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NHL power rankings: Avalanche charge back to no. 1, Kings surge upwards

Sportsnaut
Sportsnaut
 3 days ago

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Now that the 2021-22 season is about half of the way through, and Covid is ravaging many clubs, it’s time for some updated NHL power rankings to get a sense of where teams really stand, based on what we’ve seen so far.

It has been quite a season start so far, with key injuries, signings and rookies making an impact early in the season. We’re getting looks at what teams’ strengths are, and what they’ll be working on as the season progresses.

Without further ado, here are Sportsnaut’s NHL power rankings as we look ahead to the 2021-22 campaign.

Related: The 10 Most Valuable Hockey Cards – From $22,000 To Six-Figures .

NHL power rankings: Colorado is back on top

1. Colorado Avalanche (Previous Ranking: 2)

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Credit: Gerry Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche have shown what they’re made of, with a healthy roster powering them to win big games and land at the top of the Central division. They have won three games in a row, gone 8-1-1 in their last ten, and have surged to a .736 win percentage.

Their power play has improved to 23.6%, but the penalty kill still needs some work (72.6%), but they have a +41 goal differential, and are the top goals-per-game club in the league, which certainly doesn’t hurt their cause. They have scoring from all angles, and several players in the top half of the league in scoring, including a crazy productive season from Nazem Kadri and big points from their superstars in Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar. Stellar goaltending from Pavel Francouz doesn’t hurt, either.

In short, the Avs look like themselves again.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Avalanche, check out #GoAvsGo rumors, rankings, and news here .

2. Florida Panthers (Previous Ranking: 7)

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers rise in the NHL power rankings after a series of huge, high-scoring wins. They’ve scored four goals or more in every contest since Christmas and 21 in their last three games, and seem to be on the uptick again.

The key to this club’s success is consistency, which they can’t seem to find this season, evidenced by the fact that they catapult up and down the NHL power rankings weekly. But, they still have a lot of talent on their roster, including superstars Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Having one of the best blue liners in the league in Aaron Ekblad doesn’t hurt, either.

They are a scary team with a lot of determination, and they often prove that they can overcome almost any adversity, always bouncing back quickly, evidenced by their four game win streak and going 8-1-1 in their last ten. It’s very possible they’ll climb back to the top of the NHL power rankings if they can stick to their game plan.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (Previous Ranking: 1)

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Even though they’re no longer at the top of their divison, the Canes have games in hand over most of their opponents, giving them a competitive advantage. The Hurricanes have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games, surging back to play like the team that started the season at the top of the NHL power rankings. Carolina’s +39 goal differential is still among the best in the league and will surge even farther when they catch up in the games.

The Canes also boast the best penalty kill in the league, at 90.5%, and also have an impressive 24.3% power play, which is certainly among the top percentages in the league. Sebastian Aho is playing at better than a point-per-game pace, with 38 points (including 12 power play points and two shorthanded points) in 32 games.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (Previous Ranking: 3)

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Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As they’ve constantly threatened, the Pens are finally rolling. and have gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games, pushing them to a .662 win percentage and a playoff spot just over a third of the way through the season. They have all the confidence in the world, as evidenced by a huge comeback win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Jake Guentzel has 38 points in 32 contests, and Sidney Crosby is on his usual point-per-game pace with 26 points in 26 contests.

Despite a power play that desperately needs some love (18.1%), they are playing well and winning games thanks in large part to Tristan Jarry. The netminder has more than proven his worth between the pipes, with a 2.08 goals against average and a .928 save percentage, coupled with an excellent appearance by Louis Domingue . Other than goaltending, the Pens’ wildly impressive penalty kill and their extremely experienced roster have given them life, keeping them in the top five in the NHL power rankings.

Related: NHL games today – TV schedule, best bets and DFS picks

5. St. Louis Blues (Previous Ranking: 5)

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With a healthy roster, the Blues are powering through their opponents, and have climbed their way to the second spot in the Central Division.

They are carried along by their impressive, 29.5% power play, and Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko (who many worried about after significant surgeries) have been carrying the weight of the team well, alongside Ivan Barbashev and Ryan O’Reilly who have certainly increased their offensive production.

They have played more consistent hockey as they progress through the season (though they’ll need more consistency from goaltender Jordan Binnington), and they pulled out a huge win over the Nashville Predators, which helps them stay in the top five of the NHL power rankings.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Blues, check out #STLBlues rumors, rankings, and news here .

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (Previous Ranking: 6)

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Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After having to postpone a flurry of games because of Covid, the Leafs are back to gameplay, topping the St. Louis Blues in one of the league’s most exciting contests to date. They’ve now gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games, and seem to be rebounding from issues and losses that plagued them recently.

Nonetheless, Jack Campbell has been a bright spot for this club, and his goaltending stats are among the best in the league, as he competes with Jacob Markstrom and former leaf Freddie Andersen for top honors. The team’s impressive, best-in-the-league power play (29.7%) is also key in their wins (and a far cry from last season), which sees them maintain a high spot in the NHL power rankings.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Maple Leafs, check out #LeafsForever rumors, rankings, and news here .

7. Tampa Bay Lightning (Previous Ranking: 9)

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Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After suffering a terrible 9-3 blowout loss to the divisional Florida Panthers, the Lightning seem to be playing up-and-down hockey, either winning big or losing a few in a row with almost no in between. It’s one of the reasons they stay out of the top five in the NHL power rankings.

With tons of offensive talent, the Bolts only have a +22 goal differential and a respectable .713 win percentage, and have played more games than their closest divisional rivals. Like the Panthers, though, they’ll need to find consistency if they’re going to return to back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning form.

But like the Pens, they can heat back up at any moment, which keeps them in the top 10 of the NHL power rankings.

8. Vegas Golden Knights (Previous Ranking: 8)

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The Knights are finally recovering from an injury-plagued start to the season, maintaining their place in the top ten of the NHL power rankings. But, they stay in the bottom half of the top ten because they are just being outplayed by other clubs around the league.

They now sit atop the Pacific division, though the entire division seems to be struggling of late. Vegas still has the slight edge, though, having improved its goal differential to +19, and the club is steadily improving both of its special teams percentages. Finally, this club is playing up to their capability, and has maintained a relatively steady place in the NHL power rankings as a result.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Knights, check out #VegasBorn rumors, rankings, and news here .

9. Boston Bruins (Previous Ranking: 13)

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Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins have a lot of work to do, but they seem to be on a steady pace for improvement.

Before pausing their games because of Covid protocols, the Bruins were struggling, but they’ve won their last five straight and have gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games. Brad Marchand is the only point-per-game player on the roster, with 30 points in 23 games. Both of the club’s special teams numbers are respectable, among the best in the league, leaving their five-on-five gameplay as the place for improvement, though they seem to be doing that of late.

They seem to be heating up, though, and rise in the NHL power rankings on a dime as a result of them seemingly figuring out their game plan.

10. New York Rangers (Previous Ranking: 12)

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Nov 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save on Montreal Canadiens center Ryan Poehling (25) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers have been one of the league’s pleasant surprises this season, boasting 54 points and a .692 win percentage so far this season, catapulting them to the top of the Metropolitan division (though they have games in hand). Artemi Panarin has 38 points in 34 games, and Adam Fox has 39 points in as many games. The Rangers are demanding to be taken seriously.

Impressive goaltending and a 23.2% power play have seen them maintain a top ten spot in the NHL power rankings, but they’ve gone 6-3-1 in their last ten games and only have a +17 goal differential, which leave room for improvement.

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11. Minnesota Wild (Previous Ranking: 11)

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Nov 20, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the third period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

As the Wild cool down (largely because of Covid pauses and mass game cancellations), they stay just shy of the top ten in the NHL power rankings. They’ve fallen to a wild card spot in the conference, though they have games in hand over the Avalanche, Blues and the Preds. And, in bad news for the team, goaltender Cam Talbot is out indefinitely after leaving the Winter Classic in the third period.

The club has middling special teams numbers, and only one point-per-game player in Kirill Kaprizov (who has 40 points in 32 games), though Ryan Hartman has been stellar of late (though they are among the highest goals per game teams in the league). Overall, though, they’ve cooled down from their strong start to the season. It seems the woes are mounting for the Wild.

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12. Nashville Predators (Previous Ranking: 4)

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators fall in the NHL power rankings, cooling off to fall to third in the Central division with the most games played. While they’ll need to find a spark to heat them up again, Roman Josi is back to his Norris Trophy-winning ways, leading his club with 40 points in 38 games, despite missing a few because of Covid protocols. Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg are also producing offensively, keeping the Preds in the playoff conversation and pushing them to the top of the Central division. They’ve also been helped by Tanner Jeannot’s recent offensive surge and, of course, Juuse Saaros’ impressive goaltending.

If this team can play consistent hockey, they could pull off a Central Division upset and find themselves in the post-season.

13. Washington Capitals (Previous Ranking: 10)

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The Caps fall again in the NHL power rankings, still battling Covid-related woes and going 4-4-2 in their last ten games, despite a huge Metropolitan division win over the New York Islanders.

Nonetheless, this team, when hot, is an offensive threat, led by their powerhouse captain Alex Ovechkin. He’s tied for the league lead in points with 54 (with Leon Draisaitl), and is showing no signs of slowing down, despite the club’s plateauing offensively. He averages 20 minutes of ice time a game, though they will need offense from other areas of their roster, including offense from the scratched Dmitry Orlov . When they can return to their early season form and improve on their dismal 15.8% power play, this club can become an offensive threat yet again.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Capitals, check out #ALLCAPS rumors, rankings, and news here .

14. Los Angeles Kings (Previous Ranking: 17)

A huge offensive surge sees the Kings make their way to the top half of the NHL power rankings. They’ve climbed to second in the Pacific division with 45 points and a .577 win percentage, helped by the going 7-3-0 in their past ten games.

They may have gotten pummelled by the divisional San Jose Sharks but, luckily for them, they are in a weak division and are not as deeply affected as others could be. They will need to work on their dismal special teams numbers if they’re going to keep up this pace, especially considering there is not a single point-per-game player on their roster. Nonetheless, they are finding ways to win, and could do it when it matters most.

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Nov 9, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman (5) checks Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry (19) in the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

15. Calgary Flames (Previous Ranking: 15)

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Nov 18, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) looks for the puck during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As the Flames return from the massive Covid outbreak in the organization, they don’t seem to be playing at the same pace they were. They’ve lost four straight and are 2-7-1 in their last ten games, lowering their goal differential to +18.

They are still plagued by Covid issues and delays, which is haunting them now but could help them in the future, when they play a flurry of games in rapid succession with a healthy roster. Their excellent play saw them on a meteoric rise in the NHL power rankings early on, and they have kept strong special teams numbers throughout the season, so they could soon return to the top if they can figure it out again.

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16. Edmonton Oilers (Previous Ranking: 16)

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The Edmonton Oilers are a very confusing team to watch, as they seem to be bottoming out despite strong offensive talent. They have the best power play in the league, though it is still impressive at 30.3%. The issue in Edmonton, of course, is the increasing list of players in Covid protocols , which has led to a long string of cancelled games.

If they can recover from this slump, which has seen them go 2-6-2 in their last ten, lose three straight, and drop their goal differential to 0, they could rise again in the NHL power rankings, especially considering the immeasurable talent on their roster, in the likes of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Oilers, check out #EdmontonOilers rumors, rankings, and news here .

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17. New York Islanders (Previous Ranking: 18)

18. Anaheim Ducks (Previous Ranking: 14)

19. Winnipeg Jets (Previous Ranking: 20)

20. Dallas Stars (Previous Ranking: 22)

21. Vancouver Canucks (Previous Ranking: 19)

22. San Jose Sharks (Previous Ranking: 24)

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23. Detroit Red Wings (Previous Ranking: 21)

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (Previous Ranking: 26)

25. New Jersey Devils (Previous Ranking: 26)

26. Buffalo Sabres (Previous Ranking: 28)

27. Philadelphia Flyers (Previous Ranking: 25)

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28. Ottawa Senators (Previous Ranking: 27)

29. Seattle Kraken (Previous Ranking: 29)

30. Chicago Blackhawks (Previous Ranking: 30)

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31. Montreal Canadiens (Previous Ranking: 31)

32. Arizona Coyotes (Previous Ranking: 32)

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