Welcome to the first 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 overall record, each team’s record of the last week, and the overall feel surrounding each club.
We’ve passed the seven-week mark of the NHL season. By now, most teams have established themselves enough to where we have a general idea of how good (or bad) they actually are. Of course, there are a few teams who have hit some speed bumps and have yet to show a true team identity.
32. Anaheim Ducks (5-13-1, 11 points)
31. Arizona Coyotes (6-9-2, 14 points)
30. Ottawa Senators (6-11-1, 13 points)
29. Buffalo Sabres (7-11-0, 14 points)
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-10-1, 15 points)
27. Chicago Blackhawks (6-9-3, 15 points)
26. San Jose Sharks (7-11-3, 17 points)
When it comes to thinking of teams that belong in the bottom of the NHL barrel, this group seems correct. The Anaheim Ducks have the worst record, the most goals allowed (87), and the worst goal differential (minus-32) in the league. On the other end of the goals spectrum, the Arizona Coyotes have scored the fewest (44), even with Clayton Keller being better than a point-per-game player. In their last 10 games, both the Ottawa Senators (2-7-1) and Buffalo Sabres (2-8-0) have managed just two wins with the latter mired in an eight-game losing streak.
Preseason predictions saw many placing both the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks near the bottom of the league. The Blackhawks got off to a decent start but have dropped four in a row. Even with Erik Karlsson looking like the second coming of himself, the Sharks are giving up too many goals (72, 29th in the league) to climb out of this group. The biggest surprise here is the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were supposed to be amongst the contenders to begin the season. Injuries have plagued them, but so has poor defense and goaltending, as they’ve allowed an average of 37.33 shots on goal per game (31st) and 78 total goals (31st).
25. Washington Capitals (7-10-3, 17 points)
24. Vancouver Canucks (6-10-3, 15 points)
23. Philadelphia Flyers (7-8-4, 18 points)
22. Minnesota Wild (8-8-2, 18 points)
21. Nashville Predators (9-8-2, 20 points)
The Washington Capitals (2-6-2 in their last 10) and Vancouver Canucks (4-5-1 in their last 10) are two teams that should be better, but just aren’t. While the Canucks haven’t been anything to write home about this season, they’re at least attempting to dig out of their 2-5-2 October. Since their last win on Nov. 8, the Philadelphia Flyers are 0-5-2, being outscored 33-15 in the process.
Over their last 10, the Nashville Predators (6-3-1) and Minnesota Wild (5-4-1) are fairly even with each other, with the Predators having the worse goal differential at minus-9 while the Wild are at minus-5. Both squads seem to be mirroring each other so far this season, with maybe the biggest difference being power-play production (Wild: 20.3 percent; Predators: 17.3 percent).
20. Montreal Canadiens (9-8-1, 19 points)
19. Calgary Flames (9-7-2, 20 points)
18. St. Louis Blues (10-8-0, 20 points)
17. Florida Panthers (9-8-2, 20 points)
16. Edmonton Oilers (10-9-0, 20 points)
This was the most difficult group to rank. The Montreal Canadiens are a difficult team to figure out. They’re getting enough offense from Nick Suzuki (23 points) and Cole Caufield (19 points) to remain competitive, but Jake Allen is still an issue as their starting goalie (.898 save percentage, 3.33 goals-against average). Despite the additions of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, the Calgary Flames have been inconsistent thus far and are 4-6-2 in November. The St. Louis Blues have been equally confusing after starting the season with a three-game winning streak, followed by an eight-game losing streak, and are currently on a seven-game winning streak. They’re still being outscored on the season (minus-6 goal differential), but are trending upward as forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou rebound from their slow starts.
The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers have similar numbers in goals for (Panthers: 64; Oilers: 66), goals allowed (Panthers: 64; Oilers: 69). With their records and those numbers, they’re both truly in the middle of the pack. The Panthers are 4-5-1 in their last 10. Matthew Tkachuk has been great (25 points) and their offense has been averaging 40.84 shots per game, but the issue has been in net with starter Sergei Bobrovsky and his .888 save percentage (SV%).
What’s keeping the Oilers’ head above water right now is Connor McDavid (34 points, first in NHL), Leon Draisaitl (30 points, second in NHL), and the league’s number-two power-play unit (31.7 percent). Backup goalie Stuart Skinner has been much more productive than starter Jack Campbell and is starting to see an increase in playing time.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-7-3, 21 points)
14. Detroit Red Wings (9-5-4, 22 points)
13. New York Rangers (9-6-4, 22 points)
12. New York Islanders (12-8-0, 24 points)
11. Los Angeles Kings (11-8-2, 24 points)
The Penguins have scored the third most goals in the league (70), yet only have a plus-6 goal differential. Sidney Crosby (27 points) and Evgeni Malkin (20 points) continue to defy father time while keeping their squad in the hunt. The upstart Detroit Red Wings are taking the step forward that many thought they would, led by newcomers Dominik Kubalik (21 points) and David Perron (15 points); perhaps their best player has been goalie Ville Husso (7-2-0, .916 SV%).
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The Rangers have been inconsistent on offense so far in November. Including their eight-goal output on Nov. 10 against Detroit, they’re averaging just 2.77 goals per game in nine contests this month. The Islanders’ goalie tandem of Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov are one of the better duos in the league with a combined .915 SV%. They’re 6-4-0 in their last 10.
The Los Angeles Kings seem to be riding helium so far in 2022-23. Their 67 goals scored ranks fourth in the league while their 71 goals allowed ranks 28th, putting them at an overall minus-4 differential. Additionally, their special teams units are both ranked near the bottom (24th ranked power play, 27th ranked penalty kill). The proverbial “other shoe” may be dropping soon.
10. Winnipeg Jets (11-5-1, 23 points)
The Winnipeg Jets are the perfect example of a team being propped up by their goaltending. Connor Hellebuyck has a SV% of .935, which is tied for tops in the league, stopping 391 of 418 shots faced. His two shutouts are tied for the league lead as well.
As good as they’ve been in net, they’re almost as equally not good offensively. The Jets have given up the third fewest average goals per game at 2.41, but they’re ranked 22nd overall in average goals scored per game at 2.94. They’re 7-2-1 in their last 10, but need someone on their offense to step up if they want to remain a contender.
9. Seattle Kraken (10-5-3, 23 points)
Rather quietly, the Seattle Kraken have gotten off to a solid start this season. They’re playing great hockey as of late, going 7-2-1 in their last 10, three of which have been overtime victories. They’re doing it by winning tight games, scoring 3.22 goals per game and allowing 2.72.
What was supposed to be their backup goalie, Martin Jones has stepped up his game after Philipp Grubauer went down early on with a lower-body injury. In 15 games (14 starts), he’s 9-4-2 with a .913 SV% and a 2.30 goals-against average (GAA). He was named the NHL’s Third Star of the week for his performance over the last seven days, compiling a 2-0 record with a 1.90 GAA and .913 SV%.
8. Carolina Hurricanes (10-5-4, 24 points)
Even though the Hurricanes are still in a good spot in the standings, this season has been somewhat of a struggle so far. Usually known as a high-scoring offense, so far they’re 25th in the league in goals per game at 2.84. The good news for them on that front is help is on the way.
Forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Max Pacioretty have been skating with the team recently, although Pacioretty is definitely still recovering from his Achilles injury. With this team having a problem scoring and their power-play ranking 30th (14.3 percent), help can’t come soon enough.
7. Colorado Avalanche (11-5-1, 23 points)
The reigning champs have picked up their game recently after their so-so start to the season, going 7-3-0 in their last 10. Led by the usual suspects of Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, winger Mikko Rantanen has been the true driving force of one of the league’s best offenses. Of his 26 points, 13 of them have come on the power play (two goals, 11 assists), leading the top power-play unit in the league at 34.5 percent.
The dominant tandem of Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz in net has been perhaps this team’s biggest surprise. Now out of Igor Shesterkin’s shadow in New York, Georgiev looks like he could be an early-season Vezina Trophy candidate (9-2-1, .929 SV%, 2.40 GAA).
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-7-1, 23 points)
Through the steadiness provided nightly by Nikita Kucherov (28 points) and Steven Stamkos (21 points), the Tampa Bay Lightning are a team that always seems to be rolling in the right direction. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 and won four in a row before their most recent loss to the Boston Bruins.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy hasn’t been his usual elite self this season (.903 SV%, 3.00 GAA), but he went 3-0-0 in three starts last week, stopping 88 of 94 shots faced, translating to a .936 SV% over that period. There’s little doubt that he won’t return to form.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-5-5, 25 points)
In just less than a quarter of the season, the Maple Leafs have already been a roller coaster ride for head coach Sheldon Keefe and the boys. This team still runs through Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares offensively, while Morgan Reilly (who is now headed to the long-term injured reserve) and Mark Giordano have been holding it down defensively. They’ve gone 6-1-3 in their last 10.
Their biggest issue last season, this offseason, and heading into this season was goaltending. They made a few risky moves this summer by bringing in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. When healthy, these acquisitions have paid off as the two have combined to go 8-3-1 in 12 starts and a .917 SV%.
4. Dallas Stars (11-5-3, 25 points)
The Dallas Stars have the fourth-best goal differential in the NHL at plus-21 while being number two in scoring at 3.84 goals per game. Both special teams units are ranked among the league’s best, with the power play coming in fourth (29.6 percent) and penalty kill ranking sixth (82.7 percent). Jason Robertson has 14 goals and 29 points to lead their offense while Jamie Benn (20 points) and Tyler Seguin (15 points) look like they may have rediscovered their games.
Goalie Jake Oettinger has been one of the best goalies in the league up until this point, recording a .929 SV% — good for second in the NHL. Backup Scott Wedgewood has been solid as well, and could return to the team quickly after leaving the ice on a stretcher on Nov. 19.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (15-4-1, 31 points)
Going into this season without incumbent goalies Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit, their first time missing the playoffs, and a new head coach in Bruce Cassidy, many (including myself) were ready to write the Golden Knights off for 2022-23. All they’ve done this season is be one of the most dominant teams in the league. Jack Eichel (24 points) is fully healthy for the first time since his arrival in Las Vegas and is leading one of the NHL’s top offenses (3.65 goals per game).
On the back end, Alex Pietrangelo (20 points) is proving to be worth the contract he was given a few years ago. Unheralded goalies Logan Thompson (10-3-0, two shutouts) and Adin Hill (5-1-0) maintaining their strong presence in net is likely going to be the biggest key to Vegas’ ability to remain a Cup contender throughout the season.
2. New Jersey Devils (16-3-0, 32 points)
Nobody saw this coming. After a sluggish start that had their own fans calling for head coach Lindy Ruff’s job, the New Jersey Devils have rattled off 13 wins in a row, tying a franchise record. They rank second overall in points (30), goals scored per game (3.84), goals allowed per game (2.32), and goal differential (plus-29). Their young core of Jesper Bratt (24 points), Nico Hischier (22 points), and Jack Hughes (21) has been leading the way.
Goalie Vitek Vanecek has started in net for 10 of their 13 straight wins, while rookie Akira Schmid has accounted for the other three. During this 13-game stretch, they’ve combined to allow only 20 total goals (1.53 per game). Hands down, they’re the most surprising team in hockey this season, while also being the most fun.
1. Boston Bruins (17-2-0, 34 points)
Although no team has been as hot as the Devils, the Boston Bruins have remained at the top of the standings all along. Along with boasting the league’s best record, they’re also first in goals scored (80), goals scored per game (4.16), goals allowed per game (2.11), goals allowed (40), goal differential (plus-40), and are currently undefeated on their home ice (11-0-0). Forward David Pastrnak is third overall in points with 29 while captain Patrice Bergeron just logged career point No. 1,000.
The returns of Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy have made the Bruins into an even more formidable team. Goalie Linus Ullmark has quietly been one of the best (if not the best) goalies in the league (13-1-0, .935 SV%, 1.96 GAA, one shutout). The Bruins have won seven straight and are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games.
As the league stands now, it appears that it’s the Bruins, Devils, Golden Knights, and everyone else. A few teams like the Stars, Avalanche, and Hurricanes are looking for a solid stretch of games to put themselves within that top tier, while others like the Blues, Oilers, Panthers, and Penguins are one good week away from being in the top 10. Please let me know in the comments below if you agree or if I am totally off base on your team.
Marcus Ashpaugh is a husband, father, coach, and a huge sports fan. He has had a few of his own websites in the past where he published pieces about both the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Blues.