It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint. NHL Power Rankings Week 14
By Kevin Mejia
Biggest Jump: Tampa Bay Lightning, 10
Biggest Drop: Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, 8
- Washington Capitals (30-9-5) (NO MOVEMENT) – The Caps seem to have woken up from their lull and are scoring at a crazy pace. The team has set itself up nicely in the new year with a 3-game win streak. A gritty win over the Hurricanes was followed up by one of the greatest comebacks of all-time against the Sharks. Down 2 with a minute to play, the Caps came back and Lars Eller finished it in OT. Ilya Samsonov looks like the future in net.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-5) (UP 1) – The Pens continue to be one of the best teams in the league. Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust are carrying the Pens as injuries have killed the Steel City this year. Malkin has 40 points in 30 games and Rust has 35 in 29. Even with 2 losses (1 overtime, 1 regulation) in their last 4 games, the Pens showed out against the Golden Knights, snapping their 4-game winning streak. The Pens stay out west with games against Colorado and Arizona this weekend.
- Tampa Bay Lightning (25-13-4) (UP 10) – 8 in a row… this is what everyone in the league was terrified of last season… and now… they’re BACK. During this win streak the Lightning have outscored their opponents 38-17. More than doubling up your opponent is a great strategy for winning. Carter Verhaeghe recorded his first career hatty last night for the Bolts. Andrei Vasilevskiy now sits at a .911 save percent. Nikita Kucherov has returned to form as he has 47 points. Next up: Arizona, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and L.A.
- St. Louis Blues (27-10-7) (DOWN 2) – A quick 3-game losing streak was brought to a halt last night as the Blues closed out the Sharks at home. Before this, the Blues got manhandled by the Avalanche 7-3 and blew a 3-0 lead to the Golden Knights. The reigning Stanley Cup champs know how to break a losing stride, as around this time last year they were starting to sing Gloria. A stretch versus the Rangers, Sabres, and Ducks should propel this team to a hot streak.
- New York Islanders (27-12-3) (DOWN 1) – A crazy 4-game stretch over the last 6 days has provided an interesting look at the Isles. Splitting 2 games with the Devils was sandwiched by a loss in Toronto and a win at home against Colorado. In these 4 games, the Isles only mustered 6 goals but managed to escape with a possible 4 out of 8 points. Head Coach Barry Trotz deserves praise for the defense-first mindset. D Adam Pelech is out for the year.
- Arizona Coyotes (25-16-4) (UP 8) – The turn from 2019 to 2020 hasn’t phased the Yotes, as they ride a 4-game win streak. With both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta out, Adin Hill stepped up last night to take down the Panthers. Hill posted a .949 save percent against the Cats. Taylor Hall has 8 points in 10 games for the Coyotes after last night’s game winner and assist. During the win streak, the team has given up at most 2 goals. They run into Tampa next.
- Boston Bruins (25-8-11) (DOWN 2) – Boston’s struggles as of late continue. Luckily, the team was able to pick up a piece of the puzzle with a win against the Predators last night. Their first 2 attempts of the new year were unsuccessful with an OT loss to Columbus and a regulation defeat at the hands of Edmonton. David Pastrňák leads the league with 32 tallies on the season. Tuukka Rask continues a Vezina campaign with a .924 save percent. Winnipeg comes to town tomorrow.
- Vegas Golden Knights (24-16-6) (DOWN 1) – The Golden Knights had their 4-game win streak snapped last night, even as they chewed at a 3-0 and 4-2 deficit against the Penguins. The Knights had been perfect on their 7-game homestand until the Pens last night. Vegas finishes the homestand with games against the Kings and Blue Jackets before heading to Buffalo. One standout game during the homestand to look at was their win versus St. Louis, a comeback from a 3-0 hole to win 5-4 in OT courtesy of Chandler Stephenson.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (24-15-5) (DOWN 1) – With their loss to the Oilers Monday night, the Leafs lose their point streak at 10 games. All good things must come to an end. After 2 convincing wins against the Jets and Isles, the Leafs were primed to have a “let-down” game considering the unsustainability of the defense. A bad start from Freddie Andersen hurts too. The Leafs will have to kick things back into gear as Winnipeg comes to town tonight. As of Monday morning, here are some William Nylander stats.
- Colorado Avalanche (25-15-4) (DOWN 1) – With 2 wins in a row before visiting NYC, the Avs have dropped 2 in a row. The Isles and Rags managed to stifle the potent offense of the Avs only allowing a combined 3 goals (all against NYR). Mikko Rantanen continues to be a beast after his hatty in New Jersey. Nathan MacKinnon makes his case for the Hart with 65 points in 44 games. The Avs will face a quality opponent back at home on Friday; the Pittsburgh Penguins.
- Dallas Stars (24-14-4) (DOWN 1) – After a successful Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl, the Stars handled the lowlife Red Wings with a 4-1 win. In the Winter Classic win, the Stars went down 2-0 quick after Corey Perry took a 5-minute major (he was ejected as well, suspended for 5 games as well) for elbowing Ryan Ellis. Dallas showed the ability to rally as they scored 3 goals in the 3rd period of the Classic. The Stars take a 4-game win streak on the California road trip.
- Calgary Flames (23-17-5) (UP 7) – New year, new Calgary. A 3-game win streak in the new year has provided a bit of a boost for the Flames. Elias Lindholm single handily beat the Blackhawks last night, scoring twice. Even with all 3 games coming down to the wire, these 1-goal games build character for a team that surely needs a boost to the next level. Johnny Hockey has taken a bit of a step, with 4 points in his last 3 games. The Battle of Alberta awaits.
- Vancouver Canucks (23-16-4) (DOWN 1) – The Canucks had their 7-game winning streak snapped as they took a HARD L to Tampa Bay last night. Hard isn’t even the right word… the Canucks got thrashed like a dog with a chew toy. A 7-5 win against the Hawks and a 2-1 dub over the Rags prove that the Canucks can play any style and find ways to win. Elias Pettersson now has 45 points in 43 games. The young core looks to rebound against the Panthers tomorrow.
- Carolina Hurricanes (25-16-2) (DOWN 8) – After blowing a 2-goal lead, Dougie came to the rescue with a huge overtime winner. After losing 2 straight to the hands of Washington and Tampa Bay, the Canes rallied against Philadelphia and seem to be back on track. The Canes loss to the Caps last Friday proved they can claw back into any game. Dougie Hamilton continues to make his case for the Norris as he has provided 14 goals along with 25 dimes. Arizona comes to town Friday night.
- Edmonton Oilers (23-17-5) (UP 1) – Connor McDavid. That’s it. That’s all you get. Just Connor McDavid. Anyone who says McDavid is not the BEST player in the league (this is a hill I AM WILLING TO DIE ON) is crazy. 69 points in 45 games. 125-point pace. 2-0-1 in their last 3 with wins against Boston and Toronto and an OT loss to Buffalo. Connor McDavid is the Edmonton Oilers.
- Winnipeg Jets (23-16-4) (DOWN 1) – A weird 1-1-1 week for the Winnipeg Jets ends on a high note with a victory in Montreal, spoiling the debut of Ilya Kovalchuk. An annunciated loss to the Leafs stung as they clawed to tie it at 2, but the Leafs never looked back. The Jets then lost on an excruciating no-call in Minnesota. A win against the Habs will boost morale in the locker room as they will travel to Toronto tonight and Boston tomorrow. Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.
- Columbus Blue Jackets (21-15-8) (NO MOVEMENT) – ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING! Elvis Merzlikins has been outstanding since Joonas Korpisalo went down, providing a cushy .941 save percentage in 5 games. In those 5 games, the Blue Jackets have gone 4-1-0. The California road trip has started out well with wins against L.A. and Anaheim. Next on the platter is shark. Merzlikins looks to avenge his 1 loss in this stretch against the Sharks tomorrow. The Blue Jackets are 10-1-4 in their last 15.
- Florida Panthers (22-16-5) (NO MOVEMENT) – Pull the plug… trade for a quality goaltender please… Sergei Bobrovsky has phoned in the season posting a .895 save percent… If this team could ride a quality starter… it could compete for a top 3 spot in the Atlantic Division. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are lights out on offense, with 57 and 45 points, respectively. A top 10 power play unit combined with a middle of the road P.K. unit is great. The Panthers have won 2 of their last 4.
- Philadelphia Flyers (22-15-6) (DOWN 8) – After tying it late in the 3rd against Carolina, the Flyers could only watch as Dougie Hamilton scored the OTGWG. With this loss, the Flyers have dropped their last 4 games. Losses in the desert to Arizona and Vegas were only followed up with heartbreak in Raleigh. Carter Hart’s .905 save percent must rise in order for the Flyers to soar. The Flyers have slipped out of the playoffs. Things don’t get easier as they take on the Caps tonight.
- Buffalo Sabres (19-17-7) (UP 5) – Oh gosh. Where to begin? First, the bad. The Bills choked away a 16-0 lead to the Texans only to lose in overtime. Such an upsetting finish to a wonderful regular season. Go Bills. Geaux Tigers. Back to hockey! Jack Eichel served up a sweet game winner against the Oilers in overtime with a slick penalty shot goal. The Sabres made it 2 straight after a win against Florida. Buffalo is hurting with Victor Olofsson and Jeff Skinner both injured.
- New York Rangers (20-18-4) (NO MOVEMENT) – Broadway… where stars are born! Welcome to the league Igor Shesterkin… an NHL debut against the Avs will never be easy nowadays but Shesterkin stopped 29 of 32 shots to light up the Garden. The Rags killed all 3 of the Avs power play opportunities. If this game is any indication of the future for the Rangers, fans should rejoice. Snapping a 3-game losing streak doesn’t hurt too. Momentum might be building as the Rangers take on the Devils tomorrow night.
- Chicago Blackhawks (19-19-6) (DOWN 2) – Chicago might have lost 2 of their last 3 games, however, they won the game everyone expected them to win; they beat Detroit. The Blackhawks almost snapped the Canucks win streak, as the Hawks put up 5 goals on the Canucks. Chicago was stonewalled last night against Calgary, as Cam Talbot made 31 saves for the Flames. Robin Lehner’s .922 save percent makes him one of the best 1B goalies in the league. The Hawks head to Smashville tomorrow night.
- Minnesota Wild (20-17-6) (DOWN 1) – A 1-0-1 record over their last 2 games isn’t bad for a team that has been struggling this season. The Wild won a tough fought game against the Jets in controversial style and then grinded out a point against the Flames in a back and back affair. Speaking of the Flames, the next game for the Wild will be in Calgary tomorrow night. Eric Staal leads the wishy-washy offense with 33 points. Goaltending must improve for the Wild to be successful.
- Nashville Predators (19-16-7) (DOWN 1) – Peter Laviolette out, John Hynes in. Unfortunately, the Preds couldn’t rally in Hynes’s coaching debut against the Boston Bruins. Boston smacked the team, as the Preds gave up 6 goals against. Even with a strong showing against the Kings, the Ducks did in Peter Laviolette with a 5-4 loss for the Preds. Another team with issues in net, as both Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are hovering around a combined .893 save percent. Hynes could look for his first win against the Blackhawks tomorrow.
- New Jersey Devils (15-20-7) (UP 2) – A timid 1-1-1 over their last 3, New Jersey still must find their footing with the young squad. A 2-game losing streak has started with losses to the Avalanche and Islanders. Before this, a 2-1 win against the Islanders should be commended as Mackenzie Blackwood battled in net, stopping 29 of 30 Islander shots. P.K. Subban is starting to play a bit more like himself, scoring 2 goals in his last 3 games.
- San Jose Sharks (19-22-4) (UP 4) – Another team with an infuriating amount of talent gone to waste because a goalie… Martin Jones and his .890 save percent say hello. Blowing a 2-goal lead to the Caps is the absolute sham and it’s the worst loss the Sharks have suffered all year. To make matters worse, the Sharks were riding a 2-game win streak before blowing the lead. Now, with back to back losses, the Sharks must regroup at home versus the Blue Jackets.
- Los Angeles Kings (17-23-4) (DOWN 1) – After catching a glimmer of hope with a win over Philadelphia last Thursday, the Kings have returned to their norm and lost 2 straight games. The Preds and Blue Jackets both put 4 on the Kings as the offense combined for 3 goals in the games. Young stud Alex Iafallo bumped his point streak up to 7 games after scoring a goal against Nashville. The Kings host Dallas tonight as they have Video Games Night at Staples.
- Anaheim Ducks (17-21-5) (UP 1) – The Ducks have done one thing of note in the past week; they beat the Predators and got Peter Laviolette fired from his job. Other than that shootout victory, the Ducks lost to the Yotes and Blue Jackets. Ryan Getzlaf has taken over as the leading scorer of the team, with 30 points. John Gibson’s save percentage continually drops as it has now hit .906. The Ducks take on Dallas tomorrow night.
- Montreal Canadiens (18-19-7) (DOWN 5) – Ilya Kovalchuk, huh?? That’s the card you choose to play in this stretch of miserable hockey? 0-6-1 in their last 7 and 0-3-1 in the past week is just terrible. Even if Kovalchuk has provided 3 assists in his 2 games, is he really the answer? No. Carey Price must be held accountable in net. A .902 save percentage is not good enough for Price. Getting beaten by Detroit is demoralizing and with Edmonton coming into town, an oof is upon Les Habitants.
- Ottawa Senators (16-22-5) (DOWN 2) – At least you’re not Detroit!!! The Sens are currently riding a 5-game losing streak after last night’s loss to the Caps. The team stinks but at least young guns Anthony Duclair, Thomas Chabot, and Brady Tkachuk continue to produce at quality levels. In their last 3 games, the Sens have given up 17 goals. Just terrible. The first overall pick would look nice in Ottawa, but the odds will favor Detroit. Tank Bowl is afoot in a primetime Friday matchup vs Detroit.
- Detroit Red Wings (11-30-3) (NO MOVEMENT) – A win!! Not exactly the plan that GM Steve Yzerman would like to follow but it’s always fun for team spirit. Before the win last night against the Habs, the Wings had lost games against the Stars and Blackhawks. Red Wings vs Senators: Tank Bowl takes place Friday night. Get your Red Wings tin lunch box this Sunday when the Red Wings take on the Sabres! Robby Fabbri continues to be a great addition as he has 20 points in 28 games.
Winter Classic Photo Credit: (Photo by Tim Heitman/NHLI via Getty Images)
Penguins Photo Credit: Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire
Lightning Photo Credit: (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)
Coyotes Photo Credit: Anaheim Ducks Photo Gallery
Stars Photo Credit: (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jets Photo Credit: (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Rangers Photo Credit: (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)