NHL Power Rankings: Carolina Hurricanes Continue to Lead the Way

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Carolina Hurricanes Continue to Lead the Way

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    Tumult anyone?

    The league passed through the 100-games-rescheduled barrier as the week began, as teams scrambled to work the minor leagues and the waiver wire to have enough bodies to fill out their lineups.

    But some things haven't changed.

    The Carolina Hurricanes remain the class of the league.

    Rod Brind'Amour's team has lost just seven times in regulation through 33 games, has just four regulation losses in 18 road games and is allowing goals at a stingy 2.21-per-game rate that's a quarter-goal better than their nearest rival.

    It's no wonder, then, that Brind'Amour is pleased.

    "It's been a pretty good effort so far, top to bottom," he told reporters. "Can we get better? Of course."

    Their latest 10-game run of 8-1-1 helped the Hurricanes claim the No. 1 spot in yet another edition of B/R's weekly NHL Power Rankings. It's the sixth time in 12 weeks since play began that Carolina has either held or shared the top spot.

    They swept the voting by our panel this week, outpacing a top five that also includes the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Read on to see how the remaining spots were filled, and feel free to drop a note or two in the comments section to let our puck heads know where they got it right, and perhaps otherwise.


    Editor's note: Votes were recorded before Wednesday night's games.

Nos. 32-26: Coyotes, Canadiens, Kraken, Senators, Sabres, Blackhawks, Devils

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    32. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 31st)

    The city of Glendale is moving forward with plans on how to use Gila River Arena once its arrangement with the Arizona Coyotes ends after this season. Meanwhile, the team, which went 2-1 during the week, is looking for a new building in Tempe.


    31. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 32nd)

    The Canadiens had played just once in 2022 prior to Wednesday night because of COVID-19 issues, but the imminent returns of Mike Hoffman and Christian Dvorak should help an offense that has averaged fewer goals per game than any team (2.09).


    30. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 30th)

    The Kraken came back from a nine-day break with a loss in Colorado on Monday—their sixth straight defeat, bridging two months—but coach Dave Hakstol is finding positives. "We played a pretty darn good hockey game," he said. "But at the end of the day, you have to address what the result is."


    29. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 29th)

    The Senators haven't played since Jan. 1 and haven't won since Dec. 14, but they are at least tentatively scheduled to play four times in the next eight days. "You play the game to play games and compete," winger Zach Sanford told Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press. "When you don't get to do that, you're missing a big part of what you do."


    28. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 28th)

    The Sabres have managed just two standings points while dropping six straight games since their most recent victory, which came on Dec. 16. "You want more now, and you want it faster," coach Don Granato said. "It's a challenge for me to not lose that patience but to keep pushing and grinding."


    27. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 27th)

    Wins over Vegas and Columbus ended a four-loss skid to begin the calendar year for the Blackhawks. Rookie Jakub Galvas, just 22, debuted against the Blue Jackets and played 23:40. "I knew he was pretty calm with the puck and could skate and make plays," interim coach Derek King said. "And he's a smart player."


    26. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 26th)

    The Devils have split four games since ending 2021 with a pair of wins, but the goalie situation is nearing cataclysmic. Mackenzie Blackwood is waiting to return from COVID-19, Jonathan Bernier and Nico Daws are injured and Akira Schmid was placed into protocols. Only Jon Gillies was able to practice Tuesday.

Nos. 25-21: Flyers, Blue Jackets, Islanders, Red Wings, Canucks

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    25. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 24th)

    Two more losses—one in overtime—made it five in a row overall for the Flyers. In an interesting flareup, senior adviser Bobby Clarke ripped ex-GM Ron Hextall for the team's many current ills. "He shut his door. He locked the doors," Clarke said on The Cam & Strick Podcast. "He was the boss and nobody else was a part of it."


    24. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 25th)

    Columbus has won just once in five games, including a listless loss to Chicago on Tuesday, heading into Thursday's night visit to Carolina. "I just don't think we played hard enough," captain Boone Jenner said. "The little battles weren't enough. ... We need more to get wins in this league."


    23. New York Islanders (Last Week: 23rd)

    The Islanders haven't lost a game in regulation since Dec. 14. Of course, they have only played four since, winning three and losing one in a shootout. A tentative return is set for Thursday against New Jersey. "We've practiced enough," coach Barry Trotz said. "The guys, they're ready to go. They want to play."


    22. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 22nd)

    A rugged week yielded three road losses for the Red Wings, who were outscored 11-5 and lost two of the games in extra time. "We needed more points than that," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's certainly not the trip we wanted. We wanted to come out of here and get more, but we have to learn from it."


    21. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 20th)

    It took 10 games—including eight wins and a shootout loss—before the Canucks finally tasted defeat in regulation under coach Bruce Boudreau on Tuesday. "There's a lot of things that we can take out that we didn't do well," Boudreau said. "And that's something that hopefully we can correct."

Nos. 20-16: Oilers, Sharks, Jets, Stars, Kings

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    20. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 17th)

    The freefall has stalled, if not ended, for the Oilers, who have not played since Jan. 5 and not won since defeating Seattle on Dec. 18. Meanwhile, GM Ken Holland revealed that he had spoken with the agent of ex-San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane. "It's my responsibility to investigate every situation," he said.


    19. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 21st)

    Two straight losses to begin January gave way to three consecutive victories for the Sharks—all by 3-2 scores and two in OT. "Those are the points you're looking at at the end of the season," coach Bob Boughner said. "It's nice to see us in these close games. Comfortable in these close games."


    18. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 16th)

    It's back to work Thursday for the first time in a week for the Jets, whose 7-1 loss at Colorado on Jan. 6 ended a three-game win streak. "All you have to do is put together a lineup with the players that are available," interim coach Dave Lowry said. "That's all you can control."


    17. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 19th)

    Dalls' disjointed four-game win streak that ran from Dec. 18 through Jan. 8 finally ended with Sunday's loss at St. Louis, which was particularly frustrating because of what the Stars saw as a missed call. "We played a hell of a hockey game," coach Rick Bowness said. "We deserved a lot better than that."


    16. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 18th)

    A win over the Rangers was the fourth in five games for the Kings, who made news off the ice by hiring ex-Montreal GM Marc Bergevin as an adviser. "Marc brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our hockey operations staff and will be a valuable addition to our group," GM Rob Blake said.

Nos. 15-11: Flames, Ducks, Golden Knights, Bruins, Capitals

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    15. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 14th)

    The Flames dropped three straight and were outscored 16-6 by the NHL elite in Miami, Tampa and Raleigh before returning north for three home dates in four games. "They're three really similar teams to be quite honest," coach Darryl Sutter said. "They're real similar teams in how they play."


    14. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 15th)

    The Ducks have been busy, if not consistently successful since the start of 2022 with two wins in five games. A 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh included a goal by Jakob Silfverberg, who ended a 31-game drought. The 31-year-old winger has 10 goals in 80 games after scoring at least 20 in four of five previous seasons.


    13. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 11th)

    The megadeal between the Golden Knights and the Buffalo Sabres officially took competitive shape for Vegas on Tuesday when Jack Eichel practiced with his new teammates for the first time. He's not played since March 7, 2021. "It's a bit of an emotional moment for me," he said. "Another step in the process."


    12. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 13th)

    Boston has won three straight following Wednesday's 5-1 defeat of Montreal, and Thursday's game with visiting Philadelphia should mark the return of goalie Tuukka Rask. He signed a one-year deal Tuesday after surgery on a torn hip labrum last summer. "We're realistic that we're getting older and the window's closing," he said.


    11. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 6th)

    It's not been an auspicious new year for the Capitals, who have dropped four straight games by a 19-9 margin. "I think everybody's probably grumpy," coach Peter Laviolette said. "People hate losing. The players hate losing. I don't think anybody's in a great mood."

Nos. 10-6: Blues, Wild, Rangers, Penguins, Predators

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    10. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 9th)

    The week began with a loss at Pittsburgh, but the Blues rallied with wins over Washington and Dallas, in which they scored seven goals and allowed just two. The win over the Stars included two power-play goals in the final minute. "It doesn't happen too often, coming back in the last minute," center Jordan Kyrou said."


    9. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 12th)

    A five-game skid was followed by two wins for the Wild. They will return Friday at home against Anaheim before visiting Colorado and Chicago. Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek could be back from upper-body injuries. "We're just going about our business and trying to have success," coach Dean Evason said.


    8. New York Rangers (Last Week: 3rd)

    Call it all or nothing for the Rangers in their five games since 2022 began, outscoring opponents by a 12-2 margin in three wins while coming up on the short end of an 8-2 count in two losses. Of some concern, their shots-on-goal average is 28.4, better than only three of the 31 other NHL teams.


    7. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 8th)

    The Penguins were the hottest team in the league with 10 wins in 11 games before adding another when Evgeni Malkin returned with two goals in a 4-1 win over Anaheim on Tuesday. "It was a long process for me. This was the longest break in my life," said Malkin, who had knee surgery in June.


    6. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 10th)

    Five straight wins produced a plus-13 goal differential (22-9) for the Predators, who toppled Colorado on the road in OT on Tuesday. Nashville is three points ahead of the second-place Avalanche and has the eighth-best goals-against average in the NHL (2.65).

Nos. 5-1: Lightning, Avalanche, Maple Leafs, Panthers, Hurricanes

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    5. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 4th)

    As with the Rangers, it's been feast or famine in the recent going for the Lightning, who have gone 6-3-1 in their past 10 games—scoring 28 goals in the wins and conceding 22 in the losses. "Our objective in the second half is to secure that playoff spot and keep munching points, keep improving our play," GM Julien BriseBois said."


    4. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 7th)

    A run of five straight wins was ended by an OT loss in Nashville on Tuesday. But the bigger news was about defenseman Bowen Byram, who left the team for personal reasons relating to persistent concussion symptoms. "He said, 'I can't do it. I can't play and feel like this,'" Byram's father, Shawn, told Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now.


    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 5th)

    It's been a long run of success—stretching back to Dec. 11—and despite Wednesday's loss to Arizona it's been five wins in seven games for Toronto, which scored 29 goals and is seventh in the league with 3.38 goals per game. "We've gone on our pause, and I don't think we've really let it impact us too much," defenseman Morgan Rielly said.


    2. Florida Panthers (Last Week: T-1st)

    Six wins in seven games—including an OT win in Carolina on Saturday—is the latest streak for the Panthers, who entered Wednesday in a tie with Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic Division. Interim coach Andrew Brunette will coach the division's team in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game in February. "It's probably not completely deserved," Brunette said.


    1. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: T-1st)

    Another week in the penthouse for the consistently excellent Hurricanes, who lost in OT to Florida to end a five-game win streak. Rod Brind'Amour's team entered Wednesday with the joint-most wins (24), fewest losses (seven), best points percentage (.758) and best goal differential (plus-42) in the league. "If you look at the season, I think there are two games that I wasn't very happy with," Brind'Amour said."So that's pretty good."