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NHL Power Rankings: It's Time to Check the Panic Meter

Evaluating each team on a scale of ‘calm, cool, collected’ to ‘what is happening?!?!’ Plus, some reshuffling in the top 10.

We’re nearly two-thirds of the way through the NHL season—approaching the second intermission, if you will. While we won’t get a 15-minute break for Zambonis to refresh the ice, we can still take stock of the season so far.

This week’s power rankings consider the current and future direction of each team and where the panic meter should be set for each fan base, on a scale of 1 (calm, cool, collected) to 10 (what is happening?!?).


32. Seattle Kraken

Last week: 27
Record: 16-33-4

Panic-meter rating: 4. Seattle’s first season has featured more sinking than swimming, but the Kraken are oriented toward the future, so there’s no reason for (too much) concern.

31. Philadelphia Flyers

Last week: 30
Record: 15-26-10

Panic-meter rating: 9. The Flyers have lost six in a row and 19 of their last 21 games. The team needs to commit to a rebuild.

30. Arizona Coyotes

Last Week: 31
Record: 13-33-4

Panic-meter rating: √(−1). The Coyotes broke the panic-meter scale. Should their fans be concerned about the roster, about the lack of a home arena, about the general state of the team? Sure. At some point, though, extended anxiety tips over into absurdity, and this franchise has reached that point.

29. Montreal Canadiens

Last week: 32
Record: 11-33-7

Panic-meter rating: 5. The Canadiens swung their fans from the high of a Stanley Cup finals appearance to the low of last place, where they remain even now. Last week, though, they traded forward Tyler Toffoli to the Flames for a few draft picks, prospect Emil Heineman and forward Tyler Pitlick—a solid return, and a signal that they understand the need for an overhaul.

28. Buffalo Sabres

Last week: 28
Record: 16-27-8

Panic-meter rating: 6. For this perpetually rebuilding franchise, the panic isn’t about the near future, as the team has already consigned itself to yet another reboot. The panic is about whether it can ever break the cycle.

27. New Jersey Devils

Last week: 29
Record: 17-28-5

Panic-meter rating: 5. New Jersey seems to be on an upward trajectory, with 20-year-old Jack Hughes to lead the way. But the Devils have failed to make progress this season, which could put fans on edge.

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26. Chicago Blackhawks

Last week: 25
Record: 18-26-8

Panic-meter rating: 8. An interim coach, an interim general manager and an entire franchise in disarray. The Blackhawks find themselves in the bottom 25% of the league, but their future outlook feels even more bleak.

25. Ottawa Senators

Last week: 23
Record: 19-26-5

Panic-meter rating: 7. Before the season started, newly extended Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said, “The rebuild is done.” Now, two-thirds of the way through the schedule, the team’s playoff aspirations certainly are cooked, but the team still looks underbaked.

24. San Jose Sharks

Last week: 21
Record: 22-22-6

Panic-meter rating: 6. San Jose is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and is likely to miss the playoffs for the third straight season. While selling at the trade deadline would hurt, it would also help set the team up for success in coming seasons.

23. New York Islanders

Last week: 24
Record: 19-20-7

Panic-meter rating: 8. While the Islanders’ fall has not been quite as swift and steep as the Canadiens’, they’re 17 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and recent losses to Montreal and Buffalo make a resurgence unlikely.

22. Detroit Red Wings

Last week: 26
Record: 23-22-6

Panic-meter rating: 3. At a game above .500, the Red Wings don’t need to compete for a playoff spot down the stretch to keep their rebuild on track. Just holding the line will keep their young roster in a solid position for next season.

21. Vancouver Canucks

Last week: 20
Record: 24-22-6

Panic-meter rating: 4. The Canucks’ new administration, led by president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin, will look to refresh the team’s roster on the fly while still holding on to the momentum the team has built this season.

20. Columbus Blue Jackets

Last week: 22
Record: 26-23-1

Panic-meter rating: 3. With two first-round picks in the upcoming draft (one from the Blackhawks), both of which are on track to be lottery picks, and a not-half-bad record to boot, Columbus fans should feel good about where their team stands.

19. Winnipeg Jets

Last week: 18
Record: 22-20-8

Panic-meter rating: 8. After two straight losses to the Oilers and Flames, the Jets’ playoff odds took a hit. Winnipeg could cling to their slim chances, or they could open their roster to trade partners ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.

18. Anaheim Ducks

Last week: 19
Record: 25-19-9

Panic-meter rating: 3. Anaheim’s new general manager Pat Verbeek acknowledged when he was hired earlier this month that the team is “in the middle of a rebuild,” but the team is also in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference.

17. Dallas Stars

Last week: 17
Record: 27-20-2

Panic-meter rating: 6. The Stars’ mix of younger players (Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen) and veterans (Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin) hasn’t quite delivered on its promise, and the team is running out of time.

16. Nashville Predators

Last week: 13
Record: 29-18-4

Panic-meter rating: 7. Nashville just snapped a four-game losing streak with a 6–4 win against a strong Panthers squad, but they’ve dropped to fourth place in the Central Division, and their top goal scorer Filip Forsberg will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

15. Los Angeles Kings

Last week: 16
Record: 26-17-7

Panic-meter rating: 4. After back-to-back comeback wins against the Golden Knights and the Coyotes, the Kings are 6-1-2 in their last nine games and are on pace for their first playoff berth in four seasons, though they’ll have to fight to hang on to it.

14. Edmonton Oilers

Last week: 15
Record: 28-19-3

Panic-meter rating: 9. The Oilers fired coach Dave Tippett earlier this month, a sign that the panic meter for the franchise is peaking. They can’t afford to waste another season of Connor McDavid’s prime.

13. Washington Capitals

Last week: 14
Record: 28-15-9

Panic-meter rating: 7. Injuries and power-play woes have plagued Washington, and its core players (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson) aren’t getting any younger.

12. Boston Bruins

Last week: 12
Record: 29-17-4

Panic-meter rating: 4. The Bruins are in contention again. How much should they bet on themselves this year, and how high will prices climb at the trade deadline?

11. New York Rangers

Last week: 9
Record: 32-13-5

Panic-meter rating: 3. The Rangers are a point behind the Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division with two games in hand, but they’ve benefited from goalie Igor Shesterkin’s league-leading .939 save percentage.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs

Last week: 8
Record: 32-14-4

Panic-meter rating: 10. Famous(ly expressive) Leafs fan Steve “Dangle” Glynn’s reaction to Toronto’s 5–2 loss to Montreal on Monday pretty much says it all.

9. Vegas Golden Knights

Last week: 10
Record: 29-18-4

Panic-meter rating: 2. Jack Eichel scored his first goal with the Golden Knights during Sunday’s 4–1 win against the Sharks, and Vegas looks on track for another deep playoff run.

8. St. Louis Blues

Last week: 11
Record: 30-14-6

Panic-meter rating: 4. The Blues lost to the Canadiens in overtime last Thursday, allowing Montreal to snap a 10-game losing streak. St. Louis also fell to the struggling Devils earlier in the month. Their missteps against weaker teams have allowed the Avalanche to take a commanding 10-point lead in the Central Division.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins

Last week: 6
Record: 31-13-8

Panic-meter rating: 3. The Penguins are 3-0-0 this month against teams with losing records but 1-2-1 against teams with winning records, including losses to the Hurricanes and the Capitals in their own division.

6. Minnesota Wild

Last week: 3
Record: 31-14-3

Panic-meter rating: 5. Minnesota has been one of the luckiest teams in the league this season, with a PDO of 101.7 and a league-high 11.7% of its shots finding the net. Will the Wild’s luck last, or will they regress toward the mean before the postseason?

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

Last week: 4
Record: 32-11-6

Panic-meter rating: 2. The Lightning continue to be one of the strongest teams in the league. Any panic on the part of the fan base comes from the team’s setting the bar so high in the last two Cup-winning seasons.

4. Carolina Hurricanes

Last week: 7
Record: 35-11-4

Panic-meter rating: 1. After a three-game winning streak—including a 4–3 victory over the Penguins, the team just behind them in the Metropolitan Division standings—the Hurricanes have a four-point lead in the division with two games in hand on Pittsburgh.

3. Calgary Flames

Last week: 5
Record: 30-13-6

Panic-meter rating: 2. The Pacific Division–leading Flames notched their 10th straight win overall and their 10th straight on home ice with a 3–1 victory against the Jets on Monday.

2. Florida Panthers

Last week: 1
Record: 35-11-5

Panic-meter rating: 1. The Panthers started the season with a 7-6-5 road record, but are 5-1-0 in their last six games away from FLA Live Arena.

1. Colorado Avalanche

Last week: 2
Record: 36-10-4

Panic-meter rating: 1. After a slow start, the Avalanche have roared back and lead the league in points (76), points percentage (.760) and wins (36).

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