Not-your-typical NHL Power Rankings: Bolted in at the top
Joe Haggerty gives his top-five and bottom-five NHL teams, as well as his best performer and best goalie.
TOP 5 TEAMS
Tampa Bay Lightning (25-7-1): The Lightning just keep rolling and have won eight in a row, nine of their past 10 and 25 of their first 33 games. How is that for doing some fancy math?
Winnipeg Jets (21-9-2): The Jets have won four in a row and pushed to the top of the Central Division. They also have the second-best goal differential in the NHL behind the Lightning, so the cream is rising to the top.
Nashville Predators (21-10-1): Pekka Rinne and the Predators continue to keep a strong pace going in the Central Division even if they’ve been temporarily passed by the Jets for the division’s top spot. The Preds are in it for the long haul.
Toronto Maple Leafs (21-10-1): With Auston Matthews back healthy again, the Maple Leafs have achieved separation from the Atlantic Division pack along with Tampa Bay and the surprising Buffalo Sabres.
Washington Capitals (19-9-3): The Caps have won eight of their past 10 and four in a row, and Alex Ovechkin has a ridiculous 28 goals in 31 games. It seems like the reigning Cup champs are really rounding into form.
BOTTOM 5 TEAMS
Los Angeles Kings (11-20-2): Even Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are struggling right now. That’s when you know it’s bad for the LA Kings.
Chicago Blackhawks (10-18-6): It’s interesting to see two of the former dynastic Cup winner now down at the bottom of the power rankings with the Blackhawks at the bottom of the Central Division. It’s hard times for a team that did nothing but win for a long time.
Philadelphia Flyers (12-14-4): When is the fire sale going to happen now that GM Ron Hextall has been canned and it seems clear the Flyers are not going anywhere? Tough times in the City of Brotherly Love.
Florida Panthers (11-13-6): There were high hopes for the Panthers this season, but they have been dashed by a team hit with injuries to Roberto Luongo and some young players that just aren’t performing.
St. Louis Blues (12-14-4): The Blues are having a tough season and the rumors are that everyone is available in trade. Even Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko might be taken for the right price. Boy, let the bidding begin in St. Louis.
VIDEO GAME NUMBERS
Top offensive performers this week:
Alex Ovechkin – Back-to-back hat tricks on Tuesday and Friday for Ovie in wins over the Red Wings and Hurricanes respectively makes that arguably the best performances of the season for anybody across the NHL. He is so good.
Steve Stamkos – In a week full of hat tricks it was Stamkos that racked up three goals in a Monday night win over the New York Rangers for a Tampa Bay team that just keeps on winning.
Mark Schiefele – The Winnipeg center has been awesome all season for the Jets, and he continued it with a pair of goals and three points, including the OT game-winner, in a 4-3 overtime win over the Blackhawks on Friday night.
Connor McDavid – It may register as a bit of a ho-hum night for McDavid, but he posted a couple of goals and three points in Philly’s 4-1 win over the Flyers on Friday night. It was efficient and dominant just like the Oilers superstar.
Brad Marchand – The Bruins winger hasn’t been at his usual goal-scoring clip this season, but he factored into both of Boston’s goals while elevating his game in a 2-1 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators last Sunday night.
GOALIES THAT DON'T SUCK
Andrei Vasilevskiy – The Lightning goalie made 48 saves in Tampa’s big 4-1 statement win over the Maple Leafs on Thursday and showed that the Bolts just keep getting better while getting their No. 1 goalie healthy and dominant again.
Devan Dubnyk – The Minnesota Wild goaltender stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 5-1 win over the Panthers on Thursday night and continues to backstop a Wild team that looks like they’ll be in the playoffs again.
Braden Holtby – The Washington goaltender stopped 28 shots in a 4-0 of the Columbus Blue Jackets last Saturday night as the Caps continue to roll in the Metro Division.
Mikko Koskinen – The Oilers backup stopped all 24 shots that he faced and had to be perfect in a 1-0 shutout win over the Flames last Sunday. Koskinen has been really strong for the Oil this season and a bit of a surprise that they’ve needed.
Mike McKenna – He was the losing goaltender on Sunday night in a 2-1 overtime defeat at the hands of the Bruins, but McKenna was awesome in stopping 42 of 44 shots and very nearly stealing one for the Senators.