NHL Power Rankings – Week 23

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Welcome to the next installment of HockeyClan’s weekly NHL power rankings. Each week throughout the season, HockeyClan ranks every team in the National Hockey League from top to bottom.

Who’s #1? Who’s rising? Who’s falling? It’s week 23 in the NHL season — that’s right! Hard to believe we’re coming down the home stretch in the race for the Stanley Cup. Our season rankings have remained remarkably consistent over the last month but with just weeks remaining before the post-season playoff chase begins it’s time to ask: Who’s in, who’s out?

Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after scoring his 600th career goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Capital One Arena on March 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

1-Tampa Bay Lightning (48-18-4) Lost last game to the team it came into the league with in 1992. It’s somewhat significant because it snapped a five-game winning streak and Tampa has not lost two in a row since Jan 18-20. NHL’s No. 1 offense (251 GF) and No. 2 power play (24.3%). Last: 1

2-Nashville Predators (46-16-10)  Nine wins, zero losses and a tie over the past three weeks has propelled the Preds to Western Conference-best 102 points. +52 goal differential and equally as impressive at home and on the road. Last year’s runner-up, this year’s Stanley Cup? Last: 3

3-Vegas Golden Knights (45-20-5) Starting to show chinks in its armor, but still 5-4-1 over spanning a difficult Eastern Conference road swing in New Jersey, Columbus, Detroit, Buffalo and Philadelphia. Good to be back home where Vegas is 24-8-2 at T-Mobile Arena. Last: 2

4-Boston Bruins (44-17-8) Still ranked fourth but there are serious questions surrounding its depth on the blue line with the devastating loss of promising rookie Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug and now, Zdeno Chara for at least the next couple of games. Story from the Stanley Cup of Chowder. 7-3 over its last 10 games. Last: 4

5-Toronto Maple Leafs (42-22-7) A notch above The Peg because the Leafs have been getting it done without Auston Matthews, who is without a timetable to return. Frederik Andersen is out with an upper-body injury too but it looks like the Leafs are just managing their players before the post-season. Last: 5

6-Winnipeg Jets (42-19-10) No one wants to meet the high-flying Jets in the first round out West. With seven wins over its 11 games. Winnipeg ranks top-five in Goals-For (228, 5th), Goals-Against (183, 5th), Power Play (24.1%, 3rd) and Penalty Kill (83%, 4th). Last: 6

7-Pittsburgh Penguins (41-26-5) Burned the Capitals, 7-4, in their last meeting and they’ll get the edge again on its Eastern Conference foe again here. Fearsome power play unit connected on an NHL-best 25.6% clip. Matt Murray is still battling concussion symptoms while Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith hold down the fort. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that in the playoffs. Last: 7

8-Washington Capitals (40-23-7) Congrats to Alexander Ovechkin who reached the 600-goal plateau against Winnipeg on March 12. He has nearly 200 more goals than any other player since he came into The League in 2005-06. The Washington Post is suggesting Ovi could make a run at Wayne Gretzky’s all-time mark of 894. Check out their analysis. Last: 8

Related: NHL Power Rankings — Week 20

Tier Two

Jake Allen #34 and Carl Gunnarsson #4 of the St. Louis Blues defend the net against Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on March 8, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

9-San Jose Sharks (38-23-9) The Evander Kane deal was exactly the injection needed to spark life back into San Jose. Kane has six points in seven games with 26 hits and 29 faceoffs won while firing 25 shots on goal. Raise your hand if you knew the Sharks have the best penalty killing unit in the NHL at 85%. Now put your hand down.  Last: 14

10-Los Angeles Kings (39-26-6) Another team that benefited from the trade deadline, the Kings added tough nut Dion Phaneuf to the blue line corps. L.A. is 6-3-1 over its last 10 games and Phaneuf has absorbed a ton of minutes on defense while chipping in three goals, three assists, 32 hits and 28 blocked shots in 15 games since joining the team. Last: 13

11-Minnesota Wild (39-24-7) The Wild had won six of its last eight before back-to-back losses to Edmonton and Colorado. Just as you begin to back the Minnesota bandwagon, it slips a wheel. These are games it can ill-afford to drop. If the season ended today, they’d be in but… Last: 11

12-Anaheim Ducks (35-24-11) If the season ended today, the Ducks would NOT be in, but we’re banked on Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Co. to be there. A pair of four-game winning streaks are mixed in with back-to-back losses to Edmonton and Arizona, and a three-game skid to Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis. A four-game road swing looms and will be telling. Last: 9

13-New Jersey Devils (36-26-8) Three wins in their last five, including an 8-4 thrashing of the Golden Knights in Vegas on Wednesday. Sin City is a tough place to play but the Devils danced. Taylor Hall had his points steak snapped at 26 games but the key will be the return to form of Cory Schneider in between the pipes. Last: 15

14-Columbus Blue Jackets (38-28-5) Another team that benefited from the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets had trouble putting the puck in the net before acquiring Thomas Vanek who has two goals and four points in eight games. Moreover, Columbus has awoken to outscore opponents 30-23 since making the deal. 8-2 in their last 10.  Last: 18

15-Dallas Stars (38-26-7) As hot as the BJax have been, the Stars have been as cold as ice. Rising as high as No. 9 in the HockeyClan rankings, Dallas has now lost seven of its last 10 games and are desperately clinging on to the last playoff spot by one point. We think Anaheim will take one Wild Card spot out West. Who will occupy the second spot? Last: 10

16-Colorado Avalanche (32-23-5) After going 22-56-4 last season — that is not a typo — the Avs have somehow positioned themselves in the race for the cup. Colorado is 6-1-3 and continues to get it done with smoke and mirrors. A closer look sees a formidable offense that is scoring four or five goals a night. That kind of production (223 GF, 7th) gives you a chance to win most nights. Last: 19

17-St. Louis Blues (37-28-5) No one has hit the doldrums like the Blues which have lost 11 of last 20 games. One a top-tier team, St. Louis has been signing the Blues and if the playoff chase ended on March 16, they would be out. With 79 points, last in a five-team chase for two spots it looks like its mid-season meltdown will cost them. Last: 12

18-Philadelphia Flyers (32-19-10) Barring a collapse to Florida, the Flyers will make the post-season but with just three wins in their last 10 games, including back-to-back losses, they’ll crawl across the finish line.  Last: 20

Related: NHL Power Rankings — Week 17

Tier Three

Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on March 7, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

19-Calgary Flames (35-26-10) Talent-wise the Flames are a top-tier team. But outside of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and instigator Matthew Tkachuk, there leaves a lot to be desired — especially in between the pipes. Mike Smith is 24-17-6 (2.51 GAA, .922 Save%) but it’s been a mixed bag otherwise. Last: 17

20-Florida Panthers (27-25-6) Doing their best to make up for lost time with eight wins, one loss and one tie in their last 10 games. But is it enough? The Flyers are faltering. The Devils and Blue Jackets despite up-and-down seasons are only four points ahead. Roberto will have to be vintage Luongo to make it so. Last: 21

21-New York Rangers (32-32-7) Since “The Purge,” the Blueshirts have actually been playing pretty well. With the pressure off, New York is 5-3 after trading away everything except the Kitchen King in net. After a three-game skid last week, the Rangers have back-to-back wins over Carolina and Pittsburgh. Last: 24

22-Carolina Hurricanes (30-29-11) Three wins over their last 10 games all but sealed their fate. With nine points back of the Devils, Carolina can mail it in from here. Ron Francis is out as General Manager. Think you have what it takes? Apply here. Last: 22

23-Chicago Blackhawks (30-33-8) After Corey Crawford went down with concussion symptoms, which were later diagnosed as vertigo, the Hawks fell into a hole and never recovered. It’s a sad end to a 10-year playoff streak that began the 2008-09 season. They did win three Stanley Cups… so there’s that. Last: 23

24-New York Islanders (30-30-10) Pitiful 1-5-4 over their last 10 games. Minus-27 goal differential due to the same old song and dance behind NHL-worst defense which has surrendered a massive 249 goals this season. How this team won 30 games is anyone’s guess. Well, the answer can be found in Tavares, Barzal, Lee and Co. which rank ninth in the league in total offense (222 GF). Last: 20

25-Edmonton Oilers (30-35-5) Minus-30 goal differential. Only the Canucks and Coyotes are worse. Chalk it up to a lost season in Edmonton. Hit the reset button and come back in 2018-19. There is still a lot of like on this roster but McDavid cannot do it all himself. That much is clear. Last: 25

Related: NHL Power Rankings – Week 15

Tier Four

Montreal Canadiens Goalie Antti Niemi (37) stops a shot from Pittsburgh Penguins Center Riley Sheahan (15) during the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on March 15, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

​26-Montreal Canadiens (26-33-12) Antti Niemi? Carey Price is done for the season but the Canadiens still have to play, even if it’s in front of a less than enthusiastic sellout crowd at Belle Centre. Six losses in the last seven games for les bleu, blanc et rouge. Last 29

27-Ottawa Senators (25-33-11) Actually playing better hockey as of late. That’s pretty easy to do. All you have to do is score more times than the other team, something Ottawa has done twice in a row! Last: 28

28-Detroit Red Wings (26-33-11) Losers of eight straight. Yikes! Last win came way back in February against the Rangers before the NHL trade deadline. Perhaps the Wings should’ve been more open to negotiations. Last: 26

29-Vancouver Canucks (25-37-9) It was fun while it lasted but this is a team looking to boost its best odds in the draft lottery now. Last: 27

30-Arizona Coyotes (23-36-11) Moved up to No. 30! Out of the basement for just the second time this season. Last: 31

31-Buffalo Sabres (22-36-12) With 56 points, the Sabres rank dead least in the NHL. Despite just 22 wins in 70 games (31% winning percentage), Buffalo is a top-10 TV hockey ratings market. Imagine if they actually started winning. Last: 30

records and rankings through 3/15

 

Main Image: Steven Stamkos #91 (center) of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after his team scored a goal against the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena on March 13, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

 

 

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