NHL Power Rankings: Flames rise, and reason to love the Avs

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/5980/" data-ylk="slk:Nathan MacKinnon">Nathan MacKinnon</a> has the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/col/" data-ylk="slk:Colorado Avalanche">Colorado Avalanche</a> surging. (Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Nathan MacKinnon has the Colorado Avalanche surging. (Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hey everyone, we here at Puck Daddy 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. Arizona Coyotes (Last week: 29)

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The thing that is hard about writing this kind of thing when half the league is off for pretty much the entire week you’re writing about (13 teams played just one game, and another nine played only two) is that there’s not a lot to say, right? Certainly a lot of teams will just be staying in place.

Arizona played two games. They didn’t win either of them but got a point in the overtime against San Jose, a game in which they gave up 44 shots. Not really surprising since this isn’t a good team, I guess.

So here’s me, instead, using this space to bemoan the club’s disfunctionality when it comes to actually improving. They made some big moves this summer and due to bad luck and poor performance, are once again sitting with 27 points halfway through January. One of their better young players just asked to be traded and got his wish, with Arizona taking on back nothing of any particular note — nothing to help going forward — from Chicago.

What a bummer, y’know?

30. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 30)

29. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 28)

28. Vancouver Canucks (Last week: 31)

The Canucks went 2-1 this week, just enough to give everyone in town hope that there’s something brewing here, and to delay the sale of any of its useful players, like Thomas Vanek, who’s having a nice little season.

People in Vancouver (and I guess specifically in and around the team) seem to think this team is capable of weaseling its way into the postseason. We, of course, know the truth: It’s very much not.

27. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 27)

26. Ottawa Senators (LW: 26)

Congrats to the Senators for making it through one (1) week without any sort of major embarra…..

Ah wait, here’s Ottawa’s mayor saying the city won’t subsidize the Senators in any way. Oops, sorry about that. God, what a nightmare season for this franchise.

25. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 25) 

Apparently putting Anton Slepyshev, who’s got to be worth, what, a fifth-round pick or a B-minus prospect, on the trade block is this team’s idea of a shakeup. Alright, fine.

24. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 20)

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The ‘Canes are one of four teams to play four games over the bye week and they only won one of them. The good news is they’re in that big chunk of teams in the Metro that are four or five points of a playoff spot.

Columbus, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, both New York teams, Philly and Carolina all have between 48 and 53 points and, because of how the schedule works, play each other a ton down the stretch. That’s a lot of four-point swings in the standings on any given night. So for the ‘Canes to have gone 1-3 isn’t good here, but they split a home-and-home with the Capitals, so that’s gonna keep them in it, at least a little bit.

Well, if they can get healthy during the bye week, maybe they’ve got something here. I dunno.

23. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 23)

22. Florida Panthers (LW: 21)

21. New York Rangers (LW: 17)

The Rangers can’t do anything right lately and you start to get the feeling someone will be fired in the near future. Not a lot else to say but this is basically the end of a team that was really good for a really long time.

20.Colorado Avalanche (LW: 22)

Not totally sure what it says about a team that they can rip off as many wins of late as the Avs have — they’re 8-1-1 in the last 10 and won their only game on the bye week — and still be outside a playoff spot, but as you’ll see later this week, there’s a lot of reason to like this team all of a sudden.

It’s funny to think that maybe the Duchene trade turned things around, but adding the kinds of players they did at that time certainly seems to have helped.

19.Anaheim Ducks (LW: 19)

18.  Minnesota Wild (LW: 18)

They went undefeated this week and they’re 6-2-2 in the last 10. That’s not Avs- or Flames-level success but it’s close and it has the team in what is admittedly a precarious playoff spot (a ton of teams behind them have games in hand).

17. Chicago (LW: 15)

Help us, Corey Crawford, you’re our only hope.

16. New Jersey Devils (LW: 14)

Losers of six straight? Yeah, that feels right. But it also follows a five-game winning streak. You figure it out.

15. New York Islanders (LW: 16)

This, for me, is a big coin flip team. Do they make the playoffs? Do they not? Neither would surprise me. They’re almost certainly buyers at the deadline. Depends on what they get and what they give up, but there’s now no chance at all they trade John Tavares. That’ll make the week between the draft and July 1 pretty fun, huh?

14. Calgary Flames (LW: 24)

(Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I had the Flames at 24 last week and had all the plans in the world to move them up, like, five spots. Then I would get them to 19, look at who was 17 or 18 and go, “Well Calgary’s better than those guys.”

Big push from the Flames here of late, winning all four of their games in the survey period (by a combined score of 16-6) to push the streak to seven in a row. They’re making it look easy all of a sudden.

I’ve said all along there’s something about this team where they should be better than they are, but thanks to this seven-game winning streak, I don’t think that’s true any more. They are probably exactly as good as second in their division, though they’ve played a bunch more games than everyone else.

It’ll be interesting, though, to see if they keep up their winning ways after the bye, which has them off until Saturday. Probably came at the wrong time for these guys.

13. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 13)

Four in a row and five of the last six? With a bunch of teams on a bye and the Pens already having played the most games of anyone in the league, there’s a real good chance this club finishes the second bye week appearing very comfortable. Their position is more precarious than that, but I think this team has earned the benefit of the doubt, don’t you?

12. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 12)

11. St. Louis Blues (LW: 11)

10. Dallas Stars (LW: 10)

Each of the last three teams here had a bye and lost their only game in the past week. Not one of them should feel comfortable in their standings position. Especially given how many teams in the West are streaking right now.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 8)

8. San Jose Sharks (LW: 9)

The Sharks won their only game this week but currently sit outside the playoff picture. The good news for them is they’ve played 41 games, meaning they have games in hand on literally everyone in the Western Conference.

And, like, a lot of games in hand on the teams ahead of them. They’re four points back of Calgary with four fewer games played. Three points behind Los Angeles with two extra games. Three back of Minnesota, which has played FIVE more games. One behind Dallas, with three games in hand.

You gotta like this team, man.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 7)

The Metro is a weird division. Everyone’s so densely packed and a bunch of the teams have played 45 or 46 games, meaning all the others have games in hand like the Sharks do (though obviously not quite so many as all that).

I still really like this Columbus team but whether they hold onto No. 2 in the division? That could go either way.

6. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 4)

5. Nashville Predators (LW: 5)

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that “games in hand” is such a big deal when half the league has almost a week off, but the team it might be most important for is the Preds.

They entered yesterday with 42 games played. The two teams sandwiching them in the Central standings — Winnipeg, up three points, and St. Louis, down one — both had four more games played than that. If the Preds can put together a few more wins in the next little while, there’s no reason they can’t hit, say, the start of February as the top team in the Central. Having 56 points from 42 games is very good, especially given what this roster went through in the first half of the season.

4. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 3)

They’re still hanging on, but they went 1-2 this past week, which isn’t ideal. The Preds could soon overtake them. Which, hey, I guess there’s a reason Nashville went to the Cup Final last year, right?

3. Boston Bruins (LW: 6)

There’s probably no catching Tampa — the Bruins are 10 points back — but this team ended the survey period up two points on Toronto with four fewer games played. Use the bye week to your advantage and that lead for second in the division, which would ensure home ice when they inevitably get the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, is probably insurmountable.

2. Washington Capitals (LW: 2)

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 1)

“Simply the Best” by Tina Turner has been playing in the Tampa dressing room all season. Why should it stop now?

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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