Welcome to the 16th 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 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, here’s a look at the top 16 teams in the league at this moment.
16. Washington Capitals (26-15-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
The Capitals’ struggles continued this past week, as they dropped games to both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Ottawa Senators. Had it not been for a win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, they may have dropped off this list entirely.
As far as skill goes, the Capitals possess one of the better rosters in the NHL. Once they are able to get goaltender Vitek Vanecek back, along with forwards T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha, they should get back on track.
15. Dallas Stars (25-19-2)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
Though they are not in a playoff position, the Dallas Stars have been playing some great hockey lately. This team came into the season with relatively high expectations, and after a slow start, they are finally getting on the right track.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 16
Despite a 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the Stars are 7-3-0 in their last 10 and now sit just three points shy of a wild-card position in the Western Conference. If players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are able to get going over the second half, this team could be quite sneaky come the playoffs.
14. Nashville Predators (28-16-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Though they still hold the third spot in the Central Division, the Nashville Predators have struggled as of late, going 4-4-2 over their last 10. Things won’t get easier for them moving forward, as they have a very difficult schedule for the remainder of the month.
If there are positives to take right now, it is that both Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg continue to put up offence with ease. With that being said, they will still need to be much better than they have been if they want a playoff berth.
13. Boston Bruins (27-16-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
Though the Bruins did drop each of their first two games last week, they were against very good opponents in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes. They regrouped in their most recent game on Saturday when they shut out the Senators in a 2-0 victory.
While Tuukka Rask’s retirement is unfortunate, it may actually be a good thing as he looked rusty in his comeback attempt. Jeremy Swayman is now back with the team and, at this stage, appears to be a better option.
12. L.A. Kings (24-16-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
It was a quiet week for the Kings, as they didn’t have any games on their schedule. Despite the time off, they are still sitting third in the Pacific Division, a very impressive spot for them given their relatively low expectations heading into the 2021-22 season.
While a player like Anze Kopitar can always be relied upon to be great, the team will need players like Adrian Kempe and Viktor Arvidsson to keep things going if they want to see continued success over the second half of the season. The Pacific Division is arguably the weakest in the NHL, which bodes well for their chances of competing in the 2022 Playoffs.
11. St. Louis Blues (27-14-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
It was an up and down week for the Blues, who first lost 7-4 to the New Jersey Devils but were able to recover with a 5-1 win on Saturday over the Chicago Blackhawks. It continued what has been some very average play from them as of late and why they now find themselves outside of a top-three position in the Central Division.
Jordan Binnington’s struggles in net continued this past week, as he allowed all seven goals given up versus the Devils. He has now allowed four or more goals in six of his past eight starts and is almost unplayable at this point. The good news is that Ville Husso has stepped up in a big way, with a 1.84 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .941 save percentage (SV%).
10. Vegas Golden Knights (28-17-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
The Golden Knights walked all over the Edmonton Oilers in a 4-0 win on Tuesday but were then embarrassed the following night in a 6-0 loss versus the Calgary Flames. That and the loss of Mark Stone has resulted in them dropping slightly in this week’s ranking.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 15
Despite the frustrating loss on Wednesday, there is plenty to look forward to for this Golden Knights team. The main excitement is that Jack Eichel, who has yet to play this season, is expected to join the roster in the near future.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (30-12-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
There haven’t been many weeks this season that the Maple Leafs have lost more games than they have won. That happened this past week, however, as they lost two of their three games to the Vancouver Canucks and the Flames.
The positive to build off from this past week was that their only win was against one of the league’s best teams in the Hurricanes. The negative is that Jack Campbell has really struggled in net, giving up five goals four times in his past eight starts. While he may no longer be a frontrunner for the Vezina, however, he should be able to get back on track and be a very good netminder down the stretch of the season.
8. New York Rangers (30-13-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
Like the Kings, the Rangers had no games this past week. Unfortunately, a few teams ranked behind them had exceptional weeks, leading them to drop ever so slightly.
The Rangers will have a chance to shoot up these rankings this week, as they have two winnable games against the Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings. With both their offensive talent and their goaltending, they should continue to be one of the league’s better teams through the second half of 2021-22.
7. Calgary Flames (26-13-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Flames are scorching hot right now and are on a league-best six-game winning streak. This past week was one of their most impressive of the season, as they were not only able to beat the Golden Knights 6-0 but defeated the Maple Leafs the very next night by a 5-2 score.
This is a team that is firing on all cylinders. Upfront, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk are lighting it up on the scoresheet, while Jacob Markstrom is up to eight shutouts on the season. Questions will resume about how this core will stack up in the playoffs, but they should continue to rack up wins for the remainder of the season.
6. Minnesota Wild (29-11-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
The Wild saw their six-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. To their credit, however, they didn’t let it get them down and picked up a massive win against the Hurricanes just a night later.
A once notoriously boring Wild team has turned into a must-watch squad largely thanks to the skill of Kirill Kaprizov. One thing to watch moving forward, however, is the play of Ryan Hartman, as the 27-year-old’s offence has regressed over the past month.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (32-11-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
It was a rough week for the Hurricanes, as they lost three of the four games on their schedule. It was a rare off stretch for a team that has had almost no hiccups all season long.
The good news is that aside from Jake Gardiner on long-term injured reserve, they are fully healthy right now. They will continue to remain an elite team for the remainder of the season.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (30-11-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
After a hot stretch for well over a month, the Penguins hit a bit of a speed bump and lost four straight. However, they responded to that in a big way this week, winning all three of the games on their schedule.
This team is continuing to get great offensive performances from a number of individuals, but perhaps the most impressive is Bryan Rust. The extremely underrated 29-year-old is up to 17 goals and 37 points in just 27 games.
3. Florida Panthers (32-10-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
No games for the Panthers this past week, which means they will be well-rested for a couple of big games this week. First is a tilt on Wednesday night against the Hurricanes, while Friday will see them take on the Wild.
These two games will be a great measuring stick for the Panthers, who many believe are the best team in the NHL this season. While their defensive play can leave plenty to be desired, their 192 goals lead the league.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (31-11-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Two of the league’s best met up on Thursday when the Lightning took on the Avalanche and fell 3-2. As a result, they have been dethroned from the top spot they held in last week’s ranking.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 14
Despite the marginal drop, there is plenty to be excited about regarding the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. Perhaps the best story of their season is the emergence of Alex Killorn, who is well on his way to setting career-highs with 15 goals and 42 points through 48 games.
1. Colorado Avalanche (34-8-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
What a game from the Avalanche on Thursday, as they were able to prove to everybody just how good they are in a 3-2 win over the Bolts. They were also able to pick up a 4-0 win over the Stars on Sunday to close out their week.
This team is downright scary, and they were able to welcome Nathan MacKinnon back into the lineup on Sunday. At this point, it is fair to say they are the league’s number one contender for the Stanley Cup.
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.
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.