NHL Power Rankings: Red-Hot Panthers Run Avs Close, but Colorado Still No. 1

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Red-Hot Panthers Run Avs Close, but Colorado Still No. 1

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Sometimes it just makes sense.

    The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers are the top two teams in the NHL standings.

    They're the top teams when it comes to points percentage. They have two of the top three scoring offenses. And they're two of five teams that had already clinched playoff berths before Tuesday's games.

    Given all that, it should shock precisely no one that all five B/R NHL staffers voted the Avs and Panthers 1-2 on the ballots for this week's edition of the NHL Power Rankings.

    It's the 13th straight week on top for the Avalanche and the sixth in a row as second place for the Panthers. They are followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers to round out the top five, with the Rangers jumping from eighth to fifth to replace the Boston Bruins.

    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, Flyers, Devils, Senators, Blackhawks

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    32. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 32nd)   

    The Coyotes reached the final 10 games with a light week that yielded a pair of losses against visiting Vancouver and at Las Vegas, pushing an overall skid to three. They entered Tuesday's games in the basement, two points "ahead" of Montreal for the best lottery odds heading into the draft.


    31. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 31st)   

    The Canadiens split a pair of games on the road and lost two at home in a busy week, scoring seven goals in the victory at New Jersey and managing just seven across losses to Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg. The team announced goalie Jake Allen would be shut down for the season with a groin injury, leaving net-guarding responsibilities to Samuel Montembeault, Cayden Primeau and perhaps a returning Carey Price. 


    30. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 30th)   

    One win in three games was again the result for the Kraken, whose struggle to score goals—they netted just four shots for the week—was a primary reason for the results. The team's average of 2.56 goals per game for the season is second-worst in the league to only Arizona. On the future side, University of Michigan forward Matty Beniers signed a contract after completing his college career in the NCAA Frozen Four. He was selected second overall and was the franchise's inaugural draft pick. 


    29. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 28th)  

    The Flyers lost twice at home but won in a visit to Columbus during an uneven week, and they're getting an incoming college player to add to the ranks, too, in the form of forward Bobby Brink. Brink was selected 34th overall in 2019 and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award this year after leading the country with 43 assists and 57 points on the way to a national championship at the University of Denver. 


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

    A skid that had reached five straight losses ended for the Devils on Saturday when they traveled to Dallas to beat the Stars, 3-1. "[Coach Lindy Ruff has] been talking about us being in the game, making sure teams know they have a battle that night," defenseman Ty Smith said. "I thought we did a pretty good job of that. Obviously, coming off a bit of a tough stretch, that's a big bounce-back win." 


    27. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 26th)   

    The Senators began the week with a win at Montreal that extended a winning run to three, but the mojo escaped for the rest of the week with three straight losses in which they were outscored 12-6. Ottawa did get another glimpse at 2019 second-round pick Mads Sogaard, who made his first home start in a 4-3 loss to Winnipeg on Sunday. "He's going to be a real good goalie," coach D.J. Smith said


    26. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 27th)   

    The transition into April hasn't been a welcome occurrence for the Blackhawks, who are 0-for-4 in the month (with one overtime loss) and haven't won a game since March 24 in Los Angeles, going 0-5-2 in that stretch through Monday night. "Definitely disappointing," forward Patrick Kane said of the recent slump. "We're all competitors and we want to finish out the season strong. Even though we're out of playoffs, just try to come in with an open mindset and compete every night."

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

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    25. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 25th) 

    The Sabres split a home-and-home set with Carolina and took consecutive losses against the NHL's elite in Florida and Tampa Bay. However, the excitement is building for the arrival of No. 1 overall draft pick Owen Power, who finished his college career at Michigan and signed a pro contract. "It's going to be pretty cool. I'm excited to see how they are, and I just try to go out there and play my game," Power said


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

    Two wins in three games this week ended a particularly ugly six-game skid for the Red Wings, as they defeated visiting Boston and won at Winnipeg before falling in OT against Columbus. Despite being on track to finish below .500 for the sixth consecutive season, there is plenty of optimism for the future in Detroit. "There's no doubt the arc of the franchise is headed in the right direction," coach Jeff Blashill said


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

    Like Chicago before them, the Sharks haven't exactly enjoyed April from a competitive standpoint, dropping three games this week (one in overtime) to fall to 0-3-1 in the month and 0-5-1 since they last won on March 26 against Anaheim. Off the ice, general manager Doug Wilson announced his exit after 19 seasons in that role. Only Pittsburgh and Boston have won more regular-season games since he took over in May 2003. 


    22. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 24th) 

    A 4-2 home loss to Calgary preceded the start of a four-game road trip for the Ducks, who began with a win at Philadelphia before falling 5-2 at Carolina. Meanwhile, a source told Elliot Teaford of the Orange County Register that head coach Dallas Eakins is expected to stay on for a fourth season in 2022-23. The Ducks were 17-10-7 through December 31 but are 12-23-5 since January 1.


    21. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 21st) 

    Two wins in three games were a nice tonic for the Blue Jackets after they'd gone without a victory in seven straight during an 0-4-3 stretch. Jack Roslovic notched his second career hat trick in an OT win at Detroit on Saturday. "Whenever I can help the team by scoring goals, it is a great feeling," he said following his three-goal performance. "We've been talking a lot about finding an identity for this team, and tonight, I think you saw how we're always going to keep battling." 

Nos. 20-16: Islanders, Jets, Canucks, Golden Knights, Kings

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    20. New York Islanders (Last Week: 18th) 

    A four-game win streak entering the week quickly fizzled with two losses in three games, in which the Islanders scored five goals and allowed 10. New York is 13-8-1 in 22 games since March 1—the second-best record in the Metropolitan Division. Still, they sit fifth among the eight teams and were 15 points out of a wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference after Monday's games. 


    19. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 19th) 

    The week began with two losses that pushed an ill-timed skid to four straight (one in OT), but Winnipeg bounced back with wins at Ottawa and Montreal to remain in the postseason conversation. They entered Tuesday's games five points behind Dallas for the second Western wild-card spot. Coach Dave Lowry laid into the team following a shaky first period of a game in Ottawa on Sunday, and the result was a 4-3 win. "We can't come into a game like this where our asses are on the line and play the way that we did," forward Nik Ehlers said. "We need to clean that up." 


    18. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 20th) 

    They're still on the outside looking in, but the Canucks strung together one of their best weeks of the season during a late playoff chase, defeating Vegas, Arizona and San Jose while scoring 14 goals and allowing just four. They entered Tuesday six points behind Dallas for the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. "Anything is possible," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You never, never give up, and you go as hard as you can for as long as you can." 


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

    If nothing else, the Golden Knights are making a push to keep alive their streak of having made the postseason in each year of their existence. The Golden Knights went 1-1 this week and are 6-1 in their past seven. A 6-1 win against Arizona on Saturday saw the team get points from 12 players. "We haven't been able to be the four-line team that we want to be because of the injury situation. Tonight's the first night in a long time where we have the bodies to be able to try and play that type of game," coach Pete DeBoer said after the victory over the Coyotes.


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

    Just two games in the week for the Kings yielded a pair of losses in which they allowed a combined nine goals against Edmonton and Minnesota. The Kings sat third in the Pacific Division after Monday's games, four points behind second-place Edmonton and two points ahead of Vegas. Los Angeles will have to go the rest of the way without veteran defenseman Drew Doughty, who had wrist surgery Monday and is done for the season.  

Nos. 15-11: Stars, Predators, Oilers, Capitals, Penguins

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    15. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 17th) 

    It was a 2-1-1 week in a hectic time for the Stars, who defeated the New York Islanders and Chicago and lost at home to Toronto (in OT) and New Jersey. Dallas entered Tuesday's games with a two-point edge on Vegas for the final Western Conference wild-card playoff berth. The loss to New Jersey had coach Rick Bowness fired up. "If we play like that, we're going home in three weeks, it's as simple as that," he said


    14. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 16th)         

    Two wins to start the week gave way to two losses to end it for the Predators, who had a 9-4 scoring edge against Minnesota and Ottawa but were on the short end of a 7-3 margin against Florida and Pittsburgh. Nashville ended Monday's games with the first Western wild-card playoff position, but they were just three points up on Vegas. The loss against the Penguins was in overtime, but coach John Hynes wasn't disappointed by the performance. "I thought it was a real good, collective effort from our team. I felt like we deserved better," he said


    13. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 12th)         

    It was another glass-half-full week for the Oilers, who swept a three-game trip to California and had won six in a row overall before a shootout loss on Saturday against Colorado. Edmonton was four points up on Los Angeles and seven points behind Calgary in the Pacific Division entering Tuesday's games. However, they're not out of the woods yet, as they begin a five-game stretch against teams all currently in playoff position.


    12. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 13th)   

    Four wins in four games showed the Capitals may be getting hot at the right time. Washington finished Monday's games in the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot and would play Florida in the first round if current standings hold. Even with their winning streak, though, the Capitals aren't quite satisfied. "We know how good we're capable of playing, but then doing it on a consistent basis has been the challenge for us since after Christmas," center Lars Eller said.


    11. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 10th) 

    On the flip side of the playing hot scale are the Penguins, who went 1-3 in a desultory week and are 3-6-1 in their past 10. Pittsburgh ended Monday's games just four points up on Washington for third in the Metropolitan Division. If the Capitals take over that spot, the Penguins would be in line to face Florida in the first round of the playoffs. Should they hold onto third, they'll face the New York Rangers. They'll be missing Evgeni Malkin during this crucial stretch, as he was suspended four games for cross-checking Nashville's Mark Borowiecki on Sunday.

Nos. 10-6: Blues, Bruins, Lightning, Wild, Flames

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

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

    Few teams in the league are as hot as the Blues, who've gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and were tied with Minnesota for second place in the Central Division entering Tuesday. St. Louis beat Seattle, Minnesota and the New York Islanders this week, scoring 14 goals and allowing five. Also, apparently imminent is the return of defenseman Torey Krug, who practiced Monday but has not played since March 22 with a left hand/wrist injury. "It'll be great to have all six guys back to kind of gel—where their role is, where their minutes are," forward David Perron said.


    9. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 5th)  

    The Bruins had won seven of eight entering the week, but they fell off somewhat with two regulation losses in three games alongside an OT defeat of Tampa Bay. Forward David Pastrnak has an upper-body injury and missed all three games, during which the team's power-play went 0-for-11 and dropped to 10th in the league. "It is an adjustment. Obviously, you miss a guy like [Pastrnak]," forward Patrice Bergeron said. "He's one of the best shooters in the world, and teams have to respect that."


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

    A four-game losing streak (one in a shootout, one in OT) for the Lightning was convincingly put to bed on Sunday when they blew out visiting Buffalo 5-0. Tampa Bay entered Tuesday a point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division. Finishing third would likely yield a first-round series with Toronto while dropping into fourth—and the first wild-card position—could mean a matchup with Carolina. The Lightning are 1-1-1 against both Carolina and Toronto.


    7. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 7th)  

    Losses at Nashville and St. Louis provided an inglorious start to the week for the Wild before they bounced back with a 6-3 win home win over Los Angeles on Sunday in which they rallied from a 3-0 deficit. They face Edmonton at home on Tuesday and will follow with consecutive games at Dallas and St. Louis as the playoff push continues. Minnesota and the Blues entered Tuesday tied for second in the Central Division and are on track to face each other in round one of the postseason.


    6. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 9th) 

    A three-win week and a four-game win streak are good things at this time of year for the Flames, who are holding first place in the Pacific Division. Defenseman Chris Tanev traced it back to an early-season road trip on which the team went 5-0-0 and solidified itself after an iffy start. "It kick-started us into the position we are now," he told TSN. "With 10 games left, we've got to be able to handle our business now to clinch a playoff spot and move forward."

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

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

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

    Three games yielded a stellar week for the Rangers, who scored 11 goals and allowed just two while beating New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Ottawa to pull into range of first place in the Metropolitan Division. And now that it has clinched a playoff berth, New York will try to end a stretch of four seasons since its last postseason series win. "My expectation was to make the playoffs," coach Gerard Gallant said. "I'll be happy, but I'll celebrate at the end of June, hopefully. That's when you want to celebrate."


    4. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 4th)

    A 2-2 week for the Hurricanes was emblematic of a 5-3-2 stretch in the last 10 games, in which the race for the Metropolitan Division's top spot heated up significantly. Despite that, Carolina is doing its best to maintain its composure. "We still have tons of energy," defenseman Brett Pesce said. "The way I figure it, every day in this league is a blessing. It's a privilege. I don't care what time of the year it is, you're lucky to be in the National Hockey League, and I try not to take that for granted."


    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 3rd) 

    The start to April was awfully good for the Maple Leafs, who ended March with three wins and started the subsequent month with four wins and an OT loss in five games. Forward Auston Matthews has eight goals and four assists in those five games. He's now tied for fourth in the league in points and first in goals. "When we're pushing each other and going well, there are a lot of really good things we can do out there," Matthews said. "We're trying to be the best versions of ourselves so we can try and help the team."


    2. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 2nd) 

    The Panthers haven't won a postseason series since 1996 and have only reached the tournament six times since, but they're surely heading in the proper direction as the playoffs near. Florida was a league-best 9-1 in its last 10 games through Monday night, has a comfortable hold on first place in the Atlantic Division and could be seeing several teams—Boston, Washington, Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh—as a first-round opponent. Meanwhile, Jonathan Huberdeau had five points in a 7-6 win over Toronto to become the first player in franchise history to reach 100 points.


    1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 1st) 

    Speaking of hot teams, the Avalanche are an impressive 7-0-1 in their past eight games. They have allowed just 20 goals across those eight games and are seventh in the league with a 2.74 goals-against average. That blends well with an offense producing 3.76 goals per game, good for third in the NHL. No team can match the balance Colorado has in both categories.