NHL Power Rankings: Playoff picture becoming clearer as Thanksgiving arrives
The Devils’ winning streak is now at 13 games, and they seem to be getting better with each passing victory. Sometimes, a team can exhale after piling up this many consecutive wins, but that hasn’t happened with New Jersey. This team just keeps rising to the challenge despite having a target on its back.
These are power rankings, so I don’t want them to simply be a standings update, but I do feel it’s necessary to point out that the Bruins have a better point percentage than the Devils and are riding a seven-game winning streak of their own. For those wondering, Boston and New Jersey will meet on Dec. 23.
Mark Stone has four goals in his last three games, which brings him to eight on the season. That is just one behind his 2021-22 total of nine, which Stone hit in 37 games played. The two biggest reasons for Stone’s success: his health and his shooting percentage, which is back up around his career average at 15.4%.
The Avs haven’t exactly been dominating at five-on-five through the first quarter of the season, but that hasn’t mattered because their goaltending duo has been shockingly brilliant. Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz have combined for 13.05 goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick.
Jamie Benn has looked much more like his old self this season. He has eight goals and 20 points in 19 games after posting a total of 46 points in 82 games last season. Benn is another player who has benefited from the Peter DeBoer effect. If he can keep this up, the Stars could be battling atop the Central Division all year.
The Hurricanes dropped all three of their games last week, but it’s hard to ding them too much in the standings. Carolina lost each one in overtime after holding its own in regulation. Unless the NHL switches to three-on-three full-time, the Canes should be just fine.
Nikita Kucherov hasn’t come close to playing a full regular season since 2018-19, when he won the Hart Trophy with 128 points. Kucherov is on pace to play a full season this year, and he is also on pace to reproduce that MVP campaign, at least offensively. Through 19 games, Kucherov is pacing for a tick over 120 points.
In his last eight starts, goaltender Martin Jones has stopped 94.7% of the shots he has faced while saving 9.54 goals above average, per Natural Stat Trick. Jones’ performance is a surprising and positive development for the Kraken, who have been searching for reliable goaltending since the start of last season.
In Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Ducks, Kyle Connor scored a hat trick, with the third goal coming with under a minute left in regulation. This Jets team has developed a knack for dramatic goals in the dying seconds of the third period.
The Maple Leafs are 1-5 in games that have gone past regulation. While far from the only reason for the team’s somewhat frustrating start, winning a couple of those games changes the outlook noticeably. Despite those overtime struggles, Toronto still sits in second place in the Atlantic Division.
Mr. Hyde’s reign of terror has ended in St. Louis, and Dr. Jekyll has returned to his normal form. The Blues tumbled in the power rankings and the standings due to an eight-game losing streak, but they suddenly decided to stop losing games and start winning them. St. Louis has now won seven straight, and the team has shot right back into playoff position.
It has happened. Mathew Barzal has finally scored a goal. In fact, Barzal scored two in a single game! Granted, it was in the Islanders’ 5-2 loss to the Stars, but Barzal has to feel good about finally snapping an 18-game goal drought to start the season.
Sergei Bobrovsky had a bit of a bounce-back season last year, but he is back to struggling between the pipes. In 11 games, Bobrovsky has allowed 5.80 goals above average, which ranks 67th in the NHL. Spencer Knight was already eating into Bobrovsky’s timeshare, but that should only continue over the next couple of weeks.
Like several players on the Flames, MacKenzie Weegar has been ice cold through the first quarter of the season. After notching 44 points in 80 games last season, he has just five points in 18 games played this year. If there is some good news, it’s that Weegar’s on-ice impacts have been outstanding. Calgary has controlled 60.03% of the expected goals with him on the ice at five-on-five.
It feels like I write about Adam Fox every week, but it doesn’t matter. Fox has been on a tear lately and is currently riding a nine-game point streak. In that time, Fox has posted four goals and 10 assists. He has now passed Artemi Panarin in the team lead for points with 23. Fox may be riding an unsustainably high shooting percentage, but fans in New York just need to sit back and enjoy it.
The Kings have hit an unfortunate skid lately. They have dropped three straight games, including one to the reeling Canucks. Los Angeles is still clinging to the second-place spot in the Pacific Division, but it has played four more games than the Kraken and the Flames.
Evgeni Malkin just played in his 1,000th game on Sunday, and fun was had by all involved (except the Blackhawks). Malkin’s son got to read the starting lineup in the locker room, the team mimicked Malkin’s warmup routine, and Malkin scored his 452nd career goal in a 5-2 win. That’s not a bad day at the office.
Through 19 games, we have a pretty clear picture of the Oilers’ goaltending situation. Stuart Skinner is top-10 in the NHL in goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick, and Jack Campbell has a GAA of 4.07 and has allowed a whopping 9.89 goals above average. Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft has to ride Skinner for a while, especially given the team’s defensive shortcomings.
The Predators have picked up nine out of a possible 10 points in their last five games, and they seem to have found some stability. Between Roman Josi heating up and Juuse Saros starting to find his game in net, Nashville has worked its way back into the playoff race in time to enjoy some turkey and stuffing.
Andrew Copp was one of the Red Wings’ biggest offseason signings, but he has not worked out so far. Copp has just one goal on the year, but in the past his defensive ability has made up for that lack of production. That hasn’t been the case in 2022-23. With Copp on the ice at five-on-five, Detroit has scored eight goals and allowed 11.
The Wild are 28th in the NHL with a team shooting percentage of 8.7% in all situations. It’s tough to know exactly how much of that is due to poor luck, but the team also ranks 21st in total expected goals. Kirill Kaprizov might be able to carry this Minnesota team here and there, but eventually someone else has to step up on offense.
Jake Allen has gotten most of the starts for the Canadiens in recent weeks, and it has cost them. Allen is having a poor season in goal, and it has only gotten worse of late. In his last four games, Allen has allowed at least four goals, and he surrendered seven in Montreal’s loss to the Sabres on Tuesday night. Sam Montembeault probably needs to see more action.
The Capitals are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, and there hasn’t been much to cheer about in Washington lately. If nothing else, it’s always fun to watch Alex Ovechkin chase Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record. On that front, Ovechkin is off to a decent start with nine goals in 20 games played.
I touched on Erik Karlsson’s bounce-back season last week, but Logan Couture appears to be in the same boat. Last year, Couture totaled 23 goals in 77 games. Through 21 games this season, he has 10 goals. I’m not sure whether Couture can still keep up that pace for a full season, but he is another veteran that has increased his value for the Sharks as they continue the rebuild.
No team has given up more five-on-five goals than the Blue Jackets. They are dead last in that category with 60 goals against, and the Sharks are the next closest team at 54. That’s what happens when porous defense meets awful goaltending.
The Flyers simply cannot buy a win right now. They have lost seven straight games, and one recent loss came in stunning fashion. The Canadiens’ Cole Caufield tied Saturday’s game with under two seconds left in regulation, and Montreal went on to win in a shootout. This looks more like the Philadelphia team everyone expected before the season.
Jacob Chychrun made his 2022-23 debut against the Predators on Monday night, and it will be interesting to see exactly how much longer he’s in a Coyotes uniform. Trade rumors around Chychrun have been swirling since last season, and now that he’s healthy, those trade talks might only get more intense.
Brock Boeser is having a miserable season in Vancouver. He has scored just twice, with both goals coming in one game, and his on-ice results have been brutal. With Boeser on the ice at five-on-five, the Canucks have scored just nine goals and allowed 18 goals against, per Natural Stat Trick.
The Senators have won just two games in November, and now their offense has largely vanished. Captain Brady Tkachuk even came to the defense of head coach D.J. Smith, saying he is “sick and tired” of seeing Smith get criticism from so many different angles.
Patrik Kane has scored just three goals in 18 games, and his shooting percentage sits at a career low 5.7%. That’s not terribly surprising given the fact that the roster is devoid of talent, and Kane is trying to drag the team into the ballpark of being competitive.
I feel for the people of Buffalo. I really do. The Sabres started out the season by giving fans hope that this year might be different. Then, Buffalo lost seven straight games in regulation, and the team has fallen out of the playoff picture. Connor Bedard could be a lot of fun in a Sabres uniform.
The Ducks weren’t necessarily supposed to be good this season, but they also weren’t supposed to be completely wretched. Anaheim has won three of its last 10 games and sits dead last in the NHL standings, two points behind the Ottawa Senators. Head coach Dallas Eakins is feeling the heat right now.