NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes storm into top five
The 56-game NHL season is nearing its halfway point, no thanks to COVID-19. Hopefully the worst the virus has to offer NHL teams and schedule-makers is over, and we can get back to enjoying hockey without constant interruptions.
Here’s our review of the Top 10 teams in the NHL.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (Prev. Rank: 1)
The Maple Leafs have been defeated in regulation just once dating back to Jan. 20 (13 games), so they remain atop the NHL Power Rankings.
Center Auston Matthews is pacing the league in goals (16) at the moment.
2. Vegas Golden Knights (Prev. Rank: 2)
The Golden Knights are a solid 5-2 since coming out of their COVID pause. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been incredible for Vegas this season, going 7-2-0 with a .937 save % and a 1.56 GAA.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (Prev. Rank: 4)
The Lightning had a six-game winning streak interrupted by the Florida Panthers last week, as they went 1-2 through a three-game set with their in-state rival. However, no NHL team has a better goal differential (+22) than the defending Stanley Cup champions.
4. Boston Bruins (Prev. Rank: 3)
The Bruins sport a 5-2 record through seven games this month, but they’ve had to deal with the COVID pauses of three different teams in this stretch.
Right winger David Pastrnak seems none the worse for wear since starting the campaign on the sidelines, producing 11 points in his first eight games.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (Prev. Rank: NR)
There simply wasn’t much to evaluate with the Hurricanes when the year’s first power rankings came out – they were 2-1-0 and in the midst of a COVID pause. They’re 10-3-1 now, and tied for third in points % (.750) with the Golden Knights and the Lightning.
Carolina has a lot of young talent on the roster, like center Sebastian Aho and right wing Andrei Svechnikov, but the team leader in points is 32-year-old captain Jordan Staal, with 15 through only 12 games. At this rate, he’ll eclipse his career-high in points (50, 2011-2012) despite 2020-2021 being a short season.
6. Florida Panthers (Prev. Rank: Bubble)
It looks like it’s time to take the Panthers – owners of the NHL highest points % (.786) – seriously. They beat Tampa twice in a one-week stretch and downed the Hurricanes in overtime on Wednesday night.
Jonathan Huberdeau leads the club with 20 points.
7. Colorado Avalanche (Prev. Rank: 10)
Despite being shorthanded coming out of their COVID pause, the Avalanche (8-4-1) split a pair of games with the Golden Knights. They’ll face Vegas two more times before Tuesday.
Goalie Philipp Grubauer has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2020-2021 Vezina Trophy with a 1.64 GAA and .936 save % through 11 games.
8. St. Louis Blues (Prev. Rank: 9)
With an impromptu seven-game series with the Arizona Coyotes behind them, the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in overtime on Thursday night to boost their record to 10-5-2.
St. Louis has the chance to pad its record over the next three weeks, as they’ll play the Sharks four more times, the Los Angeles Kings four times, and the Anaheim Ducks thrice before a March 12 meeting with Vegas.
9. Montreal Canadiens (Prev. Rank: 6)
The Canadiens have cooled down since a torrid 5-0-2 start, going 4-4 over their last eight contests.
Interestingly, netminders Carey Price and Jake Allen have flip-flopped starts in goal over this span for Montréal, with each goalie going 2-2. It appears head coach Claude Julien is trying to keep Price fresh despite there being plenty of time before the postseason.
10. Washington Capitals (Prev. Rank: 7)
The Capitals were undefeated in regulation through Jan. 30 (6-0-3), but this defensively-challenged squad (3.40 goals allowed per game, T-26th) has been hit with a dose of reality in February, as they’ve stumbled to a 2-4-0 record.
Nicklas Backstrom (20 points) and Washington’s high-octane offense (3.47 goals per game, fifth in the NHL) have been keeping the club afloat.