Welcome to this edition of the 2022-23 weekly Power Rankings for The Hockey Writers. We’ll rank the teams from last to first. Rankings are focused on the overall record, each team’s record from the last week, and the overall feel surrounding each club.
There has been some shuffling near the top of the rankings this week, as the New Jersey Devils appear to be stumbling after three straight losses. How far have they fallen and who has taken their spot? Meanwhile at the bottom, not much has changed.
All stats and records are current as of Dec. 14, prior to any games taking place.
Related: NHL 2022-23 Power Rankings: Week 10
32. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 32, 7-20-3, 17 points)
31. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 31, 7-16-4, 18 points)
30. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 30, 9-14-7, 25 points)
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 27, 10-16-2, 22 points)
28. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 28, 9-14-4, 22 points)
27. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 29, 10-16-5, 25 points)
26. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 26, 13-15-1, 27 points)
Not much has changed here at the bottom, with the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks firmly battling it out for last place. To put their misery into some context, together the Ducks and Blackhawks have combined for only six regulation wins in 2022-23 (Ducks: one; Blackhawks: five). The Ducks have allowed the most goals (130) while the Blackhawks have scored the fewest (65) – both recipes for disaster. In Anaheim’s last three games, they’ve been outscored 16-1 (0-3-0). Meanwhile, in Chicago (0-3-0 last week), trade talks surrounding Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews should be picking up soon.
The Flyers went 0-2-2 over last week, but on had a small bit of good news come their way when 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost put up a four-point night in a 5-4 loss to the Coyotes. However, not much else is going right for the Flyers. It was an up-and-down week in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets were trounced by the Sabres 9-4 on Dec. 7 (trailing 6-0 after the first period) before two straight wins over the Flames and Kings. They capped their week with a 4-0 loss to the Panthers. The Coyotes somehow managed a win over the Boston Bruins on Dec. 9 as rookie Matias Maccelli (2019 fourth-round pick) continues his bid for the Calder Trophy (18 assists leads all rookies). Overall though, they’ve gone 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.
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The San Jose Sharks have won two in a row and Erik Karlsson is still tearing it up, leading all defensemen with 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists). Even still, they’re 3-5-2 through their last 10 games and have been getting calls on the former Norris Trophy winner’s availability. For the St. Louis Blues, the roller coaster continues, going 2-1-1 over the last seven days and 3-6-1 over their last 10. Jordan Binnington’s play has gotten better, but as we’ve seen already this year, that could turn on a dime.
25. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 16, 12-12-3, 27 points)
24. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 21, 12-13-3, 27 points)
23. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 25, 12-14-2, 26 points)
22. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 22, 14-12-2, 30 points)
21. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 23, 13-14-2, 28 points)
The Nashville Predators have begun to freefall, losing four straight while dealing with some serious roster turnover. Forward Eeli Tolvanen was waived (and claimed by the Seattle Kraken) while the departures of forward Michael McCarron (player assistance program) and defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (injury) have nearly depleted their NHL depth. Both the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators have six wins in their last 10. Vancouver may not be able to recover from their early season hole, adding fuel to the fire of trade talks surrounding captain Bo Horvat. The Senators may be getting a new owner soon, and even though Thomas Chabot tried to take out his frustrations on Travis Hamonic, they went 2-1-1 last week and are 6-3-1 in their last 10. On the downside, 20-year-old center Tim Stutzle (27 points) will miss at least a week with a shoulder strain.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the Montreal Canadiens right now. They’re playing well enough to be competitive and within arms reach of the playoffs, going 2-1-0 over the last seven days. They’re also not bad enough to have a legitimate shot at the draft lottery. For what it’s worth, they’re been rumored to be in the hunt for roster additions, so they might try to take a shot at the playoffs while they remain in the mix.
It’s a tough hill to climb in the east, but no team may be better prepped to emerge from the cellar than the Buffalo Sabres. Tage Thompson is on a real bender right now over their last eight games (eight goals, 10 assists) as the team itself recorded two six–goal periods within the last week. Overall, their 115 goals and 3.93 goals per game rank first in the NHL. Thompson, the NHL’s second star of the week, has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in his last five games, including a four-goal first period against the Blue Jackets.
20. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 20, 13-11-5, 31 points)
19. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 18, 14-12-4, 32 points)
18. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 13, 13-9-6, 32 points)
17. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 12, 15-10-2, 32 points)
16. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 15, 15-12-5, 35 points)
Playing on the road has been trouble for the Calgary Flames, losing three straight (0-1-2). On the season, they’re 3-6-4 overall away from the Saddledome. Goalie Jacob Markstrom, a Vezina runner-up last season, is 1-3-1 over his last five starts, only surrendering 10 goals over that same span (.925 save percentage). The Florida Panthers (4-4-2 over their last 10) continue to struggle to meet their preseason Stanley Cup expectations as the team continues to ebb and flow. Matthew Tkachuk has come as advertised (39 points in 28 games), but the team itself may just be the victim of “bad luck”. They lead the league in expected goals for (xGF) at 115.57 and total shots (1,123) but rank 27th overall in shooting percentage (9.0).
The Detroit Red Wings have dropped their last three (0-2-1), six of their last eight, and may be without Dylan Larkin for a period of time after injuring his right hand while blocking a shot. If Larkin’s injury is serious, it might be too tough for them to continue to push for the playoffs. Despite their recent rash of injuries that aided their season-worst four-game skid, the Colorado Avalanche have won two straight and may be getting Evan Rodrigues back in their top-six. Nathan MacKinnon will still be out for a while as the Avs will likely tread water at best in his absence. After losing back-to-back games to the Blue Jackets and Sabres, the Los Angeles Kings are 4-3-3 in their last 10. Despite their .547 points percentage (P%), they’ve given up the second most goals (118).
16. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 14, 15-11-2, 32 points)
15. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 17, 17-13-0, 34 points)
13. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 24, 15-12-4, 34 points)
12. New York Islanders (Last Week: 9, 17-12-1, 35 points)
11. New York Rangers (Last Week: 19, 15-10-5, 35 points)
The Minnesota Wild are having an issue staying out of trouble, as they’re 31st in penalty minutes (358), and 32nd in average PIM per night (12.71). On the positive side, Mats Zuccarello (30 points) and Kirill Kaprizov (36 points) have been X-Factors for the Wild, helping them to the 8th ranked PP. They’re 7-3-0 in their last 10 after defeating the surging Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 13.
Speaking of the Oilers, even with the loss to the Wild, they’re also 7-3-0 in their last 10 (3-1-0 last week) and have taken over as the league’s top power play (PP) team (31.5%). Connor McDavid is still doing Connor McDavid things, while he (59) and Leon Daisatil (51) are number one and two in points.
Winners of five in a row and eight of 10, the Washington Capitals continue their climb back toward playoff relevancy in the east. Alexander Ovechkin reached another NHL milestone with his hat trick on Dec. 13 against the Blackhawks, as he’s now third all-time in goals with 800. He’s now one behind Gordie Howe (801) for second place as he and the Caps continue trending upward. Backup goalie Charlie Lindgren was 4-0-0 last week, earning him the honor of being the NHL’s first star of the week.
In New York, the Rangers are ascending while the Islanders have been on a slight decline. Goaltending for both teams has been strong recently – Semyon Varlamov went 3-0-1 last week while Igor Shesterkin went 4-0-0. The Rangers capped the week with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils. The Islanders beat the Devils as well in the same week, but backed that up with a shutout loss to the Hurricanes and a loss to the Bruins.
10. Seattle Kraken
Last Week: 5
16-9-3, 35 points
It was a tough week for the Seattle Kraken, going 1-3-0, but they’re still one of the top teams in the Pacific Division for now. Matty Beniers continues to lead all rookies in goals (11) and points (23) and the offense as a whole has been fairly productive (seventh in goals per game, 15th ranked power play). They claimed former top prospect Tolvanen from the Predators in hopes that he regains his form and his game finds new life with a new team.
Their biggest issue right now is defensive consistency. Although they take an average amount of penalties (4.04 per game), their 69.6% PK ranks 29th and their team save percentage (SV%) is 31st (.881). Martin Jones has come back to earth after he had a hot stretch while starter Philipp Grubauer has been too easy to beat all year (.874 SV%). Without any improvements there, this team may continue negative regression back to the middle of the pack.
9. Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 10
16-6-6, 38 points
The Carolina Hurricanes picked up five points last week (2-0-1), recording back-to-back shutouts against the Islanders and Red Wings. 23-year-old winger Martin Necas is enjoying a breakout season with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 28 games while 37-year-old Brent Burns is heating up with six points in his last five games (one goal, five assists). They’re still not scoring a ton as a team (2.82 goals per game), but the goaltending of Pyotr Kochetkov has been outstanding. He was in net for their two shutouts last week and is 4-0-1 in December with a .940 SV% and 1.60 goals-against average (GAA).
8. Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 6
18-9-1, 37 points
The Winnipeg Jets took two hard-luck losses this week to the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights, explaining their drop two spots from six to eight. Prior to that, they had won four in a row. Backed by the re-emerging strong play of Connor Hellebuyck (2.02 GAA, .926 SV%) and Josh Morrissey looking like a Norris Trophy candidate with 32 points (27 assists lead all defensemen), it’s no doubt that the Jets are in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.
7. Dallas Stars
Last Week: 7
17-8-5, 39 points
Things keep going right for the Dallas Stars after their 4-1 victory over the Devils on Dec. 13. The overall numbers for this team explain everything: third in goals per game, sixth in goals against per game, 10th-ranked power play, and third ranked penalty kill. They’ve also scored the second most goals (110) and have the fourth-best goal differential at plus-26.
Defenseman Miro Heiskanen has 11 points in his last 10 games while forward Jason Robertson has cooled recently with just two points in his last five. Their goaltending duo of Jake Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood also continues to be one of the better tandems in the league with a combined .912 SV%.
6. Vegas Golden Knights
Last Week: 3
21-9-1, 43 points
Once again, injuries are taking a toll on the Golden Knights. Leading scorer Jack Eichel was placed on injured reserve (IR), defenseman Zach Whitecloud was placed on long-term IR (LTIR) and fellow blueliner Shea Theodore is week-to-week. Alex Pietrangelo is also away from the team indefinitely due to an illness in the family.
With that being said, the Golden Knights found a way to go 2-2-0 last week and 5-5-0 in their last 10. Goalies Logan Thompson and Adin Hill continue to play extremely well, combining for a .912 SV% (eighth) and 2.74 goals per game (seventh). However, the extended absence of key players like Eichel, Pietrangelo, and Theodore could cause this team to slip further.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 11
17-8-4, 38 points
The Pittsburgh Penguins went 4-0-0 over the last seven days, have won six straight, and have points in nine of 10, hence the jump from No. 11 to No. 5 this week. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have this team and its power play rolling as of late, jumping from 18.39% (26th) on 12/9 to 20.4% (22nd) as of 12/14. Goalie Tristan Jarry has been lights out so far in December, going 5-0-0 with a GAA of 2.00.
After suffering a stroke less than three weeks ago, defenseman Kris Letang has returned to the team. In his first two games back, he hasn’t missed a beat and led the Penguins in ice time for both games.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 8
18-9-1, 37 points
The Tampa Bay Lightning are, rather quietly, in the midst of yet another strong season in which they look like Cup contenders. They went 3-1-0 over the last seven days and 7-3-0 over their last 10 games. In December, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is 4-1-0 with a .939 SV% and 1.81 GAA while the offense is averaging 4.16 goals per game.
3. New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 2
21-6-2, 44 points
A losing streak was bound to happen at some point this season, and now appears to be that time. The New Jersey Devils have lost three consecutive games for the first time this year, marking their first losing streak since they started the season 0-2-0. They were beaten by good teams in all three (Islanders, Rangers, Stars), so the sky isn’t falling yet in New Jersey. Even with going 5-3-2 in their last 10, they’re still a plus-33 in goal differential (second) and have the second-best Corsi percentage (CF%) at 56.73%. But of the three losses, the two against division foes in the Rangers and Islanders make it sting a little bit more.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 4
19-5-6, 44 points
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a perfect week, going 4-0-0, that included three shutouts – two of which came against top five scoring teams in the Stars and Kings. Mitch Marner’s point streak now stands at 23 games (38 points over that span), while Auston Matthews (eight-game point streak) and William Nylander (NHL’s third star of the week) are leading this juggernaut offensively that hasn’t lost in regulation since Nov. 11.
The real story for this team is the goaltending. Bringing in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov was a huge gamble by this front office, with general manager Kyle Dubas firmly on the hot seat this summer. Combined, the two have allowed only 43 goals and have a .931 SV% in 21 starts (16-3-2).
1. Boston Bruins
Last Week: 1
23-4-1, 47 points
Once again, the Boston Bruins sit on the Iron Throne of the THW Power Rankings. Their 4-3 loss to the Coyotes on Dec. 9 was almost enough to bump them from the top spot. Even with that loss, the Bruins are close to the top in nearly every metric that matters: 110 goals (second), 61 goals against (first), plus-49 goal differential (first), 53.67 CF% (fifth), 28.6% PP (third), 85.8% PK (first), .925 team SV% (first), 3.80 goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60) (second), etc. The Bruins are 4-1-1 in December, 7-2-1 in the last 10, and are without a doubt the best team in hockey.
That wraps up THW’s week 11 power rankings. A lot of movement within the top 10 with the Penguins jumping from 11 to five, the Kraken dropping from five to 10, and the Maple Leafs leapfrogging the Devils for the second spot. We’ll see what this next week has to offer – perhaps Toronto can claim the top spot by simply continuing their strong stretch of play.