Monday night was a history-making evening in the NHL, and as the season rolls on, we are now just under two weeks away from the NHL trade deadline. We’re in for a wild month and a half before the regular season ends, and there have been some shakeups in the power rankings.
Here are the weekly NHL power rankings, as of 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday, March 30.
NHL POWER RANKINGS #31-21
31. Buffallllllllllllllllllo Sabres (6-23-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 31
No, that’s not a typo in the team name. That’s just what it looks like when you put 18 consecutive L’s together. The Sabres’ epic meltdown Monday night where they blew a 3-0 lead in the third period before losing in overtime set a new NHL record for futility with their 18th consecutive loss. Even worse, Tage Thompson missed an empty-netter which would’ve sealed the win. The next milestone in awfulness is the NHL record 30-game winless streak, set by the 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets (ties played a role in that streak). Buffalo has also been shut out more times than they’ve won this season (seven shutouts, six wins).
30. Detroit Red Wings (12-20-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 29
Calvin Pickard earned his first two starts of the season and won them both, stopping 37 of 39 shots in a pair of wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The sweep of Columbus marks just the third time this season the Red Wings won back-to-back games.
29. Anaheim Ducks (11-20-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 30
Anaheim joined the 20-loss club following a 5-2 defeat against Colorado Monday night. They did beat the Blues twice last week, which is why they jump over Detroit this week. However, they’re still headed for a Top 5 draft pick, especially if John Gibson is out much longer.
28. Ottawa Senators (12-20-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 28
Don’t look now, but the Senators are one of three teams who have yet to be shut out this season, joining the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals. Ottawa is 3-0-3 in its last six games and idle until a showdown with the Canadiens on Thursday. Both Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson are restricted free agents (RFAs) at the end of the season and should be signed to long-term deals as soon as possible.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (13-15-8), Last Week’s Ranking: 22
Three losses this week (and four in a row overall) have the Blue Jackets tumbling down the power rankings. Back-to-back losses against the Red Wings where the team didn’t take at least 20 shots in either game are highly concerning. With some big-name pending UFA’s, including defensemen David Savard and Michael Del Zotto, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jackets are sellers at the trade deadline.
26. New Jersey Devils (13-16-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 25
Just under a third of New Jersey’s wins have come against the Boston Bruins this season (4-0-1). Each of their last two meetings with Boston saw the Devils take 1-0 shutout wins. They’ll get a chance to extend that streak Tuesday night. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is 4-1-0 in his last five starts.
25. San Jose Sharks (14-16-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 27
Patrick Marleau played in his 1,757th NHL game Monday night, passing Mark Messier for second place on the all-time games played list. Marleau was held off the stat sheet in a 4-3 shootout win, and with two goals and four assists in 34 games this year, he is likely in his final season. However, if he plays in at least 11 of the next 22 games this season, he will pass the legendary Gordie Howe for the most games played in NHL history.
24. Dallas Stars (11-12-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
Jason Robertson is playing his way into the Calder conversation as one of the NHL’s top rookies. Robertson has six goals and 15 assists this season, ranking second in assists and points. On the injury front, there’s a slim chance Alexander Radulov, Joel Kiviranta, Ben Bishop, and Stephen Johns all rejoin the team this week.
23. Vancouver Canucks (16-18-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 20
Vancouver lost its only game last week, a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. Since I’ve already been discussing rookies, how about another? Nils Höglander has seven goals and nine assists, tied for sixth among rookie skaters in points.
22. Calgary Flames (16-18-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 21
Johnny Gaudreau played his 500th NHL game Saturday, picking up an assist in a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. However, with just one win in their last six games, the Flames are falling out of the playoff picture.
21. Los Angeles Kings (13-14-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 19
The Kings lost both of their games last week, and they’ll play Vegas on Wednesday before a four-game homestand against San Jose and Arizona. I wouldn’t be surprised if either Dustin Brown or Alex Iafallo appear in trade talks as we get closer to the deadline. Brown has one year left on his contract after this year, and the Kings may need to retain some salary, but the Kings’ leading goal scorer (14 in 31 games this season) still has fuel in the tank to help a contender.
NHL POWER RANKINGS #20-11
20. Nashville Predators (18-17-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 26
Nashville’s active five-game win streak is their longest of the season, but they had yet to win three consecutive games before this streak. Juuse Saros has allowed four goals total in his last four starts, and Rocco Grimaldi’s four-goal game against Detroit last Thursday accounts for half of his season total.
19. Arizona Coyotes (16-14-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 23
I really struggled with where to put Arizona on this list. They’ve won three straight, including an impressive 5-4 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche last Tuesday. However, Arizona still scores the seventh-fewest goals per game and takes the fewest shots per game in the league. They aren’t a good team, but they aren’t bad either, especially in net. Goaltender Adin Hill is throwing another wrench into expansion draft plans, and the Coyotes will likely have to choose between Hill or Darcy Kuemper to expose to the Seattle Kraken.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (17-13-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 16
In the past two weeks, the Flyers were outscored 17-3 over two games against the Rangers. They also lost three of four at home. Then, on Monday, Philadelphia needed Buffalo to miss an empty net before scoring with an extra attacker to force overtime and erase a 3-0 third period deficit before winning in the extra session. Carter Hart is taking time off from the team for a mental break, which is to be commended and encouraged. However, the team’s issues go far beyond Hart’s struggles, and they may miss the playoffs entirely if they don’t right the ship soon.
17. Chicago Blackhawks (16-15-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 17
The Blackhawks’ lineup got a huge boost as Kirby Dach made his season debut Saturday, returning from a wrist injury ahead of schedule. However, Chicago followed up two impressive wins over the Florida Panthers with a pair of disappointing losses against Nashville. They’re still in the playoff hunt, and their April schedule provides some juicy matchups to rack up points and secure a playoff spot.
16. New York Rangers (15-15-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
Mika Zibanejad scored his second natural hat trick of the season during Thursday’s 8-3 dismantling of the Flyers. Alexis Lafrenière scored his fifth goal of the season during Sunday’s 5-4 loss against the Capitals. While the playoffs may be a lofty goal for this season, the Rangers are still in the mix and are building momentum for next season as well.
15. Montreal Canadiens (14-8-9), Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Montreal is ineligible to move this week after COVID-19 postponements. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the team signing Cole Caufield to his three-year entry-level contract. The Wisconsin Badgers star is in the Top 10 in Hobey Baker Award voting and has a good shot at winning the award this year. The Canadiens also acquired center Eric Staal from the Sabres in exchange for third and fifth round draft picks, giving them some veteran experience and depth down the middle.
14. St. Louis Blues (16-13-6), Last Week’s Ranking: 14
St. Louis is limping through the season, but they’re still clinging to fourth place in the West Division. While Colton Parayko, Vince Dunn, and Mackenzie MacEachern may return to the ice this week, the team is 2-5-4 in its last 11 games, and the soon they are dressing for games, the better.
13. Boston Bruins (17-9-5), Last Week’s Ranking: 10
The Bruins have hit a rough patch in their season, with the list of injuries and illnesses getting longer by the day. Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly are still in COVID-19 protocol, Tuukka Rask has been out with an upper body injury, and Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, and Ondrej Kase are still working towards a return to play. Boston has also played the fewest games of any team in the East Division, so the rest of the season will be a grind.
12. Edmonton Oilers (22-13-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 11
The Oilers have scored 122 goals this season entering Tuesday, tied for the most in the league. Connor McDavid has 63 points this year (21 goals, 42 assists), meaning he has scored or assisted on more than 50% of Edmonton’s goals this season. I’m begging the Oilers to get McDavid some help at the trade deadline so we can see this performance continue into the playoffs. The game needs it.
11. Winnipeg Jets (22-12-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 12
The Jets’ 6-4-0 performance over their last 10 games is just good enough to get them within a point of the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the North Division. They’ve scored the third-most goals in the league the season at the sixth-best points per game pace. Mark Scheifele (15 goals, 28 assists) is quietly having a remarkable season, ranking fifth in the league in points.
NHL POWER RANKINGS – THE TOP 10
10. Minnesota Wild (21-10-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Minnesota is third in the West Division standings, but they are clearly a step below Colorado and Vegas. A shootout loss against the Sharks Monday night was largely unimpressive, and the team’s offense continues to sputter. The only team in the Top 10 of these power rankings scoring fewer goals per game is the Islanders, and both Winnipeg and Edmonton at 11 and 12 score more than Minnesota as well. I’m interested to see how general manager Bill Guerin approaches the trade deadline, as Zach Parise, Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, and Marcus Johansson could be on the move.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (22-10-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 8
There’s no denying the Maple Leafs bring a dynamic offense to the ice each night. But with Frederik Andersen struggling before an injury and out for the foreseeable future, backup Jack Campbell out with a lower body injury, and third-stringer Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistencies, Toronto may not have the goaltending depth and skill to hold on to the top spot in the North Division. They could move to acquire someone at the trade deadline.
8. Florida Panthers (22-9-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 7
The Panthers are still in the Top 10 of the power rankings for now, but two critical injuries could sink Florida’s excellent season. Aaron Ekblad led all defensemen with 11 goals before fracturing his leg in an awkward play along the boards Sunday and will miss at least the next 12 weeks, effectively ending his season. Patric Hörnqvist is on injured reserve as well. The silver lining is moving Ekblad to long-term IR ahead of the trade deadline could allow the Panthers to free up a bunch of cap space to bring in another defenseman for a playoff run.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-11-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 13
The Penguins are looking like serious Cup competitors once again. Pittsburgh is tied with the Islanders for second in the East Division, although an injury to Tristan Jarry is enough to raise the alarm. Jarry left Monday’s game with an upper body injury and is day-to-day.
6. New York Islanders (22-10-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 5
The Islanders have a talented team this season, but I’m concerned about their scoring touch, especially with Anders Lee out for the season. They score the fewest goals per game (2.89) of any team in the Top 10 of these power rankings, and while their goaltending from Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin has been good, the offense must produce for a deep Cup run.
5. Colorado Avalanche (22-8-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Colorado has an 11-game point streak going, cruising to a 5-2 victory Monday night against the Ducks. Getting points in Wednesday’s contest with Arizona would tie an NHL-best point streak for any club this season. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have combined for 12 goals and 18 assists in their last 11 games.
4. Washington Capitals (23-7-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Alexander Ovechkin needs seven goals to tie Marcel Dionne for fifth place on the all-time scoring list and 17 to catch Brett Hull for fourth. He has an excellent chance to catch Dionne this season, and while getting to Hull is likely out of reach this year, with Ovi’s talent, it’s not impossible. The Caps have won three straight and are still on top in the East Division.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (24-8-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 1
The old saying goes, “A 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey.” Unfortunately for the Bolts, they learned that lesson twice last week in a pair of 4-3 losses to Dallas and Carolina. Still a dangerous club, the Lightning slide down the rankings this week. With Ryan McDonagh still out, Tampa Bay may look to add a defenseman at the trade deadline, but they’ll have to get creative with their cap situation to make a deal work.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (23-7-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Saturday’s head-to-head win over the Lightning was the deciding spot between Carolina and Tampa Bay for second place in the power rankings. Martin Necas scored a pair of power play goals to secure the win, and the Hurricanes’ 30.2% power play unit is magical to watch. It’s a shame the two are in the same division and at least one of the two will be eliminated before the Cup semifinals this season.
1. Vegas Golden Knights (24-8-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 2
The Golden Knights are the best in the West, and they’re back on top of the power rankings this week. Vegas is 8-2-0 in its last 10 games, and Max Pacioretty is on a tear, with 10 goals and 10 assists in 14 games in March. Alex Pietrangelo is still on the injured list, so we aren’t even seeing the best version of the Golden Knights right now.
Who do you have at the top of your power rankings? Let me know on Twitter @MulletsVoxDB. Thank you for reading, and see you at the same time next week!