NHL Power Rankings: Rangers climb to the top for first time this season
1:13 | NHL
NHL Power Rankings: Rangers climb to the top for first time this season
SI Staff
Tuesday March 10th, 2015

Welcome to the newest installment of our 2014–15 NHL Power Rankings. After a week on top, Montreal’s beloved Canadiens have been displaced by another Original Six team, the Rangers, who are making their first appearance at No. 1. The surging Blueshirts, who are locked in a tight Metro Division race with the arch-rival Islanders and pesky Penguins, are the eighth different team to lead the field this season.


Our three sage scribes—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak and Sam Page—submitted their detailed choices for the top 10 and dutifully ranked all 30 teams. Our final order has been painstakingly weighted according to results on the ice during the week, strength of competition, a quick glimpse at a pile of burnt entrails (future schedule, injuries), input from random people on the street and how high each club came in on each of our writers’ ballots. In some cases another purely intuitive, wholly unscientific and deplorably unethical method was used to break ties, rank teams that were chosen by only one or two writers, and inspire you, gentle reader, to angrily question our sanity.

We’ve presented the 30 teams in groups, with the Top 10 receiving the most trenchant commentary. Overview paragraphs precede both the Middle 10 and Bottom 10. Weekly movement up or down has been duly noted. So without further ado, commence to stew!

  • 1
    1New York Rangers
    last week: 3
    record: 40-17-7
    MUIR (2): What else can you say in praise of Cam Talbot? Viewed as the weak link when he was forced into the starter’s role, he’s responded by going 10-2-3. And with New York's 1–0 win over the Blackhawks on Sunday, he now has five shutouts on the season, as many as starter Henrik Lundqvist. That marks the first time in franchise history that two goalies have registered five shutouts apiece. Talbot hasn’t always been brilliant, but when the points are added up at the end of the season, nobody will be asking the Rangers how they got them. They’ll only be asking how many they got.
    KWAK (3): Since signing a four-year $18 million contract extension last Monday, Mats Zuccarello has four points in three games, including two primary assists on game-winners. New York, winner of 11 of its last 14 games, is quickly closing the gap for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Islanders by a point with four games in hand.
    PAGE (1): Among the other inside-track Stanley Cup contenders, the success of the Rangers might be the most statistically tenuous. Their five-on-five shooting percentage (8.87%) trails only the sniper-stacked Lightning. But with so little schedule left and Cam Talbot playing well, New York may avoid a downward correction.
    Last week: 1-0-1

  • 2
    2Montreal Canadiens
    last week: 1
    record: 42-18-6
    MUIR (7): That 0-2-1 California road trip was a sobering reminder that great goaltending can only Carey, er, carry this team so far. The Habs rank 22nd in offense (2.59 goals per game) and a miserable 25th on the power play. They need someone outside of Max Pacioretty to start putting the puck in the net on a regular basis.
    KWAK (4): Though the Canadiens may own the best record in the East, their three-game trip through California was not exactly encouraging as they went winless against the Sharks, the Ducks and the Kings. Against teams in the Western Conference, Montreal is just 12-10-3 this season.
    PAGE (3): Running out of things to say about Carey Price over here. Well, this is something: His .9363 save percentage is within three ten-thousandths of Dominek Hasek’s seemingly unmatchable single-season record of .9366.
    Last week: 1-1-1

  • 3
    3Anaheim Ducks
    last week: 5
    record: 42-19-7
    MUIR (3): After they got another fairly soft effort from Frederik Andersen in Monday night’s 2–1 loss to Vancouver, I’m wondering if we might see more of John Gibson in net down the stretch. The rookie has been Anaheim’s most reliable option since his recall last month, with six wins in his last seven starts. His 37-save effort in a 3–1 win over Montreal last Wednesday was a really nice piece of work.
    KWAK (1): With a 13-point lead in the bottom-heavy Pacific Division, you would not blame the Ducks for going into cruise control, but they haven’t. They’ve won seven of their last nine games, buoyed by extra offensive punch from 24-year-old winger Jakob Silfverberg, who has five points in his last five outings. One weak spot may be the goals-against they have been allowing in the second period; only the woeful Sabres have allowed more red lights to flash in the middle frame.
    PAGE (10): Anaheim just doesn’t do any one thing well enough to imagine them winning the Stanley Cup. Their five-on-five offense is above-average, their power play is poor, and their defense is good, at best. I think the Ducks will need a hot goalie in the playoffs to reach the finals.
    Last week: 2-2-0

  • 4
    4St. Louis Blues
    last week: 4
    record: 41-19-5
    MUIR (8): What a thumping they laid on the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. Sure it was only sad-sack Toronto, but that was the Blues at their finest—too big, too strong and too deep for most teams to handle.
    KWAK (5): A lopsided win over the Maple Leafs, in which six different St. Louis players found the back of the net, was some solace for a team that had dropped four of its previous six games. But all eyes will be on the eventual return of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who joined his teammates on the ice in practice last week for the first time since his abdominal injury last month.
    PAGE (2): The Predators’ slump has given the Blues a shot at the Central. The schedule helps too: St. Louis doesn’t play a top Western Conference team until April. Of particular interest are the Blues’ two games against the Wild this month, a potential first- or second-round playoff preview.
    Last week: 1-1-0

  • 5
    5Tampa Bay Lightning
    last week: 6
    record: 41-20-6
    MUIR (4): There’s no place like home for the Bolts, eh? Saturday’s come-from-behind win over the Stars was Tampa Bay’s 26th victory of the season at Amalie Arena, setting a new franchise mark. The Lightning have won 15 of their last 17 games on home ice, which puts their drive for top spot in the East into sharp focus. After a pair of road games in Montreal and Boston, they’ll be looking to bank some points when they kick off a six-game home stand on Saturday night against the visiting Jets.
    KWAK (2): Taking advantage of a relatively soft spot in the schedule, Tampa Bay took three straight from non-playoff teams last week. The power play, which had been averaging 17.4%, came up huge, going 4-for-9 in the last three games.
    PAGE (6): Steven Stamkos. ’Nuff said.
    Last week: 3-0-0

  • 6
    6Minnesota Wild
    last week: 10
    record: 36-23-7
    MUIR (1):I know I’m a lone voice crying in the wilderness here, but there’s no way I’m not putting a team that’s gone 18-4-2 in its last 24 games on top of this list. Devan Dubnyk has played his way into the Hart Trophy conversation—no, he’s not the best in the league, but is there anyone more valuable to his team? He doesn’t deserve all the credit for this hot streak, though. His teammates have backed him up with some timely offense, scoring a league-best 26 first-period goals during the stretch. Once they get a lead, they’re tough to beat.
    KWAK (11) 
    PAGE (8): Here they are, ready to run the gauntlet: home versus the Ducks, on the road the next day against St. Louis, in Nashville to take on the Preds, and back home to face the Capitals followed by the Blues. Dubnyk can’t start every game (can he?) so coach Mike Yeo will have to pick his poison between stops in Anaheim and St. Louis.
    Last week: 3-1-0

  • 7
    7New York Islanders
    last week: 8
    record: 43-21-4
    MUIR (11)
    KWAK (6): They’re doing just enough to maintain their slight lead in the Metro by earning loser points in their two defeats last week. But a big meeting against the challenging Rangers awaits on Tuesday night.
    PAGE (4): John Tavares is leading the league in scoring. ’Nuff said.
    Last week: 2-0-2

  • 8
    8Pittsburgh Penguins
    last week: 9
    record: 38-18-10
    MUIR (6): Carey Price might have the Vezina Trophy sewn up, but let’s hope Marc-André Fleury gets his due as one of the three finalists for the award. He’s been the Penguins’ MVP so far, consistently good with regular detours into greatness. His 31-save performance on Saturday night in a 1–0 shutout of Los Angeles was one of those regular detours, maybe his best performance of the season
    KWAK (9): Pittsburgh has won six of its last seven games, including an encouraging 5–2 road victory over the Ducks last Friday. Winger Patric Hornqvist has scored seven goals in that span, including game-winners in the last two.
    PAGE (7): Saturday’s shutout of the Kings put Fleury at a whopping nine bagels for the season. For all his playoff struggles, he’s been pretty good over the past five years. But no amount of regular season shutouts will get rid of his postseason doubters. For all the talk about Crosby’s legacy, Fleury could really cement his own this year with a Cup run.
    Last week: 2-1-1

  • 9
    9Nashville Predators
    last week: 2
    record: 42-19-7
    MUIR (12): Nashville finally snapped its six-game losing skid with a 2–1 OT win over the Coyotes on Monday night, and there was a lot to like about the effort. The Predators got some big stops from Pekka Rinne. They tightened up their defensive play. They created some dirty chances by going hard to the net. All that said … it was against Arizona, a team that is just 1-8-1 in its last 10 games. In other words, it was against a team that Nashville should be blowing out of the water (if there is any water in the desert). Nice to bust the slump, but there’s still some work to do here before the Preds can be considered to be back on track.
    KWAK (7): Nashville had gone the whole season without losing two in a row in regulation. But after losing six straight, the Preds found themselves mired in a full-blown slump at a time of year when a team doesn’t want to be going in reverse. Having given up the first goal in 11 of the last 12 games, Nashville has had to keep fighting from behind, which is not a recipe for success for a top contending team.
    PAGE (5): Well, the Predators got it a win, but it took overtime against a team that is actively tanking (the Coyotes). Rinne has looked less than sharp since returning from injury. Still, it’s a testament to their season that they can go 1–6 and stay in the Presidents’ Trophy race.
    Last week: 1-3-0

  • 10
    10Detroit Red Wings
    last week: 7
    record: 37-17-11
    MUIR (10): Two ugly losses over the weekend haven’t soured me on this team … yet. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky has been a nice fit, scoring a pair of goals, including an overtime winner, in his first three games with the team. Winger Erik Cole is still feeling his way around, but his speed and willingness to drive the net will pay off down the stretch. All things being equal, this team looks dangerous at it hides in the weeds.
    KWAK (10): Though the Red Wings added depth at the trade deadline, coach Mike Babcock thinks Detroit has in fact played worse since March 2, dropping a pair of games last week to desperate teams fighting for tenuous playoff spots (the Flames and the Bruins). That can be understood for a team that is comfortably in third place, but under the demanding Babcock, it won’t fly for long.
    PAGE (9): Facing 38 shots from the hapless Oilers may have been the best medicine for Jimmy Howard. With two great performances in the star goalie’s last three starts, the Red Wings have reason to hope that Howard is ready for the stretch run. They can’t do it without him.
    Last week: 2-2-0

Since Patrick Kane went down with a broken clavicle, the Blackhawks have managed to go 3-1-1. But that hasn’t stopped coach Joel Quenneville from demanding more intensity from his team. Aside from a five-goal explosion against Carolina, the Blackhawks' offense has averaged just a goal per game since Kane’s injury and been shut out twice. 

Sharks in bubble trouble with long playoff streak in jeopardy

It's easy to forget that the Canucks are sitting in second place in the Pacific. That's amazing enough, but they're also doing it without their No. 1 goalie. Eddie Lack has done everything in his power to keep them clear of the teams that are nipping at their heels, posting a .935 save percentage and stealing more than a few games since stepping into the breech. With Ryan Miller (leg injury) out for another week or two, it's up to Lack to keep them in the hunt.

No Mark Giordano, no problem? Since their captain and once-leading scorer went down with a season-ending biceps injury, the Flames have gone 3-1-1—all on the road—and maintained their (albeit paper-thin) two-point lead over the Kings in the Pacific. Jiri Hudler has carried the bulk of the burden, scoring eight points in Calgary’s last four games. 

  • 11
    11Chicago Blackhawks
    last week: 11
    record: 39-21-6
    MUIR: 13
    KWAK: 8
    PAGE: 11
    Last week: 1-0-1

  • 12
    12Vancouver Canucks
    last week: 12
    record: 38-24-4
    MUIR: 9
    KWAK: 13
    PAGE: 13
    Last week: 2-1-1

  • 13
    13Washington Capitals
    last week: 15
    record: 36-21-10
    MUIR: 18
    KWAK: 15
    PAGE: 15
    Last week: 2-1-0

  • 14
    14Winnipeg Jets
    last week: 13
    record: 33-21-12
    MUIR: 17
    KWAK: 14
    PAGE: 14
    Last week: 1-1-0

  • 15
    15Los Angeles Kings
    last week: 14
    record: 31-21-13
    MUIR: 14
    KWAK: 16
    PAGE: 16
    Last week: 2-0-1

  • 16
    16Boston Bruins
    last week: 16
    record: 33-22-10
    MUIR: 16
    KWAK: 15
    PAGE: 15
    Last week: 2-0-1

  • 17
    17Calgary Flames
    last week: 19
    record: 36-25-5
    MUIR: 15
    KWAK: 17
    PAGE: 17
    Last week: 3-0-1

  • 18
    18San Jose Sharks
    last week: 20
    record: 33-26-8
    MUIR: 22
    KWAK: 18
    PAGE: 18
    Last week: 2-1-0

  • 19
    19Florida Panthers
    last week: 18
    record: 29-23-14
    MUIR: 21
    KWAK: 20
    PAGE: 19
    Last week: 1-1-1

  • 20
    20Colorado Avalanche
    last week: 23
    record: 30-25-11
    MUIR: 20
    KWAK: 21
    PAGE: 20
    Last week: 3-0-0

Will Andrew Hammond join the ranks of flash-in-the-pan goalies?

It's easy to undervalue the Senators, but a team that's allowed only 14 goals while rolling up an 8-0-1 mark in its past nine games deserves a nod. Nice to see them hold off the resilient Flames in that 5-4 shootout win on Sunday, but you have to think that's the last we see of Craig Anderson between the pipes for a while. When you've got someone as hot as Andrew Hammond, you ride him until the wheels fly off.

It might have come too late to save their season, but the improbably early return of Tyler Seguin from a sprained MCL ensures that Stars fans will at least have something to cheer for down the home stretch. Seguin made an immediate impact in his return against the Lightning on Saturday, scoring a pair of goals—his 30th and 31st of the season—and sparking a power play that stumbled badly during his absence.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth had the audacity to play well for Buffalo as the trade deadline neared, going 3-4-2 with a .938 save percentage in February. So he was shipped to a contender in Long Island, seemingly ensuring that not even a hot hand in net could get in the way of the Sabres’ dismal run for the Connor McDavid-Jack Eichel sweepstakes.


  • 21
    21Ottawa Senators
    last week: 17
    record: 30-23-11
    MUIR: 5
    KWAK: 19
    PAGE: 21
    Last week: 3-0-1

  • 22
    22New Jersey Devils
    last week: 24
    record: 28-28-10
    MUIR: 19
    KWAK: 23
    PAGE: 24
    Last week: 2-1-0

  • 23
    23Philadelphia Flyers
    last week: 21
    record: 28-26-13
    MUIR: 23
    KWAK: 22
    PAGE: 22
    Last week: 1-1-2

  • 24
    24Dallas Stars
    last week: 22
    record: 29-27-10
    MUIR: 25
    KWAK: 25
    PAGE: 23
    Last week: 2-1-0

  • 25
    25Columbus Blue Jackets
    last week: 26
    record: 27-34-4
    MUIR: 26
    KWAK: 26
    PAGE: 25
    Last week: 1-2-0

  • 26
    26Carolina Hurricanes
    last week: 25
    record: 25-32-7
    MUIR: 24
    KWAK: 24
    PAGE: 27
    Last week: 1-1-0

  • 27
    27Toronto Maple Leafs
    last week: 27
    record: 26-35-6
    MUIR: 28
    KWAK: 27
    PAGE: 26
    Last week: 1-2-1

  • 28
    arizona Coyotes
    last week: 29
    record: 21-38-8
    MUIR: 30
    KWAK: 29
    PAGE: 28
    Last week: 1-2-1

  • 29
    29Edmonton Oilers
    last week: 28
    record: 18-38-11
    MUIR: 27
    KWAK: 28
    PAGE: 29
    Last week: 0-3-1

  • 30
    30Buffalo Sabres
    last week: 30
    record: 19-42-5
    MUIR: 29
    KWAK: 30
    PAGE: 30
    Last week: 0-3-0

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