It’s time to introduce a new rule into the NHL power rankings. It’s a rule I wish I didn’t have to introduce, but it’s a rule that has, unfortunately, become necessary to not lose my mind while putting these rankings together.
Going forward, teams who miss more than two games in a week due to COVID-19 cancellations will not move up or down in the standings the next week. While this may be unfair to teams who have a great week and are unable to move up, it’s also not fair to penalize a team without COVID-19 protocols for being unable to play.
For example, the Arizona Coyotes will have two games against the Colorado Avalanche postponed this week. However, they will play the St. Louis Blues Monday night ahead of next week’s ratings drop, so they will still be eligible to move in next week’s rankings.
Conversely, a team like the Buffalo Sabres, who had all four of their games postponed last week, will not be subject to moving up or down because of the number of postponements.
Now that the rule change is out of the way, let’s get to the rankings:
31. Ottawa Senators (2-10-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 31
The first team to hit 10 losses this season stays in the bottom spot of the rankings for the third straight week. While they’ve shown some resiliency with a win over the Montreal Canadiens and a pair of close losses to Montreal and Edmonton, they have a long way to go to get out of the cellar.
30. Detroit Red Wings (3-8-2) Last Week’s Ranking: 29
Detroit snapped an eight-game losing skid Sunday with a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers. They’re still at the bottom of the Central Division, but at least Thomas Greiss earned his first win of the season. The win was the first for a Red Wings goalie not named Jonathan Bernier since Jimmy Howard on October 29, 2019.
29. Los Angeles Kings (3-6-2) Last Week’s Ranking: 22
The Kings have lost four straight and are at the bottom of the West Division. Jonathan Quick’s best days are behind him. The 35-year-old netminder has a 2-2-2 record with a 4.05 GAA, and an .867 save percentage this season. Calvin Petersen may take over as the full-time starter before the end of the year.
28. San Jose Sharks (4-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 28
San Jose’s offense has been atrocious this season, and although we expected things to be bad, we didn’t expect it to be this bad. Fifteen Sharks skaters are still looking for their first goal of the season. Amazingly, they average the fourth-most shot attempts per game (32.7%) in the league, making their 8.2% shooting percentage even more baffling. They’re shooting the puck, but they aren’t scoring, and with the players on the roster, I don’t see those shots falling any time soon.
27. Anaheim Ducks (5-5-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 27
I did a bit more of a deep dive into the Anaheim Ducks this week, [which you can find here]. The Ducks get great defensive and goaltending play, but they are on pace to put up one of the lowest goals per game totals in NHL history. It’s ugly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a coaching change soon.
ENJOYING KNUPSPORTS NHL POWER RANKINGS? Click the link here to stay updated on NHL betting previews!
26. Vancouver Canucks (6-10-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 19
Remember when Canucks fans said they were upgrading in net by leaning on Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby this season? So much for that, especially with the atrocious defense in front of them. Vancouver allows four goals against per game, and the offense has been lackluster, save for Quinn Hughes (one goal, 16 assists) and Brock Boeser (nine goals, five assists).
25. New York Rangers (4-5-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 30
The Rangers were shut out by the Islanders for the second time this season Monday night. Mika Zibanejad hasn’t gelled with Chris Kreider on his wing the same way he did with Artemi Panarin, slowing down the Rangers’ offense. First overall pick Alexis Lafrenière has one goal and no assists in 11 games and seems to be having a tough time making the jump from juniors to the pros. I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks out next season, but in this weird year, he was set up to struggle without much of a preseason or training camp.
24. Nashville Predators (5-7-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 20
That sound you’re hearing is the Predators’ playoff window creaking shut. Nashville lost 4-1 to the Lightning Monday night, their fourth loss in five games. Neither Juuse Saros nor Pekka Rinne has looked comfortable in the net. The usually sharp defensive team is allowing the ninth-most goals per game this season, and their league-worst penalty kill is at an abysmal 65.2%. The Predators have some serious soul-searching to do.
23. Buffalo Sabres (4-4-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 23
As mentioned above, Buffalo is subject to the new COVID-19 power ranking rule. No movement this week after four of their games were canceled. Nine players, along with head coach Ralph Krueger, are in protocol. While being in protocol doesn’t necessarily mean someone tested positive for coronavirus, it does mean they were at a significantly higher risk. Rasmus Dahlin, Taylor Hall, Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Jake McCabe, Casey Middlestadt, and Tobias Rieder are all in protocol.
22. Chicago Blackhawks (5-4-4), Last Week’s Ranking: 24
The Blackhawks have won three of their last four games, including plucky wins over the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars. The valuable experience the team is getting with so many players out will pay off over the next few seasons, especially for players like Pius Suter, Brandon Hagel, Nicolas Beaudin, and Ian Mitchell.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins (5-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
The Penguins season keeps slipping further and further away. Yes, there’s a ton of season left to play, but Pittsburgh’s blue-line and goaltending troubles are highly problematic. Pierre-Olivier Joseph scored his first career goal Saturday and leads all Penguins defensemen with five points. After moving on from Matt Murray this offseason, Pittsburgh still allows 3.73 goals per game, the fourth-highest total in the league.
20. New York Islanders (5-4-2) Last Week’s Ranking: 21
The Islanders ended a five-game losing streak with wins over the Penguins and Rangers. They shut out the Rangers for the second time this season Monday night, and three of their five wins have come via shutout. It’s surprising to see this team struggle to score, especially seeing Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all have slow starts by their standards. I think the Islanders are a better team than their record indicates, but they’ve got a lot of work to do to return to the playoffs.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-5-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 25
The Pierre-Luc Dubois trade has paid off so far for the Blue Jackets, as both Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic have been point per game players since joining the team. Columbus picked up a big win over the Carolina Hurricanes Monday, which was enough to move them up into the Top 20.
18. Arizona Coyotes (6-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 26
Three straight wins over the St. Louis Blues moved Arizona into the Top 20 as well this week. While they still lack scoring power (2.75 goals per game), it’s been nice to see Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak continue to develop into reliable scorers. For now, they’ll hold onto the No. 4 spot in the West Division.
17 Calgary Flames (5-5-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Johnny Gaudreau’s point streak came to a close Thursday night in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. However, Gaudreau responded with a goal and an assist Saturday to lead the Flames to a 6-4 win over Edmonton. Jacob Markström has allowed three goals or more in four of his last five starts.
16. Edmonton Oilers (7-7-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 18
Welcome back, Mike Smith! The 38-year-old netminder picked up a 3-1 win in his first start of the season on Monday night. Leon Draisaitl (eight goals, 16 assists) is on a 10-game point streak, while Connor McDavid (nine goals, 18 assists) leads the league in points. The Oilers are slowly starting to turn the ship around and scrap up the North Division ranks.
15. New Jersey Devils (4-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Like with Buffalo, the Devils had their games canceled last week due to COVID-19. On Monday, the league announced Devils games would be postponed through at least February 15. If the Devils can come back healthy after that, including getting Nico Hischier back on the ice, that would provide a needed spark for the young team.
14. Florida Panthers (6-1-2) Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Last week, I warned that the Panthers racked up points against inferior opponents. After splitting with the Predators and losing to the Red Wings, I’m feeling more confident about that take. Carter Verhaeghe and Patric Hornqvist have surprised to take the team lead in goals (Verhaeghe has six, Hornqvist has five). They’ll have a big test with three games against the Tampa Bay Lightning this week.
13. Minnesota Wild (6-5-0), Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Minnesota dropped its lone game of the week, a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, before shutting down after six players had tested positive for COVID-19. The number has since jumped up to nine players. When they get back to the ice, Kirill Kaprizov should continue his Calder quest. The Russian leads all rookie skaters in points with three goals and six assists. Jordan Greenway has come on strong as well, with two goals and eight assists to lead the team in points.
12. St. Louis Blues (7-4-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 11
The Blues have dropped three straight games, including a shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes Monday night. Thanks to a COVID-19 cancellation, they’re off until Saturday, so that loss will have some time to marinate before two more against the Coyotes. Jordan Kyrou has been a bright spot this season, leading the team with five goals and seven assists.
11. Dallas Stars (5-2-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 10
The Stars’ offense has been lethal this season, to the tune of 3.67 goals per game (third in the league) and a sizzling 36.8% power play (second highest in the NHL). Joe Pavelski has scored nearly a goal per game. We did get some drama this past week when Anton Khudobin was suddenly scratched from Sunday’s game against the Blackhawks after reportedly oversleeping and being late for a team meeting. Likely not something that will cause problems down the road, but worth mentioning here.
10. Winnipeg Jets (7-3-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 17
Pierre-Luc Dubois is set to make his Jets debut Tuesday night. Five different Winnipeg skaters are already at double-digit point totals this season, and the Jets score the seventh-most goals per game (3.55) this season. Both goaltenders have at least a .912 save percentage. The defense is still my big concern, but Winnipeg looks to be a tough squad to beat.
9. Washington Capitals (6-3-3), Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Nothing about the Washington Capitals makes sense right now. Washington has both scored and allowed exactly 3.58 goals per game. They score at 37% on the power play, but they also average the seventh-fewest shots per game in the NHL. On the bright side, Alexander Ovechkin passed Mike Gartner for seventh on the all-time scoring list, needing six more goals to tie Phil Esposito for sixth place.
8. Montreal Canadiens (8-2-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 9
The Canadiens just keep on rolling. They’re averaging a league-best four goals per game while allowing 2.50. Keeping those numbers up will win a ton of games. Offseason acquisitions Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson have combined for 17 goals this season, leading the scoring punch. Jake Allen has been excellent in roughly splitting time with Carey Price, holding an impressive 1.81 GAA and a .940 save percentage.
7. Philadelphia Flyers (8-3-2), Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Carter Hart season is on hold, as the young netminder has struggled through this season. He’s allowed four goals or more in three of his past five starts. The good news is the Brian Elliott has put up solid numbers in net to relieve Hart, and the best news is that Sean Couturier is back in the lineup. Couturier returned from his rib injury with two goals and an assist on Sunday.
6. Carolina Hurricanes (7-3-0), Last Week’s Ranking:
The Hurricanes have hit a bump in the road, dropping two of their past three games. Losses to the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets aren’t good, but Carolina is still one of the top teams in both the Central Division and the league. How they play without Petr Mrazek while the netminder recovers from surgery to repair a torn finger ligament will say a lot about the Hurricanes’ playoff future. The points are harder to come by as the year goes on, and they can’t let the latest hiccup slow them down.
5. Colorado Avalanche (7-3-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 7
The Avalanche have seen their games canceled through mid-February due to COVID-19 complications. Sound familiar? When healthy, Colorado has one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Cale Makar ranks third among defensemen in points with a goal and 11 assists this season. Phillip Grubauer leads the league in wins and save percentage among goaltenders with at least five starts at the time of publication.
4. Boston Bruins (8-1-2) Last Week’s Ranking: 6
David Pastrnak was named the NHL’s first star of the week after scoring five goals and two assists in three games. The Bruins have a Top 5 power play and penalty kill and are tied for allowing the second-fewest goals per game. I thought this year might be the year Boston dropped off. They’re proving me wrong so far.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-1-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 5
No championship hangover for this bunch. The Lightning have won five straight with three wins over Nashville in that span. Tampa Bay may have the most balanced team in the league. Goaltender Curtis McElhinney made his first start of the season Monday night to pick up a 4-1 win, and Andrei Vasilevskiy looks like the early Vezina favorite.
2. Vegas Golden Knights (7-1-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Back from their COVID-19 pause, the Golden Knights picked up a pair of wins over the Los Angeles Kings. They’re allowing a stingy 2.33 goals against per game while scoring 3.56 per game, tied for fifth-best. Vegas’ 15.6% power play needs to improve, but when 11 of Mark Stone’s 14 points have come at even strength, the Golden Knights don’t need to rely on the man advantage to stay competitive.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-2-1), Last Week’s Ranking: 3
The league’s first team to 10 wins takes over the top spot in the NHL power rankings. Mitch Marner ranks third in the league in points (six goals, 14 assists), and Auston Matthews leads the league in goals with 11 on the year, four of which are game-winners. While losing Wayne Simmonds for the next six weeks with a broken wrist will present some lineup changes, Toronto is built to rise to the occasion.