Lots of surprises headline this week’s NHL power rankings.
February is almost over and we’re almost halfway through the 2021 season. It’s hard to believe.
Thankfully, COVID-19 has become less of a problem, and teams are getting into a groove.
The NHL is never drama-free, and that was evident this past week with Artemi Panarin dealing with drama from his days in Russia and Claude Julien getting fired.
How do the league’s teams look at this point in the season?
31. Anaheim Ducks
The low-scoring Ducks are on a league-worst five-game losing streak. At least Trevor Zegras is finally here and doesn’t look out of place.
30. Vancouver Canucks
Seriously, what happened to the Canucks? They’re on a four-game losing streak and can kiss the playoffs goodbye, at this rate.
Elias Petterson, a Hart Trophy favorite coming into the season, leads the league in shots that have hit the crossbar. He needs to figure out how to get those in the net.
29. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings should just be happy that they’re not the worst team in the league, right now. They’re the lowest scoring team in the NHL and much of that can be attributed to their appalling power play.
28. Ottawa Senators
A three-game winning streak has the Senators moving up a few spots in the rankings. Good for them. They still concede more than any other team in the league this season: they’ve given up 85 goals in 22 games.
27. Nashville Predators
The Predators have led a grand total of zero games entering the third period. That pretty much sums up their season, so far.
26. San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl tested positive for COVID-19 and San Jose’s game on Thursday was postponed, but they’ve been cleared to resume activities and should be ready to play again on Saturday.
25. Buffalo Sabres
Two victories against the New Jersey Devils prevented the Sabres’ most recent stretch in their schedule from becoming truly disastrous.
Their best player and captain, Jack Eichel, was a late injury scratch before Thursday’s game, and their number one goaltender Linus Ullmark was injured in the first period. A bad team will become much worse if these two miss substantial time.
24. New Jersey Devils
The Devils earned a much-needed win on Thursday, but it’s been rough for New Jersey since returning to play post-COVID-19 outbreak. At least Pavel Zacha, who owns one of the longest active point streaks in the NHL, is on fire.
The fans had something to celebrate when Travis Zajac skated in his 1,000th game with the team over the weekend.
23. Dallas Stars
A 3-0 victory against the Florida Panthers saw the Stars end a dreadful six-game losing streak, which took them down to the bottom of their division. At least they have a bunch of games in-hand.
22. Calgary Flames
The wildly inconsistent Flames are at it again. They’ve scored eight goals in their last six games.
21. New York Rangers
The New York Rangers came up with two huge wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals. But the soap opera that is their 2021 season continues.
Artemi Panarin took an indefinite leave of absence after facing accusations of assaulting a woman in 2011. Then rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller joined the young and promising Kaapo Kakko on the COVID-19 protocol list.
The number of important players missing from the team is growing. At least Filip Chytil’s return is on the horizon.
20. St. Louis Blues
The Blues are on a three-game losing streak and have been devastated by injuries, including a season-ender to defenseman Carl Gunnarsson.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets
Newbie Patrik Laine looks good, but the defense and goaltending haven’t been there for the Blue Jackets. The defensive pairing of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, formerly one of the better pairs in hockey, continue to struggle mightily.
18. Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes haven’t been spectacular nor particularly bad lately. Also Christian Dvorak is good at this hockey thing.
17. Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens have fallen back down to earth as we knew they would. They’re on a four-game losing streak and head coach Claude Julien was relieved of his duties. Things are getting messy up in Montreal.
16. Carolina Hurricanes
Maybe the return of fans will help the Hurricanes snap this three-game losing streak that’s seen them score just four goals.
15. Philadelphia Flyers
Is Carter Hart ok? The young goalie, who looked like he was on his way to becoming one of the better netminders in hockey, looks awful this season. Their outdoor game at Lake Tahoe epitomized his struggles.
Still, many of the Flyers’ woes can be attributed to a roster that’s become anemic thanks to COVID-19.
14. Washington Capitals
The Capitals have been middle-of-the-pack lately, but praise must be given to Nicklas Bäckström, who’s been phenomenal for his team.
13. Boston Bruins
The Bruins haven’t been winning as much lately, but David Pastrňák is not to blame. The 24-year-old winger simply cannot stop scoring. The team took a hit when it was revealed that defenseman Jeremy Lauzon had suffered a long-term injury.
12. Pittsburgh Penguins
This Penguins team is confusing, but they have been winning. Tristan Jarry is still struggling in net, but Evgeni Malkin seems to have found his stride after a slow start to the season.
11. Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche have dropped two in a row, but they’ll be fine. Credit must be given to Philipp Grubauer, who’s been fantastic for Colorado in net.
10. Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas have cooled down a bit, but some guys are coming up big for them.
Alex Tuch has been an offensive threat and Marc-André Fleury might just be the Vezina Trophy favorite. At 36 years old. How does this guy always luck into the best situations and how is he still so good?!
9. New York Islanders
Barry Trotz’s boys turned their season around at the best time. The New York Islanders have been getting their wins, several of which can be attributed to their complete domination of the Boston Bruins, whom they beat 7-2 on Thursday night.
8. Winnipeg Jets
Stop sleeping on the Jets! Pierre-Luc Dubois is settling in nicely with two goals and an assist in his first three games as a Jet, but Mark Scheifele is the talk of the town.
The 27-year-old has an 11-game point streak, during which he’s scored eight goals and 10 assists. What does that even mean?
7. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks were expected to be the worst team in the league coming into the season, and now they’re seventh in our power rankings. Wow.
This division has some power-house teams, but the Blackhawks have a legitimate chance of playing playoff hockey. Also, Patrick Kane does not age.
6. Minnesota Wild
The Wild have caught fire since returning to play after their COVID-19 outbreak. They’re on a four-game winning streak and the line comprised of Kirill Kaprizov, Victor Rask, and Mats Zuccarello must never, ever be touched.
5. Los Angeles Kings
Yes, you’re reading this correctly. The Kings have won a league-leading six in a row and are currently in a playoff spot. Who would’ve thought Dustin Brown would experience a late resurgence in his career at 36 years old?
4. Florida Panthers
The Panthers are sitting pretty at the top of the Central. The defense has been elite defensively, but also offensively. Keith Yandle leads the blueliners in scoring and it’s funny that the coaching staff almost benched him to begin the season.
Recent contributions from guys like Anthony Duclair have come in handy.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews’ 16-game point streak has come to an end, but the kid is unbelievable. He’s going to take this team to new heights, unless they pull a Toronto.
The power play deserves a ton of credit, too, and is a huge reason why this is one of the highest scoring teams in hockey.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
The reigning Stanley Cup champions are on a three-game winning streak and still look great. Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos are making the hockey world forget that this team is without their best player.
1. Edmonton Oilers
They may not be the best team in the league, but they’re the hottest. The Oilers are on a five-game winning streak, are 9-2 in their last 10, and have an impressive 26 points.
The power play has been amazing for obvious reasons, Leon Draisaitl is incredible, and there are no words to describe Connor McDavid. The man needs to be on national television every single night.