NHL Power Rankings: Injury-plagued Washington Capitals are back in the playoff hunt

      The Caps and Wild make the biggest jump, the Panthers tumble as their playoff hopes are on life support, and the Ducks take back the last spot.

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      After a break last week for the holidays, the power rankings are back, and as expected with two weeks off, there’s quite a bit of movement this week. We saw some shifting around in the top 10, several teams making big rises and falls, and a change in the last place spot with a new team seemingly motivated for the top pick after watching Connor Bedard at the World Juniors.

      As I’ve done so far this season, I’ll be ranking teams not just on their results in the standings but also with how they’ve looked in several stats as well. Otherwise I’d just copy and paste the standings, right? No fun in that. The rankings are an aggregate of six different stats: points %, 5-on-5 goal differential, 5-on-5 xGF/60, 5-on-5 xGA/60, power play xGF/60, and shorthanded xGA/60, all coming courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. But, to ground the rankings a bit, no team can be above a team that’s more than five points ahead in the standings, regardless of the aggregate.

      1. Boston Bruins

      Record: 28-4-4 (.833%, 1st)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +32 (1st)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.83 (7th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.24 (3rd)
      PP xGF/60: 9.41 (4th)
      PK xGA/60: 6.31 (1st)
      5v5 PDO: 102.5
      Previous Week: 1st (0)

      The Bruins continue to remain on top even after a two week break, as they just refuse to lose, and on the off time that they do, they still get a point out of it. Despite losing two of their last three games, they’re riding a 10-game point streak, and even if those losses did damage to them in the aggregate, only the Hurricanes could pass them at this point with the five-point rule in play.

      2. Carolina Hurricanes

      Record: 25-6-6 (.757%, 2nd)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +22 (4th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 3.14 (2nd)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.06 (1st)
      PP xGF/60: 8.88 (11th)
      PK xGA/60: 6.64 (2nd)
      5v5 PDO: 100.1
      Previous Week: 2nd (0)

      The last time we were here, the Carolina Hurricanes jumped up to the second spot thanks to a five-game win streak and an 11-game point streak. Well, those streaks still haven’t ended, as the Canes now find themselves on an 11-game winning streak and a 17-game point streak, beating the Penguins, Flyers, Blackhawks, Panthers, and Devils twice recently to get there.

      3. Toronto Maple Leafs

      Record: 23-8-6 (.703%, 3rd)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +25 (3rd)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.82 (8th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.29 (5th)
      PP xGF/60: 9.4 (5th)
      PK xGA/60: 6.73 (3rd)
      5v5 PDO: 101.9
      Previous Week: 4th (+1)

      The Leafs were at their Leafiest over the holidays, winning four of their five games over the last couple of weeks, including two statement wins over the defending Cup finalists, beating the Lightning 4-1 and the Avalanche 6-3. I say they were at their Leafiest because that one loss came to the Coyotes, a team that, no matter how bad they are and how good the Leafs are, will always beat the Leafs.

      4. New Jersey Devils

      Record: 23-11-3 (.662%, 7th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +26 (2nd)
      5v5 xGF/60: 3.19 (1st)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.26 (4th)
      PP xGF/60: 8.42 (13th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.27 (5th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.4
      Previous Week: 3rd (-1)

      It once seemed impossible that the Devils could be dethroned in these rankings after how dominant they were to start the season, but now not only did the Bruins usurp them a few weeks ago, but the Devils now find themselves outside the top three for the first time since the first couple weeks of the season. They only won two of their six games over the past couple weeks, and even worse, those four losses came to the Bruins and Hurricanes, which doesn’t help their attempts to catch those two for the top spot again.

      5. Dallas Stars

      Record: 23-9-6 (.684%, 4th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +12 (7th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.75 (t-10th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.55 (t-15th)
      PP xGF/60: 10.96 (1st)
      PK xGA/60: 7.69 (14th)
      5v5 PDO: 101.4
      Previous Week: 7th (+2)

      A four game winning streak over the holidays, along with wins in five of their last six, shoots the Stars back up a couple spots, beating the Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Predators, Wild, and Sharks while their lone loss came to the Oilers. They also capitalized on the new year to get an extension done, signing Joe Pavelski to another one-year deal on the first day he was eligible to be extended.

      6. Vegas Golden Knights

      Record: 25-12-2 (.667%, 6th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: 0 (18th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.74 (12th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.35 (t-6th)
      PP xGF/60: 9.09 (8th)
      PK xGA/60: 7 (4th)
      5v5 PDO: 99.6
      Previous Week: 8th (+2)

      While Vegas hasn’t quite been the same team since their dominant start to the season, they’ve been holding down the fort quite well considering that they’ve now been without Jack Eichel for three straight weeks and all but one game in the last four weeks. While the losses to the Sabres and Ducks aren’t ideal, 3-2-1 isn’t a bad record to have over two weeks without your top center.

      7. Minnesota Wild

      Record: 21-13-2 (.611%, t-9th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +2 (17th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.39 (24th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.21 (2nd)
      PP xGF/60: 9.33 (6th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.37 (7th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.2
      Previous Week: 12th (+5)

      The Wild keep chugging along now that they’ve recovered from their slow start, with a 3-2-0 stretch in the last two weeks where they beat the Ducks, Jets, and Blues. A lot of their recovery is thanks to Kirill Kaprizov, who a couple weeks ago hit the 200-point mark in just 167 games, the fourth quickest among active players.

      8. New York Rangers

      Record: 20-12-6 (.605%, 11th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +10 (t-10th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.56 (21st)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.47 (10th)
      PP xGF/60: 10.4 (2nd)
      PK xGA/60: 7.51 (11th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.6
      Previous Week: 6th (-2)

      When we last checked in on the Rangers, they had won seven straight and were starting to look like a strong contender, especially on these rankings. They’ve since slowed down a little bit, going just 2-2-1 over the holidays, and they’ve lost the expected goals battle quite a bit as well again, making them look a bit more like last year’s Rangers team.

      9. Winnipeg Jets

      Record: 23-13-1 (.635%, 8th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +10 (t-10th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.61 (t-17th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.66 (18th)
      PP xGF/60: 8.99 (9th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.31 (6th)
      5v5 PDO: 101.6
      Previous Week: 10th (+1)

      The fact that the Jets only moved up a spot from the last edition of the power rankings is a bit misleading about the last couple weeks. Had I published power rankings last week, the Jets probably would’ve dropped a few spots in the midst of losing four of five games, but the Jets managed to keep in the top 10 thanks to back to back wins against the Canucks and Oilers.

      10. Pittsburgh Penguins

      Record: 19-11-6 (.611%, t-9th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +3 (t-15th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.9 (5th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.53 (14th)
      PP xGF/60: 8.67 (12th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.71 (15th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.7
      Previous Week: 5th (-5) 

      That hot streak for the Penguins came to a grinding halt, as after a stretch that saw them go 15-5-0, including win streaks of five and seven games, the Pens have lost four in a row. While the losses to the Hurricanes and Devils were close matchups against tough teams, getting blown out by the Islanders and then blowing a 4-0 first period lead to the Red Wings isn’t a great look.

      11. Tampa Bay Lightning

      Record: 23-11-1 (.671%, 5th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +10 (t-10th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.95 (4th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.55 (t-15th)
      PP xGF/60: 7.89 (t-19th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.13 (20th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.9
      Previous Week: 9th (-2)

      It was an up and down holiday season for the Lightning, as after finally starting to catch up to the Bruins and Leafs in the Atlantic division with a five-game winning streak, the Lightning then proceeded to lose two straight, including an important one against the Leafs where they were thoroughly outplayed. They’ve since followed it up with three more wins over the Habs, Rangers, and Coyotes, so they are still well within fighting distance in that division.

      12. Calgary Flames

      Record: 18-13-7 (.566%, 17th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +6 (14th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.84 (6th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.38 (9th)
      PP xGF/60: 7.83 (21st)
      PK xGA/60: 7.37 (7th)
      5v5 PDO: 98.5
      Previous Week: 14th (+2)

      The Flames seem to have recovered their season as they head into the new year, as they find themselves back in the top three of their division after getting points in six of their last seven games during a 5-1-1 stretch. Unfortunately, the one regulation loss came to the Oilers, one of the teams they’re fighting for spots with, so that could be an important one down the road.

      13. Los Angeles Kings

      Record: 21-13-6 (.600%, t-13th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +3 (t-15th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.61 (t-17th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.35 (t-6th)
      PP xGF/60: 7.53 (24th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.47 (10th)
      5v5 PDO: 98.9
      Previous Week: 16th (+3)

      While the Leafs get all the jokes about being dominant against elite teams and terrible against bad teams, the Kings had a two week stretch that also seemed to follow that pattern. Going 4-1-1 over the holidays, the managed to beat the Flames, Golden Knights, and Avalanche, while their two losses came against the Coyotes and the Flyers, with the lone win against a bad team coming against the Ducks.

      14. Washington Capitals

      Record: 21-13-5 (.603%, 12th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +11 (t-8th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.67 (14th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.48 (11th)
      PP xGF/60: 7.57 (23rd)
      PK xGA/60: 8.46 (23rd)
      5v5 PDO: 100.9
      Previous Week: 19th (+5)

      The Caps are back! After it looked like their season was over, a stretch of 10 wins in 11 games has not only put the Capitals back in playoff contention, but well into the race for a spot in the division. Not only have they saved their season, they’re just two points behind the Devils to get home ice advantage, an incredible feat considering all the players the Caps are still missing in their lineup.

      15. Seattle Kraken

      Record: 19-12-4 (.600%, t-13th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +21 (5th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.6 (20th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.49 (12th)
      PP xGF/60: 5.8 (31st)
      PK xGA/60: 7.84 (16th)
      5v5 PDO: 101.2
      Previous Week: 13th (-2)

      It wasn’t an ideal holiday stretch for the Kraken, as they found themselves on a three-game losing streak after a 6-5 shootout loss to the Canucks, a 3-2 loss to the Flames, and a 7-2 blowout to the Oilers. They recovered just in time with a 4-1 win over the Islanders on Sunday, but it’s not the best time to be losing when the rest of the Pacific Division is tightening up.

      16. Colorado Avalanche

      Record: 19-13-3 (.586%, 15th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -5 (t-21st)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.51 (22nd)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.35 (t-6th)
      PP xGF/60: 8.07 (17th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.97 (17th)
      5v5 PDO: 99.3
      Previous Week: 15th (-1)

      The Avs were doing a great job of weathering the storm while dealing with all of their injuries for the early part of December, but they’ve slipped up a bit after Christmas by losing three straight games to the Coyotes, Kings, and Leafs. They’ve started to get healthier with Nathan MacKinnon returning to the lineup against the Leafs, but they’ve still dealt with more bad news, with Valeri Nichushkin aggravating his ankle injury and likely to miss even more time.

      17. New York Islanders

      Record: 21-15-2 (.579%, 16th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +20 (6th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.61 (t-17th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.74 (23rd)
      PP xGF/60: 8.4 (14th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.41 (22nd)
      5v5 PDO: 102.2
      Previous Week: 17th (0)

      While the underlying numbers continue to look rough for the Islanders, they keep sticking around in the playoff race, especially after a three game winning streak where they beat the Panthers, Penguins, and Blue Jackets over the holiday break. That said, they did win the expected goals battle in all of their last four games, so maybe that’s a sign that they’re on the right path going into the second half of the season.

      18. Edmonton Oilers

      Record: 20-16-2 (.553%, 19th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -5 (t-21st)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.68 (13th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.7 (21st)
      PP xGF/60: 9.93 (3rd)
      PK xGA/60: 9.41 (28th)
      5v5 PDO: 99.8
      Previous Week: 18th (0)

      Inconsistencies continue to plague the Oilers, as they struggle to really gain any momentum and keep switching between winning and losing games, partially thanks to the play of their defense. Their upside has taken a hit as well, with Leon Draisaitl missing the past couple games with a core muscle strain, although it didn’t slow them down on Friday in their 7-2 win over the Kraken.

      19. Florida Panthers

      Record: 16-18-4 (.474%, 25th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +11 (t-8th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 3.06 (3rd)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.56 (17th)
      PP xGF/60: 8.9 (10th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.65 (13th)
      5v5 PDO: 99.9
      Previous Week: 11th (-8)

      Anything is possible, and this Panthers squad is still a great team, but they just can’t seem to buy a save, and that’s costing them their season to the point where it doesn’t look like it can be recovered. They’ve now lost five of their last six games and have dropped eight places in the power rankings as a result, and they now need eight points while the teams ahead have games in hand.

      20. Ottawa Senators

      Record: 17-17-3 (.500%, t-22nd)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -16 (t-27th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.8 (9th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.67 (19th)
      PP xGF/60: 9.32 (7th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.48 (24th)
      5v5 PDO: 98
      Previous Week: 20th (0)

      The Sens seem to finally be where they belong, as while they’re far from the competitive team that many thought they might be after the offseason they had, they are much better than the start they had as well. Over the last two weeks, they won three games and lost three, so that .500% level of play is fitting for a team that’s, well, .500%.

      21. Buffalo Sabres

      Record: 18-15-2 (.543%, 20th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: +10 (t-10th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.62 (16th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.69 (20th)
      PP xGF/60: 6.86 (25th)
      PK xGA/60: 9.25 (27th)
      5v5 PDO: 101.4
      Previous Week: 21st (0)

      The Sabres actually had a lighter week than the rest of the league, as they had two games postponed due to the weather in Buffalo, including one of the first times I’ve seen a game get postponed due to the weather in the road team’s city. They didn’t let the delays stop them though, as they were rocking a six game win streak up until a loss on Sunday to the Senators.

      22. Detroit Red Wings

      Record: 16-12-7 (.557%, 18th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -3 (t-19th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.2 (28th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.72 (22nd)
      PP xGF/60: 8.12 (16th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.1 (19th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.8
      Previous Week: 22nd (0)

      The Red Wings continue to scrap away and keep themselves in the fight going into the new year, getting points in four of their last five games to keep themselves above “NHL .500.” However, they still have a long way to go before seriously becoming a threat, as they’re still five points out of a playoff spot but they stand a chance thanks to a few games in hand.

      23. Nashville Predators

      Record: 15-14-6 (.514%, 21st)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -3 (t-19th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.75 (t-10th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.78 (24th)
      PP xGF/60: 6.67 (26th)
      PK xGA/60: 9.75 (30th)
      5v5 PDO: 100
      Previous Week: 24th (+1)

      It was an inconsistent couple of weeks for Nashville, as they went 3-3 with two of those wins coming against significantly worse teams in the Blackhawks and Ducks. Even with the hot streak of Filip Forsberg since the break (five goals and seven points in three games), the Preds .500 play continues to dig them a hole that eventually they won’t get out of.

      24. Vancouver Canucks

      Record: 16-17-3 (.486%, 24th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -7 (23rd)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.35 (25th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.92 (29th)
      PP xGF/60: 7.89 (t-19th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.58 (12th)
      5v5 PDO: 100.5
      Previous Week: 25th (+1)

      The Canucks continue to muddle around in mediocrity, going 3-3 over the past couple weeks, and rarely finding themselves on the right side of the expected goals battles in those matches. That seems to be the least of their problems though, as the team’s chemistry seems to be taking the hit in the wake of J.T. Miller’s recent antics.

      25. St. Louis Blues

      Record: 17-17-3 (.500%, t-22nd)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -10 (24th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.5 (23rd)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.84 (27th)
      PP xGF/60: 6.03 (29th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.49 (25th)
      5v5 PDO: 99.8
      Previous Week: 26th (+1)

      Every time the Blues get close to that playoff bubble and fighting for a spot, a losing streak always seems to creep up on them and drop them right back out of the race. The Blues have currently lost four of their last five games over the holidays but miraculously they still haven’t quite bowed out of the race yet, sitting just four points back of the final wild card spot.

      26. San Jose Sharks

      Record: 12-20-7 (.397%, 29th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -16 (t-27th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.66 (15th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.5 (13th)
      PP xGF/60: 8.36 (15th)
      PK xGA/60: 7.43 (9th)
      5v5 PDO: 98.7
      Previous Week: 23rd (-3)

      The Sharks have been shockingly controversial in these rankings, as they managed to hover around the 20th place range for much of the season thanks to the play of Erik Karlsson elevating their underlying numbers. Well, not even a 13-game point streak from Karlsson can save them now, as the five-point rule has dropped them several spots from where they would be otherwise.

      27. Philadelphia Flyers

      Record: 13-17-7 (.446%, t-26th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -12 (25th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.18 (29th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.8 (26th)
      PP xGF/60: 5.07 (32nd)
      PK xGA/60: 8.72 (26th)
      5v5 PDO: 99.1
      Previous Week: 29th (+2)

      The Flyers have been doing much better the past couple weeks, and by much better, I mean they’ve been mediocre as opposed to being horrendous, as they came out with wins in three of their five games over the holidays, with the losses coming to strong Hurricanes and Leafs’ squads. The most surprising part is that their two most recent wins have been without Carter Hart in net, who was a big reason the Flyers had their solid start to the season.

      28. Montreal Canadiens

      Record: 15-19-3 (.446%, t-26th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -18 (29th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.26 (26th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.97 (31st)
      PP xGF/60: 6.31 (28th)
      PK xGA/60: 9.67 (29th)
      5v5 PDO: 98.6
      Previous Week: 27th (-1)

      After a great start to the season, the Canadiens seem to have finally fallen down to earth, and they have done so jarringly. They currently find themselves on a five-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 26-8, including a 7-2 loss to the Panthers and a 9-2 loss to the Capitals. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield have also gone ice cold, as both were held pointless in this streak up until they got one assist and two goals respectively in the loss to the Caps.

      29. Arizona Coyotes

      Record: 13-17-5 (.443%, 28th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -14 (26th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.02 (31st)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.79 (25th)
      PP xGF/60: 5.89 (30th)
      PK xGA/60: 10.11 (32nd)
      5v5 PDO: 100.7
      Previous Week: 31st (+2)

      The Coyotes’ hilarious home and road splits continue, as they recently saw a three-game winning streak over the last couple weeks, with all three wins coming at home. Not only were those wins impressive because of the state of the Coyotes, but also because they came against three great teams in the Kings, Avalanche, and Maple Leafs.

      30. Columbus Blue Jackets

      Record: 11-22-2 (.343%, 30th)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -34 (30th)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.22 (27th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.89 (28th)
      PP xGF/60: 7.97 (18th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.14 (21st)
      5v5 PDO: 97.9
      Previous Week: 28th (-2)

      After starting to creep out of the group of bottom feeders, a seven-game losing streak has dropped the Blue Jackets right back into the Connor Bedard race. That streak finally came to an end with a win over the Blackhawks on Saturday, but that’s not exactly good news, as not only is a win over one of the few teams worse than them not that impressive, it also does Chicago more favors than Columbus in the tank wars.

      31. Chicago Blackhawks

      Record: 8-24-4 (.278%, 32nd)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -46 (32nd)
      5v5 xGF/60: 1.88 (32nd)
      5v5 xGA/60: 2.93 (30th)
      PP xGF/60: 6.58 (27th)
      PK xGA/60: 8.03 (18th)
      5v5 PDO: 97
      Previous Week: 32nd (+1)

      It’s crazy to think that after the solid start to the season the Blackhawks had, they’re now the lone team in the NHL to not hit 10 wins as we almost hit the halfway point of the season. Knowing that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’ve lost four in a row since Christmas and 12 of their last 13. However, they move up a spot because they haven’t been quite as bad as…

      32. Anaheim Ducks

      Record: 10-23-4 (.324%, 31st)
      5v5 Goal Differential: -45 (31st)
      5v5 xGF/60: 2.17 (30th)
      5v5 xGA/60: 3.4 (32nd)
      PP xGF/60: 7.74 (22nd)
      PK xGA/60: 10.05 (31st)
      5v5 PDO: 97.7
      Previous Week: 30th (-2)

      The holidays weren’t kind to the Ducks, as they dropped four of five games on the week, with the lone win being a 3-2 overtime win over the Golden Knights. Not like the results really matter to Ducks fans at this point, as they’ve probably been spending the past week watching Connor Bedard dominate for Team Canada at the World Juniors instead of watching this Ducks team.


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