Saturday, May 28, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Avalanche rise to top halfway through the NHL season

NHL Power Rankings: Avalanche rise to top halfway through the NHL season

Along with the two Florida teams, the Avs look like one of the three main teams to beat once the playoffs roll around

CBS Sports

We are now at the midway point of the NHL season, and there seems to be a clear divide between the cream of the crop and the rest of the league. The top of these rankings won’t look too much different today, simply because the good teams keep winning and the bad teams keep losing.

There is a new No. 1 team as the Colorado Avalanche take possession of that spot once again. Along with the two Florida teams, the Avs look like one of the three main teams to beat once the playoffs roll around. But there are a handful of teams behind them who could pull that off.

There are no questions about those teams, but some of the biggest questions as we enter the second half of the season exist in Alberta. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are still well-positioned to make the playoffs, but those two rivals will be neck and neck as we go down the stretch.

With the first half of the season in the books – at least for many teams – here are the updated NHL Power Rankings:

Biggest Movers







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The Avalanche are riding a six-game winning streak, and, don’t look now, but they are starting to get some goaltending. Over the last two weeks, Darcy Kuemper is second in the NHL in goals saved above average at five-on-five with 4.06. 1 28-8-3

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Florida looked borderline mortal last week with losses to the Flames and Kraken. They did reap the rewards of a lopsided goaltending matchup against the Oilers when Mikko Koskinen allowed 3.53 goals above expected, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 3.61 goals above expected. 1 28-9-5

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In Tampa’s 6-4 win over the Kings, Victor Hedman exhibited some freakish behavior. Not only was he okay with playing with just four defensemen, but he relished it. Hedman played 32:18 in that game and notched two goals and an assist. I guess when you win back-to-back Stanley Cups, you need to look for more challenges. 28-10-5

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Kris Letang may be 34, but he doesn’t look it. He just had his 10-game points streak snapped, and he totaled 15 points over that stretch. On top of that, the Penguins control 52.69% of the expected goals with Letang on the ice, even though he plays some of the toughest minutes on the team. 26-10-5

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Through two games last week, the Hurricanes made me look pretty dumb for dropping them in the rankings. They laid the smackdown on the Bruins and Rangers, but they ended the week by allowing seven goals to the Devils. Still, Carolina made statements with wins over those two Eastern Conference juggernauts. 3 27-9-2

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Brad Marchand vs. the Carolina Hurricanes is the budding rivalry that no one knew they needed. After the Canes scored a touchdown and a PAT against the Bruins, Marchand essentially told them that they’re poor on social media. 24-12-2

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The Rangers got a huge comeback win against the Maple Leafs, but I still have some major concerns about this team. They are dead last in expected goals share at five-on-five (44.43%). I wonder how long this team can outperform such poor offensive numbers, and the answer is probably as long as Igor Shesterkin is able to steal games. 27-11-4

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Maple Leafs

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe used the word “soft” to describe his team after it blew a lead against the Rangers. The Leafs responded well to Keefe’s criticism and notched a strong win over the Islanders. 3 25-10-3

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Through 40 games, Ivan Barbashev has already posted new career highs in goals, assists and points. Obviously, Barbashev has embraced a bigger role for the Blues, and he now gives their lineup another level of depth. 25-11-5

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The Preds snapped a four-game losing streak with a pair of wins over the Jets and Red Wings. In that victory over Detroit, Filip Forsberg continued to increase the size of his next contract by scoring his 20th goal of the season. He is in line for a big payday after the season, but will it be Nashville that backs up the Brinks trunk? 1 26-14-3

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Golden Knights

Vegas is 4-4-2 in its last 10 games, but it has performed much better than that record would indicate. Since Dec. 21, the Golden Knights are third in the NHL in expected goals share at five-on-five (57.73%). The one thing holding them back right now, but that should fix itself as long as Robin Lehner breaks out of his funk. 1 24-15-2

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The Wild are now 5-0-1 in their last six games, and Kirill Kaprizov has returned to the form at which he played for much of the 2020-21 season. He has points in eight straight games and 15 total points in that time. Kaprizov has been driving Minnesota over the last few weeks. 24-10-3

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Alex Ovechkin is back to breathing down Wayne Gretzky’s neck in the all-time goals department. The Russian sniper has five goals in his last five games, and he is at 29 goals through just 42 games on the year. 1 23-10-9

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The Stars had a relatively breezy schedule last week, at least on paper, but they did not make anything look easy. Dallas lost at home to the Canadiens before earning comeback victories over the Sabres and Red Wings to hold serve in the playoff race. 3 20-16-2

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The Ducks got a big win over the Lightning, but they have still been slipping of late. Anaheim has three wins in its last 10 games, and the team’s poor underlying numbers might finally be coming back to bite them. 1 20-16-7

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One night after allowing the Sharks’ Timo Meier to score five goals against them, the Kings got beaten by a Lightning team that iced just four defensemen. Los Angeles was able to salvage its week with a win over the hapless Devils. 3 21-16-5

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The Islanders are still a long way from the playoffs, but they are here because no one around them was very impressive last week. The Isles went 3-1-0 with two wins over the Flyers and a win over the Coyotes. It’s a start, and for the sake of the drama, I hope this team can go on a run and make the Eastern Conference Wild Card teams a little nervous. 3 14-14-6

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The Flames had a slow week with only two games on the schedule, but what a roller coaster it was. Calgary notched a massive win over the Panthers, but it turned around and lost to the struggling Oilers in the Battle of Alberta a couple of nights later. 1 18-12-6

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Goaltender Thatcher Demko is still doing everything he can to keep the Canucks relevant in the Western Conference. He now leads the league in goals saved above average at five-on-five with 14.11, which is roughly three goals higher than Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin. 1 18-19-4

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Winnipeg lost all four of its games last week, and it needs to get things turned around quickly. There are now three teams between the Jets and a playoff spot, and they have big games against the Panthers and Blues this week. One more bad week would make an already tough playoff push even more daunting. 5 17-14-7

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They did it. The Oilers won their first game since Dec. 18, and it came in the Battle of Alberta with Leon Draisitl playing hero in the final moments. That ought to make for more congenial press conferences, at least for a few days. 4 19-16-2

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The first team to beat the Panthers twice this season is … the Seattle Kraken. They outplayed Florida at five-on-five, which rarely happens, to cap off a 3-1-0 week. It’s probably too late for the Kraken to sneak into the playoffs, but at least players like Calle Jarnkrok and Marcus Johansson are raising their trade value. 8 13-24-4

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San Jose didn’t have a great week, but frankly that doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. Timo Meier put on the best show of the 2021-22 NHL season when he scored five goals against the Kings, who refused to learn the lesson at any point during the first four goals. 2 21-19-2

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Red Wings

After an incredibly hot start to the season, Rookie of the Year candidate Lucas Raymond is going through a bit of a slump. He has just one goal in his last 17 games. That type of inconsistency is to be expected from a 19-year-old, but the Red Wings offense has struggled without Raymond putting the puck in the net. 18-18-6

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One week after winning three in a row, the Blackhawks immediately dropped three straight games. This week won’t get any easier with two games against the Avalanche on deck. 3 15-19-7

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Looking back on it now, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion saying the rebuild was over before the season is even funnier now. They are 23 points out of a playoff spot, but at least Tim Stützle scored a cool goal against the Blue Jackets. 3 12-20-3

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Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets continue to struggle, but they are apparently in Jacob Chychrun sweepstakes. Why a rebuilding team like Columbus would give up numerous assets to get the Coyotes defenseman is beyond me, but general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has never been one to sit on his hands. 1 18-20-1

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Speaking of Chychrun, Arizona apparently wants a massive haul for the 23-year-old defenseman, but we’ll see if they get it. Chychrun is stuck on eight points through 29 games, and the Coyotes are getting eaten alive when he is on the ice, but that may not be totally Chychrun’s fault. 10-26-4

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Jesper Bratt has already surpassed his career high in points with 36, and he is just two goals and two assists away from career highs in each of those categories. Additionally, New Jersey has been dominant with Bratt on the ice with a 58.68% expected goals share at five-on-five. 15-20-5

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The Sabres notched a couple of wins last week, and it could have been worse for their draft lottery chances, but they blew leads against the Red Wings and the Stars to make sure they didn’t do too much winning. 1 13-21-7

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After getting pasted by the Coyotes, the Canadiens had a surprisingly competitive week. Not only did Montreal beat the Stars, but they took the Golden Knights and Avalanche to overtime. 1 8-25-7

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The Flyers haven’t earned much this year, but they have definitely earned the bottom spot in these rankings. Their losing streak is now at 11 games, and they’ve lost to the likes of the Sabres and the Blue Jackets. The silver lining is that there is only one direction to go from here. 5 13-20-8

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