A lot of inter-conference games made it difficult to properly rank teams for this week’s Power Rankings, and their general unfamiliarity with one another produced some unexpected results, including a 5-3 win by the struggling Knights over the Panthers, and a string of wins by the Sabres against strong playoff contenders.
But there were also some key matchups, especially between several Eastern Conference powerhouses that have really shaken up the rankings. The Lightning look vulnerable for the first time this season, while the Penguins are making a big charge up the standings.
More winners and losers should be easier to discern going forward following the trade deadline. The Ducks, for example, were in playoff position early in the season but have really faltered since then and ended up trading nearly all of their veterans. The Wild, in the midst of a tough playoff race in the Central, swung for the fences with Marc-André Fleury knowing that this might be their best window before facing a cap crunch over the next few seasons.
(All fancy stats are 5v5 and courtesy naturalstattrick.com)
1. Florida Panthers (42-14-6, +74. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 2nd. PR: 2)
A long five-day break made it tough to gauge the Panthers, but no team made a bigger splash at the trade deadline, shoring up their defense and acquiring the No. 1 name on the board: Claude Giroux.
2. Colorado Avalanche (45-14-5, +67. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 10th. PR: 3)
The Avs solidified their bottom six with Cogliano and Lehkonen and Manson on the back end, addressing all of their most pressing issues.
3. New York Rangers (40-19-5, +26. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 29th. PR: 7)
When Shesterkin isn’t sharp, the Rangers have no chance. It’s further evidence of how important he is to their success and also what happens when the goaltending isn’t good enough to cover up for their poor possession numbers.
4. Boston Bruins (39-19-5, +22. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 1st. PR: 6)
It’s a good thing for the B’s when both Swayman and Ullmark are playing well, and adding Hampus Lindholm should really improve their depth on the back end and also stop them from relying on McAvoy so much.
5. Calgary Flames (38-17-8, +65. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 3rd. PR: 4)
Wins against New Jersey and Vancouver were expected, but losses to Buffalo and San Jose certainly were not. The Flames are 4-3-1 in their past eight, a very uneven stretch for a team that’s generally been very consistent.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (40-18-5, +41. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 4th. PR: 8)
Erik Kallgren went 2-1-1 in his four starts, including an impressive win against the Canes and a shutout against the Stars. After going unclaimed on waivers, it also might just be the motivation Petr Mrazek needed to turn things around; he allowed just two goals against the Devils on Wednesday for the win.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (39-16-10, +41. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 6th. PR: 9)
They won three straight games this past week and their only loss was in a shootout against the Sabres. They’ve been one of the best teams in the league lately going 6-2-2.
8. Carolina Hurricanes (42-15-6, +56. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 5th. PR: 1)
Beating Tampa was the only reprieve. Otherwise, the Canes went 0-2-1 with losses to key conference opponents including the Leafs, Caps and Rangers. It was a very bad week for the Canes and see the biggest tumble down the rankings.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (39-17-6, +30. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 8th. PR: 5)
Losses to both the Canes and Rangers set the two-time defending champs back a little bit, especially after adding Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul. The setback should only be temporary, however, since both losses were by just a one-goal margin.
10. Los Angeles Kings (35-22-8, +6. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 7th. PR: 12)
It’s difficult to be consistent when Quick and Petersen constantly outperform each other at different stretches. They have alternated wins and losses for five straight games.
11. Nashville Predators (37-23-4, +27. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 16th. PR: 11)
A 6-1 loss to the Kings with Rittich in net prevented them from jumping higher on the Power Rankings, but otherwise, it’s a great sign that Saros has returned to form following a very poor stretch in February.
12. Minnesota Wild (37-20-4, +32. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 9th. PR: 19)
Talbot has won six straight games and shut out the Knights with Fleury serving as his backup. The two veteran netminders should push each other and should continue to roll with games against the Canucks, Jackets and Flyers coming up.
13. Winnipeg Jets (30-24-10, +3. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 17th. PR: 17)
A shutout win was a huge relief because it ended Hellebuyck’s 11-game streak of allowing at least three goals. The Jets have been doing fine in spite of it, however, losing just four times in regulation partially due to a very good offense.
14. St. Louis Blues (35-18-9, +47. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 25th. PR: 10)
An emphatic 5-2 win over the Caps finally stopped the bleeding after three straight losses, all of which were by one goal but concerning because one was to the struggling Jets and another to the Jackets. Husso and Binnington look shaky once again.
15. Dallas Stars (35-24-3, -1. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 14th. PR: 16)
Oettinger bounced back from three straight losses with three wins in four games, including a clutch 5-3 win over the Oilers to vault them back into a wild-card spot. It’s performances like these that should give the Stars hope.
16. Edmonton Oilers (35-24-5, +13. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 12th. PR: 13)
The Oilers lost two straight following the trade deadline, one each by Smith and Koskinen. It’s the Oilers’ most precarious position and yet the one they did not address at all. A playoff berth is likely given how weak the Pacific is, but they’ll be judged by their playoff performance, anyway.
17. Washington Capitals (35-20-10, +31. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 15th. PR: 14)
It’s often two steps forward and then a step back for the Caps, who won seven of eight with Vanecek in net, only to lose their two most recent games but also with Vanecek in net.
18. New York Islanders (27-25-9, -1. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 18th. PR: 20)
Both Sorokin and Varlamov have been very good, but it’s just too little, too late.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (32-29-3, -28. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 30th. PR: 21)
Korpisalo’s nightmare season continues with two losses in his past three games with 16 goals allowed. Otherwise, it was impressive to see them beat Minnesota and Vegas a week earlier.
20. Vegas Golden Knights (34-28-4, +4. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 11th. PR: 18)
Logan Thompson is doing his best to keep the Knights in it but a lineup decimated by injuries cannot pin their hopes on their No. 3 goalie. They were shut out in consecutive games on Monday and Tuesday and have not won on the road since March 4.
21. Vancouver Canucks (31-26-8, -1. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 19th. PR: 15)
The Canucks lost five of their past six in what was probably their most important stretch of the season, but bounced back nicely with a 3-1 win against the Avs on Wednesday. They’ll need to keep it going with a back-to-back against the Wild on Thursday.
22. San Jose Sharks (28-27-8, -31. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 23rd. PR: 24)
Reimer’s return brings a little stability to the Sharks net, and adding Kahkonen from Minnesota gives them yet another option while Adin Hill remains injured. They were 2-2-0 this past week with the only surprise being a win against the Flames, thanks to a subpar performance from Markstrom.
23. New Jersey Devils (23-36-5, -36. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 13th. PR: 22)
They’re legitimately fun to watch, even though their record doesn’t suggest it. They lost all three games through Western Canada by identical 6-3 scores and needed an off-night from Shesterkin to snap their skid.
24. Buffalo Sabres (23-33-8, -52. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 31st. PR: 29)
They’ve won five of their past six, including impressive overtime shutout wins against the Flames and Canucks, and then a shootout win against the Pens. Craig Anderson has won four of his past five.
25. Chicago Blackhawks (23-32-9, -50. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 28th. PR: 25)
The three-day break didn’t help the Hawks, who lost their weekend back-to-back by a combined 9-5 score and nearly succumbed to a Ducks comeback. Bright spot: Taylor Raddysh has scored two goals in three games with the Hawks, getting top-six minutes he never would’ve gotten with the Lightning.
26. Arizona Coyotes (20-39-4, -64. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 32nd. PR: 23)
It’s Vejmelka’s net now with Wedgewood traded to Dallas, and the streaky rookie has lost three of his past four games.
27. Seattle Kraken (20-38-6, -60. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 21st. PR: 31)
Grubauer has won two straight games, so that’s a nice surprise. It’s just the third (!) time he’s won two straight in regulation this season. You wonder how long that’s gonna last, however, after Ron Francis gutted their roster at the deadline.
28. Montréal Canadiens (17-36-10, -78. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 27th. PR: 26)
Jake Allen’s first win since November was a nice feel-good story, but it doesn’t mask that they’ve lost three of their past four, dealt away a few key players and headed toward the lottery. Martin St. Louis’ magic has faded a little bit but Caufield continues to improve.
29. Detroit Red Wings (26-30-7, -51. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 22nd. PR: 32)
Good news: Nedeljkovic has improved his play. Bad news: It still wasn’t enough to beat Seattle.
30. Ottawa Senators (22-36-5, -45. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 24th. PR: 27)
Trading for Travis Hamonic and paying a third-round pick for him when they were the only bidder wasn’t the only loss the Sens took. They’ve lost five of their past six and won only three times in regulation over the past month.
31. Anaheim Ducks (27-28-11, -26. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 20th. PR: 28)
The Ducks have lost eight straight and have just two (!) regulation wins since Feb. 1.
32. Philadelphia Flyers (20-32-11, -61. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 26th. PR: 30)
They have one legit NHL center in Kevin Hayes. One.