By: Rossy Pasternak
Here on SportsNak, we will be doing weekly updated power rankings, with features about three teams each week. The All-Star break is now behind us, and the hunt for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is escalating every day. Also, the trade deadline is drawing closer and closer, making teams decide whether they are buyers, or sellers. These rankings are not only based on the standings, but also the level of team play. All stats are taken from ESPN.go.com. (GD stands for goal differential, the difference between goals scored and goals against)
The Bottom Feeders (30-21):
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (19-28-5, 43 pts, -34 GD)
29. Buffalo Sabres (20-26-4, 44 pts, -22 GD)
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (18-22-9, 45 pts, -19 GD)
27. Edmonton Oilers (20-26-5, 46 pts, -23 GD)
26. Calgary Flames (21-24-3, 45 pts, -20 GD)
25. Winnipeg Jets (22-25-3, 47 pts, -16 GD)
24. Ottawa Senators (23-22-6, 52 pts, -17 GD)
23. Montreal Canadiens (24-23-4, 52 pts, E GD)
22. Vancouver Canucks (20-19-11, 51 pts, -17 GD)
21. Arizona Coyotes (24-21-5, 53 pts, -19 GD)
The Middle of the Pack (20-11):
20. Minnesota Wild (23-18-7, 55 pts, +4 GD)
19. Philadelphia Flyers (22-18-8, 52 pts, -16 GD)
18. Nashville Predators (24-19-8, 56 pts, -3 GD)
17. Anaheim Ducks (24-18-7, 53 pts, -9 GD)
16. Carolina Hurricanes (23-20-8, 54 pts, -12 GD)
15. New Jersey Devils (26-20-5, 57 pts, -3 GD)
14. Colorado Avalanche (27-23-3, 57 pts, E GD)
13. Boston Bruins (26-18-6, 58 pts, +15 GD)
12. Pittsburgh Penguins (25-17-7, 57 pts, +2 GD)
11. San Jose Sharks (26-19-4, 56 pts, +12 GD)
The Best of the Best (10-1):
10. New York Islanders (26-16-6, 58 pts, +14 GD)
9. New York Rangers (27-18-5, 59 pts, +12 GD)
8.Detroit Red Wings (25-16-8, 58 pts, -2 GD)
7. Tampa Bay Lighting (27-18-4, 58 pts, +13 GD)
6. Los Angeles Kings (31-16-3, 65 pts, +20 GD)
5. Dallas Stars (32-14-5, 69 pts, +31 GD)
4. St. Louis Blues (29-16-8, 66 pts, +2 GD)
3. Florida Panthers (30-15-5, 65 pts, +30 GD)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (34-16-4, 72 pts, +26 GD)
1. Washington Capitals (35-9-4, 74 pts, +51 GD)
The All-Star Wrap Up
The annual All-Star game is now behind us, and what a weekend of festivities it was. Ranging from an on-ice appearance from Chewbacca, to John Scott scoring two goals in two 20-minute, 3-on-3 games, which is just three shy of his career mark. Scott, the tournament’s MVP, was by and large the star of the weekend, allowing his affable personality to shine amid less than ideal circumstances. Scott’s article on the Players’ Tribune about how he was treated by the NHL shone a light on the way the so-called “goons” of the NHL are treated. Although Scott is not a personal favourite of mine, based on the fact that he attacked Phil Kessel in a preseason game, I genuinely felt bad for him. No man deserves to be treated how Scott was, and I can only feel happy for him after what a success this weekend was not only for him on the ice, but also off of it. Because of this publicity, Scott had an opportunity to develop his personal brand, and become known to casual fans.
Speaking of the fans, the All-Star game delivered the best ratings on record for an All-Star game on NBCSN, up 24% from last year. There is no doubt that the intrigue about the new format, and the star that is John Scott, had a hand in making this weekend successful. Like all good things however, this is not likely to last. It is more than likely that Scott, or another player like him, will not be in the All-Star game for a long time. The new format will get old, and the intrigue will go away. For now though, the NHL should be happy about how the weekend went, and the fans should be happy about the show that was put on for them.
Welcome to the Second Half
There are a few things I am looking forward to in the second half of the season: the hunt for the playoffs intensifying; the hunt for Auston Matthews getting ugly; and more goals like this from Connor McDavid. I cannot tell you how jealous I am of Oilers fans that they will be able to watch this special player do special things for likely the next decade. Oilers fans have been through tough times, but McJesus is well on his way to bringing them back to what they were when, ironically enough, Wayne Gretzky was wearing the Blue and Orange. A Calder Trophy may not be out of reach for the star rookie, as he is still on pace for around 50 points, which would compete with the totals favourites Artemi Panarin, Jack Eichel, and Dylan Larkin. The fact that I, and others, still think McDavid can win the Calder is a testament to how talented he truly is.
As hard as it is to believe, there are things to be excited about other than Connor McDavid in the second half. Of course, the playoff race is going to be tremendously exciting, as there is so much parity, especially in the Western Conference. Even the Oilers, whose 45 points are good for the worst in the conference, are only 8 points out on a division spot in the Pacific. Both Wild-Card races are shaping up to have exciting finishes, and there are going to be some very good teams that miss out. For the teams who are out of the race for a chance to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup, they can turn their focuses to collecting assets at the trade deadline, and vying for the bottom spot in the standings. Teams such as the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets, and yes, the Oilers, will all be in the running for Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujärvi, and Matthew Tkachuk. Of course, Matthews is the big prize, but don’t underestimate the depth of the draft.
This second half of the season is going to be filled with thrilling, jaw-dropping moments straight from the mitts of the world’s best hockey players, and I could not be any more excited.
That concludes this week’s rankings. Check back next Saturday for the updated rankings and stories.
Do you agree, or disagree with our picks? Comment below!