NHL power rankings: Colorado and Florida clinch, Bolts cool down
Now that the 2021-22 season is over half of the way through, and injuries are 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 so far, with key injuries, signings and rookies making an impact throughout the year. As the season winds down, we’re seeing some teams prove what they’re made of, while others fold under pressure.
Without further ado, here are Sportsnaut’s NHL power rankings as we look ahead to the 2021-22 campaign.
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1. Colorado Avalanche (Previous Ranking: 2)
The Avalanche are playing good hockey, and have returned to first in the NHL power rankings, despite losing captain Gabriel Landeskog to knee surgery and blue liner Sammy Girard for four weeks. But, they’ve clinched a playoff spot, have won four straight, and have gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games.
They are on solid footing for the top spot in the division, and really seem to be figuring things out, thanks to their new additions. Their power play sits at a very solid 25.1% (even without Landeskog), but the penalty kill still needs some work (78.9%), though it has improved with the acquisition of veteran Andrew Cogliano. Among the highest goals-per-game teams in the league, 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 Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar.
2. Florida Panthers (Previous Ranking: 1)
The Panthers claim the second spot in the NHL power rankings, as they were the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth.
Huge comeback wins against the New Jersey Devils and the Toronto Maple Leafs really proved what this club is made of, carrying them to an 8-2-0 record in their last ten games and a league-leading +84 goal differential. Superstars are leading the charge, thanks to Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, who is enjoying an incredible season and is among the league leaders in points with over 100. 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 could make a deep playoff run if they play this consistently in the post-season.
3. Minnesota Wild (Previous Ranking: 13)
The Wild surge to third place in the NHL power rankings, going 8-1-1 in their last ten games to fight for second place in the Pacific Division. They’ve beaten big teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, and are now slated to take on divisional rivals in the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
Looking to the post season, the club has a middling penalty kill, but boasts two point-per-game players in Kirill Kaprizov (who has been on fire lately and has 87 points in 68 games) and Mats Zuccarello (71 points in 61 games). They’ve significantly improved the power play, and will now need to find consistency as they look to the post season.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (Previous Ranking: 9)
The Maple Leafs move up in the NHL power rankings because they have overtaken the Tampa Bay Lightning, alongside the Boston Bruins, and have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games. Auston Matthews tied a franchise record for goals in a season with 54, and is leading the offensive charge despite an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers, where the club blew a 5-1 lead.
The team’s impressive, best-in-the-league power play (30.2%) is key in their wins (and a far cry from last season), and the acquisition of Mark Giordano adds depth so, with the post season looming, the Leafs are winning games when it matters most.
5. Boston Bruins (Previous Ranking: 6)
The Bruins are putting up quite a fight, powering to a third place spot in their division and going 7-3-0 in their last ten games and are three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, which keeps them in roughly the same place in the NHL power rankings.
David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, the point-per-game players on the roster, get tons of support from captain Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall, and their trade deadline acquisition in Hampus Lindholm has been especially strong for the club. They’re heating up right when it matters, and are preparing for yet another post season run.
6. New York Rangers (Previous Ranking: 8)
The Rangers have been one of the league’s pleasant surprises this season, boasting 96 points and a .676 win percentage so far this season. After a trade deadline day that saw them bulk up depth for the post-season, they’ve gone 6-4-0 in their last ten games. Andrew Copp, Tyler Motte and Justin Braun bulk up offense, physicality and defense, respectively, helping an already stacked team. Artemi Panarin has 84 points in 66 games, and Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad are heating up, with Chris Krieder’s 30 goal season helping them too. The Rangers are demanding to be taken seriously.
Impressive goaltending and solid special teams have seen them maintain their top ten spot in the NHL alongside strong offense, as evidenced by their +31 goal differential.
7. Calgary Flames (Previous Ranking: 3)
The Flames have put their pandemic woes and struggles in their rearview mirror, and they feel like a distant memory. With 93 points and a .664 win percentage in 70 games, they have officially stormed back to reclaim the top spot in the Pacific division, though they seem to have cooled down of late.
They stay in roughly the same spot in the NHL power rankings because they are held up by strong special teams numbers–particularly a 23.5% power play–and they are finally getting strong play from their powerhouse forwards in Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau, helped by Jacob Markstrom’s impressive season. The acquisitions of Tyler Toffoli and Calle Jarnkrok are paying off offensively, too, even though the team has cooled down of late.
8. Carolina Hurricanes (Previous Ranking: 4)
Another team that has slowed down, the Carolina Hurricanes have lost two straight and gone 4-3-3 in their last ten games.
The Canes still boast the best penalty kill in the league, at 87.9%, and also have a respectable 23.8% power play, which is also among the top percentages in the league. And, their star in Sebastian Aho is playing at better than a point-per-game pace (though he has slowed down of late), with 69 points in 67 games. And, though Max Domi has three assists in seven games, he has yet to record a goal as a Carolina Hurricane.
9. Edmonton Oilers (Previous Ranking: 12)
The Edmonton Oilers have risen from the ashes, winning their last five straight to power to second in the Pacific division. In spite of goaltending struggles and a quiet trade deadline, they are finding ways to win, thanks to one of the best power plays in the league, which is impressive at 26%.
They’re in a postseason position right when it matters most, returning them to the top ten of the NHL power rankings. Of course, they’re helped by the immeasurable talent on their roster, in the likes of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, among the top scorers in the league.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (Previous Ranking: 7)
The Penguins round out the top ten of the NHL power rankings, helped by the acquisition of former 30-goal scorer Rickard Rakell just as they heat up for the post-season. They drop in the rankings, though, because they’ve gone 5-4-1 in their last ten games and lost two straight.
But, they have solid special teams numbers in both categories (but especially the penalty kill), and can rely on them to recover if they’re going to fight for the top spot in the Metropolitan division–which is certainly within reach. They stay in the top ten of the NHL power rankings when it matters most, thanks to their veteran roster, smart trades, and ability to heat up at any moment.
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11. Los Angeles Kings (Previous Ranking: 10)
A huge offensive surge saw the Kings make their way to the top half of the NHL power rankings, and keep a relatively strong hold on third place in the Pacific division. They have cooled off of late, but have built a pretty solid pad between themselves and the division’s non-contenders. So, they just narrowly miss the top ten in the NHL power rankings, with a roster that could have used some depth.
But, they have played more games than a lot of their opponents, so a losing skid could change everything in terms of placement in the Western Conference, landing them in a wild card spot. They will need to work on their dismal special teams numbers and +2 goal differential if they’re going to maintain this playoff spot, especially considering there is not a single point-per-game player on their roster.
12. St. Louis Blues (Previous Ranking: 11)
The Blues needed deadline acquisition Nick Leddy to rejuvenate their play, and he seems to be working some kind of magic, with the club winning three straight and going 6-3-1 in their last ten games. They sit third in the Central Division with a few key points in hand.
They still boast an impressive, 26.1% power play, with Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko (who many worried about after significant surgeries and a trade request) carrying the weight of the team well (proven by the +51 goal differential), alongside Ivan Barbashev and Ryan O’Reilly, who have certainly increased their offensive production.
They’ll need to find some consistency for the post-season, and their current play could see them return to the top ten in the NHL power rankings.
13. Tampa Bay Lightning (Previous Ranking: 5)
Cooling off yet again, the Bolts have been edged out of a top-three spot and fall significantly in the NHL power rankings, adding only Nick Paul and Riley Nash at the trade deadline.
With tons of offensive talent, the Bolts seem to be playing middling hockey, and have lost three straight–especially a key divisional matchup to the Washington Capitals.
But, the extremely talented roster could heat up at any minute, as long as the club finds some consistency in their play and gets big goals from their offense. They need to recalibrate fast.Also Read:
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14. Washington Capitals (Previous Ranking: 14)
The Caps find themselves in the middle of the NHL power rankings again, still battling a flurry of woes, though things seem to be picking up of late, with the club going 6-4-0 in their last ten games.
Powerhouse captain Alex Ovechkin seems to have found his groove again. He still averages 20 minutes of ice time a game, though they will need offense from other areas of their roster. When they can return to their early season form and continue to improve on their 19.9% power play, this club can become an offensive threat yet again–and they’ll hope they can do it in time for the playoffs.
15. Nashville Predators (Previous Ranking: 1 5)
The Preds are winning when it matters most, not giving up the fight quite yet. As a result, they stay put in the top half of the NHL power rankings, currently sitting in a wild card position, thanks to impressive play from the club’s all-time points leader Filip Forsberg , and captain Roman Josi .
Their solid, 25% power play will help them fight, alongside Juuse Saros’ consistently impressive presence between the pipes. They have a respectable +29 goal differential and have gone 6-4-0 in their last ten games, so they could certainly make a playoff push, even upsetting the Blues by squeezing into a third place spot.
16. Dallas Stars (Previous Ranking: 17)
The Stars are not giving up the fight just yet, going 7-3-0 in their last ten games and clinging to the second wild card spot in the west.
A win over the New York Islanders keeps hope alive for the stars, and a schedule that sees them take on Eastern Conference teams and non-playoff contenders. There’s still no point-per-game players on the roster, but they could skate by, in the style of the Los Angeles Kings (and themselves two years ago), and pull off an upset.Also Read:
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17. Vegas Golden Knights (Previous Ranking: 16)
18. New York Islanders (Previous Ranking: 18)
19. Winnipeg Jets (Previous Ranking: 21)
20. Vancouver Canucks (Previous Ranking: 20)
21. Columbus Blue Jackets (Previous Ranking: 19)
22. Detroit Red Wings (Previous Ranking: 26)
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23. San Jose Sharks (Previous Ranking: 22)
24. Buffalo Sabres (Previous Ranking: 27)
25. Anaheim Ducks (Previous Ranking: 23)
26. New Jersey Devils (Previous Ranking: 24)
27. Ottawa Senators (Previous Ranking: 28)
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28. Philadelphia Flyers (Previous Ranking: 27)
29. Montreal Canadiens (Previous Ranking: 29)
30. Seattle Kraken (Previous Ranking: 32)Also Read:
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31. Chicago Blackhawks (Previous Ranking: 31)
32. Arizona Coyotes (Previous Ranking: 30)