Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Break time is over
Break time is over
With the NHL All-Star break out of the way and the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline as the next big date on the calendar, it will be gritty games for the next three weeks that will divide teams into several different categories.
We’re already seeing some young teams such as the Arizona Coyotes running headlong into a wall while trying to hang around in a playoff picture where only the strong survive in the Western Conference. The same goes for last year’s Cinderella team in the East, the Ottawa Senators. The Sens have lost three in a row and been exposed for the defensively soft team that was magically bailed out by a goalie named the Hamburglar last spring.
It also means talented teams that hibernated through the first half, like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks, are making their own power moves while other teams are falling by the wayside. That means teams on the playoff bubble are scrambling in both conferences and the desperation for points has kicked up a few notches. This is most definitely the best time of year in the regular season as teams are going all out every single night while buoyed by a few day’s rest around the All-Star break.
Without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (36-9-4, rank last week: 1)
A loss to the Panthers with Alex Ovechkin sitting the first game out from the All-Star break, but he comes back plays a big role in win over the Isles. The Caps keep rolling.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (32-16-4, LW: 2)
Big showdown with Dallas coming up this weekend as they’re starting to gain ground on the Blackhawks again.
3. Dallas Stars (33-14-5, LW: 4)
It’s time to really appreciate what John Klingberg has done this season becoming the best D-man on this side of Erik Karlsson. Goals in each of the last two wins as the Stars are taking care of business against teams like Winnipeg and Colorado.
4. Florida Panthers (31-15-5, LW: 3)
Kevin Spacey filmed a video with a Panthers jersey for their in-game presentation. When Frank Underwood gets involved, it means the Panthers are for real and anything is possible.
5. Los Angeles Kings (31-17-3, LW: 5)
The Kings are tops in the Pacific Division while readying for Milan Lucic’s return to Boston on Tuesday.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (29-18-4, LW: 8)
The Bolts are 11-2-0 in their past 13 games and making the move people have expected from them all season.
7. St. Louis Blues (29-17-8, LW: 6)
The Blues are right in the thick of things again, but you have to wonder if it will be any different in the playoffs.
8. New York Rangers (28-18-5, LW: 7)
Don’t expect the Rangers to deal Keith Yandle unless they fall way out of it, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
9. San Jose Sharks (27-19-4, LW: 10)
Brent Burns was robbed at the NHL All-Star Skills Challenge after pulling out of the Chewbacca, though I did appreciate PK Subban’s homage to Jaromir Jagr
10. Boston Bruins (27-18-6, LW: 12)
The Bruins are 7-6-2 since the beginning of January and are just treading water. The good news is that they’re in company with just about the rest of the playoff pack in the East outside of Washington and Florida.
11. Anaheim Ducks (25-18-7, LW: 18)
The Ducks are 13-3-1 in their last 17 games and continue to strongly push upward in the Pacific Division. They are playing a big, strong and mean brand of hockey,
12. New York Islanders (26-17-6, LW: 11)
Will be interesting to see what the Isles do at the deadline knowing that Kyle Okposo isn’t likely to stick around in Brooklyn.
13. Detroit Red Wings (25-18-8, LW: 9)
Back-to-back losses to the Panthers and Lightning out of the All-Star break show that the Wings have some work to do.
14. New Jersey Devils (26-20-6, LW: 17)
Interesting month for the Devils as they have to decide whether they are in or out of the playoff hunt, and what that means for the trade deadline.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (25-18-7, LW: 14)
Sidney Crosby has 16 goals in his last 17 games. I guess there’s nothing wrong with him that a new coach couldn’t cure.
16. Nashville Predators (24-20-8, LW: 23)
Perhaps the Predators can ride some of the NHL All-Star weekend momentum after doing a great job of serving as host for a top notch event.
17. Colorado Avalanche (27-23-4, LW: 14)
One out of four points against Chicago and Dallas out of the breaks says that the Avs still have some work to do if they want to be considered contenders.
18. Arizona Coyotes (24-22-6, LW: 19)
Four losses in a row where the Coyotes have allowed 21 goals. Arizona might be starting to show their youth a little bit as the intensity dial starts to go up this season.
19. Minnesota Wild (23-19-9, LW: 16)
The Wild sound like they’re a little rattled at this point, and need some scoring help from the outside.
20. Philadelphia Flyers (23-18-8, LW: 21)
The Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek line is pretty impressive, and it seems like Dave Hakstol is pushing the right buttons these days.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (24-21-8, LW: 20)
The Hurricanes are standing just outside the playoff picture, and are picking up where they left off at the All-Star break.
22. Montreal Canadiens (24-24-4, LW: 24)
The Habs are definitely rattled, and it sounds like they can’t decide what to do with their coach. The problems go beyond simply Carey Price out with injury.
23. Vancouver Canucks (20-19-12, LW: 21)
It’s time to sell off the non-essential assets and start rebuilding for Jim Benning.
24. Ottawa Senators (23-23-6, LW: 22)
The Senators are getting their doors blown out because of leaky defense, and that doesn’t portend good things down the stretch.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs (19-22-9, LW: 27)
Mike Babcock has really worked some magic with Nazem Kadri, who was a highly effective player in all areas in Toronto’s win over the Bruins this week.
26. Calgary Flames (22-25-3, LW: 25)
The whole Dennis Wideman situation is truly odd in Calgary. He was diagnosed with a concussion, but was almost immediately pushed back out onto the ice for practice despite being suspended. Okay then.
27. Winnipeg Jets (22-26-3, LW: 26)
One of the defensemen will have to get moved if the Jets re-sign Dustin Byfuglien and that means Tyler Myers or Jacob Trouba most likely. What a disappointing season for them after getting to the playoffs last year.
28. Edmonton Oilers (21-26-5, LW: 30)
I felt like this team would come on strong in the second half of the season, and we may now be seeing that with a healthy Connor McDavid starting to put on a show.
29. Buffalo Sabres (21-26-5, LW: 28)
The Sabres are still playing hard and that’s a credit to Dan Bylsma keeping the fire lit for a young team that has some great pieces in Jack Eichel, Evander Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (21-28-5, LW: 29)
Torts is back. So is that a good thing or a bad thing for the Blue Jackets?