NHL Power Rankings: Maple Leafs and Bruins Crash Top 5

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Maple Leafs and Bruins Crash Top 5

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    There goes the neighborhood.

    Just when it seemed the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes could get used to a few predictable teams cozying up alongside them in B/R's NHL Power Rankings, this happens.

    Two of the league's Original Six franchises—the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins—staked their claims for renewed relevance this week by barging into the top five, replacing the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning from last week.

    Toronto jumped six spots from ninth to third, and the Bruins jumped three from eighth to fifth, joining the first-place Avalanche, second-place Panthers and the Hurricanes, who dipped from third to fourth.

    It's 12 weeks in a row at the top for Colorado, which swept our panel of NHL writers to stay at No. 1.

    Florida was No. 2 on every ballot as well, and the trio of Carolina, the Maple Leafs and Boston was also included—in one order or another—by each voter.

    Read on to see how the rest of our weekly collection shaped up.

    As always, we encourage viewpoints—supportive or dissenting—in the comments section.

                            

    Stats and standings accurate through Monday.

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

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    32. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 32nd)  

    It was a 2-2 week for the Coyotes, who beat San Jose and Chicago while losing to Anaheim and St. Louis. Off the ice, Arizona color commentator Tyson Nash suggested a late-game fight against the Ducks was justified because of the tendency of Anaheim's players to score flashy goals.  "That's the problem with these young players," he said on the broadcast. "You wanna embarrass guys? You wanna skill it up? You better be prepared to get punched in the mouth."  

                

    31. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 31st)  

    It wasn't the same stage as last year's Stanley Cup Final, but the Canadiens did get the satisfaction of beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Saturday shootout after beginning the week with losses at Florida and Carolina. Meantime, goalie Carey Price may be close to making his season debut after participating in a full practice with the team on Monday. "What I saw [Monday], what I noticed, I thought he looked pretty good," interim coach Martin St. Louis said.

             

    30. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 30th)  

    The Kraken lost two straight at home to Vegas while being outscored 8-2 before ending the week with a 4-1 defeat of Chicago on Sunday. And though they're well out of contention themselves, the Seattle players are relishing the idea of a spoiler’s role down the stretch. "I think that’s exciting enough," forward Jordan Eberle said, "and you have to find a way to rally around that and use that to an advantage."  

                

    29. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 27th)  

    Three losses. Nineteen goals allowed. Not exactly a banner week for the Devils, who dropped decisions to Boston, Florida, and the New York Islanders, including the final two at home. Forward Jack Hughes left the Islanders game with a lower-body injury after a check by New York's Oliver Wahlstrom. New Jersey defenseman P.K. Subban fought Wahlstrom after the hit and was tossed from the game.  

               

    28. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 28th)  

    Losses to Minnesota and Toronto extended a skid to six games before the Flyers turned things around with a shootout win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Sunday. Defenseman Keith Yandle was a healthy scratch from the Maple Leafs game, ending his league-record ironman streak at 989 games since March 2009. "He received (the decision) exactly the way you would expect Keith Yandle to handle it," interim coach Mike Yeo said.  

                

    27. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 26th)  

    Three straight losses this week, in which Chicago was outscored 12-4, made it five straight overall for the Blackhawks, who managed a single standings point by getting to overtime on Sunday against visiting Arizona. Off the ice, Chris Vosters won the competition to succeed Pat Foley as the team's primary play-by-play man. Foley is retiring after a career with the team that began in 1981. "This is more than just a job: It's the opportunity to work for one of the NHL's flagship franchises in a world-class city with the best fans in hockey," Vosters said.  

                   

    26. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 29th)  

    The Senators began the week with a 4-1 loss in Nashville but a home-and-home series with Detroit yielded a pair of victories in which they combined to score 10 goals. The second game with the Red Wings included an emotional tribute to late franchise owner Eugene Melnyk, who died last week. "We wanted to put our best effort forward to honor Mr. Melnyk and we felt that's what we did," captain Brady Tkachuk said.

Nos. 25-21: Sabres. Ducks, Red Wings, Sharks, Blue Jackets

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    25. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 25th)

    It was a win, a loss, and a shootout in three games for the Sabres, who'll head out for a four-game road trip to Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Toronto on Thursday. The regulation loss at home against the Panthers ended a stretch of eight straight games with at least a standings point, in which Buffalo was 5-0-3. A home defeat of Nashville was preceded by a ceremony honoring broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, who's retiring after 51 years with the team. "It was a lot of fun," forward Peyton Krebs said. "That gets you excited, obviously. RJ, what a ceremony there."

            

    24. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 23rd)

    There were highs and lows at the end of a four-game week for the Ducks, who went to Arizona and scored a convincing 5-0 victory before returning home two days later for a 6-1 loss to Edmonton. The defeat of the Coyotes included the aforementioned sequence in which Arizona's Jay Beagle pummeled Troy Terry after a play near the net and was supported by a home broadcaster. Anaheim's Trevor Zegras disagreed. "I think it's embarrassing," he said. "I think it's a bad look for the league."

             

    23. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 24th)

    Three more losses pushed the skid to six in a row in Detroit, during which the Red Wings have allowed 33 goals and scored just 13. In fact, in 20 games since Feb. 14, the team is a league-worst 4-13-3. "I don't see a lot of joy," forward Dylan Larkin said. "I don't see a lot of guys having fun and we need to change that and enjoy playing hockey."

            

    22. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 22nd)

    Three games meant three losses for the sliding Sharks, including losses at Arizona and Colorado before a 5-4 decision against Dallas on Saturday. The losses dropped the Sharks below .500 for the season (29-31-8) and into seventh place in the eight-team Pacific Division, ahead of only Seattle. "You can either play this out and be a team that grinds it out every night or you can go through the motions," coach Bob Boughner said.

                 

    21. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 20th)

    A pair of home-and-home series were poison for the Blue Jackets, who dropped two straight to the New York Islanders before another unsuccessful pair with Boston. The losses to the Bruins extended the Columbus streak to seven straight without a victory, though they have managed to get three games to overtime. The team is 0-3-3 and has allowed 24 goals since goalie Joonas Korpisalo was shut down for the season to have hip surgery. 

Nos. 20-16: Canucks, Jets, Islanders, Stars, Predators

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    Rich Graessle/Getty Images

    20. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 19th)

    An 0-2-1 skid came at a bad time for the Canucks, who'd earned 15 standings points in March to work themselves back into the Western Conference playoff picture. They're eight points away from the conference's second wild-card position heading into their final dozen games. "Obviously it's frustrating. We need every point we can get at this point in the season," captain Bo Horvat said.

                  

    19. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 18th)

    A 1-2 week that included a loss to one of the teams ahead of them in the playoff race didn't help Winnipeg's chances too much as they prepare for the final 12-game stretch drive. The Jets opened with a shootout win at Buffalo before losing consecutive games at Toronto and home with Los Angeles. "We know the situation we put ourselves in. To come out on the short end again makes that hill even steeper to climb," center Adam Lowry said.

             

    18. New York Islanders (Last Week: 21st)

    It's a bit late to make a difference for 2021-22, but the Islanders woke up the echoes of two straight trips to the postseason final four with a week that included four straight victories—two in a home-and-home with Columbus and two more against the New York Rangers and New Jersey. New York trails Washington by 11 points for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. "I think our main focus is to keep climbing," defenseman Ryan Pulock said. "Keep trying to keep winning games. Keep trying to finish as high as you can."

                     

    17. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 16th)

    A 3-1 week made it six wins in eight games for the surging Stars, who won twice at Anaheim and again at San Jose before dropping a 4-1 game in Seattle to end their road trip. "Throughout a season you're thinking that's a pretty good trip, but with the situation we're in, you can be a little greedy and selfish and you wanted that fourth one," forward Joe Pavelski said.

                              

    16. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 13th)        

    A two-game week yielded a win and a loss for the Predators, who are amid the pack of teams vying for the available Western Conference playoff spots. They arrived at Tuesday with the first wild-card spot in hand but were only a point up on Dallas. "Every team at this time of year is playing for something," coach John Hynes said. "It's the hardest time of the year hockey-wise."

Nos. 15-11: Kings, Golden Knights, Capitals, Oilers, Blues

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    15. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 14th)        

    It was a hectic five-game week for the Kings, who went to overtime twice while running up a 2-2-1 record and clinging to a one-point lead over Edmonton for second place in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles trails first-place Calgary by five points after a 3-2 loss Monday. "They didn't make those critical mistakes. They made some, but we didn't capitalize. Fine line between the two teams tonight, just on the short end," coach Todd McLellan told reporters after the defeat.

                  

    14. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 17th)

    The Golden Knights appear to have found their game at the right time, adding three more victories to extend their winning streak to five amid a tight playoff race. Vegas entered Tuesday's games in possession of the final Western Conference wild-card spot and just three points behind Edmonton for third place in the Pacific Division. "We're just trying to put as many points on the board as we can and hope someone stumbles," coach Pete DeBoer said.

                         

    13. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 12th)  

    The Capitals played just once this week, but a 5-1 loss to visiting Minnesota didn't provide good optics for a team that's now lost two in a row by a combined score of 11-2. Washington has what appears to be a comfortable 11-point lead in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, but the challenge is not lost on forward Alex Ovechkin. "We all understand what it takes, especially in the playoffs," he told reporters. "In the playoffs, it's going to be a different game and it is going to be a hard game, and we just have to go there and fight through it."

                 

    12. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 15th)        

    Three wins and a statistically significant week were good news for the Oilers, who saw Connor McDavid get to 100 points in a win against Los Angeles and Leon Draisaitl score his 50th goal (and get to 100 points) in a win at Anaheim. The Oilers are 17-7-2 since Jay Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett in early February, giving them the second-most points during that stretch. "I think we can understand that we only have so many dress rehearsals left. We understand that we haven't clinched anything. We still have a job to do," he told Jason Gregor and Jason Strudwick on the TSN 1260 radio show.

                         

    11. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 11th)     

    The Blues had been skidding, but they found their game in time to grab four wins to solidify their third-place spot in the Central Division, six points up on Nashville. "I think as a team we're just playing really well," forward Robert Thomas told reporters after a win over Arizona. "Chances are coming from everywhere. Everyone's having good looks, everyone's chipping in offensively. I think it all comes from that."

Nos. 10-6: Penguins, Flames, Rangers, Wild, Lightning

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    Gerry Thomas/Getty Images

    10. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 6th)

    Pittsburgh managed one win in three games against some of the elites of the NHL but has gone just 5-4-1 in their past 10 games and fallen to third in the Metropolitan Division. Meantime, the status of forward Jason Zucker is up in the air after he missed Monday's practice following an undisclosed injury against Minnesota on Thursday, which was his first game back from core muscle surgery in late January.

                           

    9. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 4th)

    A three-game losing streak ended at the right time for the Flames, who beat Los Angeles 3-2 on Monday in the first contest of a four-game road trip. They now lead the Pacific Division by five points. A loss would have moved the Kings to within a single point of the top spot. "A big one for us start to the trip off the right way," forward Johnny Gaudreau said. "We didn't play the best game the last time we played L.A., so we knew we had a lot better in us."

                  

    8. New York Rangers (Last Week: 7th)

    A week that began with two victories to extend a winning streak to four straight ended with two losses for the Rangers, who were outscored 7-3 against the Islanders and Philadelphia. On the plus side, the Rangers managed to reach a shootout against the Flyers after trailing 3-0 early. "It seems like there's a lot of belief," forward Andrew Copp said. “We feel like we're a really good team, so really good teams can come back in games like that."

                    

    7. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 10th)

    Who's hotter than the Minnesota Wild? Nobody. The team was 3-0-1 in a four-game week and are now 9-0-1 in their past 10, with a three-point lead over St. Louis for second in the Central Division. Newly acquired goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 3-0 with the team and has allowed just four goals on 96 shots for a .958 save percentage. 

                                

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

    The Lightning had won four straight before falling in a shootout against Montreal and losing 6-2 to Toronto in consecutive home games. Tampa Bay has dropped into fourth in the Atlantic Division and is in the first Eastern Conference wild-card position, which would yield a first-round matchup with Carolina if the postseason began today. "It comes down to work ethic right now," forward Pat Maroon said. "Put the systems aside and go out and compete and have fun again." 

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

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    5. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 8th)

    The Bruins opened the week with a home loss against Toronto but responded with three straight victories to stretch their latest run to seven wins in eight games. Boston entered Tuesday in third place in the Atlantic Division and trailed the Maple Leafs by just two points for second place. Of some concern, though, is the fact that forward David Pastrnak left Monday's game against Columbus after falling awkwardly in the third period.

                    

    4. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 3rd)

    It was a 2-1-1 week for the Hurricanes, who went to overtime with Tampa Bay in a possible playoff preview and defeated Washington and Montreal by a combined 10-1 score before a 3-1 loss to visiting Minnesota. "That's a good team," coach Rod Brind'Amour said of the Wild. "I know we didn't give up that much, and that's really the key."

                   

    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 9th)

    A four-win week. A five-game winning streak. And a statement-making 6-2 defeat of the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning on their home ice. Doesn't get much better than that for the Maple Leafs, who got three goals from Auston Matthews in the victory at Tampa Bay. With his 54th goal, Matthews claimed a share of the single-season franchise record Rick Vaive had held since 1981-82. "It's fun to watch him," goalie Jack Campbell said. "To see him get the results on the ice like he's been doing, it's just incredible. It's just crazy. It's amazing."

                       

    2. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 2nd)

    With a four-win week, the Panthers became the first team to lock up a postseason berth. Florida entered Tuesday with a seven-point lead in the Atlantic Division and would play Washington in the first round if the standings hold. "We have eyes on bigger prizes here," interim coach Andrew Brunette said after the team clinched its spot in the playoffs. "It's a nice accomplishment and well-deserved, and we should celebrate a little bit."

                        

    1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 1st)

    Three wins in three games made it a 4-0-1 stretch for the Avalanche, who allowed just five goals in the victories and sit seventh in the league with a 2.72 goals-against average to go with an offense that's third with 3.75 goals per game. Also, the 104 points the team has amassed match the franchise's first Stanley Cup team in 1995-96. "That was an incredible group, and we think we have a really good group here too," goalie Darcy Kuemper said. "Those are the guys that we're trying to live up to with their Stanley Cups."

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