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THN Power Rankings: It's a Good Time for Florida Sunshine

The NHL is finally starting to trend back to normal, schedule-wise, and two teams from the Sunshine State have taken advantage of the situation. Jason Chen breaks down all 32 NHL teams.
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There’s a nine-game difference between teams with the most and least games played, and various interruptions at different times truly has made this season unpredictable. You know which teams are good and which teams are bad, but separating the very good from the good, or the below-average from the mediocre, has become a very difficult exercise.

This past week – especially Tuesday’s slate – has brought a lot of wild games but it has led to few fluctuations in the Power Rankings. Even wins for the league’s bottom feeders – as surprising as they may have been – barely moved the needle because all of them (save Philadelphia, sorry) managed to pull one off.

Meanwhile, the Lightning climb back into the top spot. Only a handful of teams have the right to jostle for the No. 1 spot and the margin for error is tiny. Any slip-up, like the Panthers’ loss to the Flames and the Canes’ loss to the Jackets, opens the door for another team to leapfrog them.

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

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (27-9-5, +24 goal differential. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 5th. Previous Rank: 4)

A wild 6-4 win over the Kings allows the Lightning to take back the top spot for the third time in the past five weeks. They started off a little slow, but they’ve found their stride and they’re nearly unstoppable when their core is healthy. No team has won three Cups in a row since Al Arbour’s Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.

2. Florida Panthers (26-8-5, +43. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 2nd. PR: 1)

A 5-1 loss cost the Panthers the top spot this week and ended an impressive four-game winning streak during which they outscored their opponents 25-8. Jonathan Huberdeau has an outside shot to win the Art Ross and ranks second in the league with 21 first assists, trailing only Nathan MacKinnon’s 22, according to evolving-hockey.com.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (26-8-2, +45. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 7th. PR: 2)

The Canes are a resilient bunch, winning both games and outscoring their opponents 11-2 following a 6-0 loss to Columbus. They also have 10 different goal scorers and nine players who have scored at least two points during that span. Oh, and Freddie Andersen has been stellar.

4. Colorado Avalanche (25-8-3, +41. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 9th. PR: 7)

It’ll be a little harder without Darcy Kuemper, but the Avs offense is so insanely good, you could put Greg Goldberg in net and they’d still win a ton of games. Fun fact: Pavel Francouz’s career .921 Sv% with the Avs is the best in franchise history (min. 10 GP), followed by Philipp Grubauer and Patrick Roy at .918 Sv%.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (24-9-3, +30. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 3rd. PR: 3)

The 6-5 win against the Blues was fun to watch, but it should’ve been over after they scored three goals in 3:44. It was an up-and-down week with losses to Colorado and Arizona (!), though Jack Campbell’s 2.13 GAA (tying Ed Belfour) and .931 Sv% is still on pace to be the best in franchise history (min. 25 GS) in 20 years.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-10-5, +25. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 4th. PR: 5)

The Pens have done a lot of good things this season but Tristan Jarry’s contributions are getting overlooked. He’s tied fourth in wins (19), fifth in Sv% (.928), third in GAA (2.08) and sixth in GSAA (9.35). This should be the second time in three seasons Jarry will garner Vezina votes after finishing seventh in 2019-20.

7. New York Rangers (25-10-4, +17. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 30th. PR: 10)

They really are a different animal when Igor Shesterkin is in net, who has won four straight games, including two shutouts. If Henrik Lundqvist was the King, then Shesterkin is Broadway’s sweet, sweet prince.

8. St. Louis Blues (23-11-5, +30. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 24th. PR: 8)

Losses to the Pens and Leafs are the only blemishes for the Blues since they resumed play on Dec. 29. If Tarasenko, Buchnevich and Kyrou can maintain their point-per-game pace until the end of the season, it would be the first time the Blues have multiple players do so since Pavol Demitra and Pierre Turgeon did it in back-to-back seasons in 1999-00 and 2000-01.

9. Vegas Golden Knights (23-15-2, +19. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 11th. PR: 9)

The Knights’ lone game this past week was a 5-3 loss to the Pens, which makes their performance difficult to gauge. Most worrying, Robin Lehner’s save percentage continues to hover around .900, and that just won’t cut it. You wonder if Lehner’s lack of quickness and mobility makes him a poor fit for how quick the Knights like to play.

10. Minnesota Wild (22-10-3, +23. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 13th. PR: 12)

Kaapo Kahkonen has done a great job holding down the fort, winning three of his four starts with the only loss coming against the Avs in a shootout. However, this team still lives and dies with Kirill Kaprizov’s efficiency; despite ranking 64th in CF at 5-on-5 among forwards (min. 800 TOI) since entering the league, he also ranks fourth in even-strength points (74).

11. Boston Bruins (22-12-2, +15. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 1st. PR: 11)

“You come at the king, you best not miss.” The Canes’ social media remains unbeaten after Brad Marchand compared himself to a Lamborghini to Vinny Trocheck’s Prius, wasting no time at all following a 7-1 rout. It was an ugly performance on Willie O’Ree’s jersey retirement night following a strong five-game winning streak.

12. Washington Capitals (22-9-9, +22. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 10th. PR: 13)

The Caps enjoyed a rare four-day break and went 2-1-0 playing three games in four days, which is a pretty good result considering how young their goalies are and how inconsistent they’ve been this season. Alex Ovechkin, who currently leads the league in scoring at 36 years old, is on pace to be the second-oldest Art Ross winner in history. Martin St-Louis was 37 when he won in 2013.

13. Nashville Predators (24-14-3, +10. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 12th. PR: 6)

The Preds will only go as far as Juuse Saros takes them. Just as they were fashioning themselves into a dark horse, they go 0-3-1 over the past week, knocking them back down to a playoff team likely to be ousted in the first round in a tough Central Division.

14. Calgary Flames (18-11-6, +22. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 8th. PR: 16)

A 5-1 win put an end to a horrific stretch of four straight losses, though only the loss to the Sens was inexcusable. The Flames are another streaky team that’s very tough to beat when they’re in a rhythm, and it’s endlessly amusing the most monotone, deadpan coach in the league asks his team to play with more emotion.

15. San Jose Sharks (21-17-2, -9. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 17th. PR: 21)

The Sharks have had an easy go since five of their past six wins have come against the likes of Philly, Buffalo and Arizona, punctuated by close losses to the Rangers and Pens. However, with an emphatic 6-2 win against the Kings and the Ducks playing like chopped liver, the Sharks are emerging as California’s top team, and in the Pacific that puts them in a position to win a playoff spot.

16. Los Angeles Kings (20-15-5, +6. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 6th. PR: 15)

Six straight losses then seven straight wins then five straight losses to start the season. Four straight wins, including against the Rangers and Pens, then two straight losses by a combined 12-6. Quick and Petersen, Petersen and Quick. The 2021-22 Kings flip-flop between good stretches and bad stretches more than a Russell Crowe filmography.

17. Winnipeg Jets (17-12-6, +2. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 15th. PR: 17)

The Jets are hard to figure out, and it’s made more difficult since they’ve played only twice since Jan. 6. They’re talented but the new voice in the room Paul Maurice talked about hasn’t quite made a difference just yet.

18. Vancouver Canucks (18-18-3, -10. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 19th. PR: 20)

Wins against the Caps and Preds to finish off their road trip showed a ton of resilience and proved Thatcher Demko should be the team’s MVP. More good news: Elias Pettersson has scored in two straight games, and a point against Florida on Friday would match his longest point streak of the season.

19. New York Islanders (13-13-6, -13. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 21st. PR: 23)

The Isles are making a charge, and there’s plenty of time and opportunity for them. They’ve played just 32 games, at least four fewer than everyone else in the Metro, and they’ve won five of their past six games with good goaltending from both Varlamov and Sorokin.

20. Anaheim Ducks (19-15-7, even. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 22nd. PR: 14)

Hello, reality. The Ducks have lost eight of their past 10 games, and they’ve scored more than two goals just four times during that span. Only three players have scored more than one goal since Jan. 1: Troy Terry (4), Max Comtois (2) and Trevor Zegras (2).

21. Detroit Red Wings (18-17-5, -22. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 23rd. PR: 22)

Two straight wins are a good sign, alas they were against the Sabres. Otherwise, in their previous four games they were blanked twice and lost the other two games in extra time. Alex Nedeljkovic might be one of the league’s most underrated goalies.

22. Edmonton Oilers (18-15-2, even. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 14th. PR: 19)

A reminder in the McDavid era that Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith rank second and third with 68 and 42 wins, respectively. Their goaltending situation is the biggest oil-related disaster since Deepwater Horizon.

23. Chicago Blackhawks (15-18-6, -31. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 29th. PR: 24)

Thank goodness they have Marc-André Fleury. They’re still bound for the lottery but at least they have not lost in regulation since Jan. 6. After going winless in October, the Hawks rank 16th in points percentage since, and they’re 14-9-4 under Derek King.

24. Dallas Stars (18-16-2, -9. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 18th. PR: 18)

It’s already hard to take them seriously with their ridiculous home-road splits and garish “Skyline Green” jerseys, but then Rick Bowness makes some weird decisions and you wonder how this team even made the Finals. They’ve been outscored 15-5 in their past three games.

25. New Jersey Devils (14-18-5, -22. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 16th. PR: 25)

Mackenzie Blackwood is back, so that’s good news. They played just one game this past week, a narrow 3-2 loss to the surging Isles with Jon Gillies in net.

26. Columbus Blue Jackets (17-18-1, -15. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 25th. PR: 26)

You could just hear the defeat in Zach Werenski’s voice after they allowed nine goals against the Panthers even though they caught the Canes by surprise with a 6-0 win in the previous game. The Jackets have allowed at least seven goals in three of their past five losses.

27. Buffalo Sabres (12-20-7, -33. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 31st. PR: 29)

The Sabres went 2-1-1 this past week with Aaron Dell and Michael Houser earning wins and, yes, they’re real people. Noteworthy: Alex Tuch has seven points in seven games.

28. Ottawa Senators (11-19-2, -25. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 25th. PR: 31)

A win against the Oilers was just good comedy, but Matt Murray re-joining the club and winning two of three games right off the bat was also a good sign. The Sens have played only four games since Dec. 19, but it’s unlikely they’ll make up any ground. Losing veteran leader Connor Brown is a big blow.

29. Seattle Kraken (11-23-4, -36. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 20th. PR: 28)

Just like their nickname, they belong to the deep depths of the vast ocean. The only reprieve was their win on Monday against Chicago in a shootout, their first on home ice since Dec. 3.

30. Philadelphia Flyers (13-18-8, -35. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 27th. PR: 27)

Every season, just when you think Keith Yandle is washed, he somehow manages to stay in the lineup. He is four games away from tying Doug Jarvis’ record of 964 consecutive games played.

31. Arizona Coyotes (9-24-4, -58. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 32nd. PR: 30)

Of the 38 instances this season where a goalie has seen at least 45 shots, five of them feature the Coyotes, three of which feature Karel Vejmelka. He also holds the record for most saves (46) in a shutout this season.

32. Montréal Canadiens (8-25-5, -56. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 28th. PR: 32)

They needed a performance of a lifetime from Samuel Montembeault to defeat the Stars in a feisty win, but still find themselves in last place because they lost 5-2 against the Coyotes. See? There is some method to this madness. 

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