Welcome to the 15th 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. Edmonton Oilers (23-16-3)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
The roller coaster ride continues for the Edmonton Oilers, who at times have been really hot and other times very cold all season long. After being near the top of these rankings for the first quarter of the 2021-22 campaign, they had been left off for a number of consecutive weeks, but find themselves back on thanks to picking up 11 points in their past six games.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 15
While the move could still backfire due to his off ice issues, the addition of Evander Kane appears to be a solid one right now, as the 30-year-old has picked up two goals and three points in his first three games as an Oiler. Once Connor McDavid gets back to performing at the level he can, this team should be able to will themselves back into a playoff position.
15. Washington Capitals (25-13-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Though they lost their most recent game to the Oilers, the Capitals sit above them in this weeks ranking due to the fact that they still sit well above them in the standings. Still, there is no denying the fact that this team is in a rut right now, and they don’t look anywhere close to the powerhouse team they appeared to be earlier in the season.
For the first time all season, the Capitals started getting some goaltending thanks to a number of solid games from Vitek Vanecek, only to have him go down with an upper-body injury. Hopefully the All-Star break gave him the time he needed to get healthy, as this team could certainly use him at his best moving forward.
14. Boston Bruins (26-14-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Though they have struggled a bit recently, the Bruins were able to pick up a win in their only game of this past week which came against the Seattle Kraken. Perhaps that will be all it takes to get them rolling like they were through the first three weeks of January.
One player to keep an eye on coming out of the All-Star break is Tuukka Rask, who has been forced to miss the past two games due to lingering effects from his offseason hip surgery. The 34-year-old will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, and while the team remains hopeful he will be okay, it is worth noting that hip surgery can be a serious detriment to goaltenders.
13. Nashville Predators (28-14-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
The Nashville Predators were able to get off to a solid start in the month of February, defeating the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 4-2. With the win, they now have points in their last five straight and are in good shape as we move into the second half of the season.
One player in particular who deserves some mentioning is Ryan Johansen, who took some flack the past few seasons due to his offensive struggles. While some will still suggest his cap hit of $8 million is an overpay, he has been much better in 2021-22 with 13 goals and 34 points through 43 games.
12. L.A. Kings (24-16-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Another solid week for the Kings, who won their only game which took place on Wednesday versus the Detroit Red Wings. At the All-Star break, they sit second in the Pacific Division, a spot which no one had them prior to the start of the season.
Adrian Kempe was the Kings All-Star selection this season, and for good reason. His 19 goals on the season are a career high, and he’s only suited up for 44 games. If he is able to continue that production over the second half, he may very well help lead this team to a playoff berth.
11. St. Louis Blues (26-13-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
No games for the St. Louis Blues this week, which makes this ranking somewhat unfair to them. The good news for their fans who may read this is that they have a very talented team that could be primed to go on a big run in the second half of the season, which would help them jump back to the top part of these rankings.
One issue for the Blues this season has been their road play. At home, they own a spectacular 17-5-2 record, but are just 9-8-3 on the road. Currently sitting in a wild card position means that if the playoffs were to start today, they would start a best of seven series on the road, which would be a tough task given their play so far this season. They will need to improve that moving forward if they want to be a Stanley Cup contending squad.
10. Calgary Flames (23-13-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
The All-Star break didn’t come at a great time for the Calgary Flames, who have been playing very good hockey as of late and are currently on a three-game winning streak. They will hope to pick back up where they left off, as they have a very busy schedule in February to make up for their postponed games back in December.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 14
The talk surrounding this team has generally been about Johnny Gaudreau, and fairly so. However, one player who isn’t generating much buzz and deserves to be is Elias Lindholm, who remains one of the games most underrated stars and is producing offensively once again with 15 goals and 37 points through 42 games.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
The Penguins are the exact opposite of the Flames, in that the All-Star break came at a great time for them. After being one of the hottest teams in the NHL for the past few months, the Pens hit a skid recently, losing their past four straight.
Given how well they played prior to this skid, it is likely they will turn things around in the near future. It should be noted however that this team was expected by many to be a fringe playoff squad, so it will be interesting to see how they perform during the second half of the season.
8. Vegas Golden Knights (27-16-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
The Vegas Golden Knights were able to face some familiar faces in Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs this past Tuesday in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. They were able to walk away with a 5-2 victory and now currently have a two-point lead on the Kings for first place in the Pacific.
Things are starting to trend in the right direction for this team, and by the sounds of things Jack Eichel is nearing a return. They are finally getting healthy and should be in store for a massive second half of the season.
7. New York Rangers (30-13-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
What a season it has been for the Rangers, who sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 30 wins through 47 games played. It has been a remarkably fast turnaround for a team that didn’t look very promising just a few short seasons ago.
There are several individuals responsible for the Rangers great play, none more so than Chris Kreider. The 30-year-old currently leads all NHLers with 33 goals, something which nobody seen coming. At this point it seems likely he ends up with a 50-goal campaign.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (29-10-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
In their two games this past week, both against the New Jersey Devils, the Maple Leafs lethal offence was on full display as they racked up 13 goals. It was yet another reminder of how dangerous this team can be when they are at their best.
Once slight concern as of late had been the play of Jack Campbell, as he struggled in the month of January after playing like a Vezina candidate through the first three months of the season. The good news however is that he played well in the Leafs most recent victory over the Devils, and should be able to get back on track moving forward.
5. Minnesota Wild (28-10-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Winners of six straight, the Wild are the hottest team in the league right now and are showing no signs of slowing down. They will likely continue to be underrated for the remainder of the season, but have an opportunity to really prove themselves once the postseason begins.
Kirill Kaprizov continues to be the star of this team, but perhaps the player most responsible for the Wild’s great play as of late is Kevin Fiala. After an iffy start to the season, he now has 34 points in 41 games and is on a 12-game point streak.
4. Colorado Avalanche (32-8-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
The Colorado Avalanche saw their 10 game win streak snapped on Tuesday in what was their only game of the week. Any streak like that is always expected to end sooner or later, but the disappointing part about this in particular was that it came against the Arizona Coyotes.
If anything, this loss proved just how important Nathan MacKinnon is to the Avalanche lineup. The superstar forward has missed the last three games after taking a high hit from Bruins forward Taylor Hall, but is expected to return in the near future. Once that happens, the Avalanche will likely jump right back up to the top of these rankings.
3. Florida Panthers (32-10-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
The Panthers offence was on display once again last Monday, as they put up eight goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their 194 goals are the leagues best, and that shouldn’t change over the second half of the season.
On Tuesday, the Panthers weren’t able to find the same success they had a day prior, falling to the Rangers by a score of 5-2. It is a continuation of disappointing play away from home, as they now own a road record of 9-7-5. They will need to improve on that if they want to go on a deep playoff run.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (31-9-2)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
There were no games for the Hurricanes this past week, as they were able to get a lengthy and well deserved break. They currently sit fourth in league standings, but are just five points behind the Panthers for first place while holding five games in hand.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 13
There hasn’t been much to complain about in regards to the Hurricanes roster this season, but if we are being nitpicky, one player who they could use more from in the second half is Martin Necas. After recording 14 goals and 41 points in 53 games last season, the 23-year-old has regressed in 2021-22 with eight goals and 22 points through 38 contests. If he is able to get back to the level he was at last season, it will make an already lethal team even more dangerous.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (30-10-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
In what was their only game of the week, the Lightning were able to walk away with a 3-2 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks. It is a continuation of what has been some great play from the back-to-back Cup champs lately, and they are looking like they have a real chance to win a third straight this year.
Despite missing 32 games with a lower-body injury earlier this season, Nikita Kucherov has appeared no worse for the wear, putting up 17 points in just 11 games. This Lightning roster was already dominate before adding him back, and is downright scary now. They will remain in contention for the Presidents Trophy for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign.
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 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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Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.