NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 22

Welcome to the 21st 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. Vegas Golden Knights (34-26-4)

Last Week’s Rank: NA

This season has been an extremely disappointing one for the Vegas Golden Knights. Back in October, they were viewed as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, one who most expected to run away with the Pacific Division. That hasn’t been the case, however, as they sit outside a top-three spot and are barely holding onto a wild card position in the Western Conference.

Evgenii Dadonov Mattias Janmark Nicolas Roy Vegas Golden Knights
Evgenii Dadonov, Mattias Janmark, and Nicolas Roy of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The good news for this team is that they were able to snap a five-game skid on Thursday after a 5-3 win over a very good Florida Panthers team. They then followed that up with a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings and may now be back on the rise.

15. Los Angeles Kings (34-22-8)

Last Week’s Rank: 12

Though the Kings do still sit second in the Pacific, that may not be the case much longer as the Edmonton Oilers are hot on their tail. They have struggled a bit as of late, though that is mainly due to the large number of injuries they are dealing with.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 21

Heading into the 2021-22 season, expectations were quite low for this Kings squad, but they have surprised many to this point. Whether or not they are able to qualify for a playoff berth remains to be seen, but it is clear that they are back on the up and up and should be viewed as a solid team for the 2022-23 season.

14. St. Louis Blues (34-18-9)

Last Week’s Rank: 9

The St. Louis Blues are in a funk right now, having gone 3-4-3 over their past 10 games. While they were able to bring the Penguins to overtime in their first game on the week on Mar. 17, they fell two nights later in regulation to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Offensively, this team is loaded as they have plenty of weapons who are all at or near a point per game pace on the season. The main issue right now continues to be Jordan Binnington, who sports an ugly 3.11 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .903 save percentage (SV%) in 29 games. If the playoffs were to start today, it is likely that Ville Husso would be the man between the pipes.

13. Minnesota Wild (36-20-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 15

After a hot start to the season, things have cooled off for the Wild in a big way as of late. Goaltending has been a major struggle, though at the time of writing this it has been announced that they have acquired Marc-Andre Fleury of the Chicago Blackhawks, which should provide a huge boost to them down the stretch of the season.

Despite their poor play as of late, they were able to turn things around somewhat this past week, picking up wins in the only two games on their schedule which came against the Boston Bruins and the Blackhawks. With Fleury now the man in net, this team can be viewed as a true threat in the Central Division.

12. Nashville Predators (36-22-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 13

This past week was a bit of a strange one for the Predators, who were able to pick up wins over two good teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs, but fell 5-4 to a team that has struggled all season long in the Philadelphia Flyers. They cannot afford losses like that at this time in the season, as they have several teams nearing them in the wild card race in the West.

Roman Josi Nashville Predators
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Though Roman Josi still seems to be in the runner-up conversation for the Norris Trophy, that may soon change thanks to this dominant stretch he has been on as of late. The 31-year-old has a ridiculous 13 points over his past four games which now gives him 75 in just 60 games on the season.

11. Toronto Maple Leafs (39-18-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 11

After picking up a shutout versus the Dallas Stars this past Tuesday, Maple Leafs’ fans hoped their goaltending issues had been solved thanks to the great effort from Erik Kallgren. He went on to have one more very solid outing versus the Carolina Hurricanes before being blasted by the Predators just a few nights later, which has resulted in more questions for this team in net.

On Sunday, the Leafs made the decision to place Petr Mrazek on waivers, and appear to have replaced him with Finnish goaltender Harri Sateri. Unless he or Jack Campbell, who is currently injured, are able to pick up their play, this team could once again be in line for an early playoff exit.

10. Edmonton Oilers (35-23-4)

Last Week’s Rank: 14

The Oilers are the league’s hottest team at the moment, as they are currently riding a five-game winning streak. They were able to pick up wins this past week against the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils, and are nearing the Kings for second in the Pacific.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 20

This team has been wildly inconsistent all season long, but as of late they are getting the goaltending they need from Mikko Koskinen. After some well-documented struggles early in the year, he has lost just one regulation game in the past two months and owns an impressive 23-9-3 record on the season.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning (39-16-6)

Last Week’s Ranking: 6

After being atop these rankings all season long, the Lightning are dropping at a rapid rate recently, as they have gone just 5-5-0 over their past 10. Their up and downplay continued this past week, as they were able to defeat the Seattle Kraken but fell nights later to the New York Rangers.

Though it is a very brief sample size, Nikita Kucherov has gone pointless in four of the Bolts’ past five games, which has certainly played a part in their overall struggles. Despite the tough stretch, however, they still remain a serious contender for the Stanley Cup and should be able to pick things up in the near future.

8. Washington Capitals (35-19-10)

Last Week’s Ranking: 10

After struggling the past few months, the Washington Capitals appear to be back on track. They were able to pick up six of a possible eight points this past week, including a massive 4-3 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

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

The biggest difference as of late for this team is that they are finally getting consistent goaltending from Vitek Vanecek. After a tough start to the season, he now owns a solid 2.37 GAA along with a .918 SV% and has become this team’s clear number one goaltender, a role which he will likely hold onto as the playoffs creep up.

7. Carolina Hurricanes (41-15-6)

Last Week’s Ranking: 1

An ugly week from the Hurricanes has resulted in them dropping in a big way in this week’s ranking. They were able to pick up just a single point in their three games, and are now just 4-4-2 in their past 10.

Despite their recent struggles, there is plenty to be excited about with this team. They remain a serious threat to come out of the Eastern Conference and were able to get Tony DeAngelo back from injury on Sunday. The 26-year-old has been a major addition on the blue line for the Canes with 40 points in 44 games.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (38-16-9)

Last Week’s Rank: 7

Despite a loss in their first game of the week to the Predators, the Penguins were able to bounce back with wins over the Blues and Arizona Coyotes. They are currently tied with the Rangers at 85 points on the season but rank behind them in divisional standings as they have two less regulation wins.

While there have been plenty of positives with this Penguins team this season, one negative has been the play of Kasperi Kapanen. The 25-year-old has struggled with just 28 points in 61 games and was healthy scratched on Friday as a result. He has proven to be a streaky player in the past, and he could be a very important player for this team come the playoffs if he is able to get hot.

5. Boston Bruins (38-19-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 5

As mentioned last week, the Bruins have really picked things up after a slow start to the season. Their solid play continued this past week as they were able to pick up wins in two of the three games on their schedule, and are just two points behind the Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.

One player who has struggled a bit as of late for the B’s is Brad Marchand, who recently went on an eight-game goalless stretch and only had four points over that span. He appears to be snapping out of that, however, as he has goals in each of his past two games. He can be expected to be one of the game’s elite producers for the stretch of the season.

4. Calgary Flames (38-16-8)

Last Week’s Rank: 4

This Flames team has been firing on all cylinders this season, and could be primed for a long playoff run. General manager Brad Treliving is doing everything he can to turn them into a contender, having acquired Tyler Toffoli back in February and Calle Jarnkrok this past week.

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

Though he isn’t getting much consideration, Johnny Gaudreau should be in the Hart Trophy discussion this season. The 28-year-old has been spectacular all season long with 28 goals and 80 points through 62 games. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact he is sitting with a plus/minus of +44 on the year.

3. New York Rangers (40-18-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 8

The Rangers are undoubtedly one of the league’s most improved teams this season. After missing the playoffs entirely in 2020-21, they currently sit second in the Metro and trail the Hurricanes by just three points.

After a bit of a disappointing season through the halfway point by his standards, Artemi Panarin has begun playing like the superstar he is as of late. He now has 72 points through 58 games and is talented enough to lead this Rangers team on a deep playoff run later this year.

2. Florida Panthers (42-14-6)

Last Week’s Rank: 2

As has been said many times this season, this past week was another solid one for the Panthers. Despite losing to the Golden Knights, they were able to pick up wins over both the Sharks and Ducks.

Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 19

Offensively, no one in the league comes close to the Panthers, and they were able to widen that gap even more with the addition of Claude Giroux. One major area of concern however is the injury to Aaron Ekblad, which is expected to keep him out until at least the opening round of the postseason. Hopefully, for this Panthers team, it doesn’t end up being longer than that.

1. Colorado Avalanche (44-13-5)

Last Week’s Rank: 1

After winning both games on their schedule this past week, the Avalanche have reclaimed the top spot in these rankings. More importantly, they sit first in NHL standings with 93 points through 62 games.

Darcy Kuemper Colorado Avalanche
Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After a slow start to the season, Darcy Kuemper has really been heating up between the pipes and has shutouts in each of his past two starts. Through 43 games he owns a 2.41 GAA along with a .923 SV% and is proving why so many believed he was a top-tier goaltender for the past four years.

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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