Welcome to the 18th 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 (28-17-9)
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
This past week was a very frustrating one for the Washington Capitals. First was a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers, though, in their defence, they have been a great team all season. What really stung was the 2-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of the lowly Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
With those losses, the Capitals now find themselves sitting in the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. The good news for them is that no teams are anywhere close to surpassing them for that spot, but their play as of late is becoming a serious cause for concern as we inch closer towards the playoffs.
15. Edmonton Oilers (29-21-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Seeing that the Edmonton Oilers went 1-2-0 last week would suggest they had a bad week, but that was far from the case. They had three extremely difficult matchups against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes. They not only managed to beat the Panthers but were deserving of a win against the Bolts and were matched evenly in their narrow loss to the Canes.
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The addition of Evander Kane has helped this team in a big way, as he has fit in immediately with 10 points in 14 games. The issue in Edmonton, as it has been all season long, is goaltending. The good news, however, was that Mikko Koskinen was outstanding against the Panthers, and can possibly build on that performance moving forward.
14. Dallas Stars (29-20-3)
Last Week’s Ranking: 16
After a very slow start to the season, the Dallas Stars have been playing solid hockey as of late and currently occupy the final wild-card position in the Western Conference. Though they didn’t have the most difficult of schedules this past week, they were able to take five of a possible six points in games against the Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres.
Though he only has 30 points in 52 games this season, Tyler Seguin has come to life as of late with 12 points in his past 11 games and appears to finally be 100 percent after a grueling surgery and rehab process that forced him to miss nearly the entire 2020-21 season. With him seemingly back to the player he was prior to his injury, the Stars have a great shot at qualifying for the postseason this year.
13. Vegas Golden Knights (29-20-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
Most assumed getting Jack Eichel back into the lineup would be what the Vegas Golden Knights needed to get back to being an elite team, but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, in the five games he has suited up for this season, his team has put together just one win.
This past week caused more frustration for the Golden Knights, as they lost to the worst team in the league in the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, and again to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. All of a sudden, they now sit third in the Pacific Division and have the Oilers hot on their tail as well.
12. Los Angeles Kings (29-17-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
This week marked an easy one, as far as schedules are considered, for the Los Angeles Kings as they had three games against the Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and the New York Islanders. Not only were they able to win all three, but they looked quite dominant doing so, racking up a total of 12 goals.
Expectations weren’t very high for this Kings squad entering the season, but they now find themselves just three points shy of the Calgary Flames for first in the Pacific. While Anze Kopitar is undeniably leading the way, they are getting contributions from everyone on the roster and are very deserving of their current success.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs (34-14-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a very difficult team to judge as of late. Their offence continues to be outstanding, but both their defensive play and goaltending are becoming serious causes for concern. That is what made their 10-7 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday both impressive and worrisome at the same time.
After a fantastic start to the season, Jack Campbell has been horrendous as of late and has many believing the Leafs need to acquire a goaltender ahead of the trade deadline. Whether or not general manager Kyle Dubas does that remains to be seen, but as of right now, neither Campbell nor Petr Mrazek are inspiring much confidence.
10. Minnesota Wild (31-16-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
There haven’t been many struggles for the Minnesota Wild this season, but this past week was certainly one to forget. It started on Tuesday with a loss to the Ottawa Senators and continued with losses to the Maple Leafs and Flames. The Flames game, in particular, was frustrating as they were blasted for seven goals against, although two of those did come with the net empty.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 17
Given the great season they are having, there is no reason not to expect the Wild to snap out of this mini funk. One interesting thing to watch with this team for the remainder of the season is their goaltending situation. Cam Talbot hasn’t been great with a 2.94 goals-against average (GAA) and a .910 save percentage (SV%), which could lead to Kaapo Kahkonen turning into their starter down the stretch.
9. Boston Bruins (31-17-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
The Boston Bruins started their week with a huge win over the Avalanche on Monday and continued it with wins over the Seattle Kraken and San Jose Sharks. They are now riding a four-game winning streak and are beginning to look like the Bruins of old.
After serving a six-game suspension, Brad Marchand was back in the lineup on Thursday versus the Kraken. Though he didn’t factor much into that contest, he looked to be back to his old elite self against the Sharks, scoring a goal and two assists in the 3-1 victory.
8. New York Rangers (33-15-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
The week started off well for the Rangers, as they were able to take down both the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately for them, a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Canucks resulted in them falling slightly in this week’s ranking.
Despite their most recent loss, there is plenty to be excited about with this Rangers squad. Perhaps the most is the play of Igor Shesterkin, whose 1.95 GAA and .941 SV% are putting him not only in the Vezina Trophy conversation but the Hart as well.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (33-14-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
After an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, the Penguins found themselves on a three-game losing streak. The good news for them is that they were able to put an end to that just two nights later in a 1-0 win over the Rangers, and followed that performance up with a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sitting second in the Metropolitan Division right now, the Penguins are considered by most to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They will have a chance to prove that theory over their next three games, as they take on the league’s elite in the Lightning, Hurricanes and Panthers. All three will serve as great measuring stick games for Sidney Crosby and company.
6. St. Louis Blues (32-14-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
After winning all three of their games this past week against the Flyers, Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues are now riding a four-game winning streak. The solid stretch has them back in second in the Central Division.
While Jordan Binnington seems to be getting back on track after a shutout on Sunday against the Blackhawks, the big story for the Blues this season has been Ville Husso. The 27-year-old has been incredible with a 2.03 GAA and a .935 SV% in 20 games.
5. Florida Panthers (35-13-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
There haven’t been many hiccups for the Panthers this season, but this past week certainly served as one. They were unable to pick up a single point in any of their three games that came against the Predators, Blue Jackets and Oilers.
The offence continued to be great this past week, as they scored 10 goals in their three losses. The issue was their defensive play and goaltending, as they allowed a ridiculous 16 goals against. That part of their game will need to be cleaned up if they hope to go on a deep run in the postseason.
4. Calgary Flames (31-14-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Though the Flames had their 10-game winning streak snapped in a 7-1 shellacking courtesy of the Canucks, they were able to defeat both the Jets and Wild in their next two games. To put it simply, despite the ugly result on Thursday, coach Darryl Sutter’s squad remains a force to be reckoned with.
With some great scoring forwards, a solid blue line and an elite goaltender in Jacob Markstrom, the Flames are beginning to look like they could contend for a Stanley Cup this year. Whatever message Sutter is selling, it is clear the entire roster has completely bought into it.
3. Colorado Avalanche (39-10-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Though their week started off with a loss to the Bruins, the Avalanche were able to win their final three games, including an impressive 3-2 victory over the Golden Knights on the second half of a back-to-back. With the successful week, they find themselves sitting in the top spot of the league standings.
The Avalanche have been getting ridiculous offensive contributions from many players all season long. While Nazem Kadri has received plenty of the talk, Mikko Rantanen has been just as good, if not better. In 50 games, the Finnish superstar has 26 goals and 65 points and has a great chance to crack the 100-point barrier for the first time in his career.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (37-11-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
After struggling a bit for their standards in early February, the Hurricanes have turned things around in a big way recently. This past week, they were able to put up wins against the Flyers, Blue Jackets and Oilers, and as a result, are now on a five-game winning streak.
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Their MVP this season continues to be Frederik Andersen, who has been a terrific pickup with a 2.03 GAA along with a .930 SV%, and an even better 29-7-2 record. The Leafs have to be kicking themselves at this point for letting him walk, but the Canes certainly aren’t complaining.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (34-11-6)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Despite it being a quiet week for the Lightning, it was another successful one as they were able to defeat both the Oilers and Predators. The victories extended their winning streak to four, and that could easily become five in no time, as they are set to play the Senators on Tuesday.
Since returning from injury, Nikita Kucherov has been terrific with 24 points in just 16 games. The player who deserves a ton of credit this season however is Steven Stamkos, who is having a rejuvenating year with 25 goals and 59 points in just 50 games.
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 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.