NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 18

Welcome to the 17th 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. Dallas Stars (27-20-2)

Last Week’s Rank: 15

After a painfully slow start to the season, the Dallas Stars are showing signs of life as of late and sit just three points shy of a wild card position in the Western Conference. Though they were able to pick up a huge win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, a loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday has resulted in them falling ever so slightly in this week’s ranking.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 17

Players like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, both of whom struggled immensely early on this season, have shown signs of life lately that has helped this team pick up wins. If they are able to keep it up for the next few months, the Stars should find themselves in the playoffs when the regular season comes to an end.

15. Edmonton Oilers (28-19-3)

Last Week’s Rank: NA

A coaching change appears to have done wonders for the Edmonton Oilers, who aside from a lopsided loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday appear to be getting back to the way they started the season. Prior to Sunday’s loss, they were riding a five-game winning streak.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After struggling for over a month by his standards, Connor McDavid is starting to get back on track, as he had 11 points in six games prior to being held off the scoresheet by the Wild. There is no reason to expect him to slow down the rest of the way, meaning the Oilers should be able to maintain their spot in the standings and make the 2022 postseason.

14. L.A. Kings (26-17-7)

Last Week’s Rank: 12

Though they lost their first game of the week to the Oilers, the L.A. Kings responded days later with a big overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights and followed that up by defeating the Coyotes the very next day.

Despite still playing relatively solid hockey as of late, teams are beginning to pass the Kings in the standings. They currently occupy the final wild card position in the Western Conference but have several teams hot on their tail. If they hope to remain in a playoff position, they will need Jonathan Quick to provide the goaltending he was earlier in the season.

13. Washington Capitals (28-15-9)

Last Week’s Rank: 16

The Washington Capitals may have finally snapped out of their funk this past week, winning each of their games against the Nashville Predators and the Philadelphia Flyers. Their next game, which will come on Thursday versus a great team in the New York Rangers, will be a great measuring stick to see where this team is truly at.

While the Capitals are currently dealing with injuries, they could be fully healthy in a short time, as it is possible that Anthony Mantha, T.J. Oshie, Justin Schultz and Vitek Vanecek are all able to play on Thursday. Once they are all able to get back into the lineup, this team should become dominant once again.

12. Boston Bruins (29-17-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 13

The week started out poorly for the Boston Bruins, who lost to both the Rangers as well as the New York Islanders, before just barely taking two points from the lowly Ottawa Senators on Saturday. However, a massive 5-1 victory in their most recent action versus the Avalanche has helped raise them in the rankings.

Perhaps the most impressive part over their win against the Avalanche was that it came without Marchand, who was serving a six-game suspension for an altercation with Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. The good news is that he is now eligible to return, and can be counted on to make an immediate impact.

11. Vegas Golden Knights (29-18-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 10

As far as on-ice play goes, it wasn’t a great week for the Golden Knights. However, they have plenty to be excited about right now, and could easily regain the status as one of the NHL’s elite teams before the end of the 2021-22 season.

Jack Eichel Vegas Golden Knights
Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

The reason for that excitement, of course, is the return of Jack Eichel. The 25-year-old was able to suit up on Wednesday night against the Avalanche for the first time this season. So far, so good from the former Buffalo Sabre, as he has recorded a goal and two helpers in three games played.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs (32-14-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 9

While they still remain one of the league’s top teams offensively, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had some struggles as of late. Plenty of those struggles involves goaltender Jack Campbell, who after a hot start to the season has appeared to show signs of fatigue as of late and may need to be given some rest down the stretch.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 16

The issue with the Leafs trying to give Campbell some rest is that backup goaltender Petr Mrazek has really struggled this season, posting a 3.16 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .890 save percentage (SV%) in 10 games. This area will need to improve if the Leafs hope to compete for a Stanley Cup later this year.

9. St. Louis Blues (29-14-6)

Last Week’s Rank: 11

Like many, it was an up and down week for the St. Louis Blues. They kicked things off with a win over the Senators on Tuesday but were defeated just two nights later by the Montreal Canadiens. That would have undoubtedly lowered them from last week’s position, but a win in their final game of the week over the Maple Leafs was impressive enough to lift them.

The Blues received some great news on Tuesday, as it has been announced Vladimir Tarasenko will be in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 30-year-old, who missed Saturday’s game versus the Leafs, has 18 goals and 45 points on the season.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (31-13-8)

Last Week’s Rank: 4

After being arguably the hottest team in the league for nearly a two-month span, the Penguins are struggling a bit as of late, going 4-3-3 over their past 10 games. They were only able to pick up a single win in their three games this past week, though their losses came to worthy competitors in the Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Though they haven’t been at their best as of late, they are still getting significant offensive contributions from players like Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. In net, Tristan Jarry is continuing to impress after a down 2020-21 season, and is a big part of the reason why his team looks like they have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.

7. Minnesota Wild (31-13-3)

Last Week’s Rank: 6

This past week for the Wild was about as big of a roller coaster ride as any team has had this season. In their two wins, which came against the Detroit Red Wings and the Oilers, they scored a combined 14 goals. In their two losses to the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers, however, they gave up 12.

In each of those ugly losses, Cam Talbot was the starting goaltender, though he didn’t have much help from his team in either contest. With that being said, his 2.91 GAA and .911 SV%, while not terrible, could and should be improved by the season’s end.

6. New York Rangers (32-13-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 8

Despite a shootout loss to the Red Wings on Thursday, it was a solid week for the Rangers who won two of their three games. Wins have come plenty for this team in 2021-22, as they sit third in the Metropolitan Division with an impressive 32-13-5 record.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This team has been getting great offensive contributions all season long, none more so than from Artemi Panarin who is up to 55 points. If either Kaapo Kakko or Alexis Lafreniere are able to find their footing at the NHL level, this team will be as scary as any by the time the playoffs arrive.

5. Calgary Flames (30-13-6)

Last Week’s Rank: 7

What a stretch it has been for the Calgary Flames as of late. Not only does their 10-game winning streak mark the best in the NHL currently, but it also set a franchise record for the club. They were able to continue their domination this week, scoring 12 goals in their first two games on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

A team who has had plenty of scoring from players like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm got even scarier on that front this past week, as they acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. The Flames are now sitting first in the Pacific and look like a true threat to come out of that division in the playoffs.

4. Colorado Avalanche (36-10-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 1

While they were able to defeat the Golden Knights and the Sabres, the Avalanche lost two frustrating games this past week to the Stars and Bruins. Though the off week resulted in them dropping in these rankings, however, they still sit first in league standings.

Avalanche fans had a bit of a scare this past week, as it appeared Nathan MacKinnon intentionally slashed a linesman, which would have resulted in a 10-game suspension. Thankfully, there was another camera angle that showed that he not only missed the official completely, but appeared to be taking a whack at an opposing player instead.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (35-11-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 5

A great week for the Hurricanes, whose only loss came in overtime to another elite team in the Panthers. They currently sit third in league standings and will continue to be in the Presidents Trophy race for the remainder of the season.

With a 2.12 GAA along with a .927 SV% and a sparking 27-7-2 record, Frederik Andersen is absolutely in the Vezina Trophy conversation and deserves a ton of credit for his bounce-back season. It’s been a fantastic 2021-22 campaign for both him and his team, who have extremely high expectations this year.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning (32-11-6)

Last Week’s Rank: 2

It was a quiet week for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had just one game that resulted in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. They should be in store for a good game Wednesday night this week against an Oilers team that, as mentioned above, is on the rise after their coaching change.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 15

With that being said, the Lightning will still be heavy favorites in that game, as they possess one of, if not the most lethal lineup in the entire NHL. While it won’t be an easy feat given how many miles they have put on the past two seasons, they appear as of right now to have a great shot at a third straight Stanley Cup.

1. Florida Panthers (35-10-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 3

Another big week for the Panthers, who put up 14 goals in a three-game span in wins over the Hurricanes, Wild and Blackhawks. With the three wins, they trail the Avalanche by just a single point for first place in league standings.

Jonathan Huberdeau Florida Panthers
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The biggest reason for their offensive success this season has been Jonathan Huberdeau, who is currently up to 70-points on the season. He trails Connor McDavid for the league lead by just a single point, and should continue to remain in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy for the remainder of 2021-22.

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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