NHL Power Rankings: Lightning still waiting to take off

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It isn't yet dire for Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they have to make a move soon. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
It isn't yet dire for Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they have to make a move soon. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY 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 and their chances to win the Cup, 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. Detroit Red Wings (Last week: 31) 

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Even in a week where they win two games (then get pushed around by the Kings) every other team in the league basement got more points than them. Truly awful.

Now they’re on pace for a whopping 49 points, though. That’s almost 50!

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 29)

I don’t think it gets funnier than Anthony Duclair, who’s a good-sized reason the Senators aren’t a total garbage fire this season, scoring a hat trick to beat these guys after John Tortorella said he didn’t know how to play hockey.

The Blue Jackets have fewer wins than the nearly talentless Senators. Think about that one.

29. New Jersey Devils (LW: 27)

Not really a great return for Taylor Hall. Some decent prospects (but certainly not either of Arizona’s two best) and a first-round pick that probably ends up in the 14-17 range. Cool, man. Great job with his tenure.

28. Ottawa Senators (LW: 28)

27. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 30)

26. New York Rangers (LW: 25) 

The Rangers are technically just a few points out of the last Eastern-Conference Wild Card spot, but the fact that they haven’t won two in a row since Nov. 23-27 kinda says a lot about their overall quality: They’re pretty good, they have some talent, but not enough. And also, the coaching isn’t where anyone needs it to be. 

You just can’t pull an average of 1.1 points out of every game and hope to hang around long-term in the East. Because remember, a lot of this is coming through top-level goaltending, and whether that holds up for the last 50 or so games is a big ol’ question mark.

25. Chicago (LW: 23)

24. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 26)

The Ducks have one regulation win in their last eight games and they haven’t even lost that much ground in the West. In fact, since their hot start ended on Oct. 18, they only have five regulation wins in 25 games. Yeesh.

23. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 24)

I just really have a hard time believing it with these guys, in much the same way I do with the Oilers. You can do the same McDavid-and-Draisaitl on/off numbers with these guys as you can with Edmonton, and at least in Edmonton there’s two of them and not just Eichel.

Eichel on at 5v5: 35-24 (59.3 percent)

Eichel off at 5v5: 37-38 (49.3 percent)

Eichel on in all situations: 65-36 (64.4 percent)

Eichel off in all situations: 41-66 (38.3 percent)

It’s Diet Oilers, and much like the Oilers this year, that can last for a while but the bottom is likely to drop out sooner than later. You gotta have more than one line, no matter how good that one line is. Pretty simple.

22. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 21)

Case in point: McDavid and Draisaitl stopped scoring at a slightly lower rate and suddenly the team is minus-15 in their last nine games and no one in Edmonton can believe it. Just unreal credulity.

21. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 22)

20. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 19)

Three straight losses, albeit on the road against some of the hottest teams in the Central (Colorado, Minnesota, and Winnipeg) but the results are getting worse. Two goals in Denver; three in St. Paul, albeit with an empty netter; and then four in Winnipeg.

And with injuries mounting and a potential suspension for Joel Farabee, the only silver lining before Christmas is that they’re playing Anaheim, Buffalo, Ottawa, and the Rangers. But then they gotta hit the road for five games in the West and then at Carolina. Brutal.

19. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 18)

18. Florida Panthers (LW: 16)

The Panthers are doing this great thing where they look awesome every other week. They have all the pieces to succeed and steadfastly refuse to put it together and you simply have to respect that.

17. Minnesota Wild (LW: 20)

16. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 17)

I had been interested to see what Arizona refused to include in the potential Taylor Hall trade because they have literally never had a talent of Hall’s quality. On the other hand, it’s probably smart to not push all in for 50 games of a guy who’s had a bad season, even if it potentially costs you a divisional playoff spot. Hall’s likely going to free agency regardless of who trades for him, so this is a pure rental, even if it’s a long one.

I think they worked a pretty good deal in the end, especially considering they got Hall at half his cap hit.

15. Nashville Predators (LW: 15)

When I wrote about the Preds last week, the number of locals who reached out to say they really have to fire Laviolette was surprising to me. I mean, I absolutely get it, obviously, but it’s just surprising how quickly things have turned. Apart from goaltending you have to say they have the roster to go pretty far, and yet they’re not gonna do it unless they make a change.

14. San Jose Sharks (LW: 13)

Then again, sometimes even a change doesn’t get it done for ya. The Sharks now have the third-worst goal difference in the league, with only New Jersey and Detroit coming off worse.

13. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 14)

The divisional playoff format is probably a savior for these guys, just because it helps them avoid a Wild Card spot long-term. Minnesota is five points back with an extra game played and that’s plenty of cushion, for now, but Dallas and Calgary are much closer on paper and inarguably more talented everywhere but in net.

12. Calgary Flames (LW: 11)

11. Dallas Stars (LW: 12)

Really chaotic week for these guys and it didn’t really affect them on the ice. They’re 2-0-1 under Rick Bowness and that loss was to a strong Vegas team. All the credit in the world for that.

10. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 10)

9. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 9)

Anyone else notice this team has quietly climbed to second in the division and seems poised to overtake Arizona? Two regulation losses in the last 10 games, and one was to the Blues, to whom it’s very easy to lose.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 5)

They went 2-2-0 in the last week and that’s normally fine because they played the Islanders, Panthers, Bruins, and Capitals. But given their poor start, .500 even against good/talented teams isn’t gonna cut it. To make matters worse, just in terms of perception, the two wins were of the narrow, one-goal variety, and both losses were blowouts.

Rough seas. They only have to play at a 96-point pace to hit 95 for the season, and that’s certainly in the wheelhouse, but it gets dark early at this time of year, y’know? 

7. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 8)

One regulation loss in December (at Boston before they hit their recent skid), and that’s with four of six so far on the road. I’m convinced these guys are for-real.

6. New York Islanders (LW: 7)

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 6)

Speaking of successful road swings, the Leafs went 3-1-0 in St. Louis, Vancouver, Calgary (the loss), and Edmonton. Still plenty to sort out, but they’re 7-4-0 under Sheldon Keefe, which is a pace for 104 points. They’ll need to keep that up for a while, but it’s very doable.

4. Boston Bruins (LW: 2)

Weird schedule the rest of 2019 for the Bs: 5 of 7 at home, and while that includes the Islanders (Thursday) and Caps (next Monday) it’s also the Kings tonight, the Preds on, and Buffalo on the 29th. The two road games are at Buffalo and New Jersey. Gotta like their chances to take a ton of points from these games.

3. St. Louis Blues (LW: 3)

2. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 4)

No regulation losses since Nov. 23 (not counting last night’s result at St. Louis) and boy do they look good doing it. And again, this is with literally every important player missing a big chunk of the season so far. What a team.

1. Washington Capitals (LW: 1)

They lost to Columbus and that was really funny, but beating Boston and then Tampa put them back on track, I would say. Still the kings until proven otherwise.

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

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