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NHL Power Rankings: Red Wings in free fall as Stanley Cup Playoffs approach

NHL Power Rankings: Red Wings in free fall as Stanley Cup Playoffs approach

Detroit is headed in the wrong direction at the wrong time of year

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With the trade deadline now behind us, it’s officially time for the final playoff push in the NHL. One of the teams in the thick of that race is the Detroit Red Wings, but they are trending in the wrong direction.

Toward the end of February, the Red Wings went on a six-game winning streak, and it looked like they might be a lock for the Eastern Conference playoffs. Everything changed on a dime with a Leap Day loss against the New York Islanders. Detroit has spiraled out of control and hasn’t won a game since.

The Red Wings have now lost six straight games in regulation, and that has placed them outside the playoffs. There’s still time to turn things around, but their poor play at five-on-five may finally be catching up with them. Detroit owns a five-on-five expected goals share of 45.2%, which ranks 29th. Only the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks are worse.

It’s been eight years since Hockeytown got to experience the playoffs, and there’s still a chance that drought ends. Detroit is tied with the Islanders at 72 points, but those two teams have been headed in opposite directions over the last two weeks, and Dylan Larkin has been battling an injury.

With the Red Wings backsliding at the wrong time, here are the updated NHL Power Rankings.

Biggest Movers

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1

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Panthers

Vladimir Tarasenko is already paying dividends for his new team. In Saturday’s win over the Flyers, Tarasenko notched a goal and two assists. If Florida can keep getting that level of production out of Tarasenko, it will be borderline unfair for the team’s playoff opponents. The Panthers now have a top-six that consists of Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett and Tarasenko. It doesn’t get much better than that. 45-17-4
2

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Rangers

On Monday night, Mika Zibanejad scored his first five-on-five goal in 31 games. The Rangers have been able to outperform their five-on-five numbers throughout the regular season in the last few years, but it cannot afford for Zibanejad to go that cold in the postseason. The good news is Artemi Panarin has been excellent at five-on-five this year, so he has been able to mask some of Zibanejad’s struggles. 2 43-18-4
3

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Hurricanes

For most of the season, it seemed like the Hurricanes would have to upgrade their goaltending at some point, but they chose to keep things steady through the deadline. It’s easy to see why too. Over the last month, Pyotr Kochetkov has saved 6.19 goals above average, and Frederik Andersen just returned from a blood-clotting issue. If Carolina can get saves on a consistent basis, the team is going to be really scary in the postseason. 3 39-20-6
4

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Stars

It’s past time to highlight Logan Stankoven, who has been nothing short of brilliant since being called up in late February. The former No. 47 overall pick has five goals and three assists in nine games, and he’s making the NHL look easy. Beyond that, Dallas has controlled 68.0% of the expected goals with Stankoven on the ice at five-on-five. The idea of the Stars adding another bona fide stud to their lineup has to make the rest of the West shudder. 5 40-18-9
5

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Jets

Over the last couple of months, Nikolaj Ehlers has gone a little cold in the goal-scoring department. Since Jan. 22, Ehlers has found the back of the net just three times in 20 games. Ehlers was cooking earlier in the season, but that just hasn’t been the case of late, and it might have something to do with a somewhat reduced role. Ehlers is also shooting 6.25% during this quiet stretch, and I have to assume that won’t continue. 3 41-18-5
6

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Oilers

Connor McDavid is not of the human species. Last week, he hit the 100-point mark for the seventh time in his career and the fourth consecutive season. No player has reached 100 points in at least four straight seasons since Steve Yzerman and Brett Hull did it in 1992-93. Not bad company to keep. After shaking off an early-season injury, McDavid looks determined to bring the Stanley Cup back to Edmonton. 3 39-21-3
7

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Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon loves nothing more than playing in Ball Arena this season. In the midst of his Hart Trophy campaign, MacKinnon has recorded at least one point in each of Colorado’s 32 home games. In the Avs’ three-game home stand last week, MacKinnon went above and beyond by recording three goals and seven assists as the team went 3-0-0. Home-ice advantage doesn’t usually mean much in the NHL playoffs, but it might make a difference with the way the Avalanche have played in Denver this year. 41-20-5
8

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Maple Leafs

As is usually the case, the Maple Leafs are a shockingly top-heavy team up front. Toronto has four players at the 20-goal mark, and Auston Matthews is on pace to hit 70. Outside of those four, however, goals are much harder to come by. The next leading scorer is Tyler Bertuzzi, who is on track to finish the season with 15. The question for the Leafs is whether that star power can drive them on a deep run. All it would take is for a couple of them to go cold at the wrong time, and the season is over. 3 37-19-8
9

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Canucks

Vancouver endured a tough skid at the end of February, but the team has gotten back on track in March. The Canucks have now won four straight games, and Quinn Hughes has gotten hot again. Hughes has a goal and five assists in his last four games, and he has helped give Vancouver a commanding 10-point lead in the Pacific Division. Winning the West will be critical for playoff seeding, and the Canucks are in the driver’s seat to do just that. 2 42-17-7
10

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Bruins

Hampus Lindholm is having a tremendous season on the Bruins’ blue line. Lindholm’s contributions don’t usually show up on the scoresheet, but he has been an excellent shutdown defenseman for Boston. With Lindholm on the ice at five-on-five, Boston has controlled 52.7% of the expected goals and boasts a plus-19 goal differential. Now 30 years old, Lindholm has shown no signs of slowing down. 38-14-15
11

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Predators

Rookie Luke Evangelista has scored in three straight games and now has 14 goals on the season, which ranks fifth among all rookie skaters. Evangelista also owns a 53.6% expected goals share at five-on-five. The former second-round pick has only gotten more comfortable under first-year head coach Andrew Brunette and is starting to look like a key part of Nashville’s future. 1 37-25-4
12

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Kings

The Pierre-Luc Dubois Experiment continues to go somewhat poorly in Los Angeles. Dubois has just one goal and one assist in his last 10 games, and the Kings continue to rank in the bottom half of the NHL in goals scored. For Los Angeles to push past the first round of the postseason this year, Dubois needs to take his game to the next level. Dubois has elevated his game in the playoffs before (see: 2019). 1 33-20-11
13

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Golden Knights

Vegas made headlines at the NHL trade deadline, and when everyone is healthy, the roster is the best in the NHL. The issue is that everyone is not healthy. Alec Martinez, Mark Stone and Tomas Hertl are among the players currently sidelined due to injury. On the ice, the Golden Knights continue to spin their wheels, and they have slipped to the second wild card spot in the West. Vegas is almost certainly playoff bound, but work still needs to be done. 3 35-23-7
14

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Islanders

The Islanders just recently had their six-game point streak snapped by the Kings, but they have suddenly thrust themselves right back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Isles are sitting in the second wild card spot with a game in hand over the imploding Red Wings. Patrick Roy may have rallied the troops just in time. 4 29-21-14
15

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Lightning

In what might be his final season with the Lightning, Steven Stamkos has taken a notable step backward, especially at five-on-five. With Stamkos on the ice in those situations, the Bolts have a 47.0% expected goals share and have been outscored 50-35. Stamkos has still been able to produce on offense, but has been totally unable to drive play this season. 34-25-6
16

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Flyers

Over the last month, the Flyers’ have come back down to Earth, at least in terms of their results. Philly has still been a solid team at five-on-five, but its PDO ranks among the NHL’s worst since Feb. 12. That has a lot to do with some poor goaltending from Samuel Ersson. He hasn’t been as sharp as he was earlier in the season, and Ersson has allowed 3.07 goals above average in his last 11 appearances. 1 34-24-8
17

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Red Wings

The Red Wings were outperforming some concerning underlying five-on-five numbers all season, and it appears the other shoe has dropped. The Red Wings have now lost six straight games in regulation while getting outscored 32-11 over that stretch. The latest loss was a 7-3 drilling at the hands of the Sabres. Detroit wasn’t active at the NHL trade deadline, and that was for the best. This team isn’t ready to contend yet. 9 33-26-6
18

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Wild

Credit where credit is due. The Wild refuse to go away in the Western Conference playoff race. Lately, Kirill Kaprizov has been working his magic for Minnesota. He has seven goals and three goals in his last five games, and the Wild own the game when Kaprizov is on the ice. If he keeps playing like this — and John Hynes keeps pulling the goalie in OT — Minnesota will be a team to watch down the stretch. 3 32-27-7
19

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Kraken

Jordan Eberle just got a two-year contract extension ahead of the trade deadline, and it was well-deserved. Eberle will get close to scoring 20 goals again this season, and his five-on-five impacts have been outstanding. Eberle’s plus-17 goal differential at full strength is easily the best among Seattle’s forwards. Eberle will also be a great player to have in the locker room as the Kraken continue to build toward being a Cup contender. 28-24-12
20

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Flames

Calgary did an admirable job to remain in the playoff race while also selling off key players, but it may be running out of steam now. The Flames are now 1-3-0 in their last four games, and that essentially buries their postseason chances. At least the team has finally committed to a new direction, and it now has some assets to play with as the rebuilding effort begins in earnest. 6 31-29-5
21

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Capitals

The Capitals chose to sell off at the trade deadline. They have given up the playoff ghost. Now, it’s time to focus on one thing and one thing only. Get Alex Ovechkin every second of power play and empty-net ice time for the rest of the season. Ovi is 54 goals behind Wayne Gretzky for the all-time record and a strong finish could put the record within reach for next season. 1 30-24-9
22

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Sabres

Bowen Byram has been nothing short of great since coming over from the Avalanche in the trade that sent Casey Mittelstadt the other way. Not only did Byram score in his Sabres debut on March 7, but he added two more goals against the Red Wings on Tuesday. Byram looks right at home in Buffalo, and his ceiling is sky high. The Sabres might look back fondly on that trade a few years from now. 1 31-30-5
23

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Blues

St. Louis went to The Big Apple and lost three games by a combined score of 12-3. On Monday, the Blues went to Boston and beat the Bruins soundly, 5-1. That’s been the season for the Blues so far. Flashes of promise surrounded by truly putrid performances. At least Jordan Binnington has played well this season after a couple of down years. 2 33-29-3
24

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Devils

New Jersey is 1-5-0 in March, but there is some good news: GM Tom Fitzgerald did make changes in goal. The bad news is that those changes included bringing in Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen. Add in the move that sent Tyler Toffoli to the Jets, and it’s clear the Devils have accepted their fate this season. Now sitting behind Buffalo in the standings, New Jersey will set its sights on rebounding in 2024-25. 2 31-30-4
25

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Penguins

Frankly, it’s just sad watching the Penguins these days. Sidney Crosby and Co. aren’t going to the playoffs, and now they can’t buy a goal. Pittsburgh has scored a whopping 11 goals in seven games this month, and the team has been shut out twice in its last four games. Crosby hasn’t scored in his last nine games. Evgeni Malkin has two goals in his last 19 games. Just depressing. 1 28-27-9
26

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Canadiens

I thought the Canadiens would be relatively quiet on trade deadline day, and they were for the most part. However, GM Kent Hughes somehow managed to get a conditional third-round pick from the Devils in exchange for goalie Jake Allen. Landing that kind of return for a netminder who has allowed 8.07 goals above average and has posted a save percentage of .892 on the years is nice business. 3 25-30-10
27

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Blue Jackets

The 2023-24 season has been an absolute slog in Columbus, but there is at least one reason for hope. The Russian Line featuring Kirill Marchenko, Dmitri Voronkov and Yegor Chinakov has been a lot of fun to watch recently. Those three have worked well together when Pascal Vincent has chosen to go with that trio, and they’ve combined for 50 goals in 2023-24. That’s something to build upon for the Jackets. 1 22-33-10
28

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Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have kind of been the kings of the NHL’s basement over the last week. In their last four games, they have beaten the Coyotes twice and the Ducks once. In those games, Chicago blasted them by a combined score of 19-8. In the last two games, back-to-back seven-goal performances, Connor Bedard has eaten with three goals and five assists. 4 18-43-5
29

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Coyotes

One reason for the Coyotes’ drop-off is a brutal cold streak from Lawson Crouse. His goal slump has now reached 12 games, and Crouse has just three assists in that stretch. It has been a nightmare stretch for Crouse, who has developed into a heart-and-soul player for the Yotes. At this point, Crouse just has to focus on finishing the season on a high note. 1 26-35-5
30

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Senators

Congratulations to the Senators, a team that just snapped its seven-game losing streak against a Penguins team that couldn’t hit a soccer net right now. The Sens held off on any major moves at the trade deadline, but after this disappointing season, we’ll see if there is more of a shake-up in the summer. 2 26-33-4
31

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Ducks

Anaheim has been impressively bad in its last three games. In that stretch, the Ducks have gotten their doors blown off by the Stars, Islanders and Ducks. The combined score of those contests was 19-5. Woof. The regular season can’t end soon enough for Anaheim. 4 23-39-3
32

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Sharks

The return on the Tomas Hertl deal might seem underwhelming, but getting out from under 83% of his contract was a win for the Sharks. They need flexibility and premium future assets. They got both of those by sending Hertl to their Pacific Division rivals. 1 16-41-7

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