The Final Third: NHL Power Rankings Week 19
By Kevin Mejia
Biggest Jump: Colorado Avalanche, 6
Biggest Drop: Nashville Predators, 9
- Tampa Bay Lightning (37-15-5) (UP 3) – The hottest team in the league, no questions asked. The Bolts have won 8 in a row after Yanni Gourde beat the Penguins in overtime. Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 19-game point streak for the Lightning. Nikita Kucherov has a 12-game point streak, scoring 10 goals and 11 assists. This Lightning team is coming into its own as the best in the league, what the Bolts were last season before the collapse. Leon Draisaitl and Co. visit Tampa tomorrow.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (34-15-6) (NO MOVEMENT) – With 3 games over the past week, you’d think the Pens would handle their business as usual. However, the Pens got foiled by Tampa twice, losing 4-2 at Amalie Arena and 2-1 in overtime at home. Big boys Sidney Crosby, Evegeni Malkin, and Kris Letang produced over all 3 games, posting 2, 4, and 4 points respectively. Trading for Jason Zucker is a win-now move and it’s worth the risk. The Pens will get back to their winning ways against Montreal tomorrow.
- Boston Bruins (34-11-12) (DOWN 2) – Of all teams to beat the big bad Bruins and end their 5-game win streak… the Red Wings… really? Even with a close contest against the Blackhawks won by Charlie McAvoy and a solid team performance against Arizona, the Bruins couldn’t figure out the Red Wings. The Bruins will have a chance for revenge against the Red Wings Saturday, but first they have to take on the Habs tonight. David Pastrňák has 6 points in his last 5 games.
- Colorado Avalanche (33-16-6) (UP 6) – A machine that can’t be stopped, the Avs have won 5 straight games. Even with Nazem Kadri out, the Avs offense stills clicks. Nathan MacKinnon continues to lead the way with 78 points. Mikko Rantanen is almost a point per game, including this dynamo goal against the Sens, despite injuries this season. The goalie tandem of Pavel Francouz and Philipp Grubauer have been great. The Avs get the Capitals at the Pepsi Center tomorrow.
- New York Islanders (33-16-6) (UP 3) – This is a dominant team. There is no question about it. When the offense clicks, this team is unbeatable. An elite coach in Barry Trotz knows exactly what to do with a team on the rise like the Islanders. With 3 5-3 wins in their last 4 games, the Isles have truly crushed their opponents. These wins came against the Kings, Caps, and Flyers, with the loss to Tampa. Expect the Isles to win their next 3 games against Nashville, Vegas, and Arizona.
- Columbus Blue Jackets (30-17-10) (DOWN 1) – Y’all know it by now… ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING! Elvis Merzlikins posted an absurd .941 save percent over his last 3 games against Detroit, Colorado, and Tampa Bay. Somehow, Merzlikins and the Blue Jackets only went 1-1-1 in that span. Little to no offense was generated against both the Avs and Bolts as both games ended in 2-1 losses for the Jackets (Tampa OTL). Seth Jones is out with ankle surgery and will sit for 8-10 weeks. CBJ heads to Buffalo tomorrow night.
- Washington Capitals (36-15-5) (DOWN 4) – 2 absolutely brutal losses for the Caps at home. Getting trounced on by Philly by a score of 7-2 and getting manhandled by the Isles 5-3 shows big cause for concern. Both Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov were pulled in their respective starts. Alex Ovechkin sits 2 goals away from 700. John Carlson continues his Norris campaign as he has 67 points. It doesn’t get any easier, as the Caps head west to face Colorado, Arizona, and Vegas this weekend. Pain is coming.
- St. Louis Blues (32-15-9) (DOWN 2) – All thoughts are with the Bouwmeester (WARNING VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED) and Blues families at the moment. Hockey-wise, the Blues have lost 2 straight and not been playing their best as of late. Losses to Central division opponents Winnipeg and Dallas are critical in their race for the Central crown. The Blues offense only scored twice in both of those losses, perpetuating a need for more offense. The Blues look to recover against the Knights tomorrow.
- Dallas Stars (32-19-5) (NO MOVEMENT) – Jamie Benn stepped up his game last night, posting a hat trick in a huge 4-1 win over the Canes. The win keeps the Stars within striking distance of Colorado for 2nd place in the Central division. In their other 2 games over the weekend, the Stars lost to the Wild 3-2 and beat the Blues 3-2 in overtime off a Roope Hintz wrister. The Stars look to continue their winning ways against the Leafs tomorrow in a rematch of a playoff-like game.
- Philadelphia Flyers (31-19-7) (DOWN 3) – A truly sporadic week for the Flyers, with a couple of big wins and a couple of wacky losses. The Flyers were bullied by the Devils 5-0, then beat the Caps 7-2 Saturday, followed up with a strong performance against Florida, before losing a heartbreaker against the Isles last night. Sean Courtier tied things late against the Isles, but the Flyers allowed a goal with 41 seconds to play. The Flyers head to Sunrise tomorrow before taking on Tampa Saturday.
- Edmonton Oilers (30-20-6) (UP 2) – The thought of losing Connor McDavid sends shivers down your spine, and then it happens. McDavid is out 2-3 weeks. In their first game without him, the line of Kailer Yamamoto, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins posted a line of 4 goals and 4 assists. Leon Draisaitl had half of those points. He will carry the team without McDavid. The Oilers head to Florida to take on the Bolts and Cats Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (30-19-8) (UP 3) – Come hell or high water, the Leafs will never be out of the race for the playoffs. For as many gaffes the team commits, they find ways to win under Sheldon Keefe. Since last Wednesday, the squad has gone 2-1-1 with 2 OT wins and game winners from John Tavares and Kasperi Kapanen. The Leafs panicked against the Rags and couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead against Montreal. Acquisition Jack Campbell has been working wonders. The Leafs take on the Stars tomorrow.
- Vancouver Canucks (31-21-5) (DOWN 1) – Climbing to the top of the Pacific division, the Canucks have established themselves as the top dogs amongst division foes. Even with losses to Minnesota and Calgary, the Canucks still managed first in the division. A huge 6-2 throttling of the Predators Monday night showed the potential of this team. Just keep Elias Pettersson protected. The Canucks will test waters against the Blackhawks tonight before taking on the Ducks Sunday afternoon. Jacob Markström will need to stand tall the rest of the season.
- Calgary Flames (29-22-6) (UP 4) – A hot Flames team has come up big in their last 2 games after a tough 3-2 loss at home versus Nashville. The Flames beat both the Canucks and Sharks by a score of 6-2, as the offense was on fire. Matthew Tkachuk scored a sensational in between the legs goal against the Sharks to add insult to injury. With a 2-game heater going, the Flames could potentially get things moving as they have L.A. tonight and Anaheim tomorrow.
- Carolina Hurricanes (32-21-3) (DOWN 1) – A couple of wins looked great before last night’s 4-1 loss to Dallas. The Canes looked a bit out of place and seemed off. However, wins in the desert against the Coyotes and Golden Knights were big for the Hurricanes. The Canes came back from a 4-2 hole to beat the Knights in a shootout. Sebastian Aho hit 30 goals in the Knights game as well. The Canes will get chances to surge against the Devils and Oilers, Friday and Sunday, respectively.
- Florida Panthers (30-20-6) (DOWN 5) – Scrap everything in the system… the Panthers played 2 defensemen as forwards last night with Noel Acciari… and they produced big time. “Forwards” Mark Pysyk and Mike Matheson put up 3 points each, along with Acciari’s 3 as well. The trio each had a goal and 2 assists. After losing 3 straight games (Vegas, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia) in the last week, a win last night against New Jersey was critical for the playoff push. Florida heads west after games against Philly and Edmonton.
- Montreal Canadiens (27-24-7) (UP 3) – After quickly going up 2-0 on the Yotes, the Habs could not find their footing and suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss. Before the loss, the Canadiens had won back to back games in overtime against the Ducks and Maple Leafs. The winners came courtesy of Jeff Petry and Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk, who has 21 points, may get moved at the deadline if the Canadiens can’t grab ahold of a playoff spot. The Habs head to Beantown tonight.
- Vegas Golden Knights (28-22-8) (DOWN 1) – A bumpy week for the Knights started out smooth with a 7-2 win against the Panthers but ended rocky with a 4-0 loss to the Wild last night. A shootout loss to the Canes stings, as the Golden Knights allowed 4 3rd period goals and had to tie it late with a goal from Cody Eakin. Marc-André Fleury’s .904 save percent must improve for the team to win. The Knights start a 5-game homestand tomorrow against the Blues.
- Arizona Coyotes (28-23-8) (NO MOVEMENT) – Arizona has fallen down a path that needs a course correction soon… or the season will be toast. Darcy Kuemper was re-injured Monday prior to the team’s game against Montreal. The Yotes went 1-2-1 over the last week, getting ripped by opponents left and right, being outscored 14-10. It’s not a terrible goal differential but you’d like to see 2 more points out of the 4 games with the differential. The Yotes should be able to recover against the Sens tomorrow.
- Winnipeg Jets (29-24-5) (UP 2) – A 3-game winning streak came to an end last night as the Jets could barely find the twine against Igor Shesterkin. Wins against the Blues, Senators, and Blackhawks all looked fluid and reminiscent of the Jets team that made it to the Western conference finals in 2018. Patrik Laine even looked like his rookie self, scoring a power play hatty against the Senators. Laine has 53 points this year. The Jets finish out their 6-game homestand against the Sharks, Blackhawks, and Kings.
- Minnesota Wild (27-23-6) (UP 2) – Alex Stalock stood on his head last night, recording a shutout for the red-hot Wild, who have won 3 of their last 4 games. Minnesota took down the Canucks and Stars before falling to the Avs and then winning against Vegas last night. Moving Jason Zucker for Alex Galchenyuk and D prospect Calen Addison was the right move for Minnesota. More trades may be on the way for the Wild. The Wild get the Rangers tomorrow before San Jose Saturday.
- New York Rangers (28-23-4) (UP 2) – Chris Kreider is making himself out to be one of the most coveted assets at this year’s trade deadline, as he scored his 21st and 22nd goals last night against the Jets in a 4-1 win. Igor Shesterkin came up huge, making 42 saves. With the dub, the Rangers have won 3 of their last 4 games. Wins against the Leafs, Kings, and Jets are all signs of growth for the team. A back-to-back of Minnesota-Columbus will test the squad.
- Anaheim Ducks (23-26-7) (UP 3) – Big props to the Anaheim medical staff for helping Jay Bouwmeester last night. The backend of their Atlantic division tour did not turn out as well as they would’ve hoped, losing to the Habs and Leafs in overtime, by scores of 3-2 and 5-4 respectively. Former Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller stole the show in Buffalo, beating his old squad 3-2. Good to see the offense showing up for Miller, as they scored 3 goals in the first. The Ducks play Calgary tomorrow.
- Buffalo Sabres (25-24-8) (UP 1) – A span of 4 games in 6 days is no easy feat, especially considering there must be at least one back-to-back. However, the Sabres took advantage of lighter opponents and attained 5 of 8 possible points. With the way things are rolling, it’s nice to see a couple of wins. Jack Eichel hit the 70-point plateau last night with an assist on Sam Reinhart’s game winner. The Sabres take on Elvis Merzlikins and the Blue Jackets tomorrow.
- Nashville Predators (26-22-7) (DOWN 9) – Losses to Edmonton and Vancouver might shape the rest of the season for the Predators. These games were critical, as they sit at 59 points and outside a wildcard spot. With the Pacific division being so crowded up top, the Preds have no room for error down the stretch. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Predators, as they have the Isles Thursday and a home-and-home with the Blues Saturday and Sunday. Goaltending will determine the fate of the season.
- Chicago Blackhawks (25-23-8) (DOWN 5) – Things have not been good for the Hawks lately, as they’ve lost their last 2 games in regulation, giving up 5 goals in each game while scoring a combined 5 goals in the 2 games. The Jets torched the Blackhawks, scoring 5 unanswered goals. Against the Oilers last night, the Hawks allowed 2 quick goals in the 2nd before being held scoreless for the rest of the game. The Blackhawks will give it a go against the Canucks tonight.
- New Jersey Devils (20-25-10) (NO MOVEMENT) – A nice 2-game win streak came to an end last night as the Devils couldn’t come back from 3-1 and 5-2 deficits. Positives first. In their mini win streak, the Devils dominated their opponents, smacking the Flyers 5-0 and thrashing the Kings 3-0. Haven’t seen that kind of defense since the early 2000s. Jack Hughes has shown improvements as he has a goal and assist in his last 3 games. New Jersey gets back to it against Detroit tomorrow evening.
- San Jose Sharks (24-28-4) (NO MOVEMENT) – A an even week of hockey is a good thing for the Sharks. Without their first-round pick (pick was moved in the Erik Karlsson trade) this year, the Sharks are in for a hurting. The Sharks swam through the Oilers, beating them 6-3, as Timo Meier had 3 points. The Sharks contained McDavid and Draisaitl, only allowing a goal between the 2 forwards. After their loss to the Flames, the Sharks will face the Jets and Wild Friday and Saturday, respectively.
- Los Angeles Kings (19-33-5) (UP 1) – The sweet noise of buyers on the phone has started for the Kings’ GM Rob Blake. His first major move of the trade deadline season sent Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell to the Leafs. In return the Kings got 2 third round picks (1 of which is conditional) and Trevor Moore. Moore has already proved valuable as he scored the lone Kings goal in a loss to the Rangers. The Kings haven’t won in February and get Calgary tonight.
- Ottawa Senators (18-27-11) (DOWN 1) – Dipping more and more, the Sens have lost their last 3 and pushed their winless streak to 6 games. Colorado served Ottawa twice, winning the 2 games by a combined 7-1. In their game in between the matches versus the Avs, the Sens took a fat 5-2 loss to the Jets. Jean-Gabriel Pageau hasn’t talked about an extension with the Sens and will likely be moved. The Sens remain winless in the month of February. That’s all you need to know.
- Detroit Red Wings (14-40-4) (NO MOVEMENT) – All good things must come to an end… a stretch of 2 wins in 3 games was ended last night as the Wings took a loss to the Sabres. However, the Red Wings did manage to pull out victories against the Sabres and Bruins over the past week. Their 1 loss came to a red-hot Columbus team. Playing a close game against the Sabres last night shows that this team is improving. The Red Wings chance their undefeated record against Boston Saturday.
Header Photo Credit: (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images)
Penguins Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Stars Photo Credit: (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
Canucks Photo Credit: (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Coyotes Photo Credit: (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Ducks Photo Credit: (Photo by Rob Marczynski/NHLI via Getty Images)
Sharks Photo Credit: (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)