What exciting action we had Monday night! With 18 teams taking to the ice, it was a long night putting together this week’s NHL Power Rankings, but it’s always worth it for this writer!
Here are the power rankings as of 8:00 A.M. Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
NHL POWER RANKINGS #31-21
31. Buffalo Sabres (6-17-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 31
The Sabres failed to score Monday night in a 6-0 loss to the Capitals, being shutout for the second straight game and the sixth time this season. Pittsburgh Penguins goalie, yes, GOALIE Tristan Jarry has three assists this season, meaning he has more points than Jeff Skinner this year. Skinner carries a $9 million cap hit through the 2026-27 season. Ouch. Even worse, captain Jack Eichel is out indefinitely with a neck injury, and by the sound of things, it could be through the end of the season. They’re winless in their last 11 games, closing in on a franchise record of 14. The NHL record is 17. Tuesday at New Jersey could be their best chance to avoid dubiousness, as their schedule only gets more challenging after Tuesday.
30. Anaheim Ducks (8-15-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 28
Anaheim is 2-9-3 in its last 14 games, and both wins came in overtime. While they aren’t as much of a train wreck as the Sabres, they’re close. While the team is getting nearly $18 million in cap room this season after Ryan Getzlaf and David Backes see their contracts expire and the Corey Perry buyout hit decreases by $4 million, the roster needs more help than what they could address in free agency alone. Trevor Zegras and Sam Steel were sent down to the taxi squad, so the young guns aren’t getting game time. It’s a mess. John Gibson’s 10-team no-trade clause kicks in this offseason, but he could ask for a move before then the way things are going.
29. Ottawa Senators (10-20-2), Last Week’s Ranking, 29
They’re the first 20-loss team in the NHL, yet the Senators are still two spots clear of the bottom. While they allow a league-worst 3.97 goals per game, there’s a reason for hope for the club’s future. Rookie Tim Stützle leads the team with 2.43 points/60, while Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and Thomas Chabot are all past the 20-point mark.
28. Detroit Red Wings (8-17-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 30
The Red Wings move up for the second straight week, but they’re nearing their ceiling in the power rankings. They picked up a win and overtime loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the victory, six skaters scored, and Detroit never trailed. However, they drew criticism from fans when sending Evgeny Svechnikov back to the Grand Rapids Griffins (and on Monday, the taxi squad) despite being the team’s points/60 leader this season and scoring four points in four games during a call-up stint.
27. New Jersey Devils (8-13-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
Since pausing their season for COVID-19, the Devils are 4-10-2. While they’ve picked up points in three of their past five games, New Jersey looks to be lottery draft eligible yet again. One of four teams without a 20-point scorer, the offense needs to get it together soon. The Devils are a growing club, but it would be nice to see more of a pulse.
26. Nashville Predators (12-16-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 26
The Predators are still playing without goaltender Juuse Saros (5-5-0, 3.10 GAA, .895 save percentage), but they pulled out a big win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday afternoon. Saros may be back this week, but he’ll need to forget about the early season woes to keep Nashville steady in the net. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nashville moves a few players at the deadline for draft assets.
25. San Jose Sharks (11-12-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 23
Defenseman Erik Karlsson shocked the hockey world Saturday when he said he did not want to stick around for a lengthy rebuild. In the second season of his eight-year contract extension ($11.5 million AAV), Karlsson has yet to play a full season, or anything close to it, in his time with the Sharks. While ranking second among defensemen on the team in points this season (two goals, seven assists), he really has no position of leverage. Still, it’s a troubling sign for the team that could lead to more problems down the road if not handled quickly and properly.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-12-7), Last Week’s Ranking: 25
In five of Columbus’ seven overtime/shootout losses this year, they’ve held the lead. While the points are still nice, we’re talking much differently about this team if Columbus wins even two more of those five. Head coach John Tortorella does a great job each year getting the most out of his players, but we’ve seen how off-putting his coaching style is. Patrik Laine, who is a restricted free agent at the end of this season, may not want to return to Columbus. It’s a situation worth monitoring.
23. Los Angeles Kings (11-10-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 20
Leading goal-scorer Dustin Brown (13 goals, six assists) is out with an upper-body injury, and the team was outscored 6-1 in two games against the Avalanche. Monday’s game against the Blues was canceled due to bad weather, which could’ve been for the best, giving the team some time to rest and get healthy.
22. Dallas Stars (9-9-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 27
Two wins and an overtime loss last week have Dallas limping their way toward the playoff picture, which is amazing, considering they’ve won just five games since January 30. Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop are still a few weeks off from returning, but if Dallas can stay above water until they return, those two could carry the team through their grueling end-of-season schedule and into the playoff mix.
21. Vancouver Canucks (14-16-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 21
Elias Pettersson (10 goals, 11 assists this season) didn’t travel with the team for their four-game road trip after suffering an upper-body injury. While his absence hurts the offense, the defense is stepping up to keep the Canucks competitive. As a team, Vancouver has allowed two goals or fewer in five of their past six games.
NHL POWER RANKINGS #20-11
20. New York Rangers (11-12-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 22
Artemi Panarin is back, and he’s arriving at a great time. In two games back since taking a leave of absence from the team to attend a personal matter, Panarin scored a goal and added three assists, leading to a shutout of the Boston Bruins and tying for the team lead in points during a 5-4 overtime loss to Philadelphia. Igor Shesterkin is on the injured list with a groin injury, and Pavel Buchnevich, Adam Fox, and Phillip Di Giuseppe are on the COVID-19 protocol list.
19. Arizona Coyotes (12-12-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
The Coyotes were outscored 4-0 and 4-1 in their last two games against the Minnesota Wild. The already struggling offense is in a bad funk right now. Phil Kessel ended his eight-game goalless drought on Sunday. Christian Dvorak shares the team lead in goals with Kessel, but he hasn’t lit the lamp in 10 games and has scored twice in the last 16 games, both in the same game.
18. Edmonton Oilers (18-13-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 17
Edmonton followed up a three-game sweep over the Senators with losses against the Canucks and Flames. As has been the case over the past few seasons, the inconsistency is maddening. Seven of their 18 wins are against Ottawa, so unless Edmonton shows they can beat better teams than the Senators on a consistent basis, they’ll continue to slide down the NHL power rankings.
17. Montreal Canadiens (13-8-7), Last Week’s Ranking: 16
Defenseman Ben Chiarot will miss the next 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken hand. Chiarot has played the second-most penalty kill time among Montreal defensemen this season and acting as the Canadiens’ shut-down d-man, his absence leaves a noticeable hole on the blue line.
16. Calgary Flames (14-12-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 19
Calgary is starting to put some wins together, and Jacob Markstrom is coming back into form, starting in net for the last three games. After writing about Andrew Mangiapane last week, he put up a goal and two assists in the Montreal series. While they’re still in fifth of the North Division, they are certainly within striking distance of Montreal and Edmonton.
15. Chicago Blackhawks (14-11-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Last week was a tough week in the standings for the Blackhawks. They’ve now fallen seven points behind the Panthers, Lightning, and Hurricanes, and losing both games of their series against Florida severely hurt their chances to gain ground in the division. I still think they’re a playoff team, though, and if they get there, Patrick Kane (12 goals, 30 assists) should be one of the finalists for, if not the winner of, the Hart Trophy if he continues his current pace.
14. St. Louis Blues (14-9-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Vladimir Tarasenko is on a point-per-game pace since returning from offseason surgery. Jordan Kyrou has more than doubled last season’s point total in the same number of games. There’s a chance the Blues get Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, and Colton Parayko back on Wednesday. When this team is healthy, they’re one of the most dangerous in the league; until then, they’ll stay in the middle of the pack, keeping it close and waiting to strike.
13. Philadelphia Flyers (14-9-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Carter Hart’s struggles this season are a big part of the reason the Flyers are falling. He has the third-worst goals saved above average (GSAA) in the league this season at -9.61. The only two worse are Buffalo’s Carter Hutton (-9.65) and Ottawa’s Matt Murray (-13.99). On the bright side, he snapped a personal three-game losing streak with an overtime win on Monday.
12. Colorado Avalanche (16-8-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Colorado has a major series coming up this weekend against the Minnesota Wild, and they’re steadily building momentum. Winners of three straight, the Avalanche are rolling. Nathan MacKinnon has scored in each of the last two games; it’s only the second time this season he’s scored in back-to-back games.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and added an assist on Monday night, and in doing so, he became the third Russian-born skater to register 1,100 NHL points. The other two are Alexander Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov. Pretty darn good company. The Penguins have won six straight games, five of them by multiple goals.
NHL POWER RANKINGS – THE TOP 10
10. Boston Bruins (14-8-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Boston is hitting a rough patch with injuries piling up. Tuukka Rask headlines the injury report, but two forwards and four defensemen are on the list as well. Their depth is being tested. However, the offense continues to sputter, scoring six total goals in their past five games.
9. Winnipeg Jets (17-9-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Winnipeg is one of two clubs, along with the Lightning, to have four skaters with 25 or more points this season. Neal Pionk is two points away from joining that club. The Jets are four points behind Toronto in the standings, and even considering Monday’s loss to Montreal, Winnipeg still looks like the second-best team in the North Division. The head-to-head series against the Maple Leafs at the end of the month will have major playoff implications.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (19-9-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 5
The Maple Leafs have lost five of their past six games, and three of them by at least two goals. The lone win came in overtime. Toronto is still the best team in the North Division, but they could make a move ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Also, because Canada requires a two-week quarantine for international travel due to COVID-19, there’s a chance Toronto makes a move in advance of the deadline to ensure they get the most from any pickup. I would think a defenseman or a backup goaltender would be at the top of their wish list.
7. Washington Capitals (18-6-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Winners of six straight, the Capitals are cruising right now, like we thought they might. Alexander Ovechkin is at 1,299 career points, and I’d bet he hits the 1,300-mark Tuesday night against the Islanders (that game is must-watch NHL action Tuesday). Ilya Samsonov has won all four of his starts since returning from injury, and Vitek Vaněček got past his early-season hiccups.
6. Minnesota Wild (17-8-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Minnesota is rolling through the regular season despite a league-worst 8.4% power play. Despite that, the Wild averages 3.19 goals per game this season. Rookie Kirill Kaprizov leads all rookies in goals (10), assists (14), and points. While forward and team sparkplug Marcus Foligno will be out indefinitely with an injury and isn’t expected back “any time soon,” according to head coach Dean Evason, Marcus Johansson will be returning to the lineup. Nearly a third of Johansson’s career points have come on the power play, so that could be the spark Minnesota needs.
5. New York Islanders (19-6-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 6
There’s no hotter team in hockey than the New York Islanders. Riding a nine-game win streak, the Islanders vaulted themselves to the top of the East Division standings with 42 points. However, captain Anders Lee, who has points in eight of his last ten games and leads the Isles with 12 goals this season, has been moved to Long-Term Injured Reserve retroactive to March 11. This move will ensure Lee misses at least ten games or 24 days. His injury means the Islanders may be buyers at the trade deadline, depending on how long Lee is out.
4. Florida Panthers (19-5-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 9
This ranking may be controversial, but despite having the most points in the league, I can’t put the Panthers in the top spot in the power rankings. I get that they have a 3-2-2 record against Tampa Bay and Carolina. And yes, they’ve scored more 5-on-5 goals than either of those clubs. But I just can’t put them higher than fifth right now. The offense is dynamic, but I have concerns about their defense and goaltending. Florida scores the second-most goals per game (3.50) in the league, but they allow more goals per game than the Hurricanes, Lightning, and Stars as well. I would love for Sergei Bobrovsky to prove me wrong, but a .905 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA won’t be good enough to get it done in the playoffs.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (19-6-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Vegas won their third straight game over the San Jose Sharks Monday night, led by another brilliant performance in net from Marc-André Fleury. For my money, they’re the favorite to win the West Division and can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. Getting Alex Pietrangelo and Robin Lehner healthy is a priority, but the team keeps rolling in their absence.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (19-6-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Tampa Bay lost to the Nashville Predators Monday afternoon, and that loss, paired with Thursday’s loss at Detroit, was enough to bump the Bolts from the top spot. While they still have an excellent record this season and will be a strong contender come playoffs, they take a back seat this week.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (20-6-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 2
For the second time this season, the Hurricanes take the top spot in the rankings! Winners of eight straight, Carolina is playing at a spectacular level, and they’re doing so without their top goaltender Petr Mrazek and leading scorer Vincent Trocheck (though Sebastian Aho has since passed Trocheck), who are out with injuries. However, both are expected to return this week, along with forward Teuvo Teravainen.
Now, I’d like to hear from you! How do your Top 5 teams look? Sound off on Twitter @MulletsVoxDB.
Thank you for reading and see you next week!