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NHL Power Rankings: Lightning Return to Dominance Ahead of All-Star Break


Once a final pair of matchups conclude on Wednesday night, the NHL will dive into four days of festivities surrounding the 2020 All-Star game in St. Louis. New for this year: a 20-minute, three-on-three match between U.S. and Canada’s women’s national team players and a Topgolf-esque skills competition where players will be shooting pucks from a platform above the stands, over fans and at on-ice targets. Then, the All-Star game itself on Saturday, Jan. 25 followed by reality in the week after. Heading into the break, here’s how we see teams around the league stacking up:

31. Detroit Red Wings | 12-34-4 | Previous Ranking: 31

With coaches being fired almost every other week, Detroit’s Jeff Blashill is now the third-longest tenured bench boss remaining in the NHL. He hasn’t won more than 33 games since his first season. This year, the Red Wings have only two wins and a 2-5-1 record against the Senators, Kings, Devils and Ducks. Long live the tank!

30. New Jersey Devils | 17-24-7 | Previous Ranking: 27

In relief, the Devils’ goaltenders haven’t been terrible. The problem? Their starters—a rotation between Louis Domingue and Cory Schneider—have a collective .784 save percentage in their last three appearances. Getting outscored 17–6 in those contests doesn’t help, either.

29. Los Angeles Kings | 18-27-5 | Previous Ranking: 28

With only one win since the start of the new year, the Kings sit in last place in the Western Conference. Even so, L.A. still has 13 more points than the last-place Red Wings. It’s going to be a lonely locker room for Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick and Drew Doughty once long-tenured Kings like Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez start to find new homes.

28. Ottawa Senators | 17-23-8 | Previous Ranking: 29

With a 4–2 loss to the Golden Knights, the Senators dropped their ninth in a row and recorded its longest losing streak since the 2010–11 season. That team featured a 20-year-old Erik Karlsson, surrounded by a cadre of vets including Daniel Alfredsson (38), Alex Kovalev (37) and Sergei Gonchar (36). A few “core” players, like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, of this year’s team could be playing their last few games in an Ottawa uniform.

27. Anaheim Ducks | 19-24-5 | Previous Ranking: 30

Back-to-back wins? On the road? Against two decent teams? The Ducks rebounded from a four-game losing streak and enter the All-Star break on a high note. Credit Ryan Miller for solid goaltending and 21-year-old center Sam Steel for notching his first career game-winning goal.

26. San Jose Sharks | 21-25-4 | Previous Ranking: 25

Interim coach Bob Boughner said, “We have too many guys that are not on the same page right now,” after a 4-0 loss to the Avs … and that might not be a page that exists in the Sharks’ book this season. The penalty kill has remained sharp, Evander Kane might finish with a career-high in goals, but there aren’t many other positives to be found.

25. Minnesota Wild | 22-21-6 | Previous Ranking: 24

The Wild fought back and tied the game three separate times, but ultimately lost 5–4 off a last-second goal from Panthers winger Noel Acciari. That’s been the Wild this year—Minnesota has dug its way out of a hole, put together impressive performances against good teams but ultimately ends on the outside looking in.

24. New York Rangers | 23-21-4 | Previous Ranking: 21

Collecting two of three wins against the Islanders is as good a way as any to head into a nine-day break. Since the New Year the Rangers have the second-best power play (34.8%), while Chris Kreider also has 13 points in his last 14 games. The situation could be worse. Just take a look across the Hudson.

23. Chicago Blackhawks | 24-21-6 | Previous Ranking: 26

Riding a 10-game point streak, Patrick Kane notched an assist and his 1,000th career point in a 5–2 win against the Jets. He’s the 90th player to cross that plateau, and the youngest American to ever do so. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks won five straight, before losing to the Panthers on Tuesday, and didn't allow more than two goals in any of their wins.

22. Montreal Canadiens | 22-21-7 | Previous Ranking: 22

After losing six straight games, Carey Price has won four in a row with a .959 save percentage and 1.45 goals against average. But, improvements aside, Montreal’s recent losing streak has them nine points out of a playoff spot and sitting at a crossroads between buying and selling ahead of the trade deadline.

21. Buffalo Sabres | 22-20-7 | Previous Ranking: 24

Hope? The Sabres won three of their last four games with two solid victories coming against the Golden Knights and Stars. If Buffalo can get healthy and return Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson to the lineup, Jack Eichel might be able carry this team to the playoffs on the back of his best season to date.

20. Winnipeg Jets | 25-21-4 | Previous Ranking: 19

Without world-class goaltending, the Jets haven’t had much else to generate sustained success. Connor Hellebuyck has a .897 save percentage and 3.42 goals against average since Dec. 12 and Winnipeg has a 6-10-2 record in that stretch. The Jets might not have enough pieces to provide support, but coach Paul Maurice’s seat is heating up.

19. Nashville Predators | 22-18-7 | Previous Ranking: 16

At least the Titans gave Nashville something to be excited about. The Predators enter the All-Star break with a 4-6-1 record since Christmas and no noticeable changes since firing Peter Laviolette. Even worse, Nashville has the league’s second-worst winning percentage when surrendering the game’s first goal. They aren’t hopeless and are only six points out of a playoff spot with four games in hand.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets | 26-16-8 | Previous Ranking: 20

No Bobrovsky, no problem. Rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has collected three shutouts in his last four starts, and Matiss Kivlenieks stopped 31 of 32 shots against the Rangers in his first NHL game. The Blue Jackets have the league’s third-best save percentage, a 14-2-2 record since Dec. 16 and sit in the East’s first wild-card spot. John Tortorella’s name might start to creep into the Jack Adams conversation.

17. Calgary Flames | 26-19-5 | Previous Ranking: 17

With a chance to reclaim the top position in the Pacific Division, the Flames were stymied by Marcus Hogberg’s 40-save performance in a 5–2 loss to the Sens. Still, coach Geoff Ward’s has a 14-7-1 record since taking over, including a stretch of six wins in the team’s last seven games that’s been overshadowed by Matthew Tkachuk’s antics. Gear up for potential fireworks in Wednesday’s rematch vs. the Oilers.

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16. Arizona Coyotes | 26-20-5 | Previous Ranking: 11

The Coyotes won four in a row—tying their longest winning streak of the season—but have now lost five of their last six games while getting pummeled along the way. In that span, Arizona has scored one power-play goal, been outscored 24–13 and outshot by more than 6.8 attempts per game by its opponents. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s impending return should help improve shaky netminding, and the break offers an opportunity to reset.

15. Edmonton Oilers | 26-18-5 | Previous Ranking: 18

The Oilers have scored at least three goals in every game since Jan. 4, and what’s even more encouraging is that more than 80% of those goals have come at even strength. Sliding Leon Draisaitl down and next to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has worked and above-average goaltending has helped Edmonton win six of its last eight games.

14. Vegas Golden Knights | 25-20-7 | Previous Ranking: 12

All the cool kids were doing it, so the Golden Knights had to fire their coach, too. Out goes Gerard Gallant and his 118-70-25 record with Vegas, and in comes Pete DeBoer, who was fired by the Sharks in December. Since then, the Golden Knights have beaten the Senators and lost to the Canadiens. If DeBoer can fix anything quickly, it should be the penalty kill, which was sitting at a mediocre 78.8% when he arrived.

13. Philadelphia Flyers | 27-17-6 | Previous Ranking: 15

The Flyers escaped a buzzsaw two-week schedule with wins against the Capitals, Bruins and Blues and have survived while Claude Giroux is in the middle of a mini-slump and Carter Hart is out with an abdominal strain. Philadelphia isn’t outstanding in any one area, but top-line center Sean Couturier deserves more credit for lifting his teammates’ play and becoming one of the league’s better two-way forwards.

12. Vancouver Canucks | 27-18-4 | Previous Ranking: 13

Quinn Hughes’s scorching first half was awarded with an All-Star selection in his rookie season, highlighting a year that’s exceeded expectations so far. The Canucks head into the break atop the Pacific. Five of Vancouver’s next seven games are against teams in a playoff position and then its schedule eases a little bit from there. For milestone watchers, Elias Pettersson needs 11 goals in his last 33 games to become the first Canuck since Pavel Bure with 60 goals in his first two seasons.

11. Florida Panthers | 28-16-5 | Previous Ranking: 14

Six straight wins? Not bad. Averaging five goals per game in that span? Even better. Adding to the positive news, the Panthers will be hosting the All-Star Game in 2021 for the second time in franchise history, according to The Athletic.

10. Dallas Stars | 27-17-4 | Previous Ranking: 7

Losing by a combined score of 11–1 against the Sabres and Wild isn’t exactly the way a team wants to go into a nine-day break. Dallas has scored a grand total of five even-strength goals in its last six games while Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov’s scoring touch has disappeared, again.

9. New York Islanders | 29-15-5 | Previous Ranking: 10

The Islanders have had the markings of a middling team since their 17-game point streak came to an end: a 13-12-3 record, a power play converting on just 19.1% of its chances with a penalty kill that isn’t doing much better, a -5 goal differential and the team’s star, Mathew Barzal, cooling off after a hot start. The Isles created some breathing room in the Metropolitan Division, but oxygen is running out.

8. Carolina Hurricanes | 29-18-3 | Previous Ranking: 9

With Dougie Hamilton out with a broken left fibula, the Hurricanes had lost three straight without their All-Star defenseman. Cue Justin Williams’s return. The 38-year-old veteran scored the game-winning shootout goal in a 2–1 defeat of the Islanders and proceeded to lead the postgame storm surge.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs | 25-17-7 | Previous Ranking: 6

The offense is clicking, which is good, but GM Kyle Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe need to address the Leafs’ defense and backup goaltending situation, or else Frederik Andersen is going to be a shell of himself by the time the playoffs come. It’s going to take some salary-cap gymnastics to make way for an outside solution.

6. Colorado Avalanche | 28-15-6 | Previous Ranking: 8

Bleeding, stopped. For now at least. The Avs have won three straight—including one against the Western Conference–leading Blues—while out-scoring their opponents 15–6. Cale Makar has already broken the Avalanche franchise record for goals by a rookie defenseman, and the rest of the team will have a chance to establish consistency once Colorado resumes play in February.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins | 31-14-5 | Previous Ranking: 5

Matt Murray surrendered three first period goals and Pens fans … jeered him. Regardless, Murray stopped the next 23 in a row, and Pittsburgh came back to win 4–3. He has played better of late with five straight wins anchored by a .925 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average. That and Sidney Crosby’s return should give Pittsburgh something to be happy about.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning | 29-15-4 | Previous Ranking: 4

The Lightning erased any negative feelings from their loss to the Wild with a 7–1 win against the Jets, which saw Alex Killorn notch his first 20-goal season and 22-year-old Anthony Cirelli score his first hat trick. Tampa Bay is fully healthy and still has roughly $2.8 million in cap space to play with ahead of the trade deadline.

3. Boston Bruins | 29-10-12 | Previous Ranking: 3

Even with an uneasy past six weeks, the Bruins have the best home record in the NHL and the league’s third-best power play and penalty kill. David Pastrnak leads the league in goals (37), and the break will afford some time for Tuukka Rask to get healthy.

2. St. Louis Blues | 30-11-8 | Previous Ranking: 2

St. Louis receives the honor of hosting the week’s All-Star festivities, and every middle-of-the-pack team will be asking itself how it can become this year’s Blues. This year’s actual Blues have weathered significant injuries and inconsistent goaltending (at times) and have the best odds of any team to win its division, according to Money Puck.

1. Washington Capitals | 33-11-5 | Previous Ranking: 1

Alex Ovechkin became the second player in NHL history to register 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons and, if that wasn’t enough, scored back-to-back hat tricks for the third time in his career. His game has never aged, and the milestones aren’t about to stop—Ovi is eight goals away from reaching 700. Underneath his shadow, Ilya Samsanov has quietly moved to the league’s lead in goals against average and might give the Caps a goaltending quandary in the last third of the season.