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THN Power Rankings: Flames, Rangers, Avalanche Rise to the Occasion

With the league about to enter American Thanksgiving, it's time for fans of the top teams to thank them for great starts - while other fanbases should start to get worried.
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There are few significant changes in this week’s rankings as Thanksgiving has pushed the heavy slates to Wednesday and Friday, which means we don’t have Tuesday’s games to scrutinize.

There are, however, interesting movements both in the middle and the bottom of the pack. The meaty middle features a bevy of teams that continue to underperform (eg. Avalanche), outperform (eg. Ducks) or struggle with consistency (too many to list), but also good enough to potentially make deep playoff runs in the spring.

The bottom is now a three-team race between the Coyotes, Canadiens and Senators, with the Kraken and Canucks – so much for that vaunted Pacific Northwest rivalry – possibly joining the fray. We know the Coyotes are looking to finish get the highest pick possible, but the Habs and Sens still seem to be in a bit of denial; they have not publicly capitulated, and even Pierre Dorion had (in)famously said “the rebuild is done.”

Once December and January roll around, we’ll get an even better idea of which teams will be making desperation moves to win games and which ones will have already thrown in the towel.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers. Unfortunately, the Power Rankings remain unkind to your favorite team.

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

1. Carolina Hurricanes (14-2-1, +23 goal differential. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 12th. Last Week: 1)

2. Florida Panthers (13-2-3, +24. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 5th. Last Week: 3)

The Panthers move back into second place after going 3-0 in three home games following four straight losses on the road. That’s a really strong bounce-back without Aleksander Barkov, and this kind of resiliency will be important later on in the season when injury season hits in December and January, and when the playoff races get tighter.

3. Edmonton Oilers (13-5-0, +15. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 19th. Last Week: 2)

The Oilers, meanwhile, have lost some momentum with a 3-3-0 record in their past six and wasting quality starts from Stuart Skinner because suddenly they can’t score goals. It’ll be temporary, but the goaltending situation may prevent the Oilers from moving any higher unless Skinner rips off a rookie-of-the-month-type of run.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (13-6-1, +6. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 1st. Last Week: 5)

5. Calgary Flames (12-3-5, +30. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 6th. Last Week: 10)

The ultimate irony with these two Canadian teams (three, if you include Winnipeg) is that they’ve been successful thanks to excellent goaltending, yet the Canadian Olympic team has huge question marks in net. The four goalies have already combined for 11 (!) shutouts this season, and even if their goaltending regress a little bit, the Leafs are too talented and the Flames too well-coached to risk any precipitous falls.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-4-3, +7. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 8th. Last Week: 6)

7. Washington Capitals (11-3-5, +20. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 11th. Last Week: 4)

8. New York Rangers (11-4-3, even. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 30th. Last Week: 11)

9. Colorado Avalanche (9-5-1, +12. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 7th. Last Week: 16)

The Avs move back into the top 10 with five straight wins after starting 4-5-1 in their first 10, though the winning streak is slightly less impressive when you realize three of the four teams they faced are probably lottery-bound. It is still very encouraging to see the Avs dominate the bad teams, and Nazem Kadri is playing better than ever and Darcy Kuemper is finally finding some consistency.

10. Anaheim Ducks (10-6-3, +12. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 22nd. Last Week: 9)

Is this the slip-up we were looking for? The Ducks have lost two straight, both by one-goal margins, after their eight-game winning streak was snapped. Colorado, Toronto, Vegas and Calgary are coming up, and those are going to be very tough tests. The Ducks’ possession numbers aren’t particularly strong and their top scorers seem to be scoring at an unsustainable pace.

11. Minnesota Wild (11-6-1, +5. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 2nd. Last Week: 8)

It was going to be a tough week with four games and a back-to-back weekend series against Florida and Tampa, but it still doesn’t excuse their up-and-down play. The Wild are like the Freaky Friday version of the Ducks; the analytics are good, but they never seem to quite pass the eye test and some of their top players haven’t lived up to expectations. The Wild are a shaky team that has had two separate four-game winning streaks and stretches where the losses pile up in bunches.

12. Boston Bruins (9-6-0, +3. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 3rd. Last Week: 12)

13. Winnipeg Jets (9-5-4, +7. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 10th. Last Week: 7)

It’s a big fall for the Jets, who have lost three straight and all of sudden having trouble scoring goals. They’re another team in the middle class who go through stretches where they look very good and stretches where they look very bad, but on any given night could give any Cup contender a good run for their money.

14. Nashville Predators (10-7-1, even. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 20th. Last Week: 17)

15. St. Louis Blues (10-6-2, +12. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 23rd. Last Week: 18)

16. Vegas Golden Knights (11-8-0, even. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 25th. Last Week: 15)

17. Columbus Blue Jackets (10-6-0, +6. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 15th. Last Week: 19)

18. Los Angeles Kings (8-7-3, +1. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 21st. Last Week: 14)

The Kings are the ultimate streaky bunch, losing six straight at the beginning of the season before winning seven straight, and now have lost four in a row. No doubt that has to do with the drop-off from Anze Kopitar, who scored 13 points in nine games in October and so far only has four points in nine games in November.

19. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-6-4, +2. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 4th. Last Week: 26)

The Pens went 3-0 on their road trip and carry some momentum into their next stretch of games that includes the Canucks, Isles and Habs, giving them a chance to make up some lost ground. Interesting to note Sidney Crosby is averaging 18:06 per game. Whether this will be a season-long trend or if Mike Sullivan is still easing him back in remains to be seen.

20. Dallas Stars (8-7-2, -5. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 13th. Last Week: 24)

21. Philadelphia Flyers (8-6-3, -5. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 28th. Last Week: 13)

22. New Jersey Devils (8-5-3, -1. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 17th. Last Week: 21)

23. San Jose Sharks (9-8-1, -16. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 27th. Last Week: 22)

24. Chicago Blackhawks (6-11-2, -21. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 32nd. Last Week: 27)

25. Buffalo Sabres (7-9-2, -8. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 24th. Last Week: 23)

26. Detroit Red Wings (8-9-3, -13. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 14th. Last Week: 20)

27. Seattle Kraken (5-12-1, -16. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 9th. Last Week: 29)

28. New York Islanders (5-8-2, -16. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 16th. Last Week: 25)

The odds are really against you when you play a defensive system and your goaltending is atrocious. A big home opener after a 13-game road trip resulted in a loss, and then another loss the following night has now snowballed into a six-game losing streak. They’re missing basically their entire second line and their top pairing of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, which is also one of the best in the league.

29. Vancouver Canucks (6-11-2, -16. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 26th. Last Week: 30)

30. Arizona Coyotes (4-13-2, -35. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 31st. Last Week: 31)

Three wins last week? Three?!? Two of them required overtime, but I’m not picky since the Coyotes have actually done a pretty good job of limiting goals with two goalies no one’s really heard of. Winning is basically anathema to the Coyotes, so we should celebrate when we can – it doesn’t happen very often, after all.

31. Montréal Canadiens (5-13-2, -26. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 18th. Last Week: 32)

A 6-3 win against the Preds brought some reprieve, but the Habs continue to be in shambles. Cole Caufield has done next to nothing in the two games since getting called up, and the Habs needed a four-goal second period – which accounted for basically a quarter of the 15 goals they scored all season in the second period – to stave off a too-little, too-late comeback from the Preds. Jake Allen is back, but I don’t know if that’s a positive or not.

32. Ottawa Senators (4-11-1, -18. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 29th. Last Week: 28)

The Senators hit rock bottom, finding themselves in last place for THN’s Power Rankings for the first time. The race for Shane Wright is far more interesting when there’s more than one team – ahem, Arizona – gunning for the No. 1 pick, though unlike the tank job from the Coyotes (and perhaps the Habs soon enough), the Sens’ tank job isn’t really by design. A COVID-19 outbreak that forced the Sens to sit out an entire week isn’t on them, but they have only one win in November, and in their most recent game against the Avs blew their lead twice. 

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