NHL Power Rankings: Atlantic Division powers hit a speed bump
It really is looking like the Atlantic Division won’t be quite as strong as expectations were at the start of the season.
The Bruins are among the NHL’s best once again while ranking second in the league this season, and appear to be just as strong as they were last season. But the other members of the power trio in the Atlantic Division aren’t living up to advanced billing for perhaps different reasons. The Maple Leafs are a hot mess and have lost six games in a row at this point with rumors swirling that head coach Mike Babcock might be in jeopardy job-wise.
Then there’s a Tampa Bay Lightning team that’s been bottom or middle of the pack all season after dominating the regular season last year. That has opened the door for teams like the Sabres, Panthers and Canadiens to look like potential playoff teams, and other divisions like the Metro and Pacific to show just how strong they are this season.
Will it stay that way for the entire season? It is too soon to tell, but it’s certainly developing that way. Now on to the power rankings:
31. Detroit Red Wings
(7-13-3, rank last week: 27)
Three losses in a row and a whopping, NHL-worst 86 goals allowed highlight a Red Wings team that's got miles to go in the defense and goaltending departments. The only other team to cross the 80 goals allowed mark this season is up in Toronto.
30. Los Angeles Kings
(8-12-1, rank last week: 29)
The 2-8-1 record on the road is another sign that the bad NHL teams just aren’t getting it done on the road this season.
29. Minnesota Wild
(8-11-2, rank last week: 31)
The Wild are the only team in the NHL already in double-digit losses on the road this season with a 4-10-0 record away from home ice.
28. New Jersey Devils
(7-9-4, rank last week: 28)
Boy, Taylor Hall is going to deliver a king’s ransom at the trade deadline for an organization that doesn’t look playoff-bound this year.
27. New York Rangers
(8-8-2, rank last week: 22)
The Rangers have lost a couple of games in a row, but have also played some of the fewest games among any teams in the regular season. They are in a decent spot all things considered, but the 3.61 goals allowed per game is dreadful.
26. Ottawa Senators
(9-11-1, rank last week: 30)
The Sens are actually 6-4-0 in the last 10 games and have put together a 6-4-0 record on home ice this season. So things on the ice are somewhat decent. A tough piece of news off-ice this week, though, with the news that Bobby Ryan is entering the NHL/NHLPA treatment program.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets
(8-8-4, rank last week: 26)
Strong back-to-back wins for the Blue Jackets over the Canadiens and Blues in a modest two-game winning streak for Columbus.
24. San Jose Sharks
(10-11-1, rank last week: 24)
The Sharks' six-game win streak was snapped when they gave up five goals to the Oilers, but San Jose has stabilized things after a horrifically bad start to the regular season.
23. Anaheim Ducks
(10-10-2, rank last week: 20)
The Ducks are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and are trying to grind through things with the 25th-ranked offense in the league. That ain’t easy.
22. Calgary Flames
(10-11-3, rank last week: 12)
The Flames have lost five games in a row and only the Red Wings are scoring fewer goals per game than a talented offensive Calgary group this season. That defies explanation given their firepower.
21. Chicago Blackhawks
(9-8-4, rank last week: 25)
The Blackhawks are 6-2-2 in the last 10 games and have really stabilized as Robin Lehner has taken things over between the pipes. They are still way too talented to be bottom third in the NHL in offense this season.
20. Nashville Predators
(9-8-3, rank last week: 15)
The Predators have dropped five games in a row and have scored just 11 goals over that span. It looks like the offense is finally hitting a dry patch in Music City.
19. Toronto Maple Leafs
(9-10-4, rank last week: 20)
The Maple Leafs have lost six games in a row and are in a freefall. How bad are things in Toronto? Mike Babcock was fired as head coach Wednesday afternoon.
18. Tampa Bay Lightning
(9-7-2, rank last week: 21)
Tampa continues to flounder with two losses in a row and a 5-4-1 record in the last 10 games as the Lightning tread water. Are they going to make a move at any point this season?
17. Vegas Golden Knights
(11-9-3, rank last week: 17)
The Golden Knights have won a couple of games in a row and seem to be climbing out of their struggles in the West. William Karlsson and Max Pacioretty are doing some heavy lifting.
16. Philadelphia Flyers
(10-7-4, rank last week: 7)
The Flyers have dropped four in a row after a four-game winning streak and consequently are back in the middle of the pack in the Metro Division.
15. Buffalo Sabres
(10-8-3, rank last week: 18)
A 2-6-2 record in the last 10 games, and Jack Eichel throwing fists in frustration in a loss to the Minnesota Wild. This is setting up what should be an intense game between the Sabres and Bruins on Thursday.
14. Vancouver Canucks
(10-8-4, rank last week: 11)
Two regulation wins in their last 10 games for the Canucks, who are dropping down in the Pacific Division. Fifteen goals allowed in the last three games is no bueno for the Canucks.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins
(11-7-3, rank last week: 13)
Credit the Penguins for battling to stay relevant in the Metro Division while Sidney Crosby is down and out. The Penguins are not catching any of the breaks this year, but they are showing some resiliency.
12. Dallas Stars
(12-8-2, rank last week: 23)
After underachieving for most of this season, the Stars have ripped off four wins in a row and won eight of their last nine games. It was about time for the talented Stars to finally snap out of it.
11. Montreal Canadiens
(11-6-4, rank last week: 9)
Tomas Tatar continues to be a big surprise part of the Habs success story with 20 points thus far this season and a role on the Canadiens' shutdown line. Montreal looks like a playoff team this season.
10. Winnipeg Jets
(13-8-1, rank last week: 19)
The Jets have ripped off some wins in a row of late, but clearly have some work to do on home ice when it’s a 5-5-1 record at the friendly confines this year.
9. Florida Panthers
(11-5-5, rank last week: 10)
Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are both in the top-10 in NHL scoring and they have helped lift Florida into a spot where the playoffs look like a realistic thing.
8. Carolina Hurricanes
(13-7-1, rank last week: 15)
Dougie Hamilton is the leading scorer for the Hurricanes and definitely in the mix for Norris Trophy consideration at this point. It seems he’s found the right spot for him in relatively quiet Raleigh.
7. Arizona Coyotes
(13-7-2, rank last week: 8)
The Coyotes are tops in the NHL allowing 2.23 goals per game and Darcy Kuemper early on has been the NHL’s best goaltender. A surprising development and a big reason for their success.
6. Colorado Avalanche
(13-5-2, rank last week: 6)
Impressive what the Avalanche are doing with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen missing so much time due to injuries. It’s highlighting the depth of the organization.
5. Edmonton Oilers
(14-6-3, rank last week: 5)
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are crushing it for the Oilers right now. Tough to argue against them being the best duo in the NHL by a wide, wide margin and the wins and losses are starting to back that up.
4. St. Louis Blues
(13-4-5, rank last week: 2)
David Perron has been outstanding for the Blues this season with 22 points in 20 games. Amazing what returning him to St. Louis has done for his career over the last few years.
3. New York Islanders
(15-3-1, rank last week: 3)
The Isles have won four in a row and have the fourth-best defense in the NHL. That is no surprise. The fact they are averaging more than three goals a game is, though, and it will be interesting to see if they can sustain that.
1. Washington Capitals
(16-3-4, rank last week: 1)
The Capitals are rolling and took out the Bruins in the shootout earlier this week to confirm their standing as the top gun in the Eastern Conference. Two wins in a row and 8-1-1 in the last 10 games.