Welcome to the 23rd 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 (36-28-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
After being shut out in their first two games of the week by the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets, the Golden Knights were able to defeat the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks to help them get back into a wild card position.
Despite their two most recent wins, things are far from good for this Golden Knights squad. Not only are they dealing with plenty of injuries, but they are also having trouble activating certain players from long-term injured reserve due to having very limited cap space.
15. St. Louis Blues (35-20-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
The Blues came into this week struggling in a big way but appeared to be turning things around after a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Their struggles crept back into their game, however, as they gave up a combined 12 goals in losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes.
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Due to their poor play, the Blues were passed by the Predators for third in the Central Division. All of a sudden, with just 18 games to go, there is some serious discussion on whether or not they will qualify for the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.
14. Edmonton Oilers (36-25-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Oilers had their five-game winning streak snapped last Monday by the Colorado Avalanche in a game that went to overtime. They then blew a late lead in a 5-3 loss against the Dallas Stars the following night, before picking up their first win of the week two days later against the San Jose Sharks. Then, on Saturday night, they were involved in one of the craziest games of the season against their bitter rival, the Calgary Flames in what ended as a 9-5 loss.
Inconsistencies continue to plague this team and have cast many doubters on whether or not they will have any sort of success in the playoffs, assuming they make it. While the blame seems to be mostly directed at goaltenders Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith, they haven’t been getting a ton of support, particularly in their last game versus the Flames.
13. Nashville Predators (38-24-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
The Predators continued their average stretch as of late this past week, as they were able to pick up wins versus the Anaheim Ducks and the Flyers, but fell to the LA Kings as well as the Golden Knights.
The good news for their sake is that even with their average play as of late, they have found their way back into third in the Central thanks to the Blues’ struggles. A postseason berth seems likely for this squad, who remain quite underrated and could surprise many this Spring.
12. L.A. Kings (36-22-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
The Kings were able to slightly widen the gap between them and the Oilers for second in the Pacific Division thanks to picking up five of a possible six points this past week. They were able to defeat both the Predators and Seattle Kraken and grabbed a single point in a shootout loss to the Blackhawks.
Despite having a ton of injuries as of late, the Kings have continued to claw their way to wins. It has been an extremely impressive season for this resilient group, as they were not considered a playoff-caliber team by almost anyone this Fall.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (41-18-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
While they still remain one of the league’s biggest favorites to win the Stanley Cup, the Lightning have really been struggling as of late. They have just four wins in their past 10 games and were only able to pick up four of a possible eight points this week.
The one positive is that both their wins this past week came in their two final games, which could mean they are finally snapping out of their funk. As frustrating as this stretch has been for their fanbase, it may prove to be beneficial to face some resiliency prior to the playoffs for this squad that is coming off of back-to-back Cup wins.
10. Washington Capitals (37-20-10)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Though the Capitals won two of their three games this past week, they didn’t come in a pretty fashion. Their first game of the week was a 5-2 loss to the struggling Blues, and a few nights later they were just barely able to get past the Buffalo Sabers in a shootout victory. Saturday was a better performance, however, as they defeated the New Jersey Devils by a 4-3 final.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 21
While the Capitals have had a relatively solid season, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence regarding their roster from analysts around the league. Taking a look at the Eastern Conference, it is hard to imagine them making much noise in the playoffs this Spring, though with Alex Ovechkin on their roster anything is possible.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs (41-19-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
After losing 4-2 to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, the Maple Leafs were at risk to slide even further down these rankings. However, they have instead gone up a few slots thanks to a massive 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
Though he had struggled as of late, it appears as though Jack Campbell will soon be able to return to the crease after missing time with a rib injury. If he is able to get back to the level he was playing at early this season, optimism regarding this team’s chances in the playoffs will increase significantly.
8. Minnesota Wild (40-20-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
After playing their worst hockey of the season in February, the Wild have turned things around in a big way. They were able to defeat the Golden Knights, Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Avalanche to help increase their win streak to six games, which is currently an NHL best.
Marc-Andre Fleury was able to make his Wild debut on Saturday, kicking aside 23 of the 25 shots he faced. Between himself and Cam Talbot (who has been sensational as of late), this team has one of the better goaltending duos in the league and could be primed to go on a run this Spring.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (40-17-10)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
While some may argue an 11-goal showing versus the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday is deserving of a raise in this ranking, losses to the Sabres and New York Rangers earlier in the week have dropped them ever so slightly.
Despite the slight drop, there is plenty to be excited about when it comes to this Penguins roster. They have been fantastic in recent months, playing as well as they have in years. With how well things are going right now, Sidney Crosby appears to have a legitimate chance to win a fourth Stanley Cup later this year.
6. Calgary Flames (40-17-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
While a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday wasn’t ideal, this Flames team continues to roll and has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the season. It is clear that they have all bought in on head coach Darryl Sutter’s systems, and as a result, have become a serious threat in the Western Conference.
After a five-point outing against the Oilers on Saturday, Johnny Gaudreau is up to 90 points in just 65 games this season. He should have no issues shattering his career-high of 99 points set back in 2018-19, and deserves to be in the Hart Trophy conversation as well.
5. New York Rangers (42-19-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
The Rangers opened this past week with a disappointing 7-4 loss to the Devils but were able to rebound with a big win over the Penguins and another against the Sabres on Sunday afternoon.
Though he has struggled a bit as of late, Igor Shesterkin looked like his elite self against the Penguins on Friday, allowing just one goal on 21 shots. He owns a phenomenal 2.11 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .936 save percentage (SV%) and is being considered one of the frontrunners for the Hart Trophy.
4. Carolina Hurricanes (43-15-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
After some struggles as of late, the Hurricanes picked things up this past week, grabbing five of a possible six points, including a massive 7-2 win over the Blues on Saturday.
While there are several great teams in the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes may be the strongest of them all. They do not have a single weak area on their roster and also have one of the best head coaches in the league in Rod Brind’Amour.
3. Colorado Avalanche (46-14-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
There haven’t been many off weeks for the Avalanche this season, but this was one of them. Though it wasn’t disastrous by any means, they lost two of the four games they played in, which is a surprise for a team that has only lost 20 games all season.
While things have been going great for the Avalanche all season long, one major area of concern continues to be the injury to Gabriel Landeskog. Reports early on were that they are hoping to have him back for the opening round of playoffs, though that remains to be seen.
2. Florida Panthers (44-15-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Though they were defeated 5-2 by the Leafs on Sunday, the Panthers are continuing to roll, especially offensively. This past week they once again scored at a rapid rate, tallying 10 goals over their three games.
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While it remains to be seen if their defensive play is good enough to bring them success in the playoffs, there is no denying that this is by far the best roster in terms of offence in the entire NHL. Being able to add Claude Giroux at the trade deadline seems almost unfair at this point.
1. Boston Bruins (41-19-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Given that they are tied for eighth in league standings currently, some may take issue with the Bruins being atop this week’s ranking. However, there is no denying how incredible this team has been as of late, proven by their 8-1-1 record over their past 10 games.
After a bit of a slow start to the season, they are firing on all cylinders right now. Taylor Hall has picked things up offensively, while goaltender Jeremy Swayman deserves to be in the Calder Trophy discussion as he owns a spectacular 2.09 GAA along with a .925 SV% on the year.
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.