NHL Power Rankings: Wild, Flames Crack Top 5
Photo: Minnesota Wild
After a week’s hiatus, Prime Time Sports Talk’s NHL Power Rankings are back! Amazing stat of the day; Jon Cooper is now the longest-tenured NHL head coach after the Blackhawks axed Joel Quenneville. Now, after the Blackhawks and Kings split five of the six Stanley Cups between 2010 and 2015, both teams have fired their coaches. With their departures to the wings of the NHL landscape, new teams stepped up to take their place. Our top three remain relatively steady, but after that there is wild changes as the Metro continue to spiral down the rankings. Without further ado, let’s get going…
1. Nashville Predators (11-3-0) Previous Rank: 1
Nashville remains at the top of the list as they continue to lead the league in points while they chase their second straight President’s Trophy. Their latest stretch of victories come at the expense of three other top ten teams on this list, the Lightning, Bruins, and Sharks. Filip Forsberg is tied for the third most goals in the league with ten, and the Preds welcomed back the return of goalie Pekka Rinne with a two-year extension for the Finnish netminder.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-3-1) Previous Rank: 3
The Lightning have risen to the top of the Atlantic, and are in the midst of a three-game in four nights stretch. The Bolts have seven players with 10 plus points, with Brayden Point leading the way with 17. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is tied for the most wins in the league, and the Lightning seem primed to once again make a run at the Cup with a loaded, young and win-now roster.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (9-5-0) Previous Rank: 2
The Leafs kept pace with the Lightning, but remain tied with the Bruins and upstart Canadiens with 18 points for second in the Atlantic. As stated on previous articles, the Leafs are entirely dependent on their offense. They have scored one or fewer goals in four of their last seven games, and have lost all four. In their wins, they have scored at least three. The offense can only sustain them for so long, however, that isn’t a Stanley Cup-winning formula.
4. Calgary Flames (9-5-1) Previous Rank: 10
The Flames have built on their number ten slot in the previous ranking by taking control of the Pacific division. Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Johnny Gaudreau combined for 54 points, which more than make up for free agent acquisition James Neal’s putrid four points. But the real reason the Flames are streaking is the fact David Rittich and Mike Smith have been a major upgrade on the back for a Flames team looking to return to the playoffs.
5. Minnesota Wild (8-3-2) Previous Rank: 17
The Wild skyrocketed to No. 4 on the rankings with a torrid stretch, winning seven of their last eight games. The Wild have yet to get much production from captain Mikko Koivu, but this extremely top heavy team is getting results from Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund for the time being, which seems to be enough to sustain Bruce Boudreau and company as Devan Dubnyk continues to surge.
6. Boston Bruins (8-4-2) Previous Rank: 11
Guess who leads the entire NHL in goals-against average and save percentage? You guessed it—Jaroslav Halak. With Tuukka Rask struggling, the Bruins are getting all they can out of Halak as they try and keep pace with the Leafs and Lightning. I just mentioned the Wild are top heavy; the Bruins are the Wild on steroids. Outside of a tremendous top line, there is absolutely no secondary scoring, and general manager Don Sweeney may need to swing a trade or two to bolster the Black and Gold attack.
7. Vancouver Canucks (9-6-0) Previous Rank: 18
The Canucks have easily been the surprise of the season. With Brock Boeser shelved for a couple of weeks, Elias Patterson has nine goals and 15 points thus far. Their goaltending is still abhorrent, but Jay Beagle has looked horrible and the Canucks are still winning games. Will this be a case like the Hurricanes, a team who took advantage of the early schedule? Time will tell.
8. San Jose Sharks (7-4-3) Previous Rank: 7
The Oilers are tied with the Sharks in points, but the Sharks still get the spot because of their consistency. The real surprise? Timo Meier. The 26-year-old winger has a whopping 11 goals to start the year and is tied for the lead in points on the Sharks with Brent Burns and Logan Couture. Erik Karlsson is still looking for his first Shark goal, but San Jose looks ready for the Stanley Cup run I predicted they will have.
9. Winnipeg Jets (8-5-1) Previous Rank: 5
The Jets have slipped a bit, but still boast the star power to merit their being at No. 9. They had a couple of games in Finland against the Panthers last week, and Dustin Byfuglien is now the leader in overseas points. One area of concern for the Jets? Connor Hellebuyck is letting up over three goals a game. That will need fixing if Winnipeg wants to catch up to Nashville, Dallas, and Minnesota.
10. New York Islanders (8-4-2) Previous Rank: 28
The Islanders make the top ten because of a hot stretch led by their young core. Johnny Boychuk is the elder statesman of the group at 35, but goaltenders Thomas Griess and Robin Lehner have matching 4-2-1 records. New coach Barry Trotz’s system must be working because the Islanders suddenly find themselves in the middle of a fight for the mediocre Metropolitan Division.
Check out the rest of the rankings here:
11. Montreal Canadiens (8-4-2) Previous Rank: 24
12. Dallas Stars (8-5-1) Previous Rank: 22
13. Colorado Avalanche (7-4-3) Previous Rank: 4
14. Edmonton Oilers (8-5-1) Previous Rank: 23
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (6-4-3) Previous Rank: 8
16. Washington Capitals (6-4-3) Previous Rank: 14
17. Anaheim Ducks (6-6-3) Previous Rank: 6
18. Buffalo Sabres (7-6-2) Previous Rank: 19
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-6-1) Previous Rank: 15
20. Philadelphia Flyers (7-7-1) Previous Rank: 20
21. Chicago Blackhawks (6-6-3) Previous Rank: 16
22. Carolina Hurricanes (6-6-2) Previous Rank: 9
23. New Jersey Devils (6-5-1) Previous Rank: 12
24. Arizona Coyotes (7-6-0) Previous Rank: 30
25. New York Rangers (6-7-1) Previous Rank: 29
26. Las Vegas Golden Knights (6-7-1) Previous Rank: 13
27. Ottawa Senators (5-6-3) Previous Rank: 27
28. St Louis Blues (4-5-3) Previous Rank: 21
29. Detroit Red Wings (4-8-2) Previous Rank: 31
30. Los Angeles Kings (4-8-1) Previous Rank: 25
31. Florida Panthers (3-5-3) Previous Rank: 26