Reranking the NHL’s 31 teams

Zach Remelius, Courier Staff

No. 1 Boston Bruins: After a brief scare for the top spot in the league from a couple of teams, the Bruins have pulled away again. A 17-5-2 record in their last 25 games will certainly help that.

No. 2 St. Louis Blues: The reigning champs have won seven in a row before Tuesday’s game in New York. They will need to continue to play at a high level if they want to win the Central Division and Western Conference.

No. 3 Colorado Avalanche: The Avs are 13-4-3 in their last 20 and have also won seven in a row to keep pace in the Central Division. The Avalanche is dealing with a load of injuries to their top players and it appears Cale Makar may miss some time.

No. 4 Philadelphia Flyers: Very quietly, the Flyers have made their way to the top of the Metro Division. They are ahead of the Penguins and sit only three points back of Washington. They are another team on a streak, having won their past six.

No. 5 Washington Capitals: Upcoming games against the Flyers and Penguins could ultimately decide their fate and opponent when the postseason starts. After leading the division all season and being among the top in the league, failing to get home ice in the first round would be devastating.

No. 6 Vegas Golden Knights: Their road to the top seed in the Pacific got much tougher with an injury to Mark Stone. However, Marc Andre-Fleury has rounded into form and the newly acquired Robin Lehner is a more than capable backup. Their underlying numbers are amazing and should get through a weak Pacific.

No. 7 Tampa Bay Lightning: 6-4 in their last 10 isn’t bad, but when trying to keep up with the rest of the teams in the NHL, it isn’t good enough to keep up. Steven Stamkos is also going to miss the rest of the regular season and probably the first round of the playoffs. This could spell danger for a team looking to get over last year’s playoff embarrassment.

No. 8 Pittsburgh Penguins: They may have lost six in a row, but anytime you have two future Hall of Fame centers, you have a chance. They have a chance to make up some points here in the coming weeks and get some momentum before a match-up with either the Flyers or Capitals.

No. 9 Dallas Stars: Sure, they lost over the weekend in St. Louis in a shootout but they came down from two goals which are something that offense is going to struggle with. If Ben Bishop can play like we all know he can, this team can go on a deep playoff run.

No. 10 Toronto Maple Leafs: After everyone got to laugh at them last weekend, the Leafs have won three in a row. They will soon be getting Cody Ceci and Morgan Reilly back which will help, at least Reilly will. Under Sheldon Keefe, the Leafs are on a 107 point pace so you would think Leaf fans would be rational and calm.

No. 11 Edmonton Oilers: Adding Athanasiou and Ennis adds so much to their depth at winger. With Connor McDavid and Leon Draistaitl leading the way, there is no team that can purely stop these two. They each have five points in an 8-3 win over Nashville Monday night.

No. 12 Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne has been abysmal for the most part this season and it showed in the loss to Edmonton. They will be in a dog fight to even get in the playoffs but the talent they have could easily upset a top seed. It could be an interesting off-season if they miss the playoffs in Nashville.

No. 13 New York Islanders: After a hot start, the Islanders have been hovering around .500 in their last 45 games or so. The good news is that it was announced they will play all their playoff games in the Nassau Coliseum. That arena had so much more energy and atmosphere in last year’s playoffs in the first round before moving to Barclays in the second.

No. 14 Carolina Hurricanes: Injuries have hit this team’s defense hard. Brady Skjei hasn’t provided the boast they thought they needed after losing Pesce and Hamilton. What also doesn’t help is that both of their goalies are injured. They desperately need them back if they want to get to the playoffs.

No. 15 New York Rangers: They got hot there for a little bit, but back to back losses against the Flyers have put them back into a tough spot. Chris Kreider is out for the season and there is now a Kreider-sized hole on the left wing. Panarin has been amazing with 90 points, but he might have to be even better.

No. 16 Minnesota Wild: They traded away Zucker, looked at moving Brodin or Dumba and fired their coach, and yet here they are. They are one point out of a playoff spot, and despite being one of the more unremarkable teams in terms of star power, they play hard and that might be enough to get to the playoffs.

No. 17 Vancouver Canucks: They are missing Jacob Markstrom, he was able to cover a lot of the holes in that defense with play in net. Thatcher Demko has not been able to do so. Brock Boeser has also been injured and the replacements are let’s say, not the best. There’s a bright future in Vancouver but injuries have derailed that momentum this season.

No. 18 Calgary Flames: The way this team goes up and down, they could still host a first round series or miss the playoffs entirely. No one can understand this team and they should be so much better than what they are.

No. 19 Arizona Coyotes: Their last 20 games have been well below average and with other teams competing for that playoff spot having games in hand this will be difficult. If they miss there will need to be some conversations about where this team is headed.

No. 20 Winnipeg Jets: Somehow, someway, Connor Hellebuyck has kept this team alive along with some decent depth scoring. Overall though, this is just not a good team and the top seeded teams are begging for them to keep Nashville out of the playoffs.

No. 21 Columbus Blue Jackets: 2-4-4 in their last 10 and will need to get out of this quickly if they want to hold off Carolina and New York. Credit to them though for fighting through injuries to every notable name that remains after last season’s mass exodus.

No. 22 Florida Panthers: They are about to drop into the next tier. They are on the very fringe of playoff contention. Reports are that ownership has told the front office to cut salary after the season if they don’t make the playoffs. Which is interesting considering they spent big money on Bobrovsky and Coach Q last season.

No. 23 Buffalo Sabres: After climbing to within six points of the third seed in the division, they have collapsed. The team knows it is over and trading Wayne Simmonds still remains one of the more confusing moves of the deadline.

No. 24 Chicago Blackhawks: They still think they are in it, and that’s all well and good, but climbing over a bunch of teams and getting back into a playoff spot is probably not in the cards. They didn’t acquire anything for Robin Lehner and Blackhawk fans turning on Stan Bowman has been quite a sight.

No. 25 Los Angeles Kings: The Kings are 6-2-1 in their last nine and have a bunch of games left against the Pacific Division. This team hurting rivals while having the top farm system in the NHL is a nice spot to be in for the Kings.

No. 26 New Jersey Devils: If there’s anything positive to come out of this year, Mackenzie Blackwood looks like he could be a future star in net. Otherwise it’s been a largely disappointing year after the massive moves last offseason.

No. 27 Montreal Canadiens: For some reason, the Habs didn’t sell off many pieces at the deadline. They think they can get right back into the playoffs next year, which is a nice thought but looking at the roster at large it seems like a reach.

No. 28 San Jose Sharks: A preseason pick to win the Pacific and win the Cup but they have just fallen apart. Injuries have certainly helped, but they weren’t playing well before that either. However, if somehow they can fix the goaltending, they could get right back into contention next year.

No. 29 Ottawa Senators: The Bobby Ryan hat trick last week was one of the best moments of the entire NHL season. They also have three first round picks and it appears that some kind of plan is being put into place. It is quite possible that they could end up with two top four picks or even the top two picks.

No. 30 Anaheim Ducks: John Gibson elbowed and shoved a guy to the ground if that is any indication of how frustrated he is at the lack of support. Still, there is some young talent and another top pick is on the way.

No. 31 Detroit Red Wings: The three California teams are all near the bottom of the power rankings and combined sit at -119 in goal differential. The Red Wings are -121 all by themselves. They are 31st in scoring and 31st in goals against. They have a long, long long, long, long, I can’t emphasize this enough, long way to go before getting back to relevancy.