NHL Power Rankings: The Flames are looking elite

Yahoo Sports

Hey everyone, we here at Yahoo! Sports are doing real power rankings for teams Nos. 1-31. Here they are, based on only how I am feeling about these teams, meaning you can’t tell me I’m wrong because these are my feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. Please enjoy the Power Feelings.

31. Ottawa Senators (Last week: 31)

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30. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 30)

29. New York Rangers (LW: 26)

I would love it if you would go ahead and try to guess how many regulation wins the Rangers have this season. Just ballpark it for me. They’ve played half a season, 41 games. I’ll hold on a minute.

Okay, what did you come up with? Because the number is 11. In 41 games. The Senators have 12. Can you believe that? The only difference seems to be that the Rangers have a much stronger ability to force OT, in which they’re 6-7.

28. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 29)

27. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 28)

26. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 24)

25. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 27)

There’s a big miasma of really bad teams at the bottom here. I’d go from Vancouver to Ottawa just in terms of “these guys truly stink.” That’s the future of the league, by the way, because more teams are going to see the value in tanking.

But the thing is how many of these teams are actively trying to be bad? Vancouver, Detroit, New York. That’s probably it. The Senators are a year removed from trying to ACQUIRE talent, Chicago can’t tank, Philly and L.A. went into the year thinking they would be playoff repeats. And while Anaheim is still holding on tenuously to a playoff spot, it all runs through one guy who happens to be the best goalie in the world right now.

How did so many teams miss internal expectations this bad?

24. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 25)

The Canucks are a team that should have been realllllllllly bad but Pettersson and Co. are just better than anyone expected on the strength of this one guy. They’re a point back of Anaheim despite John Gibson going off and Pettersson missing a bunch of time. Very weird.

23. New Jersey Devils (LW: 22)

And man, like, even though the Devils made the playoffs last year I think everyone there probably figured they’d miss the playoffs this year. That’s fine! They should be trying to rebuild, because the core of this team is very bad.

They should also trade Taylor Hall.

22. St. Louis Blues (LW: 23)

21. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 21)

20. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 17)

These guys still have the 14th-best points percentage in the league but they’ve been trending down for a while now. They still look pretty good and Carey Price has rebounded after a poor start, but in that division, I’m not sure they can put in the legwork to catch up to a healthy Boston team, even if it seems close right now.

19. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 20)

That Hampus Lindholm hit on McDavid Sunday night got a lot of attention, and it should have. Plays like that need to be a penalty 600 percent of the time.

However, less-reported at the time was that McDavid was playing on a line that night with Zack Kassian and Jujhar Khaira. The reason why? L.A. had “taken liberties” with McDavid the night before and Hitchcock wanted a little extra protection.

Those two guys had already hopped off when McDavid got a face full of boards, because they can’t stay out as long as McDavid can (no surprise) and it’s almost like, presence or not, those guys had no effect on McDavid getting mugged.

Weird how the only thing that will really deter people from taking runs at the best players in the league is officiating, but officials still won’t do anything to protect them. Very weird.

18. Florida Panthers (LW: 14)

Amazing that these guys don’t occupy a playoff spot, and aren’t even close, but the goalies are having a crap year and that’s the kind of thing that can be the difference between a mediocre team looking really good or really bad.

17. New York Islanders (LW: 18)

Amazing that these guys barely occupy a playoff spot, but the goalies are having a great year and that’s the kind of thing that can be the difference between a mediocre team looking really good or really bad.

16. Dallas Stars (LW: 19)

Amazing that these guys comfortably occupy a playoff spot, but Ben Bishop is having a great year and that’s the kind of thing that can be the difference between a mediocre team looking really good or really bad.

15. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 13)

14. Minnesota Wild (LW: 15)

I think I had this stat a week or two ago but the Wild are the only positive-goal-difference team in the league not in a playoff position right now. They have three games in hand on both Dallas and Anaheim, plus five on Vancouver, who’s a slot ahead of them.

This might be the most mediocre team in the league, though. Nothing surprises me with their success or failure anymore.

13. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 16)

12. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 12)

11. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 11)

Starting to see a lot of suggestions that these guys might trade one or both of their Russian stars regardless of playoff position around the deadline. And I gotta say: Yes please.

10. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 8)

At this point it’s “only” Dustin Byfuglien and Nik Ehlers who are out long-term but those are two pretty important players to miss the next few weeks at least, right?

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 9)

Since the Penguins bottomed out in mid-November, losing their fourth straight and ninth in 10 games at home in OT against Buffalo, they have been a liiiiiiiiiiiiittle better.

We’re talking 16-5-2 with a plus-27 goal difference. They’ve gone 17 of 59 on the power play (28.8 percent) and 46 of 53 on the PK (86.8 percent). Which, to me, that’s good. Probably not sustainable, but neither was them looking like a hot turd for a month and a half.

8. Boston Bruins (LW: 10)

7. Washington Capitals (LW: 5)

They had a three-game losing streak but if you go back to Nov. 15 they’re also 17-5-1 so yeah sometimes you lose but they still look pretty good.

6. Nashville Predators (LW: 3)

5. San Jose Sharks (LW: 7)

If Erik Karlsson had been half as bad as Drew Doughty has been this year it’s the only thing we’d be talking about. He’s not gonna win the Norris either because of how mediocre his start was, but boy what a player huh?

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 6)

3. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 4)

Johnny Gaudreau has been unstoppable of late. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
Johnny Gaudreau has been unstoppable of late. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

2. Calgary Flames (LW: 2)

They just keep doing it, man. They need to make some trades to shore up that depth but Johnny Gaudreau seems single-handedly committed to making this team elite.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 1)

Hey, they finally lost in regulation. To arguably the best team in the West. On the road. At the end of the usually brutal California trip.

It was their first regulation loss, and only the second loss overall, in more than a month. From Nov. 29 to Jan. 3, they went 15-0-1 and outscored their opponents by an average of 2.1 goals a night. Just incredible, really.

Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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