NHL power rankings: Canes still clutch no. 1 spot, Preds fire up
Now that the 2021-22 season is about a third 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.
NHL power rankings: Canes stay on top
1. Carolina Hurricanes (Previous Ranking: 1)
The Hurricanes have gone 8-1-1 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 +42 goal differential was padded by a huge 6-3 comeback win over the surprising Calgary Flames, and this club is looking like they’ve recovered well from their Covid pause.
The Canes also boast the second-best penalty kill in the league, at 90% (which puts them behind the Penguins by only 0.4%), and also have an impressive 24% 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 37 points (including 11 power play points and two shorthanded points) in 30 games.
2. Colorado Avalanche (Previous Ranking: 2)
Even though captain (and first star of the week) Gabriel Landeskog is now in Covid protocols , the Avs pulled out another come-from-behind win against the Seattle Kraken, their second straight. They have won five games in a row, gone 9-1-0 in their last ten, and have surged to a .719 win percentage.
Their power play has improved to 24.0%, but the penalty kill still needs some work (72.6%), but they have a +35 goal differential, and are and among the top goals-per-game clubs in the league, which certainly doesn’t hurt their cause. They have scoring from all angles (including a goal-of-the-year candidate from Cale Makar) and, when Landeskog comes back, will likely return to the top of the NHL power rankings.
In short, the Avs look like themselves again.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (Previous Ranking: 3)
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. Jake Guentzel has 34 points in 28 contests, and Sidney Crosby is on his usual point-per-game pace with 24 points in 22 contest. What’s more, Evgeni Malkin is returning to the lineup for his season debut.
Despite a power play that desperately needs some love (17.5%), 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 1.94 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. Other than goaltending, the Pens’ wildly impressive penalty kill (90.4%, the best in the league) and their extremely experienced roster have given them life, keeping them in the top three in the NHL power rankings.
4. Nashville Predators (Previous Ranking: 10)
The Predators climb higher in the NHL power rankings, winning four straight and playing good, solid hockey. In the club’s 8-1-1 record in their last ten games , Roman Josi is back to his Norris Trophy-winning ways, leading his club with 34 points in as many 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, as he is finally heating up after a slow start to the season.
If this team can play consistent hockey, they could pull off a Central Division upset and find themselves in the post-season.
5. St. Louis Blues (Previous Ranking: 5)
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, 30.1% 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), which helps them stay in the top five of the NHL power rankings.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (Previous Ranking: 4)
After having to postpone a flurry of games because of Covid, the Leafs lost a 4-1 lead to the Colorado Avalanche in a rare contest. They’ve now gone 6-2-2 in their last ten games, and have been crippled by the league’s decision to pause a vast majority of home games in Canada.
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 (30.9%) is also key in their wins, which sees them maintain a high spot in the NHL power rankings.
7. Florida Panthers (Previous Ranking: 11)
The Panthers rise in the NHL power rankings after a huge overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes. They’ve scored four goals or more in every contest since Christmas, 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. It’s very possible they’ll climb back to the top of the NHL power rankings if they can stick to their game plan.
8. Vegas Golden Knights (Previous Ranking: 6)
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 dip a bit because they are just being outplayed by other clubs around the league. They did get some good news, though, as Jack Eichel has taken to the ic e for the first time since his neck surgery.
They now sit atop the Pacific division, though the Anaheim Ducks are breathing down their necks. Vegas still has the slight edge, though, having improved its goal differential to +22, 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.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (Previous Ranking: 7)
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 big with almost no margin for close games. It’s one of the reasons they slip again in the NHL power rankings.
Despite tons of offensive talent, the Bolts only have a +13 goal differential and a .689 win percentage, and have played more games than their closest divisional rivals. They’ll need to improve their 19% power play, too, 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.
10. Washington Capitals (Previous Ranking: 9)
The Caps fall again in the NHL power rankings, still battling Covid-related woes and going 4-3-3 in their last ten games.
Nonetheless, this team, when hot, is an offensive threat, led by their powerhouse captain Alex Ovechkin. He’s third in the league in points with 52 (behind Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid), and is showing no signs of slowing down, despite the club’s plateauing offensively. He averages 20 minutes of ice time a game, and pushes players like Evgeni Kuznetsov to point-per-game paces. When they can return to their early season form and improve on their dismal 14.5% power play, this club can become an offensive threat yet again.
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11. Minnesota Wild (Previous Ranking: 12)
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 fourth in the division, though they have three games in hand over the Blues and the Preds (but have played one more than the Avalanche). 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. It seems the woes are mounting for the Wild.
12. New York Rangers (Previous Ranking: 8)
The Rangers have been one of the league’s pleasant surprises this season, boasting 50 points and a .676 win percentage so far this season, though they have been cooling off of late. Artemi Panarin has 36 points in 32 games, catapulting his team to second in the division. The Rangers are demanding to be taken seriously.
Impressive goaltending and a 22.9% power play have seen them rise to the top half of the NHL power rankings, but they’ve gone 5-4-1 in their last ten games and only have a +13 goal differential, which sees them fall in the NHL power rankings.Also Read:
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13. Boston Bruins (Previous Ranking: 14)
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 two and have gone 7-3-0 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 issue. The team has recovered from their Covid protocols, though, and could heat up and rise in the NHL power rankings at any moment if their superstars in Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall play up to their capabilities.
14. Anaheim Ducks (Previous Ranking: 15)
The Anaheim Ducks seem to be slowing down a bit and, to make matters worse, are facing a lot of injuries and Covid protocol additions. Trevor Zegras has been outstanding in his rookie campaign (though he’s currently in Covid protocols). Despite the setback, the Ducks’ play has shocked analysts everywhere and, while sustaining play as it was early in the season is a question mark, it’s certainly a fun sight to see. They have played more games than most of their divisional opponents, though, which could come back to bite them later in the season.
Still, riding the coat tails of their early success, they maintain their spot in the top half of the NHL power rankings.
15. Calgary Flames (Previous Ranking: 15)
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 three straight and are 3-6-1 in their last ten games, lowering their goal differential to +21.
Nonetheless, Jacob Markstrom has been nothing short of stellar (though he’s declining of late) with a 2.15 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, both of which are among the top of the league. Dan Vladar has also been excellent for his club when tapped. Their excellent play saw them on a meteoric rise in the NHL power rankings early on, and they could soon return to the top if they can figure it out again.
16. Edmonton Oilers (Previous Ranking: 13)
The Edmonton Oilers are a very confusing team to watch, as they seem to be bottoming out despite strong offensive talent. They no longer have the best power play in the league, though it is still impressive at 30.2%. The issue in Edmonton, of course, is the increasing list of players in Covid protocols , which has led to even more cancelled games.
Still, even playing on different lines, the superstars are shining bright. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, with 53 points a piece, are firing on all cylinders. If they can recover from this slump, which has seen them go 2-6-2 in their last ten and drop their goal differential to +2, they could rise again in the NHL power rankings.Also Read:
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17. Los Angeles Kings (Previous Ranking: 22)
18. New York Islanders (Previous Ranking: 18)
19. Vancouver Canucks (Previous Ranking: 19)
20. Winnipeg Jets (Previous Ranking: 17)
21. Detroit Red Wings (Previous Ranking: 21)
22. Dallas Stars (Previous Ranking: 21)
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23. Columbus Blue Jackets (Previous Ranking: 26)
24. San Jose Sharks (Previous Ranking: 23)
25. Philadelphia Flyers (Previous Ranking: 23)
26. New Jersey Devils (Previous Ranking: 25)
27. Ottawa Senators (Previous Ranking: 28)
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28. Buffalo Sabres (Previous Ranking: 30)
29. Seattle Kraken (Previous Ranking: 27)
30. Chicago Blackhawks (Previous Ranking: 29)Also Read:
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31. Montreal Canadiens (Previous Ranking: 31)
32. Arizona Coyotes (Previous Ranking: 32)