It’s the final Power Rankings of the season.
It’s been a fun exercise, even if at times contentious because of the multitude of opinions and the inherent randomness of team and player performance. One week, the Leafs look like they should plan a parade, and another week, it looks like they should claim any goalie that hits waivers. One month, the Knights look like a juggernaut (again), and another month, they’re a dysfunctional misfit.
The Previous Rank (AR) has been replaced by Average Rank (AR) this week, which is the average rank of the team since the Power Rankings started on November 3. The purpose of the Power Rankings was to provide a ledger of teams trending up and down from week to week, and it’s interesting to see how some of the teams ranked over the course of the season and their final rank.
Some results weren’t surprising (Panthers finished first and Habs last in AR) but some told a story; the Ducks finished in the bottom three in this week’s ranking, but their average rank was 19th, indicating that they had also played extremely well at certain points but eventually suffered a significant decline.
(All fancy stats are 5v5 and courtesy naturalstattrick.com)
1. Florida Panthers (57-17-6, +98. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 2nd. AR: 3.08)
It’s fitting the Panthers finish at No. 1 considering how consistently dominant they’ve been. They’ve fallen out of the top five just three times all season, never ranking lower than eighth and finishing no lower than second in the final five weeks. The bad news? The Presidents’ Trophy winners almost never win the Cup.
2. Colorado Avalanche (56-18-6, +82. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 12th. AR: 4.56)
The Avs looked really shaky for a brief moment, but they got back on track in a win against the Blues, a potential second-round opponent. Health will be their biggest concern in the playoffs, and the Avs still finished second in Average Rank due to their slow start, and they’ve been the consensus best team in the West since Day 1.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (50-22-8, +55. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 9th. AR: 4.96)
The Lightning have a switch they can flip at any time, and that’s what makes them so dangerous. At one point they had lost five of six, including 6-2 to the Leafs, but most recently they’ve won five of six, including 8-1 against the Leafs. Kucherov ranks second in the league in P/GP and Stamkos low-key had an MVP-caliber season filling in wherever he was needed and cracking triple digits in points for the first time in his career.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (53-21-7, +59. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 4th. AR: 5.12)
The Leafs finish fifth in Average Rank with a 7-2-1 record in the past 10, but a potential first-round matchup against the two-time defending champion Lightning also points to a very possible early playoff exit yet again. Bad luck or bad roster construction? Cursed or simply growing pains?
5. St. Louis Blues (49-21-11, +72. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 21st. AR: 10.24)
Until Husso took the reigns, the Blues looked like they were just going to hang around all season as a bottom-four playoff seed. But with unprecedented depth – they’ll try their darndest to make sure O’Reilly becomes their ninth 20-goal scorer – they’re also peaking at the right time.
6. Minnesota Wild (51-22-7, +53. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 7th. AR: 9.48)
The Wild and Blues have identical 8-1-1 records in their past 10 and it’ll be a spicy first-round matchup. However, the Blues rank higher after sweeping the season series, though two of the three wins were in overtime.
7. New York Rangers (51-23-6, +47. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 25th. AR: 6.20)
Shesterkin’s .935 Sv% is the highest mark in the cap era since Tim Thomas’ .938 Sv% in 2010-11. If anyone can singlehandedly backstop his team to the title, it’s Shesterkin. What fortune to go from King Henrik to Prince Igor, who is a real historical figure, by the way.
8. Calgary Flames (50-20-10, +88. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 3rd. AR: 8.20)
The top six teams by Average Rank are all within one spot of one another, but there’s a two-spot drop-off after the Rangers to the Flames, who went through a mid-season lull before really picking it up over the past few months. Their biggest weapon is arguably having the best top line in the league.
9. Carolina Hurricanes (53-20-8, +72. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 5th. AR: 4.60)
Despite a five-game winning streak to lock up the Metro title, the Canes just seem a little less dominant than they were earlier this season. Not having Andersen hurts, but even though they’re currently second in the East, they just don’t seem to be in the elite tier with Florida, Tampa or even Toronto. Does the Canes’ committee approach work?
10. Boston Bruins (50-25-5, +33. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 1st. AR: 11.20)
The Bruins aren’t elite but they’re consistently good, having won 25 games both at home and on the road. But just being good isn’t good enough, and note that their most likely first-round opponent, the Canes, swept the season series with a 16-1 (!) advantage in goals.
11. Edmonton Oilers (47-27-6, +36. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 11th. AR: 12.88)
Missing the playoffs looked like a distinct possibility but under Jay Woodcroft the Oilers went 23-9-3 to salvage their season. There is no better testament to hockey’s team-oriented nature than the Oilers, who employ two of the league’s best players but also have their Cup hopes hinge on a 40-year-old goaltender.
12. Washington Capitals (44-24-12, +35. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 15th. AR: 11.92)
The Caps were brilliant to start the season and essentially coasted on the early success, never ranking higher than eighth and as low as 21st since January. Though a first-round exit seems probable, they have a better chance of upsetting the Rangers as the third Metro seed rather than the Panthers as the eighth playoff seed.
13. Dallas Stars (45-30-5, -9. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 14th. AR: 16.68)
Sometimes I can’t tell if the Stars win games in spite of or because of Rick Bowness. They are the only team in playoff position with a negative goal differential, usually an indication of blowout losses and close wins. The evidence? A league-leading 28 one-goal wins but 16 three-goal losses, second highest in the league among teams with a P% over .500.
14. Nashville Predators (44-29-7, +14. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 16th. AR: 12.44)
Over the past three seasons, among goalies with at least 5,000 minutes played at 5-on-5, no one has saved more goals above average per 60 minutes than Saros. Without him, the Preds are now looking at a potential first-round sweep rather than a potential – even if unlikely to begin with – first-round upset.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (45-25-11, +41. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 8th. AR: 11.36)
The Pens are fading despite a stupendous job by Mike Sullivan all season juggling various injuries to key players. It may not even matter if they finish third in the Metro or eighth in the conference; they’re 1-1-1 against the Panthers and 1-2-0 against the Rangers, with five of the six games decided by just one goal.
16. Vancouver Canucks (39-30-11, +13. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 18th. AR: 20.44)
A disastrous start and the Canucks were only eliminated from playoff contention after 80 games. Their low Average Rank belies how awful they were under Travis Green and how good they were under Bruce Boudreau. It was a roller coaster season but despite some puke-inducing performances, they finish the season on a high.
17. Los Angeles Kings (43-27-10, +2. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 6th. AR: 16.72)
It wasn’t always pretty but the Kings get the job done. The Kings’ Average Rank was three full spots lower than the Knights and marks the division between the good and the bad in the middle class. They’re 1-2-1 against the Oilers, their first-round opponent, and despite being only four points behind them, are well behind from the West’s top five.
18. Vegas Golden Knights (42-31-7, +16. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 10th. AR: 13.40)
On talent alone, the Knights should be feared. But they always seemed less than the sum of their parts, though injuries did take a huge toll and their big-game hunting mentality put them in a cap bind. However, they have no one to blame but themselves, and they’re proof that hockey gods do exist.
19. Buffalo Sabres (31-38-11, -54. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 28th. AR: 25.84)
Don Granato made the Sabres fun to watch again, which is a miracle of its own. Despite finishing 26th in Average Rank, the Sabres finish with their highest ranking of the season.
20. New York Islanders (36-34-10, -8. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 23rd. AR: 21.44)
The Isles just never really had a chance, starting with a 13-game road trip to open the season and then an 11-game losing streak in November. Despite a new barn, it was an extremely disappointing season.
21. Winnipeg Jets (36-32-11, -12. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 17th. AR: 17.44)
The Jets really faded this season and never found their footing, and at times definitely looked a little stale. Hellebuyck carried a huge load over the past five seasons that finally seems to have caught up with him, and low-key they’re one of the most interesting teams to watch this offseason.
22. Ottawa Senators (32-41-7, -37. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 24th. AR: 26.48)
They needed some luck to win three straight, but the young players are so good that it’s hard not to feel optimistic despite a looming change in ownership. The Sens were bad but not completely terrible, finishing bottom three in the Power Rankings just five times all season.
23. San Jose Sharks (32-36-12, -46. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 22nd. AR: 22.48)
The Sharks try, but their roster is so poorly constructed it’s tough to compete. There’s a lot of pride on this team, as they showcased in a comeback win against the Knights where the sole motivation was to prevent their hated rivals from making the playoffs.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (36-37-6, -39. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 31st. AR: 21.96)
They stuck around but could never find a breakthrough, though it was a pretty good showing nonetheless considering their lack of depth down the middle. They are, however, seem to be in the midst of a transformation from a grind-it-out team to a more one with some offensive flair.
25. Seattle Kraken (26-47-6, -69. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 19th. AR: 26.68)
Beniers has been excellent and legitimately brings some hope to a franchise that had been criticized for nearly every decision relating to its management and roster. Their path upwards from the depths of the league, however, seems long and arduous.
26. Detroit Red Wings (31-40-10, -84. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 27th. AR: 24.36)
Seider and Raymond have proven to be excellent building blocks, but their late-season fade also showed that they’re still missing quite a few pieces for their new core. The Yzerplan is still in its early stages yet.
27. New Jersey Devils (27-44-9, -54. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 13th. AR: 25.60)
No chance the Devils are this low if their goaltending was even the tiniest bit better, and if injuries didn’t take such a huge bite out of their roster. The pieces are there, but they’ll have to prove it next season.
28. Chicago Blackhawks (27-42-11, -72. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 30th. AR: 26.96)
The Hawks’ 3-1 win against the Flyers was their first regulation win since March 23. This is the Blackhawks’ worst season in over 15 years, topping only the 2005-06 squad that won just 26 games.
29. Arizona Coyotes (23-50-7, -108. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 32nd. AR: 28.88)
The Coyotes have been a laughingstock for most of their existence, but you can’t deny their logic. With an average attendance of 11,513 per game (76.9% capacity), third-lowest in the league according to ESPN.com, they might lead the league in sellouts next season with their 5,000-seat arena. What an incredible business turnaround!
30. Anaheim Ducks (31-36-14, -37. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 20th. AR: 19.92)
Based purely on record, the Ducks shouldn’t be here, and their Average Rank is skewed by an unsustainably hot start. They rank in the bottom three for six straight weeks to end the season.
31. Philadelphia Flyers (25-44-11, -81. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 26th. AR: 26.92)
A slight improvement from last week’s bottom ranking after a 6-3 win against the Habs, but the ‘P’ in their logo still stands for ‘Pain’.
32. Montréal Canadiens (20-49-11, -107. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 29th. AR: 29.68)
Something something Shane Wright.