It’s the first week in a long time without any re-scheduled games but, wow, how quickly and how much things have changed. While the Colorado Avalanche retains top spot for another week, which they will unlikely relinquish for the rest of the season, this week’s power rankings feature significant movement among the other teams.
There’s a significant shakeup even at the bottom of the rankings, where the Habs are making a charge, draft lottery odds be damned. This is the first week the Habs have not ranked among the bottom three with the Kraken now falling to the very bottom of the, ahem, proverbial ocean.
(All fancy stats are 5v5 and courtesy naturalstattrick.com)
1. Colorado Avalanche (40-10-4, +65. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 9th. Previous Rank: 1)
The Avs are on pace for 60 wins, which would be just the second time a team has managed to reach that milestone, and on pace for 127 points, the second-highest total ever. The team that holds the record for most wins (62) and points (128) in the cap era? The Lightning.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (35-11-6, +36. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 6th. PR: 2)
For the fourth straight week and the fourth time in five weeks, the Avs and Lightning finish 1-2 in the power rankings. However, the Avs hold the edge in the season series with two wins in two games, though both were by one-goal margins. The only other time they may meet for the rest of the season is in the Stanley Cup Finals. It seems as though we’re set on a collision course.
3. Calgary Flames (32-14-6, +57. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 1st. PR: 4)
The Flames’ 10-game winning streak started with a win against the Canucks so it seemed fitting to see it end against the Canucks. Perhaps they were in awe of the skate jersey in a 7-1 drubbing, but they were the best team in February and bounced back quickly with two key wins against a potential playoff opponent.
4. Carolina Hurricanes (37-11-5, +59. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 8th. PR: 6)
The Canes’ five-game winning streak was snapped on Tuesday, though it was Raanta in net. Andersen has quietly compiled a Vezina-worthy season, making the Canes look like geniuses with their gamble after jettisoning Nedeljkovic.
5. St. Louis Blues (32-14-6, +47. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 24th. PR: 7)
An overtime loss to the Habs has been their only blemish lately, and they’re a team to be reckoned with when both Binnington and Husso are playing well. They’re a combined 4-0-1 with just 10 goals allowed in five games over the past two weeks.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (35-14-4, +45. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 4th. PR: 9)
It was a wild ride, but the Leafs pulled off three straight wins, all with Mrazek in net as Campbell tries to get back on track. It’s an easy stretch coming up which will give the Buds a chance to climb up, but face a big litmus test against the Panthers on March 27, the first meeting between the two teams this season.
7. New York Rangers (33-15-5, +23. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 27th. PR: 3)
The drop seems steep but it’s a problem if Shesterkin limits their opponent to one goal and they still can’t win. They sleepwalked through most of Sunday’s loss to Vancouver and face tough Central Division teams in five of their next six games.
8. Florida Panthers (35-13-5, +57. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 2nd. PR: 5)
Three straight losses at home bump the Panthers down to their lowest ranking of the season. Scoring is not a problem for them, but limiting goals may be.
9. Boston Bruins (32-18-4, +15. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 3rd. PR: 12)
They’re 3-1-0 with Marchand in the lineup following his suspension, who scored five points. Their only loss was by a one-goal margin in the second half of a back-to-back with Ullmark in net, who should be their backup going forward. Also, when they get secondary scoring from players such as DeBrusk, they’re difficult to beat.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (33-14-8, +30. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 7th. PR: 10)
The 6-1 loss to the Devils was ugly but both DeSmith and Jarry have put in strong performances, allowing just two goals combined against the Rangers and Jackets, two teams with good offenses.
11. Minnesota Wild (31-17-3, +29. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 12th. PR: 8)
Kahkonen and Talbot were a combined 0-3-0 record and .867 Sv% this past week, including two losses to the Flames. Those were litmus test games because it’s possible they meet in the first round of the playoffs. A timeshare is brewing in Minnesota though that may not be a bad thing since both goalies have shown they’re very capable this season.
12. Edmonton Oilers (30-21-3, +8. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 11th. PR: 11)
They’re now 7-3-0 under Woodcroft and he’s got a much better grasp on how to handle his rotation than Tippett. Clearly, Smith can’t handle a big workload, which will be a problem in the playoffs, and Koskinen’s play is still too mercurial. Noteworthy: Bouchard averaged 21:42 TOI/GP under Tippett but only 14:39 under Woodcroft.
13. Los Angeles Kings (29-18-7, +6. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 5th. PR: 13)
They were in a groove until a brutal 7-0 loss to the Bruins. The Kings’ play at home still leaves a lot to be desired, though McLellan has done a pretty good job making the Kings better than the sum of their parts. They’ve outshot their opponents in 21 straight games.
14. Vegas Golden Knights (30-20-4, +18. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 10th. PR: 15)
Hopefully, Lehner’s return will turn the tide because for a team that’s supposed to be a Cup contender, scoring just three goals against Arizona and Colorado combined – both losses – just won’t cut it. Eichel has looked pretty good so far and their chances will be significantly impacted by his play.
15. Nashville Predators (30-19-4, +12. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 16th. PR: 14)
Saros’ poor play has been a little concerning though it seems as though he’s starting to turn it around again, allowing one goal against the Stars and two against the Lightning.
16. Dallas Stars (29-20-3, even. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 14th. PR: 16)
Can the Stars ride Oettinger to the playoffs? That’s a big if and secondary scoring is still an issue when their top line can’t get going. If they trade Klingberg, it’ll also leave a pretty big hole on their blue line.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-25-1, -17. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 30th. PR: 19)
It was an impressive run by the Jackets in February, tied sixth with Carolina in P%. One big reason: Patrik Laine is playing like a superstar again and entering Tuesday’s games ranked 10th in the league with 0.56 G/GP, just behind the likes of Pacioretty and Ovechkin.
18. Vancouver Canucks (26-23-6, -4. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 18th. PR: 20)
For the Canucks, it’s always really good for a while then it just turns into a train wreck for a game or two before they get back on track. Wins against the Flames and the Rangers on the road was impressive, and then they start Halákand lose by five goals.
19. Winnipeg Jets (24-21-9, -3. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 19th. PR: 21)
The two wins were expected considering their competition was Arizona and Montréal, but the most positive sign is that they’re scoring with relative ease. A playoff spot is still within reach but they need to play even better to have a chance.
20. Anaheim Ducks (26-21-9, -7. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 22nd. PR: 18)
The wins have just been harder to come by. They had to score seven to beat Vancouver, squeezed past San Jose in a shootout and narrowly beat Boston in the midst of their road trip. Gibson’s numbers in February were particularly ugly: 1-4-0, .820 Sv%, 5.72 GAA.
21. Washington Capitals (28-18-9, +20. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 15th. PR: 17)
At what point does Washington press the panic button? They’ve lost three straight, including one to lowly Philly after beating them the week before, and since Jan. 1 rank 26th in P%. It’s actually amazing that despite their poor form their goal differential is still the 11th-best in the league.
22. Detroit Red Wings (24-24-6, -34. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 23rd. PR: 23)
They’ve allowed 18 goals in their past three games, including a huge blown lead against the Leafs. An overtime win against the Canes was a very nice response, however.
23. New York Islanders (20-22-8, -14. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 17th. PR: 24)
When Zach Parise leads your team in scoring, that’s a problem. The normally dependable Josh Bailey was healthy scratched in what continues to be a confounding season despite all the fanfare with their new home.
24. San Jose Sharks (24-24-6, -25. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 20th. PR: 26)
They’re old, slow, overpaid and probably the worst team to watch in the league. Reimer left Tuesday’s game against the Knights and that spells even more goaltending trouble with Hill still on injured reserve.
25. New Jersey Devils (19-30-5, -30. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 13th. PR: 28)
It is Nico Daws time in Jersey? The rookie has started three of their past four games and looked rather good. Despite the losses, they’re an entertaining team to when Jack Hughes is scoring at will.
26. Montréal Canadiens (13-34-7, -79. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 28th. PR: 30)
They scored four or more goals just eight times in 45 games under Ducharme, but three times in nine games under St. Louis. This is the first time the Habs are not in the bottom three of the power rankings, but the 8-4 loss to the Jets on Tuesday was a reality check – they’re still not a good team.
27. Ottawa Senators (19-28-5, -29. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 25th. PR: 22)
The Sens wagon is fun when Forsberg and Murray are providing solid goaltending because they have a talented young lineup that gives them a chance to win, but the losing streak once again bumps them down, which included a loss to the Habs.
28. Chicago Blackhawks (19-27-8, -51. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 29th. PR: 29)
The 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons were the worst in franchise history in the cap era, until this year’s crew rolled around. But those two poor seasons also helped them get Toews (2006 draft) and Kane (2007 draft). No other franchise in the league needs a hard reset with a new franchise player to build around more than the tainted Blackhawks.
29. Arizona Coyotes (14-35-4, -73. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 32nd. PR: 31)
The Coyotes tied for 23rd with a .400 P% in February, concluding their best month of the season. I repeat, that was their best month of the season. Interesting development: Barrett Hayton looks like a top prospect again.
30. Philadelphia Flyers (16-27-10, -53. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 26th. PR: 32)
A 2-1 win against the Caps was a nice reprieve, but otherwise, they just finished the month with just two wins. This will be the second time the Flyers finished with a .500 P% in the cap era, but the 2021-22 squad will go down as the most offensively inept team with just 2.47 GF/GP.
31. Buffalo Sabres (16-30-8, -52. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 31st. PR: 25)
They’ve lost six in a row with a combined .873 Sv% from Anderson and Tokarski. I think there’s a petition going around to replace blue cheese with Swiss as the side of choice to better reflect Buffalo’s goaltending.
32. Seattle Kraken (16-34-5, -56. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 21st. PR: 27)
Even in the worst-case scenarios, the Kraken was never expected to finish last. At best, they were the Knights redux, and at worst, they would be a playoff team in a relatively weak division. The bright side: there’s nowhere to go but up.
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