NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 15

Welcome to the 14th edition of my weekly NHL Power Rankings for The Hockey Writers, where the league’s top half is evaluated. These rankings will focus on how the teams have performed in the past week of play and will significantly factor in their overall strength and where they are at the time in the standings. With that said, let’s take a look at the top 16 teams in the league at this moment.

16. Boston Bruins (25-14-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 10

Though things are going better for the Boston Bruins as of late, this past week was one to forget about. They started the week off with losses to both the Anaheim Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche before finally picking up a win versus the lowly Arizona Coyotes. That win over the Coyotes didn’t seem to get their confidence back up however, as they were crushed 6-1 by the Stars.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 14

This team isn’t at 100 percent in terms of health right now, as Brad Marchand is believed to be playing with an ailment, while Trent Frederic, Nick Foligno and Tuukka Rask are all sidelined. Nonetheless, they have a talented enough roster that they should be able to overcome those injuries, and they need to get things back on track this next week.

15. Washington Capitals (24-12-9)

Last Week’s Rank: 12

Though the Washington Capitals remain in a playoff spot, their play as of late has been quite poor. They have won just four of their past 10 games, and lost two of three this past week.

Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals
Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The good news for Capitals fans is that in their most recent game, they defeated the Dallas Stars by a score of 5-0. Perhaps the most important part of this game was Vitek Vanecek recording a shutout, as this team desperately needs a goaltender to step up.

14. Nashville Predators (27-14-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 11

While the Predators were able to pick up a win against the Seattle Kraken in their first game of the week, they were defeated by the Edmonton Oilers in a shootout just two nights later. It continues what has been a mediocre stretch for this club, as they have a record of 5-3-2 over their past ten games.

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Despite the average play as of late, there is still plenty to be excited about when it comes to this team. Up front, players like Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg are having outstanding seasons. On the back end, Roman Josi is having a Norris Trophy type season, while goaltender Juuse Saros is playing like a true Vezina candidate between the pipes.

13. L.A. Kings (23-16-7)

Last Week’s Rank: 16

Though they gave the Philadelphia Flyers their first win in 14 attempts this past week, the Kings responded with a massive win the very next night against a very strong Pittsburgh Penguins squad. This type of resiliency is why they currently sit third in the Pacific Division.

While guys like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty have been great, one player who deserves a mention is Adrian Kempe. The 25-year-old has already set a new career high with 18 goals, and he’s done so in just 43 games. If he is able to continue producing at that clip, the Kings could very well end up with a spot in the postseason.

12. Anaheim Ducks (23-16-8)

Last Week’s Rank: 14

It appears a big 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting on Jan. 21 really helped this Ducks team get things back on track. Though they didn’t have the most difficult schedule this past week, they picked up three wins in four games, and their only loss came in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Trevor Zegras continued his bid for the Calder Trophy in a game Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens, scoring two goals including a Michigan style tally during the second period. He is certainly worth the price of admission, and should have this Ducks team be a competitive one for many years to come.

11. Calgary Flames (21-13-6)

Last Week’s Rank: 15

After a rough stretch in December, the Calgary Flames have been red hot as of late, scoring 23 goals over their past six games. This past week included two blowout wins over the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets, along with an overtime win on Saturday versus the Canucks. However, a 5-1 loss to the same Blues team they annihilated earlier in the week results in them not moving up as far on this list as they could have.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What had already been a solid 2021-22 season for Johnny Gaudreau has gotten even better as of late, as the soon to be free agent now has 17 goals and 52 points in just 40 games. Both he and Matthew Tkachuk have put this team on their backs lately with their offensive play, and don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

10. St. Louis Blues (26-13-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 9

It wasn’t a week to celebrate for the Blues, who got thumped by the Flames on Monday and didn’t fare much better in a Saturday tilt versus the Winnipeg Jets. A 5-1 win in their second game against the Flames on the week was the only thing that prevented them from sliding further down this week’s ranking.

The biggest area of concern for this team continues to be in net, as Jordan Binnington was rocked once again in his latest start, giving up all seven goals scored by the Flames on just 35 shots. He has really struggled as of late, though Ville Husso has been very good and appears to have taken over the starting role for right now.

9. Vegas Golden Knights (26-16-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 13

While a 2-1-1 record in four games this past week may not seem very exceptional, it was quite impressive given that all four were road contests and came against some great teams in the Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 13

Saturday night was the most impressive of the bunch, as they were able to defeat the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in the Lightning in a shootout. They are finally starting to get healthy and could be a real problem for opposing teams moving forward.

8. New York Rangers (29-13-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 6

Though they were able to win two of four games this past week, a 5-3 loss on Thursday against a struggling Columbus Blue Jackets team hurt. They then lost the very next night to the Minnesota Wild, but were able to regroup on Sunday with a 3-2 win over the Kraken.

Both Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have been heating up as of late, but the main driver for this team offensively right now is Chris Kreider, who has scored in seven of his past nine games and is already up to 31 goals on the season. It is a remarkable season for the 30-year-old, who had never cracked the 30-goal mark in any of his previous eight seasons in the league.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-7)

Last Week’s Rank: 2

After being on a red-hot surge for well over a month, the Penguins cooled off this past week, losing three of four games despite having a relatively easy schedule. The good news however is that two of those losses, which came against the Kraken and the Detroit Red Wings, went past regulation, meaning they were able to pick up points in three of their games.

Sidney Crosby has been doing Crosby-like things lately, recording multipoint outings in four of the Penguins past six games. Evgeni Malkin also appears to be rounding back into form, as he is currently on an eight-game point streak.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (27-10-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 7

The Maple Leafs offence has been fantastic as of late, as they have 23 goals over their past five games. Unfortunately, goaltending and defensive play hasn’t been as solid during that span, as they have given up 19.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Though he has struggled in January, Jack Campbell still owns a very solid 2.26 GAA and a .926 SV%. Assuming he turns things around soon, this team could be a serious threat moving forward thanks to their great offensive talent.

5. Minnesota Wild (24-10-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 8

The good times kept rolling for the Wild this past week, as they won all three games on their schedule, and now find themselves on a five-game winning streak. They have also won eight of their past nine and are back to looking like true Stanley Cup contenders.

Kaapo Kahkonen has really taken advantage of some extra playing time lately, and owns a very impressive 2.53 goals against average (GAA) along with a .922 save percentage (SV%). He and Cam Talbot should continue to be a solid goaltending tandem for the remainder of the season, which bodes well for this Wild club.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (29-10-6)

Last Week’s Rank: 3

It was a quiet week for the Lightning, as they only had two games on their schedule, the first being against the New Jersey Devils and the second coming against the Golden Knights. They were able to pick up two points against the Devils, but fell to the Golden Knights in a shootout.

While their superstar talent in Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy tend to get most the credit, one player who has been very solid for this season is Corey Perry. The former Hart Trophy winner has provided great secondary offence to this roster with 12 goals and 23 points through 45 games.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (31-9-2)

Last Week’s Rank: 5

The Hurricanes continued to roll this past week, winning each of their four games. They have now won seven of their past eight contests and sit third in league standings.

The excellent goaltending for the Canes continued this past week, as they gave up just seven goals in their four games. Frederik Andersen in particular has been fantastic, as he owns a spectacular 2.02 GAA along with a .929 SV% and a 24-6-0 record. He should continue to remain in the Vezina Trophy conversation for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

2. Florida Panthers (31-9-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 4

The Panthers also went undefeated this past week, winning all three of the games on their schedule. This team’s offence has been ridiculous all season long, and continued in their past three games as they put up a combined 14 goals.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 12

Jonathan Huberdeau, who remains one of the games most underrated stars in the league, has been fantastic as of late, and now leads the league with 62 points. Another forward deserving some serious props is Sam Bennett, who already has a career high 21 goals despite suiting up for just 35 games.

1. Colorado Avalanche (32-8-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 1

This team continues to prove why they were viewed as favorites for the Stanley Cup heading into this season. After winning all four of their games this past week, the Avalanche find themselves on a nine game winning streak.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While things have been going great in terms of team success as of late, there is come concern in their organization right now. That is because of the fact that Nathan MacKinnon, who was levelled by Taylor Hall in a game on Wednesday night, is expected to miss some time after having to get surgery on his nose. Head coach Jared Bednar is hoping he can return after the All-Star break, but that remains to be seen.

Changes to Come

These rankings will continue to change each week throughout the season, as all teams go through highs and lows. Of course, the true contenders will like always remain on the list, but where they are ranked could change each and every week. Tune in at this time next week to see the changes.

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