Welcome to the 25th 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. Nashville Predators (41-26-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
At this time, the Nashville Predators still have one of the two wild card spots in the Western Conference, but the race should remain very tight right until the end of the 2021-22 season. A big win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday helped in that regard, and they will need to continue to do just that if they hope to have a playoff berth when the season ends on April 29.
Though most believe Auston Matthews is starting to run away with it, Roman Josi deserves to be right there when it comes to the discussion for the Hart Trophy. The 31-year-old is having one of the best seasons from a defenceman we have seen in some time with 19 goals and 87 points through 70 games. To put into perspective just how great he has been, the next highest scoring Predator is Matt Duchene with 75 points.
15. Vegas Golden Knights (40-29-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
The Vancouver Canucks were able to put an end to the Golden Knights five-game winning streak on Wednesday with a 5-1 victory. Credit goes to this Vegas squad, however, who didn’t get down on themselves and were able to respond with a 6-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes three nights later.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 24
After a very inconsistent first three quarters of the 2021-22 season, the Golden Knights finally appear to be heating up. Whether or not it is too little too late in terms of them getting into a playoff spot remains to be seen, however.
14. Dallas Stars (41-27-4)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
Another team battling it out for a wild card spot in the Western Conference right now is the Stars, who have picked things up as of late, proven by their 6-3-1 record over their past 10 games. This past week was a solid one for them, as they were able to win three of the four games on their schedule, falling only to the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime on Thursday.
With Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson both tearing it up this season, one has to wonder just how good this Stars team could be if players like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov were playing up to their full potential. Radulov in particular has been awful with just four goals through 65 games. The Stars desperately need him to get back on track if they hope to make the playoffs this season.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins (42-22-10)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
It isn’t time to hit the panic button just yet, but the Penguins are really struggling as of late. Through their past 10 games, they have a record of just 3-6-1, including a 1-3-0 stretch this past week. Goaltending in particular hasn’t been good enough, as they have given up 20 goals in their past five games.
Despite their recent struggles, there is still plenty to like about this Penguins roster. Sidney Crosby continues to be one of the game’s best with 75 points through 61 contests, and, while Evgeni Malkin may no longer be the same dominating player he was in his prime, he is still extremely effective with 37 points in 37 games. This team won’t be a fun matchup for whoever gets them in the first round.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning (44-20-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
The 2021-22 season has been a bit of a strange one for the Lightning, who have never quite performed at the dominant level we have come to expect from them. This past week was a tough one for the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, as they managed just one win in their four games.
While he hasn’t been bad by any means, Andrei Vasilevskiy is not having a great season by his standards, as he owns a 2.45 goals against average (GAA) along with a .917 save percentage (SV%) through 56 games. It will be interesting to see if he is able to step things up in the playoffs, given how much hockey he has played in the past two years.
11. Washington Capitals (40-22-10)
Last Week’s Rank: 15
This past week was an extremely impressive one for the Capitals, who only picked up three wins, but did so against three great teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning, Penguins, and Boston Bruins. All three were big statement wins for a team many were writing off as the weakest playoff caliber squad in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, in order to be taken seriously, they will have to start putting together these types of wins on a more consistent basis, but this past week was extremely impressive nonetheless. If they are able to get just decent goaltending from either Vitek Vanecek or Ilya Samsonov down the stretch, this team could surprise a lot of people this Spring.
10. Carolina Hurricanes (47-18-8)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
While the Hurricanes remain one of the league’s favorites for the Stanley Cup, they have struggled in a big way as of late. Since March 1, they have an extremely subpar 10-7-4, and their recent skid has opened the door for the New York Rangers to slide into first in the Metropolitan Division.
Related: NHL 2021-22 Power Rankings: Week 23
If there is a positive for them to build off of right now, it is that going through resiliency can be a good thing for teams. It could prove to be a good thing that they were able to work out these struggles prior to the playoffs, rather than have the struggles begin during them.
9. Minnesota Wild (44-21-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
The Wild’s drop on this list has less to do with their performance and more to do with some others above really picking up their play as of late. Nonetheless, they won just one of their three games this past week, including being blown out 6-2 by the Predators on Tuesday.
Despite the off week, there isn’t much to worry about for fans of this Wild team. They are no longer the average squad they had been for so many years in the past, and will have a chance to further prove that in this year’s postseason.
8. Boston Bruins (45-22-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
After being on a massive heater for quite some time, the Bruins faltered a bit this past week, losing two of the four games on their schedule. Tuesday night saw them lose to a struggling Detroit Red Wings team, though it is worth noting it was on the second half of a back-to-back.
While David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are receiving the majority of the credit offensively, one player who deserves to be mentioned is Charlie Coyle. After a disastrous 2020-21 campaign, he has bounced back nicely with 16 goals and 41 points through 72 games.
7. Edmonton Oilers (42-25-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
The Oilers are red hot right now, and were nearly able to win their seventh in a row on Saturday night, as they narrowly fell in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche. They likely deserved a better fate in that contest, as they fired 50 shots on net, but struggled to solve Darcy Kuemper.
Since the hiring of Jay Woodcroft back on Feb. 10, this team has been among the best in the NHL. Goaltending will continue to be a question mark heading into the playoffs, but Mikko Koskinen has been rather solid as of late. If he is able to keep it up, this team could go on a run.
6. Calgary Flames (44-19-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
After a three-game slide, the Flames were able to get back on track this past week, winning all four of the games they had on their schedule. Barring a major collapse, it appears they will finish the season in first place in the Pacific Division.
This team has no real weakness, as they have plenty of scoring up front, a solid blueline, and one of the game’s best goaltenders in Jacob Markstrom. Playoff struggles have haunted them in the past, but this roster seems to have a different feel to it.
5. St. Louis Blues (42-20-10)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
After struggling through the month of March, the St. Louis Blues are back on track as they are currently riding a five-game winning streak. Four of those five wins came this past week, including a big overtime win against the Wild on Friday.
He isn’t receiving the praise he deserves, but Robert Thomas is quietly turning into one of the game’s best playmakers. Through 62 games he has registered 65 points, which is well above his previous career high of 42 set back in 2019-20. The 22-year-old deserves a ton of credit for the solid season the Blues have put together.
4. New York Rangers (47-20-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
The great breakout season for the Rangers continued this past week, as they were able to win all three of their games. While two came against lesser opponents in the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators, they shut out the Penguins in an impressive 3-0 win on Thursday.
Up front, this team possesses a ton of offence. Artemi Panarin is closing in on 100 points, while Chris Kreider is just one goal shy of 50 on the season. In net, Igor Shesterkin owns a ridiculous 2.07 GAA paired with a .935 SV% and is in line to win his first-ever Vezina Trophy.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (47-19-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
The Maple Leafs have been rolling as of late, and continued to do so this past week, winning three of the four games on their schedule. It is worth noting, however, that their loss on Tuesday to the Florida Panthers saw them blow a 5-1 lead, proving that goaltending and defensive play is still a major question mark for them as they inch closer toward the playoffs.
Despite some questions surrounding this team, no one can deny the fact that their offence is extremely lethal. Matthews is just two goals from 60 on the season, while Mitch Marner has 90 points in just 63 games. With how well those two are playing, this may indeed be the year the Leafs find a way to get past the first round.
2. Colorado Avalanche (52-14-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
The Avalanche were able to win all three games on their schedule this past week, and as a result are now riding a six-game win streak. This team has been on a tear all season long and are already sitting at a ridiculous 110 points with 10 games remaining.
The one concern regarding this team right now is their injury situation, as both Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri are sidelined. There hasn’t been a ton of chatter on either one in regards of a return, which is a bit worrisome with the first round of the playoffs less than a month away.
1. Florida Panthers (51-15-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
The Panthers are the hottest team in the NHL right now with seven straight wins, three of which came this past week. They are having one of the best offensive seasons we have seen from a team in a long time, averaging north of four goals per game through 72 contests.
Like the Maple Leafs, there are questions surrounding this team, particularly between the pipes. It appeared that Sergei Bobrovsky was back to his former self for a good chunk of the season, but he has struggled as of late, giving up three or more goals in seven of his past eight starts. The Panthers need him to figure things out if they hope to have a shot at the Stanley Cup this Spring.
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.