Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: No stopping the Caps
Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: No stopping the Caps
The crème is rising to the top, and some of the rest are going south for the season.
That’s what is happening across the NHL as the best teams like the Capitals, Panthers, Blackhawks, Stars and Kings are getting separation while pounding their opponents, and other clubs like the Wild, Coyotes, Avalanche and Flyers have dropped into prolonged funks amid the heightened intensity following the All-Star break.
The physicality has risen, the desperation for points is there in the third periods of these tight games, and there are more three point games now than there were at the start of the season. It’s because there are 30 games or less for every team in the league to prove they belong in the playoffs, and that means going from marathon mode to sprint mode.
Some teams can hang and will show in the next couple of weeks, and others are falling by the wayside with the words “wait until next year.”
Without further ado here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (39-9-4, rank last week: 1)
First in the NHL in offense. Second in the NHL in defense. Best power play in the NHL. Fourth best penalty kill in the league. This team is such a wagon.
2. Florida Panthers (32-16-6, rank last week: 4)
There’s still some question as to what this young group will do in the playoffs, but the plus-32 goal differential is no joke.
3. Chicago Blackhawks (36-17-4, rank last week: 2)
The Blackhawks are 21-6-1 at the Madhouse on Madison this season. That’s the definition of a difficult place to play.
4. Dallas Stars (34-15-5, rank last week: 3)
The Stars lost their first game against the Hawks this week in 5-1 convincing fashion, and have another big one in Chicago on Thursday night.
5. Los Angeles Kings (32-17-3, rank last week: 5)
The Bruins will be smarting from that nine goal, 57 shots on net pounding for weeks. It was men vs. Boys in that game.
6. New York Rangers (31-18-5, rank last week: 8)
The Rangers are rising again, and there shouldn’t be any reason for them to deal Keith Yandle if they’re still in the thick of a playoff drive.
7. St. Louis Blues (30-17-9, rank last week: 6)
The Blues have their work cut out for them with Alex Pietrangelo on the shelf, but they seem to be hanging in there. It feels like this team has been banged up all year.
8. Detroit Red Wings (28-18-8, rank last week: 13)
Three-game winning streak for the Winged Wheels has them rising in the Atlantic Division that’s still wide open behind Florida.
9. New York Islanders (28-18-6, rank last week: 12)
The Isles have won two in a row, and Johnny Boychuk is back in the fold. Good times again in Brooklyn.
10. San Jose Sharks (28-20-4, rank last week: 9)
While it’s not a San Jose accomplishment per se, congrats to Sharks AHL coach Roy Sommer for becoming the AHL’s all-time winningest coach. Sommer is a class act, and a very good coach.
11. Anaheim Ducks (26-19-7, rank last week: 11)
The Ducks are on a 14-4-1 run as they start pushing up the Pacific Division, and sit poised about to pass on by the Sharks. It would appear the light has finally flicked on.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning (29-20-4, rank last week: 6)
The Bolts have lost two in a row, but they’re back above the playoff Mendoza Line.
13. Boston Bruins (28-19-6, rank last week: 10)
The Bruins just don’t have a great deal of team-wide mental and physical toughness at this point. They should start asking themselves some hard questions about this roster, and where they are headed this season.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-19-7, rank last week: 15)
The Pens are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and both Crosby and Letang are flourishing under Mike Sullivan. They are looking like a playoff team after stumbling all over the place in the first half.
15. New Jersey Devils (27-21-7, rank last week: 14)
The Devils had a banner week with the Marty Brodeur proceedings, and now again refocus on their surprising push toward a playoff spot.
16. Nashville Predators (25-20-8, rank last week: 16)
The Preds have lost three of their last four games, and have Tampa, Florida and Dallas coming up. That’s a tough, tough stretch for a team teetering on the bubble.
17. Vancouver Canucks (22-20-12, rank last week: 23)
The interview with Matt Bartkowski’s mom is the highlight of the season for Vancouver no matter what else happens.
18. Colorado Avalanche (27-25-4, rank last week: 17)
Four losses in a row for the Avs including three in a row to Central Division opponents, and they’re in the middle of the struggle.
19. Montreal Canadiens (27-24-4, rank last week: 22)
The Habs have won three in a row, and are rising from the hockey dead. But is it too late for them at this point?
20. Minnesota Wild (23-20-10, rank last week: 19)
The Wild have lost six in a row, and are in free-fall in the Western Conference. It’s going to be interesting to see how that conference’s playoff bubble shakes out.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (24-21-9, rank last week: 21)
Eric Staal trade chatter is on hold until the Canes get a better read on their place in the East. For now, they’re hanging around on the outside in danger of making a run at a spot.
22. Ottawa Senators (25-24-6, rank last week: 24)
Dion Phaneuf in a Senators uniform. What a weird concept.
23. Arizona Coyotes (24-23-6, rank last week: 18)
The Coyotes have lost five in a row, and the bubble seems to be bursting on their Cinderella season.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (23-20-9, rank last week: 20)
Three losses in a row for the Flyers, and they are circling down the drain in the East.
25. Winnipeg Jets (24-26-3, rank last week: 27)
The Jets have won two in a row, and have Dustin Byfuglien signed, sealed and delivered. Interesting to see if they have a last final kick in them now, but it won’t be easy rising out of the Central basement.
26. Calgary Flames (24-25-3, rank last week: 26)
Good for Bob Hartley flexing his muscles and benching a few Flames players that had a bit too much fun during the Super Bowl. Johnny Hockey is right in the middle of it.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (19-24-9, rank last week: 25)
The Leafs rankings for this season will surely drop, but they’re positioning themselves to make a run at some big fish targets this summer.
28. Buffalo Sabres (21-27-6, rank last week: 29)
The Sabres battled the Bruins hard in a home-and-home series, and Evander Kane looks like he’s operating on a higher level right now.
29. Edmonton Oilers (21-29-5, rank last week: 28)
So much for Connor McDavid leading the Oilers to the promised land upon his return. Three losses in a row for the Oil fading away down the stretch.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (21-28-6, rank last week: 30)
The Blue Jackets are in “wait until next year” mode and listening to offers for guys like Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin and Scott Hartnell. At least Seth Jones is looking pretty good.