NHL Power Rankings: Coaching changes shake up the rankings
It’s that time of year where coaching changes are coming fast and furiously.
Some have been expected like Pete DeBoer in San Jose and John Hynes in New Jersey, and amazingly both of those coaches have already been scooped with the ensuing firing of Peter Laviolette in Nashville, and the surprise sacking of Gerard Gallant in Vegas. Some have been surprising, like the Jim Montgomery firing in Dallas that seems to have led the way to a Stars team beginning to put things together.
It hasn’t been limited to the coaches either, as Ray Shero was fired as GM of a Devils franchise that very clearly needs to figure out what direction they are headed in for the long haul.
Are too many NHL franchises hoping to get the kind of bounce that the St. Louis Blues received when they hired Craig Berube last season on the way to winning the Stanley Cup? Maybe, but they should know the chances of that lightning striking again anytime soon are slim indeed.
Now, on to the power rankings.
31. Detroit Red Wings
(12-32-3, rank last week: 31)
The Red Wings are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and have dropped a couple in a row, including allowing 13 goals to the Islanders and Sabres in the last two games. Ouch.
30. New Jersey Devils
(17-22-7, rank last week: 30)
Blake Coleman and Nico Hischier have combined for 10 goals in the month of January and the Devils have put together a 5-3-2 record in their last 10 games. The Ray Shero firing, however, reveals an organization that is definitely in need of some stabilization.
29. Los Angeles Kings
(18-25-5, rank last week: 29)
The Kings are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and will battle it out with the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division basement for the rest of the season.
28. Ottawa Senators
(16-22-8, rank last week: 27)
The Sens have lost eight games in a row and are beginning to succumb to what was inevitable all season long with them.
27. San Jose Sharks
(21-23-4, rank last week: 28)
The Sharks are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and seem to be snapping out of their first half funk. Evander Kane is leading the way with five goals and seven points in seven games this month.
26. Anaheim Ducks
(17-24-5, rank last week: 26)
The Ducks have a 1-5-0 record in January and their goaltending is putting up an .873 save percentage this month as well. That is a recipe for bottoming out.
25. Montreal Canadiens
(20-21-7, rank last week: 24)
The Habs are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, Claude Julien benched Tie Domi in the last loss and they are quickly getting dropped further out of a playoff spot. At least Ilya Kovalchuk is playing well, though.
24. Minnesota Wild
(20-20-6, rank last week: 22)
The Wild are 3-6-1 and have lost four games in a row while dropping with a resounding thud toward the bottom of the Central Division.
23. Chicago Blackhawks
(22-20-6, rank last week: 25)
The Blackhawks have won three games in a row and now just sit four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Could Chicago actually find their way back into the postseason this year?
22. New York Rangers
(22-19-4, rank last week: 22)
Artemi Panarin has 12 points in six games during the month of January as he continues to light things up for the Rangers in an all-out assault against the rest of the NHL.
21. Buffalo Sabres
(21-19-7, rank last week: 23)
Sam Reinhart has stepped up with four goals and eight points in six games during the month of January, and is giving the Sabres somebody else they can rely on aside from Jack Eichel.
20. Nashville Predators
(21-17-7, rank last week: 21)
The Predators are 3-3-1 and have a .910 save percentage in the month of January, so it looks like the goalies got the memo that they need to be better after the coaching change.
19. Vegas Golden Knights
(24-19-6, rank last week: 24)
The Golden Knights have lost four games in a row and fired Gerard Gallant. It sure looks like they were in need of a major shakeup and now they’ve got it.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
(23-16-8, rank last week: 19)
It’s beginning to look like they’ve found their goaltender in Elvis Merzlikins, who has a shutout streak of over 130 minutes going right now for the Blue Jackets.
17. Winnipeg Jets
(25-18-4, rank last week: 15)
Kyle Connor and Mark Schiefele are carrying the Jets in the month of January and they continue to sit in the playoff structure as well.
16. Vancouver Canucks
(25-18-4, last week: 16)
The Canucks are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, have a plus-8 goal differential and sit in one of the wild card playoff spots right now. That’s not too shabby.
15. Florida Panthers
(24-16-5, rank last week: 18)
Chris Driedger has played more games between the pipes than Sergei Bobrovsky in the month of January. That may explain some of Florida’s issues.
14. Philadelphia Flyers
(25-16-6, rank last week: 17)
Kevin Hayes leads the Flyers with a minus-14 rating this season, so he’s got that going for him…which is nice.
13. Calgary Flames
(25-17-5, rank last week: 13)
Matthew Tkachuk isn’t going to be able to hide the next time the Flames and Oilers lock up in the Battle of Alberta. That kid needs to be accountable if he’s going to throw predatory hits on tough guys.
12. Edmonton Oilers
(25-18-5, rank last week: 14)
The Oilers are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, had a pretty good road swing through the East Coast and both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are getting hot again. It seems like they’ve made it over the hump in terms of sticking around as a playoff team.
11. Carolina Hurricanes
(27-17-2, rank last week: 12)
In this crazy new NHL world that we live in, it’s true: Dougie Hamilton is an All-Star defenseman.
10. Colorado Avalanche
(25-15-6, rank last week: 8)
The Avs have lost four in a row and are just 3-4-3 over their last 10 games while hitting a slide in the dog days of the regular season.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs
(25-16-6, rank last week: 9)
The Leafs appear to have their positional player things straightened out, but Frederik Andersen feels like he’s been a problem between the pipes for Toronto lately. Wonder how that’s going to play out given their lack of anybody at the backup position.
8. Arizona Coyotes
(26-18-5, rank last week: 7)
Six goals and 13 points in 14 games for Taylor Hall, who is most definitely making an impact with other players like Clayton Keller hitting their offensive high marks as well.
7. Dallas Stars
(27-15-4, rank last week: 10)
The Stars have won seven of their last eight games including a couple W’s over the Colorado Avalanche and are taking their turn to make a run at the Blues in the Central.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
(28-14-4, rank last week: 6)
The Lighting are six points behind the Bruins with two games in hand and just keep on winning games. It sure feels like they learned something from last year’s President’s Trophy disappointment.
5. New York Islanders
(28-13-4, rank last week: 5)
The Isles snapped a stretch of four losses in six games by smacking around the Red Wings with eight goals, and still sit comfortably enough in a playoff spot in the Metro.
4. Boston Bruins
(27-9-12, rank last week: 3)
The Bruins ended their losing slide and even won a game in overtime, but that shutout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets was bad, bad and bad for a number of different reasons.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
(29-12-5, rank last week: 4)
The Penguins have won four games in a row and now get Sidney Crosby back as well. The rest of the Eastern Conference better watch out for a former back-to-back champ that’s shown a lot of character this season.
2. St. Louis Blues
(30-10-8, rank last week: 2)
The Blues are ready for the best year ever to continue with NHL All-Star weekend coming up in their fair city, and the team still sitting in the top spot in the Western Conference.
1. Washington Capitals
(31-11-5, rank last week: 1)
The Capitals shelled out a extravagant contract extension for Nicklas Backstrom this week, which was big, big money in terms of AAV to give to a 32-year-old center.