The Olympics may be over, but the playoff race is just heating up in the NHL. There has been quite a bit of change this week, and the rankings certainly reflect that. A quick reminder that a loss or win doesn’t necessarily mean that one team will be ranked higher than a team they beat or lost to. Time to shake, rattle, and roll.
Numbers in parentheses reference last week’s rankings and all stats are current as of 2/20
No.32: Arizona Coyotes (-1)
Welcome back Arizona. It was fun while it lasted seeing you out of the last spot, but here you are. Congratulations on acquiring Nick Ritchie, and more importantly the draft pick from Toronto.
No.31: Montreal Canadiens (+1)
Wonder if Martin St. Louis is having fun yet. But they are on a two-game winning streak currently, so that’s a positive sign. Cole Caufield seems to be benefitting from St. Louis, slowly but surely. Another positive sign.
No.30: Seattle Kraken (-3)
The Kraken make their first appearance in the bottom three in quite some time. On a three-game losing streak, the Kraken’s offensive woes are very apparent.
No.29: New Jersey Devils (+1)
The Devils are lucky that Seattle is on a spiral of their own. They are averaging 3.56 goals against per game which is fourth-most in the NHL. Not great.
No.28: Philadelphia Flyers (+1)
The Flyers move up a spot this week. Another benefactor of the Kraken’s fall. Carter Hart has not looked good in the second half of the season, and the team’s statistics reflect that. Averaging 3.43 goals against per game, that is tied for seventh-most in the league. Claude Giroux more than likely will be playing his last games as a Flyer.
No.27: Buffalo Sabres (-1)
The Sabres fall to 27 this week. On a three-game losing streak, Buffalo is lucky they aren’t falling further down the rankings honestly. The Sabres are struggling in every facet and are back to being where everyone expected them to be.
No.26: Chicago Blackhawks (+2)
The Blackhawks move up two spots this week. They are currently 3-6-1 in their last ten, but sometimes the eye test tells you what team belongs above the other. Marc-Andre Fleury is having a bit of a down year by his standards, but it is still an overall very solid year which says a lot about Fleury as a goaltender.
No.25: San Jose Sharks (-3)
The Sharks fall to 25 this week currently on a 2-4-4 run in their last ten. Their offense is a concern at this point averaging 2.69 goals per game, tenth-fewest in the league. On the bright side, Timo Meier has hit 50 points for the second time in his career.
No.24: Ottawa Senators (+1)
The Senators make a small climb this week going up to 24. The biggest thing that is happening for Ottawa is that Matt Murray has started to gain his form back. They’ve been plagued by injuries as of late, but once healthy, they could be a team on the rise.
No.23: New York Islanders (+1)
The Islanders move up a spot this week to 23. The Islanders can not figure out what is going on with their offense. It is sputtering. They are averaging 2.44 goals per game, the fourth-fewest in the NHL, and Matthew Barzal is their points leader with 33 points in 41 games. Simply not good enough.
No.22: Vancouver Canucks (-3)
The Canucks take a hit this week, falling down to 22. The biggest concern is their offense. They are averaging 2.59 goals per game, tied with the Seattle Kraken for sixth-fewest in the league. J.T. Miller has hit 50 points, but he may not be in Vancouver for long.
No.21: Winnipeg Jets (+2)
The Jets, for lack of a better word, jet up the rankings two spots this week to 21. A couple of pretty dominant wins against the Wild will certainly help with that. Statistically, they are one of the teams in the middle-of-the-league but just can’t put it all together currently.
No.20: Detroit Red Wings (+0)
The Red Wings stay put this week at 20. Their offense is still a concern at this point, but so is their goaltending. They are averaging 3.43 goals against per game, which is tied for seventh-most in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.
No.19: Dallas Stars (-1)
The Stars finally get out of 18, but unfortunately, they went in the wrong direction. You lose to the Coyotes, that’s grounds for immediate downward movement, and that’s what the Stars did Sunday.
No.18: Columbus Blue Jackets (+3)
The Blue Jackets moved up three spots this week. They are currently on a two-game winning streak, but it may not last for too long if their goaltending doesn’t improve. They currently allow 3.65 goals against per game which is second-most in the NHL. That needs to improve for them to keep rising the rankings.
No.17: Anaheim Ducks (-3)
Things are getting trickier and trickier each week. The Ducks haven’t been on a bad run, but of the teams left, they statistically are the ones that stand out to be near the bottom.
No.16: Nashville Predators (-4)
The Predators are falling, and falling hard. On a four-game losing streak, they just haven’t looked like the same team lately. They have to turn it around quickly, otherwise, the Central could catch up with the Preds.
No.15: Edmonton Oilers (+0)
Since Jay Woodward became the head coach, the Oilers were on a five-game winning streak. Then they got destroyed by the Minnesota Wild. Hopefully, this game made Ken Holland realize this team desperately needs goaltending. Are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl the Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani of the NHL?
No.14: Boston Bruins (+3)
Sorry about last week, Boston. But welcome back to the top fifteen. Boston has had some struggles gaining form, but their statistics bring them back up. But this team clearly needs Brad Marchand.
No.13: Washington Capitals (+3)
The Capitals move back into the top fifteen this week as well. Their defense continues to make strides as they now average 2.75 goals against per game, seventh-fewest in the NHL. In this week’s edition of Ovi Watch, Alex Ovechkin is now five goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third-most goals all-time. It’s the final countdown for third place.
No.12: Los Angeles Kings (+1)
The Kings are on a two game winning streak, which brings them up a slot this week. Anze Kopitar has slowed down quite a bit, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of their offense. They need more even contributions from everyone.
No.11: Vegas Golden Knights (+0)
Vegas stays put at 11 this week. The team looks good with the addition of Jack Eichel, but it needs a bit more testing before it makes a move either way. But it’s great to see Eichel back and playing again after a long time away from the game.
No.10: Pittsburgh Penguins (-3)
Pittsburgh falls down to 10 this week, starting off our top ten. They are currently on a two-game losing streak, but they have the talent to bounce back. Tristan Jarry will have to keep making those nice saves he was bragging to Marchand about.
No.9: St. Louis Blues (+1)
The Blues move up a spot this week. On the back of Ville Husso and his strong performances, the Blues now are tied for eighth-fewest goals against per game with the Tampa Bay Lightning averaging 2.76 goals. They have a big three on offense of Pavel Buchnevich, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jordan Kyrou. That sounds like a lethal trio to me.
No.8: Toronto Maple Leafs (-2)
The Maple Leafs fall this week to eighth. Each week, there are teams that will bear the brunt of the competition at the top. This week, it starts with the Maple Leafs. They still have one of the best all-around teams, and just acquired Ryan Dzingel and Ilya Lyubushkin from Arizona.
No.7: New York Rangers (-4)
Another team that suffers from the competition at the top is the New York Rangers who slip down to seventh this week. They’ve had a good run of form, but their offense isn’t quite as lethal as some of the other teams at the top.
No.6: Minnesota Wild (-4)
From one four position slide to another, the Wild fall to sixth this week. They looked great in their win over Edmonton Sunday, but they were also the benefactors of pathetic goaltending. Two losses to Winnipeg where you didn’t look like a dominant team and the same effort against the Panthers? That needs to change before the Wild get the second spot again.
No.5: Tampa Bay Lightning (+0)
The top five is tough this week. The Lightning may be on a two-game winning streak, but due to the strongness of the teams in front of them, they stay put at five. Not to say the Lightning aren’t strong either, just that right now there are teams that are stronger.
No.4: Carolina Hurricanes (+0)
The Hurricanes, like the Lightning, stay put even with a two-game winning streak. The Hurricanes are still a strong team, but the three teams that are in front of them are simply stronger teams at this point in time.
No.3: Florida Panthers (+6)
The Panthers are back, at least in the top three. Flordia has started to look more like the team they did in the first half, including a dominant win over the Minnesota Wild. They are back on top in terms of goals for per game, averaging 4.12 goals.
No.2: Colorado Avalanche (-1)
The Avs have been slain. They had a 4-1 loss to Dallas which by itself isn’t enough to derail them. But with the slight drop in offensive production and defensive concerns, potentially even in net, the Avalanche fall out of the top spot for the first time in quite some time.
No.1: Calgary Flames (+7)
Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. The Flames are currently on a nine-game winning streak and are now allowing the fewest goals per game in the NHL, averaging 2.35 goals. It’s very possible that this could be a short stay for the Flames at the top, but Calgary fans should enjoy it while it lasts. If they keep playing the way they have, and keep that top ten offense however, this could be quite the run at the top for Calgary.
Follow Carson Babbini on Twitter @cbabs1120
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