2022 Winter Classic
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

How did the NHL ring in the New Year?

Leen Amin

After a lengthy pause due to various COVID outbreaks throughout the league, NHL returned to action this week.

Things are still hectic, however. The Dallas Stars are currently dealing with the worst outbreak in the league and are the only team that hasn’t made its return yet.

Several games have been and are being postponed, including several New York Islanders’ games, meaning they won’t take the ice for another two weeks.

However, it was good to see hockey return in at least some capacity after what felt like forever.

The NHL rang in the New Year with the annual Winter Classic, which saw the St. Louis Blues take on the Minnesota Wild in Minneapolis in what was one of the coldest outdoor games in history.

Let’s take a look at the first Power Rankings of 2022.

32. Arizona Coyotes

Week 11: 0-0-1, 7 GF, 8 GA (Opponent: SJS)
Previous Ranking: 32

The Coyotes returned to play with a second-consecutive impressive offensive showing, this one the best of their season. However, they couldn’t get it done defensively and scoring seven goals wasn’t enough.

31. Montreal Canadiens

Week 11: 0-2-1, 6 GF, 14 GA (Opponents: TBL, CAR, FLA)
Previous Ranking: 31

The Canadiens are ravaged by COVID, are one of the absolute worst teams in the league, and had to return to play against three of the league’s best. What a season they’re having.

30. Ottawa Senators

Week 11: 0-1-0, 0 GF, 6 GA (Opponent: TOR)
Previous Ranking: 30

The Senators returned to action not only against arguably the best team in the league, but also without several of their players, including a few of their top-scorers. This was never going to end well.

29. Seattle Kraken

Week 11: 0-2-1, 8 GF, 14 GA (Opponents: PHI, CGY, VAN)
Previous Ranking: 28

They may be on a five-game losing streak, but the Kraken have been in the news for other reasons.

Fan Nadia Popovici saved Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian Hamilton’s life after noticing a cancerous mole on the back of his neck.

28. Buffalo Sabres

Week 11: 0-2-1, 7 GF, 12 GA (Opponents: NJD, NYI, BOS)
Previous Ranking: 28

The Sabres went winless in their first game back, but Alex Tuch is finally here and already has three points in his first three games as a Sabre.

27. Chicago Blackhawks

Week 11: 0-2-0, 2 GF, 11 GA (Opponents: NSH, CGY)
Previous Ranking: 26

Are things getting ugly for Chicago again? The Blackhawks are on a four-game losing streak and scored just two goals in two games this week while giving up far too many.

26. New York Islanders

Week 11: 2-0-0, 7 GF, 3 GA (Opponents: BUF, EDM)
Previous Ranking: 27

These were two big wins for an Islanders team going into a two-week break.

25. New Jersey Devils

Week 11: 3-0-0, 14 GF, 11 GA (Opponents: BUF, EDM, WSH)
Previous Ranking: 29

The Devils definitely left that six-game losing streak in the past. Now they’ve won three in a row and it’s no coincidence that they’ve done so without head coach Lindy Ruff. This is further proof that he should be fired sooner rather than later.

24. Detroit Red Wings

Week 11: 0-2-0, 2 GF, 8 GA (Opponents: WSH, BOS)
Previous Ranking 16

Detroit’s rough stretch continues, which makes one wonder if their honeymoon phase is coming to an end.

23. Philadelphia Flyers

Week 11: 1-1-1, 8 GF, 11 GA (Opponents: SEA, SJS, LAK)
Previous Ranking: 24

Philadelphia’s season-best seven-game point streak has come to an end. They’ll look to begin another, but conceding six goals to the Los Angeles Kings isn’t a great way to start.

22. Columbus Blue Jackets

Week 11: 1-1-0, 8 GF, 10 GA (Opponents: NSH, CAR)
Previous Ranking: 19

The good news is that Patrik Laine is finally back and will hope to get his team out of this lengthy slump. But that won’t start until next week, seeing as they just blew a 4-0 lead against the Hurricanes in which Carolina scored seven unanswered goals.

21. Vancouver Canucks

Week 11: 2-0-1, 8 GF, 5 GA (Opponents: ANA, LAK, SEA)
Previous Ranking: 20

Vancouver’s win-streak ended this week, but their point-streak is very much alive at nine-straight.

20. San Jose Sharks

Week 11: 2-1-0, 16 GF, 17 GA (Opponents: ARI, PHI, PIT)
Previous Ranking: 23

The Sharks gave up far too many goals this week, but were able to win twice because the offense really came through.

19. Los Angeles Kings

Week 11: 2-1-0, 11 GF, 10 GA (Opponents: VGK, VAN, PHI)
Previous Ranking: 21

This was a special week for head coach Todd McLellan, who won his 500th game in a dominant 6-3 victory over the Flyers.

18. Dallas Stars

Week 11: DNP
Previous Ranking: 18

The Stars are currently dealing with a pretty severe COVID outbreak, resulting in them being the only team to not play a game since the season resumed. They will now have at least 16 days off.

17. Winnipeg Jets

Week 11: 1-0-0, 5 GF, 4 GA (Opponent: VGK)
Previous Ranking: 17

What better way to celebrate a return to play than with a Kyle Connor overtime winner?

16. Edmonton Oilers

Week 11: 0-1-2, 9 GF, 13 GA (Opponents: STL, NJD, NYI)
Previous Ranking: 15

The defense and goaltending continue to be a major problem. Classic Edmonton.

15. Boston Bruins

Week 11: 2-0-0, 9 GF, 4 GA (Opponents: BUF, DET)
Previous Ranking: 19

This week was a good way to get the offense going heading into a crucial stretch of the season.

14. Minnesota Wild

Week 11: 0-1-0, 4 GF, 6 GA (Opponent: STL)
Previous Ranking: 5

The Wild are scoring goals, but the defense isn’t getting the job done and the team is now on a five-game losing streak. Losing the the Winter Classic game, in which they had home-ice advantage, isn’t ideal, either. Minnesota has seen better days.

13. Anaheim Ducks

Week 11: 0-2-1, 4 GF, 9 GA (Opponents: VAN, VGK, COL)
Previous Ranking: 13

They Ducks may have gone winless this week, but Trevor Zegras is still shining. The youngster was named the league’s Rookie of the Month of December.

12. Nashville Predators

Week 11: 1-1-1, 9 GF, 10 GA (Opponents: WSH, CBJ, CHI)
Previous Ranking: 8

The Predators suffered two-straight losses to begin the week, but capped things off with a dominant 6-1 win against the rival Blackhawks to jump to the top of the division.

11. Colorado Avalanche

Week 11: 1-0-0, 3 GF, 2 GA (Opponent: ANA)
Previous Ranking: 14

That dangerous top line shined in Colorado’s first game back.

10. St. Louis Blues

Week 11: 2-0-0, 10 GF, 6 GA (Opponents: EDM, MIN)
Previous Ranking: 11

The Blues looked good in their return, especially in their huge win against the Wild in the blistering cold Winter Classic.

9. Calgary Flames

Week 11: 2-0-0, 11 GF, 5 GA (Opponents: SEA, CHI)
Previous Ranking: 9

It’s as though the Flames didn’t just have 19 days off and aren’t recovering from the worst COVID outbreak in the NHL.

8. Vegas Golden Knights

Week 11: 2-0-1, 13 GF, 9 GA (Opponents: LAK, ANA, WPG)
Previous Ranking: 10

This was a good week for Vegas, but they were hit with some brutal news. Star forward Max Pacioretty is dealing with another serious injury, one that has ruled him out indefinitely.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins

Week 11: 1-0-0, 8 GF, 5 GA (Opponent: SJS)
Previous Ranking: 12

The Penguins are on a league-best eight-game winning streak and Evan Rodrigues is still otherworldly.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

Week 11: 1-2-1, 11 GF, 21 GA (Opponents: MTL, FLA, NYR x2)
Previous Ranking: 3

This was as bad of a week as we’ve seen from the reigning champions. They suffered a shocking 9-3 loss to the rival Florida Panthers and when they finally got healthy, were shutout 4-0 by the New York Rangers to extend their losing streak to three games.

5. New York Rangers

Week 11: 2-1-0, 11 GF, 7 GA (Opponents: FLA, TBL x2)
Previous Ranking: 6

The offense, especially Mika Zibanejad, is coming alive at the right time. 11 goals against two of the best teams in the league is incredibly impressive.

4. Florida Panthers

Week 11: 3-0-0, 18 GF, 8 GA (Opponents: NYR, TBL, MTL)
Previous Ranking: 7

The Panthers showed off that elite offense this week and the fact that they scored so many goals against some tough defenses was all the more impressive.

3. Washington Capitals

Week 11: 2-0-1, 11 GF, 8 GA (Opponents: NSH, DET, NJD)
Previous Ranking: 4

The Capitals went undefeated in regulation this week and Alex Ovechkin made history, once again, by setting the all-time record in power play goals.

2. Carolina Hurricanes

Week 11: 2-0-0, 11 GF, 4 GA (Opponents: MTL, CBJ)
Previous Ranking: 4

The Hurricanes picked up where they left off and have now extended their winning streak to four-straight. The cherry on top? Scoring a whopping seven unanswered goals against Columbus to end the week.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs

Week 11: 1-0-0, 6 GF, 0 GA (Opponent: OTT)
Previous Ranking: 1

It was just one game and it came against one of the worst teams in the league that’s missing several of its few good players, but the Maple Leafs remain a force to be reckoned with.

Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.