: 22)

Three losses in their past four games and the imminent departure of Ben Chiarot is a pretty good indication of where this team’s headed. Some of the Martin St. Louis magic has rubbed off, so the Habs are crashing down to earth, though their worst is still better than some of Dominique Ducharme’s best.

27. Ottawa Senators (21-33-5, -37. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 25th. PR: 27)

The Sens are counting the days before they sign Jake Sanderson, though if North Dakota ends up going all the way at the Frozen Four, it’ll be April 9 at the soonest. That’s probably going to be the highlight in their final quarter of the season.

28. Anaheim Ducks (27-25-11, -18. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 20th. PR: 26)

On the bright side, they get to go back to sunny California following a brutal road trip where they went 0-3-2 and prompted new GM Pat Verbeek to trade Josh Manson, with more veterans likely going out the door.

29. Buffalo Sabres (20-32-8, -50. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 30th. PR: 31)

Getting Craig Anderson his 300th was nice, and wins against Vegas and Toronto at the Heritage Classic were definitely good statement games.

30. Philadelphia Flyers (18-30-11, -58. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 27th. PR: 29)

Since Ristolainen signed his first big extension in 2016, he’s posted a minus-108 rating, tied with Damon Severson for the worst in the league. So, yeah, with Ristolainen being only minus-13 this season, I can see why Chuck Fletcher thought he was totally worth the money.

31. Seattle Kraken (18-37-6, -61. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 21st. PR: 32)

As the saying goes, past performance doesn’t always indicate future performance. Despite placing an emphasis on analytics, nobody thought Grubauer’s .888 Sv% would be so much lower than his previous career-worst .915 Sv%, which was during his rookie season.

32. Detroit Red Wings (24-29-7, -53. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 22nd. PR: 28)

The Dead Things have not won in regulation in over a month and they’ve lost six straight games. 

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