We’re officially a month into the NHL Season! While COVID-19 has thrown in some hiccups into the schedule, including the unprecedented seven straight games between the St. Louis Blues and the Arizona Coyotes, all things considered, things have gone relatively smoothly.
Here are the updated power rankings as of 8:00 AM on February 16.
31. Detroit Red Wings (4-10-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 30
Detroit is still ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the league standings, but things aren’t looking good for the Red Wings. Defenseman Filip Hronek (no goals, nine assists) is tied with center Dylan Larkin and right-wing Anthony Mantha for the team lead in points. With two wins in their last 13 games, they’ll be battling Ottawa for the bottom of the standings the rest of the season.
30. Ottawa Senators (4-12-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 31
For the first time in franchise history, the Senators erased a four-goal deficit to rally and beat the division-leading Maple Leafs in overtime on Monday. That’s enough to get them out of the last-place spot for this week, as the Sens have now won two in a row for the first time since March 5 and March 7, 2020. They’ve raised their compete level lately, especially in net, where Marcus Hogberg has been pushing for more of the workload. They’ve got a long way to go to be competitive every night, but there’s at least a pulse in Ottawa.
29. San Jose Sharks (6-7-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 28
In the latest game Monday, the Sharks scooped up a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. John Leonard’s first career goal stood up as the game-winner. However, four of their six wins have come via the shootout. The first step is learning how to win, the next step is learning how to close out those games in regulation and not give away points.
28. New York Rangers (4-6-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 25
Adam Fox is having a solid season for the Rangers, averaging the 11th-most time on ice per game in the league. He ranks second on the team in Corsi For (CF) despite having the highest defensive zone start percentage. He also ranks highest among defensemen in team on-ice save percentage; Rangers goalies have a .951 save percentage when Fox is on the ice. On the season, Rangers goalies have a .910 save percentage.
27. Nashville Predators (6-9-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
Things in the Music City are going from bad to worse. The Predators have dropped four of their past five and are only one point clear of the Red Wings at the bottom of the Central Division. Outside of Filip Forsberg, who leads the team with seven goals and seven assists, there’s not much to write home about. The next closest players to Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Roman Josi, each have eight points. The offense isn’t there, and the goaltending, particularly from Juuse Saros, has been subpar.
26. Anaheim Ducks (6-7-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 27
Last week, I laid into the Ducks a bit. While they did pick up an impressive shutout win over the Vegas Golden Knights, they also took a pair of losses to Vegas and San Jose. The offense continues to let them down, scoring seven goals in their past three days. John Gibson leads the league with three shutouts, but relying on him to win 1-0 games is not a formula for success.
25. Vancouver Canucks (7-11-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 26
The good news for Vancouver is they are scoring enough goals to win games. The bad news is they allow the third-most per game (3.74), and it’s actively costing them wins. The Canucks have just one win in February, and they’re starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the North Division. Back to the positives, Quinn Hughes ranks sixth among defensemen with 18 points this season (two goals, 16 assists).
24. Los Angeles Kings (4-6-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 29
The Kings ended their five-game losing skid with a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. They haven’t been a great team this season, but with five one-goal losses and two games where they saw third period leads become overtime losses, the Kings are at least making an effort to be competitive every night. Calvin Petersen is looking increasingly ready to take over the starting job in net from Jonathan Quick.
23. Buffalo Sabres (4-5-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 23
The Buffalo Sabres returned to the ice Monday night, but because of all their postponements last week, they aren’t eligible to move up or down in this week’s ranking. While still missing some big names to COVID-19 protocol Monday, they fell 3-1 to the New York Islanders. Their last regulation win came back on January 26. On the bright side, Victor Olofsson scored his team-leading fifth goal of the year in the return.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-6-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 19
The Blue Jackets can’t get out of their own way. John Tortorella benched Patrik Laine in his third game with Columbus. They saw a 3-1 first period evaporate in a 7-3 loss to the Hurricanes Monday night. They aren’t a bad team, but they aren’t playing like they think they’re a good team either.
21. Dallas Stars (5-3-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Dallas has lost five consecutive games, including two in overtime and one in the shootout. Their Monday night game against the Predators was canceled due to snow in Texas, and frankly, a night off could be a good thing to allow the team to clear their heads. Jake Oettinger has been in net for each of the overtime/shootout losses, giving the rookie a 2-0-3 record this year.
20. Chicago Blackhawks (8-5-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 22
The Blackhawks just keep finding ways to win. The one loss in their last six games saw a late third period collapse where they allowed two goals in the final three minutes to lose 6-5 against Columbus. Pius Suter (six goals, four assists) now leads all rookies in points. Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban are performing better than many thought they would in net.
19. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 21
If only Pittsburgh played the Capitals more often. The Penguins are 3-0-0 against the Capitals this season, with their fourth meeting coming up Tuesday night. Pittsburgh is still allowing the fifth-most goals per game this season (3.62) and will need to figure things out defensively and between the pipes if they hope to make the playoffs.
18. New York Islanders (7-4-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 20
Mathew Barzal extended his point streak to 11 games on Monday night during a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. New York is righting the ship a bit, and it starts in net. Semyon Varlamov is 4-0-1 in his last five games, and he’s started eight of the last nine.
17. Arizona Coyotes (7-6-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
As discussed earlier, Arizona played seven straight games against the St. Louis Blues, thanks to COVID-19 postponements. Arizona went 4-2-1 in that series, which could have been a playoff preview. Thankfully, they won’t meet again until April 17, so there’s plenty of time to move past it. Antti Raanta has been serviceable in relief of Darcy Kuemper, making up a capable goaltending tandem. However, the offense will need to show up soon.
16. Calgary Flames (8-6-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 17
A 4-3 overtime win late Monday night has the Flames staying close in the North Division. Second place and fifth place are separated by just three points. The third line of Milan Lucic, Mikael Backlund, and Andrew Mangiapane has scored 12 points in their past five games. Johnny Gaudreau has points in all but two games this season and scored the overtime winner Monday.
15. New Jersey Devils (4-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 15
The Devils don’t move this week either, again due to COVID-19. However, they’re set to return to play Tuesday night against the New York Rangers. It’ll be a few more games before Nico Hischier returns to the lineup. However, according to Amanda Stein of The Athletic, Hischier was close to returning before the team got hit with coronavirus. Mackenzie Blackwood isn’t ready to return yet but says he’s “very close” to where he wants to be. If the Devils want to compete for a playoff spot, they’ll need Blackwood to return to the excellent form he was in before New Jersey paused the season.
14. Edmonton Oilers (9-8-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 16
Which Mike Smith will show up in goal for Edmonton? I heaped on the praise in last week’s rankings after he picked up a win in his first start of the year. He followed that up with a shutout on Thursday but let in four goals on 11 shots in just over a period of play Monday. Connor McDavid (nine goals, 18 assists) and Leon Draisaitl (eight goals, 18 assists) still lead the league in points. If the Oilers ever figure out how to play defense, they’ll win a Cup. For the sake of those two, I hope they get there.
13. Minnesota Wild (6-5-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 13
The Wild returns to the ice Tuesday after five postponed games. Prospect defenseman Calen Addison, who was acquired in the Jason Zucker trade, is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday night against the L.A. Kings. Mats Zuccarello should be making his season debut as well, which could move Marcus Johansson back to playing center.
12. St. Louis Blues (9-5-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Thanks to Minnesota’s postponements, the Blues ended up playing seven straight games against the Arizona Coyotes, going 3-3-1 in that stretch. While they haven’t played great hockey lately, part of that can be the non-playoff version of a playoff atmosphere, especially with four straight in the desert. The good news for St. Louis is they should get back on track over their next stretch of games, where they’ll see series with the Sharks, Kings, and Ducks, and should rack up some points in that span.
11. Winnipeg Jets (9-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 10
The Jets pulled a plucky win Monday to beat the Oilers 6-5, with Blake Wheeler’s fifth goal of the season holding up as the game-winner. It was a nice bounce-back game after slipping on Saturday against the Senators. Mark Scheifele is tied for sixth in the league in points with six goals and 12 assists.
10. Montreal Canadiens (9-4-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Montreal hit a bump in the road this week, dropping two of their three games. Jake Allen has played well enough to merit a virtual 50-50 split with Carey Price, who hasn’t played to his standards this year. The offense has ground to a halt, scoring eight goals in the past five games. Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson still carry the bulk of the goal-scoring, and Jeff Petry leads the team in points (six goals, nine assists).
9. Washington Capitals (6-4-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 9
The Capitals saw three of their four games postponed last week, which, for the sake of the power rankings, means they are ineligible to move this week. That’s probably for the best. They dropped a 6-3 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday after allowing a pair of empty-net goals late. Washington has lost four straight regulation games, all by at least two goals. Vitek Vaněček’s game has dropped off after being named Rookie of the Month for January.
8. Florida Panthers (9-2-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 14
I’ve been selling on the Panthers in recent weeks, but two big wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning are starting to get me back on board. Florida is tied for second in the Central Division, one point behind the Lightning with a game in hand. Anthony Duclair, Owen Tippett, and Anton Stralman all scored their first goal of the season Monday night. Aleksander Barkov also scored a goal Monday to move into second place on the Panthers’ all-time scoring list.
7. Philadelphia Flyers (8-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Still battling through the difficulties of COVID-19 protocol, the Flyers saw four games postponed last week. They won’t take to the ice until Thursday against the New York Rangers. I’m particularly hoping for a quick and full recovery for Oskar Lindblom, who returned to the ice this season after missing time for a battle with bone cancer but tested positive for coronavirus and is out once again.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Toronto still concerns me with their lack of defensive depth. They can score in bunches. Frederik Andersen is an elite goaltender capable of stealing wins when need be. But behind Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly, the depth isn’t quite there. I’m still taking them to win the division and advance to at least the Conference Semifinals. But I’m not sure how far they get beyond that. Monday night’s implosion against Ottawa was inexcusable for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Cup winners don’t blow 5-1 leads, especially not to the league’s worst team. Toronto should be embarrassed by Monday night’s effort.
5. Colorado Avalanche (7-4-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 5
The highest-ranking among those dealing with COVID-19 postponements, the Avalanche stay at the No. 5 spot this week. Colorado returns to the ice Tuesday to continue their run of four straight games against the Vegas Golden Knights. That series will go a long way towards determining the Top 5 in next week’s rankings.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-3-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 3
The Lightning have dropped two of their last three games following injuries to Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli. Both losses came against the Florida Panthers. While the sky isn’t exactly falling, Monday night saw a thoroughly unimpressive outing from Curtis McElhinney. However, it was just his second start of the season, so rust could have played a factor. Vasilevskiy is still the Vezina front-runner at the moment, and the Lightning are much better when he is in net.
3. Boston Bruins (10-2-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Boston moves up after embarrassing losses by Tampa Bay and Toronto on Monday, but also on their own merit. The Bruins have been on a tear lately, winning five straight before Saturday’s loss to the Islanders. Charlie McAvoy is a Top 10 defenseman in the league, and Brad Marchand is tied for fourth in the league in goals. Boston is here to stay.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (10-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Carolina has won all four of their tilts with the Dallas Stars so far this season, and they’ve scored 24 goals in their past five games. The Hurricanes are heating up, with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen playing well. Nino Niederreiter leads the league in CF% among players with at least 100 Corsi For.
1. Vegas Golden Knights (10-2-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 2
The Golden Knights are back on top! Vegas has allowed two goals total in their past three games. Marc-André Fleury has shined in net, and with Robin Lehner splitting time, the Golden Knights have a lethal 1-2 punch in net. Throw in the top-line talent of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, the depth contributions from Alex Tuch, William Karlsson, and Jonathan Marchessault, and the blue-line prowess of Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and Shea Theodore, and you’ve got a lineup capable of going toe-to-toe with any team in the league.