NHL Power Rankings: Week 7 Edition

Image Credit: David Zalubowski/The Associated Press

The second month of the NHL season is nearly in the books.

Now that we’ve passed Thanksgiving, we’ve reached a critical milestone when it comes to the NHL playoff picture. In the salary cap era, teams that are currently in playoff spots have a 77% chance of remaining there by the time the postseason rolls around. Of course, this doesn’t make Thanksgiving the be all, end all for playoff hopes; look at St. Louis and Buffalo in 2018-19 for example. The Blues were tied for the worst record in the NHL when Thanksgiving rolled around, while the Sabres rode a hot start to tie for the second playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Fast forward to the end of that season and, while the Sabres added another year to their current streak of postseason-less hockey, the Blues were skating around with the Stanley Cup. Realistically, you can expect two or three teams to sneak into playoff spots before the end of the season; the only questions are who those teams will be and who they will replace.

If we were to take a look at the standings, the picture starts to take shape. In the East, the top three in both divisions seem relatively secure. It’s the Wild Card spots that are much tighter races; Pittsburgh and Columbus held them when Thanksgiving rolled around, but teams like Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and even Detroit are right on their heels. The West is much more wide open, with spots in the division still well up for grabs. Each of the divisions are separated by a few points, and even the wild card races are close. Very few teams can safely be considered out of the hunt already, but who knows if any team can pull a St. Louis and climb all the way back?

For now, however, how does the NHL shape up this week?

Disclaimer: these rankings are based on games played and stats recorded as of November 28.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs (3): A new leader has emerged this week, as the Leafs have rolled to win 14 of their last 16 games. A lot of Toronto fans will obviously be looking to translate this into postseason success, but this has been a promising start so far.

2. Edmonton Oilers (2): Edmonton’s won four of their last five games, and Leon Draisaitl is still averaging two points PER GAME. The Pacific Division may be tighter than usual this season, but the Oilers are definitely at the top of the class right now.

3. Washington Capitals (5): An 8-1-1 record in their last ten games is nice enough, but Alex Ovechkin has been the real story. He’s collected seven goals in the last five games, putting his total to 19 goals in 22 games. Gretzky is very much is sight.

4. Carolina Hurricanes (1): Bit of a rough patch for the former leaders, who lost three of four last week and only scored more than two goals once. Nothing to worry about, as the Hurricanes still lead the league in points percentage with a mark of .750.

5. Florida Panthers (5): The Panthers stay in the top five for now, but they’re going to miss Anthony Duclair as much as they miss Aleksander Barkov. Duclair has put together a strong season, scoring nine goals and 17 points in 19 games.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (6): The Lightning are 7-2-1 in their last ten contests, even with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point on the injury list. The success they’ve had in this stretch, as well as when any other star player is out, shows just how deep this team is.

7. Colorado Avalanche (13): Safe to say the Avalanche have shaken off an iffy start, winning seven of their last eight games. The major catalyst for this success has been their league-leading offense, which is averaging four goals a game…mostly WITHOUT Nathan MacKinnon.

8. Calgary Flames (8): Darryl Sutter’s defensive-minded philosophy has finally resonated with the Flames, but their offense has come along very nicely. They may have found a nice first line with Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk, as all three have been strong both in basic stats and analytics since being paired together.

9. Minnesota Wild (9): Kirill Kaprizov has started racking up the points, but my vote for the Wild’s early-season MVP would go to Ryan Hartman. He’s racked up four goals in his last five games to put his season total at 12, and he is currently on pace to shatter his career high of 19 goals in 2016-17.

10. New York Rangers (10): Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, and Igor Shesterkin seem to be the next trio of great players to wear the Rangers jerseys, and they have been rolling right now. Even better, the underlying numbers that have dogged the Blueshirts all season are starting to trend in the right direction.

11. Vegas Golden Knights (7): Vegas seems to be in that “getting key players back, but experiencing inconsistency as they readjust” phase. Still feels like a sleeping giant to me, especially with their top two centers still injured.

12. Boston Bruins (11): The Bruins are still very much in the playoff hunt but, like Vegas, the consistency just hasn’t been there for them yet. It might not be coming for a bit longer, as they’ll be without their best player in Brad Marchand for the next few games.

13. St. Louis Blues (15): The Blues have gotten points in three of their last four games, which should give them some momentum for the rough stretch ahead against Florida and Tampa Bay. After an impressive season last year, Jordan Kyrou seems poised for a true breakout with 22 points in 21 games.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins (18): Despite massive personnel issues and Sidney Crosby being off to a slow start, the Penguins were still able to rattle off a five-game winning streak before falling to Montreal. The contributions of Jake Guentzel (not surprising) and Evan Rodrigues (very surprising) have been huge so far.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets (21): The Blue Jackets have won three of their last four, managing to stay in a very competitive Metropolitan Division. Give credit to Brad Larsen for continuing to make the Jackets one of the toughest teams to play against.

16. Dallas Stars (23): Don’t look now, but the Stars have gone on a four-game winning streak and have won six of their last seven games. The offense is starting to show some balance, while the re-emergence of Jake Oettinger means Dallas may have to make a decision on Braden Holtby or Anton Khudobin.

17. Anaheim Ducks (14): Troy Terry has started to slow down, and the Ducks have lost four of their last five. A streak of bad luck, or a regression back to their expectations?

18. Winnipeg Jets (12): A four-goal explosion against Calgary was sorely needed, as the Jets only scored five goals in a five-game losing streak before then. Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have been core contributors to the problem so far, with only two goals between them so far this season.

19. Nashville Predators (16): Last week was an accurate representation of the Predators; good enough to beat average to bad teams, but a few steps below the league’s elite. Now watch as they break another winning streak at the deadline to keep them from selling.

20. New Jersey Devils (20): The Devils haven’t exactly been impressive lately, with only two wins in their last seven games. At least Dougie Hamilton is producing as expected.

21. Detroit Red Wings (22): With a nice stretch of games coming up and coming off back-to-back wins, the Red Wings have a chance to gain serious momentum this week. This team needs to start winning on the road, however; they have only won three times in 11 road games so far.

22. Philadelphia Flyers (17): The Flyers have started to unravel recently, losing six straight games, winning only two of their last ten games, and injuries beginning to make an impact. If Philadelphia wants to keep pace in a stacked Metropolitan Division, they’ll have to shake this off sooner rather than later.

23. Los Angeles Kings (19): The Kings have also struggled in recent times, losing five consecutive games before beating Ottawa (more on them later). The most notable thing for LA as of late? Brendan Lemieux’s Mike Tyson impression.

24. San Jose Sharks (26): The Sharks have done alright to stick around the playoff picture, and Timo Meier’s been playing arguably his best hockey this season. I still just can’t see a team this inconsistent as a playoff threat.

25. Seattle Kraken (31): A stretch against four of the top six teams in these rankings, and the Kraken managed to win three out of four? This is the kind of stretch that builds serious momentum.

26. Chicago Blackhawks (25): Good news: the Blackhawks have won six of their last nine games and Marc-Andre Fleury is starting to figure it out in Chicago. Bad news: only three Hawks have scored more than three times this season.

27. Buffalo Sabres (27): It was nice of the Sabres to fade before Thanksgiving this season. At least Tage Thompson is looking like a key piece of the seemingly eternal rebuild.

28. New York Islanders (24): Putting the Islanders on pause due to a COVID outbreak almost feels like an act of mercy. They’ve lost eight games in a row, UBS Arena has yet to see a home victory, and they are digging a hole that could eventually become too tough to climb out of.

29. Montreal Canadiens (29): Being fired mere months after making the Stanley Cup Finals is the last chapter of Marc Bergevin’s complicated legacy as Canadiens GM. With Jeff Gorton now at the helm and the season slipping away, expect a rebuild soon.

30. Arizona Coyotes (32): The Coyotes are still terrible, but the two teams that fell below them have somehow been even worse. At least Shayne Gostisbehere is helping himself out.

31. Vancouver Canucks (28): Elias Pettersson has been the poster child of Vancouver’s problems, scoring only one point in his last nine games and only ten throughout this season. Travis Green and Jim Benning seem like safe bets to be fired as apathy is setting in.

32. Ottawa Senators (30): Believe it or not, the Coyotes beat the Senators to the ten-point mark on the season (COVID’s only played a small part of the problem). Matt Murray going unclaimed on waivers has completed his own personal fall from grace.


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