NHL Power Rankings: Who's on top at the All-Star break?
With the NHL All-Star break upon us, it’s time to focus on this weekend’s festivities in St. Louis where there will be a new skills challenge format, a great collection of the NHL’s best and a celebration of a pretty great NHL city that finally captured the Cup last season.
All of the NHL All-Star action will be on NBCSN and NBC, starting Friday with the skills challenge where David Pastrnak will undoubtedly look to defend his shot accuracy title, and the NHL’s hardest shot will again be a big draw even if Zdeno Chara won’t be there to wow the crowd. For the fifth year in a row, there will be a 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday that will count as the All-Star Game, and there will be 19 new faces to All-Star Weekend with perennial stars like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Artemi Panarin, Tuukka Rask and Vladimir Tarasenko missing due to injuries, or a desire to get some rest over the break.
So it should be a ton of fun this weekend in St. Louis with a lot of fresh blood and enthusiasm.
Now on to the power rankings:
31. Detroit Red Wings
(12-35-4, rank last week: 31)
The Red Wings have lost six in a row and are inarguably the worst team in the NHL this season. It’s amazing how far this franchise has fallen in the last 10 years when they were still at the end of their run as perennial Stanley Cup contender.
30. New Jersey Devils
(17-24-7, rank last week: 30)
The Devils have lost three games in a row and are a minus-48 goal differential for the season. And now Ray Shero is gone from running the show as well right after trading Taylor Hall. What direction exactly are they going?
29. Los Angeles Kings
(18-27-5, rank last week: 29)
The Kings have lost four in a row headed into the break and are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and are fading away in the Western Conference. For a conference that has nobody really separating from the pack, that says a lot about how “meh” the Kings are.
28. Ottawa Senators
(17-23-8, rank last week: 28)
The Senators are 1-5-4 in their last 10 games and are completely bottoming out as they enter the toughest part of the year. Even the Anthony Duclair feel good story can’t raise the Sens out of the doldrums.
27. San Jose Sharks
(21-25-4, rank last week: 27)
Players like Evander Kane and Erik Karlsson are performing up to expectations offensively, but they have been a mess on defense and lost three games in a row headed into the break.
26. Anaheim Ducks
(19-24-5, rank last week: 26)
The Ducks have won a couple of games in a row headed into the break, so they can at least feel good while they are on vacation.
But let’s be honest: This is a team going nowhere fast.
25. Minnesota Wild
(23-21-6, rank last week: 24)
The Wild hung in there for a while, but they are fading with a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games. And that Central Division-worst minus-10 in goal differential isn’t great either.
24. New York Rangers
(23-21-4, rank last week: 22)
The bad news is that Artemi Panarin will be out for NHL All-Star Weekend after tearing it up for the first half of the year, but the good news is that Chris Kreider will finally get featured as the Rangers representative.
23. Montreal Canadiens
(22-21-7, rank last week: 25)
Four goals and eight points in eight games for Ilya Kovalchuk in Montreal since they signed him on a two-way contract for the veteran minimum. Teams across the NHL should be embarrassed that none of them were willing to take that kind of a chance on that kind of a talent.
22. Buffalo Sabres
(22-20-7, rank last week: 21)
Sabres are getting top drawer scoring from Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, and goalie Linus Ullmark has been excellent between the pipes this month. So why are they fading out of the playoff race?
21. Nashville Predators
(22-18-7, rank last week: 20)
Roman Josi is still a point-per-game player in the month of January and continuing to keep his Norris Trophy candidacy alive and strong.
20. Chicago Blackhawks
(24-21-6, rank last week: 23)
Joel Quenneville making his return to Chicago? Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith scrapping in practice? The Blackhawks flirting with a playoff spot? It’s like old times in Chicago.
19. Winnipeg Jets
(25-22-4, rank last week: 17)
Literally every player in the Winnipeg lineup is a minus player during the month of January. That really lets you know how things have gone for them.
18. Philadelphia Flyers
(27-17-6, rank last week: 14)
It’s been the Sean Couturier show in Philly with three goals and 13 points in 10 games this month while the Broad Street Bullies hover around the playoff picture.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets
(27-16-8, rank last week: 18)
The Blue Jackets have won six games in a row headed into the break and they’ve put themselves in a spot to push for the playoffs in the second half. That’s as much as you ask from this group this season.
16. Vegas Golden Knights
(25-20-7, last week: 19)
At least Paul Stastny still has something left as he’s posted four goal and nine points in nine games during January after struggling through much of the first half of the year.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs
(25-17-7, rank last week: 9)
The Leafs are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games, have dropped a couple in a row headed into the break and Frederik Andersen is having some major issues between the pipes. It looks like it was more than just the coach that was the problem.
14. Arizona Coyotes
(25-16-6, rank last week: 8)
The Coyotes have lost a couple in a row, but they are in a playoff spot and all their top players are coming together. Taylor Hall may turn out to be the missing ingredient yet.
13. Calgary Flames
(26-19-5, rank last week: 13)
Cam Talbot has stepped up for the Flames with a 4-0-0 record and a .940 save percentage during the month of January as there hasn’t been much Calgary offense outside of Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm.
12. Edmonton Oilers
(26-18-5, rank last week: 12)
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have combined for nine goals and 25 points this month and not so coincidentally, the Oilers have risen back up in the Western Conference standings. The Oil are another team that looks playoff-caliber.
11. Vancouver Canucks
(27-18-4, rank last week: 16)
The fact that Loui Eriksson is showing signs of life in Vancouver is an indicator that the Canucks are in a pretty good place. Top of the Pacific Division this deep in the season is impressive.
10. Dallas Stars
(27-17-4, rank last week: 7)
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have a combined three goals and a minus-8 in the month of January. And Benn has all three of those goals. Not a shock they’ve lost three out of four games and are in danger of dropping out of the Top 10.
9. Carolina Hurricanes
(29-18-3, rank last week: 9)
The Hurricanes enter the break in a playoff spot and have played some strong hockey, but they’re also going to have to survive without Dougie Hamilton. Considering he’s been their best defenseman, that will also be a challenge.
8. Florida Panthers
(28-16-5, rank last week: 15)
The Panthers have won six games in a row, pushing into a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. They are certainly talented enough to pull it off, and they are having amazing years from players like Noel Acciari and Keith Yandle.
7. New York Islanders
(29-15-5, rank last week: 5)
The Isles are in a bit of a rut with a 4-4-2 record over the last 10 games and have just a plus-11 goal differential. They are undoubtedly playoff-caliber, but it also feels like the Isles aren’t going to be around very long in the postseason.
6. Colorado Avalanche
(28-15-6, rank last week: 10)
A big 5-3 win for the Avs just ahead of the break punctuated their three-game winning streak and put Colorado in a power position in the Western Conference.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning
(29-15-4, rank last week: 6)
The Lightning have essentially been playing catch-up all season in the complete opposite of last year, and sit in a good spot in second place in the Atlantic with games in hand on everybody. They lead the East with a plus-38 goal differential.
4. St. Louis Blues
(30-11-8, rank last week: 2)
The Blues lost a couple of games headed into the break, but they are in first place in the Western Conference and are readying to host NHL All-Star Weekend as well. So things are pretty good for them.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
(30-11-8, rank last week: 3)
Interesting little goalie controversy brewing with Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry in Pittsburgh, but the bottom line is that the Penguins are in phenomenal position and they’re finally getting healthy as well.
2. Boston Bruins
(29-10-12, rank last week: 4)
An eight-point lead in the Atlantic Division headed into the midseason break is a good place for the Bruins to be, but they also have some things to straighten out in the second half. A hockey team that routinely blows three-goal leads has got some issues.
1. Washington Capitals
(33-11-5, rank last week: 1)
Three wins over the Habs, Islanders and Hurricanes headed into the break where they outscored those three opponents by a 13-6 margin. Ilya Samsonov has been a revelation between the pipes.