The league is getting wild, y’all.
Usually, the funny stuff happens during the winter when injuries hit and fatigue sets in, and teams that started off hot really cool off.
But over the past two weeks we’ve seen the Coyotes become a scoring machine, the Knights go through a bit of an identity crisis and they can’t even buy a goal right now, and literally no one wants to tend goal for the Red Wings after their starter was pulled and then forced to go back in again because the backup was even worse.
While THN’s Power Rankings have avoided anonymous internet criticism for most of the season – I hear you, Minnesota and Detroit fans, though you’ve suddenly disappeared again – a slew of upsets have made ranking teams difficult, especially for the middle class, which has remained fickle.
Some of them look like dark horse playoff contenders one week, but then they lose a bunch of games to lesser teams and seem destined to fall out of the playoff picture. This is most obvious in the Pacific Division, where the Kings have surprised everyone and crack the top 10 in the Power Rankings for the first time, and there’s certainly a scenario where the Knights and Oilers both miss the playoffs.
Folks, we’re in for an exciting finish in the final two months of our first 82-game season in two years.
(All fancy stats are 5v5 and courtesy naturalstattrick.com)
1. Carolina Hurricanes (39-12-5, +57 goal differential. CF%: 3rd, xGF%: 5th. Previous Rank: 4)
The Canes end up No. 1 for the first time since early January almost by default, with both the Avs and Lightning losing on Tuesday. The Canes have spent all but five weeks in the top five of the power rankings this season, once again a testament to how resilient they’ve been.
2. Colorado Avalanche (41-12-5, +62. CF%: 7th, xGF%: 9th. PR: 1)
As the saying goes, when you’re at the top, there’s no way to go but down. The Avs have lost three of their past four, their worst stretch since the first week of the season, but remain at the top because everyone knows they’re the team to beat in the West.
3. Florida Panthers (39-13-5, +70. CF%: 1st, xGF%: 1st. PR: 8)
The Panthers were a flawless 4-0-0 this past week and move back into the top five once again. Their opponents weren’t particularly tough, but they were also very convincing wins and solidified the Panthers as one of the league’s best teams. They’ve only ranked outside the top five just three times in the power rankings this season.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (37-13-6, +34. CF%: 12th, xGF%: 6th. PR: 2)
The Lightning are 2-2-0 over the past week, but the two losses were particularly egregious with 12 goals allowed. It was not a good week for Vasilevskiy or Jon Cooper, who was tossed in a 5-1 loss to the Pens for abusing the refs, the first time it’s happened since 2018.
5. Calgary Flames (34-15-7, +58. CF%: 2nd, xGF%: 2nd. PR: 3)
They blew the lead twice in Tuesday’s loss to the Caps, but overall have remained one of the best teams in the league, defeating the Avs in a showdown between the conference’s two best teams and then dispatching their provincial rival with relative ease.
6. New York Rangers (36-16-5, +27. CF%: 31st, xGF%: 27th. PR: 7)
The Rangers have lost just once in regulation since Jan. 28 with Shesterkin in net – a 1-0 loss to the Pens – and other than Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Wild with Georgiev in net, they have remained an elite team even though the analytics keep saying otherwise.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (37-16-4, +42. CF%: 5th, xGF%: 4th. PR: 6)
The results are there – five wins in seven games, including back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday – but they’ve needed a lot of goal support to get there. Maintaining the status quo will help them get through the regular season, but their poor goaltending needs to be addressed before the playoffs.
8. Los Angeles Kings (32-19-7, +10. CF%: 4th, xGF%: 8th. PR: 13)
The Kings eked by with two overtime wins to finish the week 3-1-0, but credit where credit is due – no one thought they would be a strong playoff contender. They enter the final stretch of the season in second place in the Pacific and three of their next five games will be against the Sharks, giving them a chance to reign supreme as they sit just four points behind the division-leading Flames. Note their possession analytics have been strong all season, so this is likely no fluke.
9. Boston Bruins (34-18-5, +18. CF%: 6th, xGF%: 3rd. PR: 9)
The Bruins were an impressive 5-1-0 during their six-game road trip, even if they needed some luck. Swayman has a .946 Sv% and 1.53 GAA since Feb. 1 and seems unlikely to relinquish the starting job to Ullmark anytime soon.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-15-9, +32. CF%: 8th, xGF%: 7th. PR: 10)
Admittedly, it was a tough schedule facing Tampa, Carolina and Florida, and yet they still managed to go 1-1-1 and lost both games by just one goal. After a tough three-game stretch, Jarry and DeSmith have a combined .935 Sv% over the past two weeks.
11. St. Louis Blues (32-17-7, +40. CF%: 21st, xGF%: 24th. PR: 5)
Neither Husso nor Binnington are the answer right now and only five forwards have managed to score a goal since March 1, with David Perron the only one to score more than one. They’ve lost four in a row and gone back to a goalie rotation with fingers crossed that one of them can turn it around before long.
12. Nashville Predators (32-20-4, +20. CF%: 17th, xGF%: 15th. PR: 15)
The 8-0 win against the Sharks was about as easy as they come, but grinding out a 2-1 win against the Stars gives the Preds four wins in their past six games. They can be incredibly streaky, but things are definitely perking up again.
13. Dallas Stars (32-21-3, +4. CF%: 20th, xGF%: 16th. PR: 16)
I may have hopped on the Stars bandwagon a tad early, but they’ve been on an absolute roll with Oettinger in net. When it seemed like they needed to blow up the team’s core, they’ve rediscovered their identity as a tough defensive team and making a strong playoff push. The big difference is that their one scoring line is now anchored by two young stars in Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson.
14. Vegas Golden Knights (32-22-4, +16. CF%: 10th, xGF%: 10th. PR: 14)
If Vegas had to play Vancouver (or Edmonton) in a seven-game series right now, would anyone really be confident picking Vegas? Their power play stinks and their goaltending comes and goes. These days, they’re more like Monty Python’s Black Knight than the Pacific Division powerhouses we’ve been accustomed to.
15. Vancouver Canucks (28-23-6, -1. CF%: 18th, xGF%: 19th. PR: 18)
Since Boudreau took over on Dec. 6, the Canucks have the sixth-best point percentage and the second-best P% among Western Conference teams. At some point, the Canucks need to get a little more respect.
16. Washington Capitals (31-18-9, +28. CF%: 14th, xGF%: 14th. PR: 21)
Vanecek has taken over as the starter with three straight wins, and while the Caps will likely still make the playoffs, it’s imperative that they figure out the goaltending situation. Including Wednesday’s game against the Oilers, they have five back-to-backs coming up.
17. Minnesota Wild (33-19-3, +29. CF%: 13th, xGF%: 11th. PR: 11)
Like all the other teams that have had big drops on this list, their goaltending is in shambles. They’ve now lost eight of their past 11 games; hopefully, Tuesday’s win against the Rangers can stop the bleeding.
18. Edmonton Oilers (30-23-4, +2. CF%: 9th, xGF%: 13th. PR: 12)
They’ve lost six of their past eight games, mostly thanks to – yup, you guessed it – bad goaltending. Koskinen is thrust into the spotlight yet again, and every time a shot comes his way you can’t help but wince. Woodcroft went 5-0 immediately after getting hired but has since gone 2-5-1.
19. Winnipeg Jets (25-22-10, -4. CF%: 15th, xGF%: 17th. PR: 19)
I’m not convinced having Ehlers back in the lineup means they’ll turn it around. They’ve got quite a bit of ground to make up and they can’t keep scoring seven or eight goals every night. The key remains Hellebuyck, who has allowed four goals in four straight games.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-26-3, -20. CF%: 25th, xGF%: 30th. PR: 17)
They’ve lost five of their past six, but if it’s any consolation, two losses came in extra time and another two were by just one goal. The bright spot has been Laine, but he can’t win the games by himself if they routinely allow four or more goals.
21. New Jersey Devils (21-31-5, -29. CF%: 11th, xGF%: 12th. PR: 25)
It’s good to be Nico in Jersey. While captain Nico Hischier steadies the ship, it’s been Nico Daws who has been stealing the show, defeating the Avs in his fifth straight start as the Devils continue to play spoiler. Their performances are still erratic, but they’re a very talented team that’s fun to watch.
22. Montréal Canadiens (15-34-7, -75. CF%: 24th, xGF%: 26th. PR: 26)
Powered by Martin St. Louis (and his quads), the Habs have won seven of their past eight games. Jokes aside, the Habs continue to play with much more purpose and under St. Louis rank 11th in P% since he took over.
23. Chicago Blackhawks (21-29-8, -49. CF%: 27th, xGF%: 29th. PR: 28)
The Hawks have not won consecutive games since mid-January. However, scoring has not been a problem with eight-goal outbursts against the Devils and Ducks. That Fleury is likely to stay provides some stability in net.
24. New York Islanders (21-24-8, -15. CF%: 28th, xGF%: 18th. PR: 23)
Like the Hawks, you’d have to go back to mid-January to find the last time the Isles won consecutive games. The Isles fell one game short of reaching the Finals last season and will likely miss the playoffs this season.
25. Arizona Coyotes (17-35-4, -62. CF%: 32nd, xGF%: 32nd. PR: 29)
They scored 17 goals against the Sens and Wings after scoring 16 in their previous six games. Hockey’s weird, man.
26. Anaheim Ducks (27-23-9, -12. CF%: 19th, xGF%: 20th. PR: 20)
Gibson has a .841 Sv% in March and Stolarz hasn’t been much better with a .878 Sv%. What was a strength at the beginning of the season is now a huge headache as the Ducks slowly fall out of the playoff picture.
27. Ottawa Senators (20-31-5, -33. CF%: 26th, xGF%: 25th. PR: 27)
They just snapped their five-game losing streak and limited the Blues to 23 shots on Tuesday. Forsberg has a winning record this season, which is pretty incredible, and having Norris and White in the lineup really changes the complexion of their offense.
28. Detroit Red Wings (24-27-6, -47. CF%: 29th, xGF%: 23rd. PR: 22)
Their goaltending has been so bad they had to pull their starter (Nedeljkovic) and then re-insert him back into the game because their backup (Greiss) was even worse.
29. Philadelphia Flyers (18-28-10, -52. CF%: 23rd, xGF%: 28th. PR: 30)
Don’t let the result fool you; the Flyers needed a historic performance from Hart to win their second consecutive game, just the second time they’ve done so in 2022. It is an encouraging sign, but there’s no doubt the Flyers still face many questions before they’re competitive again.
30. San Jose Sharks (24-25-7, -34. CF%: 30th, xGF%: 22nd. PR: 24)
Their tandem going forward will be Sawchenko and Stalock, who have combined to allow 14 goals in two starts this season. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
31. Buffalo Sabres (18-32-8, -55. CF%: 22nd, xGF%: 31st. PR: 31)
The win against the Leafs was definitely a high note, and so was the one against the Wild right after. But we are looking forward to the Power-Dahlin pairing next year already, yes?
32. Seattle Kraken (17-37-5, -61. CF%: 16th, xGF%: 21st. PR: 32)
The results are getting slightly better with close losses to Carolina and Toronto, but they’re 0-3-0 in their road trip so far with no clear light at the end of the tunnel. But as THN web editor Steven Ellis notes, it’s in the Kraken’s best interests to be very bad right now because there is a potential prize waiting for them in June, and it rhymes with “right.”