NHL Power Rankings: Preds sink teeth into Top 5
In our last edition of the NHL Power Rankings, the Minnesota Wild had claimed the top spot. Today, they’re not even ranked! It goes to show how much can change in hockey in three weeks of game play.
Here’s our updated Top 10 teams in the NHL.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (23-7-1)
Oddsmakers continue to overlook the Hurricanes, listing them at +1500 to win the Stanley Cup. But smart handicappers know that Carolina has a case this season.
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Vegas Golden Knights
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers
The Hurricanes are just one point out of first in the Metropolitan Division, with multiple games in hand on both the Capitals and the Rangers. They’re also four points behind the Lightning for the East’s top seed with five games in hand.
Carolina has won eight of its last nine tilts, and has a chance to make some hay against less-than-elite competition in the month of January. If Sebastian Aho is able to replicate what he did in December (14 points in six games), the rest of the league had better watch out.
2. Florida Panthers (22-7-5)
The COVID pause came at a good time for the Panthers, who had lost four of their last five contests. Florida reeled off four straight victories once the season resumed – outscoring foes like the Rangers, Lightning, and Calgary Flames 24-10 – before suffering a shootout defeat to the Dallas Stars in a wild 6-5 Thursday affair.
Jonathan Huberdeau – the Panthers’ points leader (44) – has an incredible 11 points over his last four outings.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (23-13-1)
The Golden Knights made light work of a solid Rangers team on Thursday night, winning 5-1. Vegas is now 9-3-1 over its last 13 games, demonstrating why they were one of the preseason favorites to hoist Lord Stanley’s hardware.
Top-flight scorer Max Pacioretty is out indefinitely after getting off to a torrid start, but the debut of Jack Eichel is on the horizon.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (22-8-2)
The Maple Leafs have played just four times since Dec. 11, but have won all four games. They’ll have a chance to shake the rust soon, as they embark on a six-game road trip beginning Saturday in Colorado.
Over their team’s last 12 games, William Nylander and Auston Matthews have scored 19 points apiece, with John Tavares close behind with 18 in the same span.
5. Nashville Predators (22-11-2)
The Central Division has been up for grabs all season long, and the Predators are the latest team to stake their claim as king of the hill.
Nashville has won 10 of its last 12 overall, getting solid production from left wing Filip Forsberg (14 points) and defenseman Roman Josi (12 points) in that stretch.
6. New York Rangers (22-9-4)
The Rangers have lost Artemi Panarin and Igor Shesterkin, among others, to the COVID list since the NHL season resumed. But they’re still 3-2 over their last five games, beating the Lightning twice in that span.
Chris Kreider is in the midst of a career-year, as he’s third in the league in goals (21).
7. Tampa Bay Lightning (23-8-5)
After missing Andrei Vasilevskiy for their first three games back from the COVID pause, the Lightning are glad to have their Vezina contender (19-5-3, 2.16 GAA, .926 save %) between the pipes once more.
Tampa has also gotten Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov back from injury recently, so don’t be shocked if the consecutive cup champs go on a tear in the near future.
8. Colorado Avalanche (20-8-2)
After suffering an extended COVID pause, the Avalanche have won three in a row, and eight of their last nine overall. They’re now within four points of the division lead held by Nashville with five games in hand.
Nathan MacKinnon has eight helpers since Colorado resumed play, and is now fifth in the NHL in assists (29).
9. Washington Capitals (20-6-8)
Despite first-place standing in the Met and a +30 goal differential, the Capitals have struggled to find consistency, as they haven’t strung together three wins since the end of November.
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10. Pittsburgh Penguins (20-8-5)
The Penguins caught fire in mid-November and have kept on going, winning 10 in a row and 15 of their last 18 overall. Incredibly, they haven’t even been at full strength in this span.
Bryan Rust came back three games ago after missing all of December, and has 11 points since rejoining the lineup. Two-time Art Ross winner Evgeni Malkin has yet to play a minute this year.
If Pittsburgh is able to sustain their momentum while gradually getting back their key players, they’ll be scary for anyone to face in the playoffs.