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Power Rankings: Depth helping Predators dominate to start second half

Without three of their top players, the Nashville Predators shutout the surprising Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. That performance has helped vault the Predators to the top of this week's Power Rankings.

No top line? No problem. Well, OK, that’s a problem, but if there’s any team equipped to deal with the body blows of losing three top offensive players to injuries, it’s the Nashville Predators.

And that’s exactly what happened when the Predators – already without Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson – lost Ryan Johansen after Johansen literally took one on the chin Tuesday night when he was hit by William Carrier in the second period of a scoreless game against the Vegas Golden Knights. But the Predators got a goal in the third and locked things down to beat the NHL’s second-best team – how weird does that sound? – for their third straight win.

Just on guile alone, the Predators earn the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings. And as always, regardless of what team you support, I hate your favorite team and I hate you. I also love the team that you hate. Second, these rankings are subjective. Third, we base our rankings heavily on recent performance and we ask one question when we do the rankings: If you were playing that night, which team would you least like to face? And while we do take the standings into account, if we wanted their rankings to reflect where they are in the standings, we’d, you know, just run the standings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)


1. Nashville Predators (7)

2. Calgary Flames (9)

3. Colorado Avalanche (5)

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (14)

5. Boston Bruins (6)

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)

7. Washington Capitals (1)

8. Vegas Golden Knights (4)

9. Dallas Stars (10)

10. San Jose Sharks (18)

Already without Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, the Preds lost Ryan Johansen in the second period of their 1-0 win Tuesday night…The NHL’s hottest player? How about Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton with 4-2-6 totals in his past five games?...The Avalanche haven’t trailed for one second of their current seven-game winning streak…A trip through California will be a good barometer for the much-improved Penguins…The Bruins haven’t lost a game in regulation since Dec. 14, a span of 13 games…The Lightning were scheduled to hold their first actual practice of 2018 today as they come off their bye week…The Capitals’ third line of Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-T.J. Oshie has four goals in four games…The Golden Knights’ top line of Reilly Smith-William Karlsson-Jonathan Marchessault has 51-63-144 totals in a combined 126 games…Jason Spezza responded to healthy scratch with two goals in the Stars 4-2 win over Detroit Tuesday…Sharks future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton is on pace for his first 20-goal season since 2010-11.


11. Winnipeg Jets (2)

12. St. Louis Blues (15)

13. New Jersey Devils (13)

14. Minnesota Wild (24)

15. New York Rangers (16)

16. Toronto Maple Leafs (12)

17. Columbus Blue Jackets (8)

18. Los Angeles Kings (17)

19. Edmonton Oilers (28)

20. Philadelphia Flyers (11)

Jets goalie Steve Mason, who missed seven games in November and December with a concussion, was hit by a high shot during the morning skate last Friday and has sat out the two games since…Believe it or not, Blues goalie Carter Hutton has the best save percentage in the league (.942) among goalies who have played at least 15 games this season…After playing 748 career games without dropping his gloves, Devils captain Andy Greene had his first set-to Tuesday night, against Brock Nelson of the Islanders…After getting spanked 7-2 by Colorado Jan. 6, the Wild picked up six of a possible eight points heading into their bye week…After going 12 games without a goal, Rick Nash scored two of them in the Rangers 5-1 win over Philadelphia Tuesday night…The Maple Leafs have not won a game in regulation since Dec. 28, a span of eight games (2-3-3)…The Blue Jackets are the only team in the league that is unbeaten in 3-on-3 overtime (6-0) and are 11-3 overall in games that go past 60 minutes…Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury…Here’s something for the Oilers to hang their helmets on in the midst of a disastrous season: They’re the only team in the league so far that has beaten Vegas twice this season…With 25 goals, Flyers center Sean Couturier has already bettered his previous career-best by 10 goals and is on pace to score 47 this season.


21. Anaheim Ducks (21)

22. Chicago Blackhawks (19)

23. New York Islanders (23)

24. Montreal Canadiens (20)

25. Florida Panthers (22)

26. Ottawa Senators (27)

27. Vancouver Canucks (29)

28. Carolina Hurricanes (26)

29. Detroit Red Wings (25)

30. Buffalo Sabres (31)

31. Arizona Coyotes (30)

Argue all you want about whether or not Andrew Cogliano deserved to be suspended based on what he did on the ice, but there is no way his ironman streak should have been a factor in the decision whether or not to suspend him. Good call by the Department of Player Safety…If Corey Crawford, who is suffering vertigo for the second time in his career, is indeed out for the season as has been speculated, the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes vanish and it comes time to sell what little they have in spare parts at the deadline…Dear New York Islanders: Some consistency, please? And is it too much to ask that you pretend to care about playing defense?...Guess it’s now a perfect world in Montreal, with Jonathan Drouin due to play right wing tonight on a line with Jacob De La Rose at center and Alex Galchenyuk on the left side…The Panthers’ biggest problem is scoring depth. They’re 20th in the league in goals per game but have three players – Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov – who are playing at or near a point-per-game clip…Matt Duchene and Mike Hoffman are beginning to find some harmony in Ottawa, but it’s too late to use it to salvage this season…The annual watch involving Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline has officially begun. Thing is, he looks like a pretty good fit in Vancouver…It starts and ends with ownership. Always has, always will. With that in mind, if you’re a Hurricanes fan, you have to like what you’re seeing and hearing from Tom Dundon in the early going…Is GM Ken Holland going to Vancouver next season? Well, he’s still not signed to an extension and he reportedly has no interest in being kicked upstairs…Should the Sabres consider trading pending restricted free agent Sam Reinhart before the deadline? It would be a move fraught with peril and a disaster if he went somewhere else and realized his potential, but there are few players who look like they need a new start more than Reinhart…At the very least, the Coyotes have been consistent this season – 5-14-3 at home, 5-14-5 on the road.

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