If you're new to the 2021 Power Rankings column, we're doing things a little differently this year. Every second week, I put together a traditional rankings column that lists the teams from top to bottom based on their recent performances.
I've also been doing different kinds of power rankings every other week to keep things fresh. For example, last week's rankings centered around each team's best player over the age of 32. If you missed that one, you can check it out by clicking right here.
The last time I ranked each team, the Tampa Bay Lightning were eighth. Well, it didn't take long for the defending Stanley Cup Champions to climb to the top of the list.
This week's rankings are based mainly on the way every team has played over the last two weeks (since the last team-based Power Rankings came out).
Here we go:
1 – Tampa Bay Lightning (7-1-1):
No Kucherov? No problem. The Lightning are heading into this week riding a four-game winning streak and they’ve suffered just one regulation loss through nine games. The Bolts have three players that have already hit the 10-point mark this season (Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman). After battling injuries last season, Stamkos has come back and played really well. That’s huge for Tampa.
2 – Boston Bruins (8-1-2):
The Bruins lost Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara during the off-season and they didn’t have David Pastrnak to start the year. Many (including me) thought Boston would take a step back this year. So far, they’ve rattled off eight wins in their first 11 games and two of their three losses came in the first week of the season. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have each picked up 15 points already. Pastrnak has only played in four games, but he’s accumulated an impressive eight points.
3 – Toronto Maple Leafs (9-2-1):
The Leafs are sitting at the top of the Canadian Division and they’ve been red-hot as of late. They’ve won back-to-back games against the Vancouver Canucks and they’ll face them one more time before they get to face-off against their biggest rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Toronto has now gone seven games without a regulation loss (6-0-1). Mitch Marner is currently third in the league in scoring with 20 points in 12 games. Only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are ahead of him.
4 – Vegas Golden Knights (7-1-1):
The Golden Knights’ start to the season is impressive, but it’s even more special when you consider the fact that they had three of their games postponed when a bunch of their coaches were forced into isolation. In two games since their return to the ice, the Golden Knights have taken down the Los Angeles Kings twice. Vegas’ last regulation loss came on Jan. 22.
5 – Montreal Canadiens – (8-2-2):
The Canadiens are coming off two tough games against the Ottawa Senators (they were able to win a tight one on Saturday afternoon). The Habs don’t have one offensive superstar, but they continue to beat teams with their incredible depth. The scary part about Montreal’s great start, is that they’ve done it while Carey Price still hasn't played his best hockey. The 33-year-old will eventually find his game, and when he does teams will have a hard time putting the puck in the Canadiens’ net.
6 – Carolina Hurricanes – (7-2-0):
The Hurricanes have gone through a Covid-19 postponement already when Jordan Staal and others tested positive for the virus. Carolina dropped their second game of the season to Detroit, but they’ve suffered just one loss in seven games since then. We expected Andrei Svechnikov (10 points) and Sebastian Aho (nine points) to produce for the ‘Canes this year, but Staal (nine points in seven games) and Vincent Trocheck (nine points) have been pleasant surprises.
7 – Colorado Avalanche (7-3-1):
The Avalanche were finally starting to hit their stride, but they’ll now be sidelined because of Covid-19 protocols until at least Feb. 14. Colorado has gone five straight games without a regulation loss, so it must be frustrating for them to sit and wait. Nathan MacKinnon has a team-high 14 points in 10 games this season, but he’s found the back of the net just twice. Mikko Rantanen leads the team with seven goals in just 11 outings. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer has an impressive 1.67 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 2021.
8 – Winnipeg Jets (7-3-1):
The Jets have won back-to-back games against the Calgary Flames and they’ve suffered just two regulation defeats in their last nine outings. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has already made a huge trade, as he acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois from Columbus for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. Dubois still hasn’t played a game for his team. They’ll be even better when he joins this already potent forward group.
9 – Florida Panthers (6-1-2):
The Panthers only played two of their first six scheduled games because of the Covid-19 protocol, but they’ve found a way to get off to a very reasonable start. They won their first three games and they were victorious in five of their first six contests. Florida is coming off a disappointing loss to Detroit, but that’s their only regulation loss of 2021 so far. Who expected Carter Verhaeghe to be a point-per-game player through nine games?
10 – Philadelphia Flyers – (8-3-2):
The Flyers were able to overcome two different deficits to beat the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia was coming off a pair of losses to Boston (one in overtime), so it was good for them to get back in the win column. On a positive note, they’ve lost just one game in regulation in their last seven contests. James van Riemsdyk went to being a healthy scratch in last year’s playoffs to being the go-to guy for the Flyers in 2021. He has seven goals and an impressive 18 points in 13 games this season.
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11 -- St. Louis Blues -- (7-4-1):
The Blues have dropped back-to-back games against the Arizona Coyotes, but they had won four games in a row before that point. Unfortunately for St. Louis, they're schedule has been changed a little because of Covid-19 protocols. They'll now play the 'Yotes three more times this week. Jordan Kyrou is the only player on the roster that is averaging a point-per-game over 12 games.
12 -- Chicago Blackhawks (5-4-4):
Don’t look now, but the Blackhawks are banking points in the standings. The Hawks have won back-to-back games over good Carolina and Dallas teams and they’ve picked up at least one point in four straight outings. They’ve also suffered just one regulation loss in their last nine games, but four losses overall. Goaltender Kevin Lankinen has been a pleasant surprise. He has a 4-1-3 record with a 2.32 goals-against-average and a .928 save percentage in 2021.
13 -- Arizona Coyotes – (5-5-1):
The Coyotes won just one of their first four games and two of their first seven, but they’ve managed to win three of their last four. Their schedule has changed a little bit, as Minnesota and Colorado had to move games because of the Covid-19 protocol. What that means is that they’ll get to face the St. Louis Blues three more times over the next week. Arizona just completed a three-game set against the Blues and they managed to win the last two outings.
14 – Edmonton Oilers – (6-7-0):
The Oilers are coming off a 6-4 loss to their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames, but they had won three consecutive contests before that point. Edmonton managed to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are the top team in the division, and the Ottawa Senators (twice). The Oilers have the top two point-getters in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They need their supporting cast to step up on a regular basis if they’re going to sneak into the playoffs.
15 – Calgary Flames – (5-5-1):
The Flames came up with a big win over the Oilers on Saturday night, but they had dropped back-to-back games to Winnipeg before beating their biggest rival. Even though they’ve struggled at times in 2021, Calgary still has a good roster. They should be able to battle for the third or fourth spot in the Canadian Division this season. Johnny Gaudreau has 13 points in 12 games and he’s picked up at least one point in 11 of 12 outings.
16 -- Dallas Stars -- (5-2-2):
The Stars got off to a great start after their first four games were postponed because their team was decimated by Covid-19. But they’ve cooled off considerably as of late, as they’ve dropped four of their last five games (one was in overtime and another one was in a shootout). Joe Pavelski, who is turning into an ageless wonder, is already up to 15 points in nine games this season.
17 -- Washington Capitals – (6-3-3):
The Capitals have fallen on hard times. On Sunday, they built up a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers, but they eventually gave up seven goals and lost. Washington has dropped three consecutive games to the Bruins, Rangers and Flyers. There are positives on this team though. Their top line of Nicklas Backstrom (17 points), Alex Ovechkin (12 points) and Tom Wilson (12 points) have combined to score 41 points already. They’ve been without Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov for a while now. Getting those two players back will be huge. Jakub Vrana has also been placed on the Covid list.
18 – New York Rangers – (4-4-2):
The Rangers got off to a painfully slow start, as they dropped five of their first six games. Things have taken a turn for the better over the last few days though. They’ve rattled off three wins in their last four outings and their only loss came in overtime against the Penguins, who they ended up beating two nights later. Superstar forward Artemi Panarin has nine points in his last four contests. This team is young, but they may be going on a run.
19 – Buffalo Sabres -- (4-4-2):
The Sabres had won three of five games heading into last week, but their season has come to a standstill because they played back-to-back outings against a New Jersey Devils team that had multiple players with Covid-19. Buffalo head coach Ralph Krueger is currently dealing the virus. The Sabres are scheduled to return to the ice no sooner than Feb.11. There’s a decent chance their upcoming games will be postponed, too.
20 -- Columbus Blue Jackets – (5-5-3):
It’s been a rough year for the Jackets. Not only have they been mediocre on the ice, they also had to deal with a strange situation with franchise center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who is now a Winnipeg Jet. Patrik Laine, who they acquired in that deal, has scored three goals in his first three games with his new team. But the Jackets have a lot of holes on their roster and it would be surprising to see them qualify for the playoffs. Oliver Bjorkstrand is the only Blue Jacket with more than eight points in 2021 (he has 11).
21 – Nashville Predators -- (5-6-0):
The Predators are one of the many teams that has had success over the last 10 years only to find themselves behind a lot of up-and-coming squads now. Nashville has dropped three of their last four games and they have no regulation wins since they beat Columbus in back-to-back outings to start the year.
22 – Minnesota Wild – (5-5-3):
The Wild were able to overcome a brutal start (they lost four of their first five games) and they won three of four between Jan. 23-29. Since then, not much has gone right. Minnesota has lost three of their last four games and they’ve given up six goals in two of those defeats. The Wild are one of those teams that have a mixture of younger and older players, but they’re caught between chasing a playoff spot and rebuilding. It’s an odd place to be for any franchise.
23 -- Pittsburgh Penguins – (5-5-1):
The Penguins won four one-goal games in a row between Jan. 17-24, but they’ve struggled since then. Pittsburgh dropped back-to-back games to Boston and they lost one of two games against the Rangers. They were scheduled to play the New Jersey Devils last week, but the Devils have been decimated by Covid-19. The Pens returned to action on Saturday and they lost to the Islanders. It sure looks like the Championship window is firmly shut in Pittsburgh.
24 – New York Islanders – (4-4-2):
The Islanders managed to snap their five-game losing streak by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. In typical Isles fashion, the squad has given up 27 goals in 10 games, which is eighth-fewest in the league right now, but they’ve only scored 23 times, which is tied for the fewest goals scored, with New Jersey (the Devils have played one game less than the Islanders). Will they get enough offense to climb back into the playoff race?
25 – New Jersey Devils – (4-3-2):
The Devils put an end to their three-game losing skid by beating Buffalo last Sunday, but they’ve run into some Covid-19 trouble since then. Their two games against the Penguins were postponed last week and although they’re scheduled to return to the ice this week, there’s a reasonable chance they won’t be able to do that. This young Devils group has some talented players, but they need time to come out of this rebuild.
26 – Anaheim Ducks – (5-5-3):
The Ducks dropped four of their first five games this season and they’ve now lost four of their last six. Anaheim doesn’t have a single player with more than six points so far in 2021, and Maxime Comtois leads the team in goals, with five. The Ducks are going to go through a painful rebuild for the next few years. The one thing they have that a lot of the other teams at the bottom of this list don’t have is a world-class goaltender in John Gibson.
27 -- San Jose Sharks – (4-5-1):
The Sharks have star power on their roster, but this group needs an overhaul. Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl are all very good players, but the supporting cast is lacking. Three of San Jose’s four wins have come in a shootout and they’ve also given up four goals or more in four of their six losses. It’s too bad the Sharks didn’t win a Stanley Cup when they were one of the better teams in the NHL because it’s going to be a while before they’re in contention again.
28 – Vancouver Canucks – (6-9-0):
I’m embarrassed to say that I picked this team to win their division in 2021. Through 15 games, they just don’t look good. The Canucks have dropped four games in a row (two to Montreal, two to Toronto) and if you remove their three wins against the Ottawa Senators, who many consider to be the worst team in the NHL, they’d have just three wins this season. Of course, you can only play the teams on your schedule, but the Canucks don’t look like a team that’s ready to build on the success they had in the bubble.
29 – Los Angeles Kings – (3-6-2):
This was always going to be a painful year for the Kings. This team had some really good years during the previous decade, but they’re paying the price for all that success now (they have a couple of championships to show for it, so there shouldn't be any regrets). The Kings have dropped four games in a row to Minnesota, Anaheim and Vegas (twice) and all four of those defeats came in regulation. One of the few positives on the team has been Anze Kopitar, who has 14 points in 11 games.
30 – Detroit Red Wings – (3-8-2):
The Red Wings beat the Florida Panthers on Sunday to snap an eight-game winless streak. The last time Detroit won a game was back on Jan. 19 when they took down the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime. Their last regulation win came in their second game against Carolina on Jan. 16. Captain Dylan Larkin leads his team in scoring, with nine points in 13 games. This team will need a few more drafts to stockpile talent before they become relevant in their division and conference again.
31 – Ottawa Senators – (2-9-1):
Ottawa’s win in Montreal on Thursday was their first victory since opening night when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. So, believe it or not, their only two wins have come against the two best teams in the division. In fairness to the Sens, they played Montreal hard over the last two games. This is a team that has some young talent on the roster and in the pipeline, but they need time for these players to mature. They also need more good players.