These are the mushy middle months of the season, when injuries seem to be piling up, and linebackers are separated from the real contenders.
This time next week, each team will have reached the halfway point. While the teams at the top have held steady — the Bruins clinched first place for the third straight week with three straight wins over the past week — the middle class was where we saw a lot of action.
The Blues, who don’t have key players Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, were nearly perfect, knocking out the Devils, Wild and Flames, who are all likely heading to the playoffs. The Islands, who finished November with the fifth-best points percentage in the East, lost all three of their matches and scored only four goals.
Here are the THN power ratings for this week.
(All great 5v5 stats, courtesy naturalstattrick.com. CF% means course by percentage and xGF% represent expected targets in percentage.)
1. Boston Bruins (32-4-4, +68. CF% league rank: 6, xGF% league rank: 3)
Since the third week of the season, the Bruins have not dropped out of the top three in the power ratings. It’s so good it’s almost boring. next one!
2. Dallas Stars (25-11-6, +35. CF%: 14, xGF%: 15)
Since Christmas, Jake Oettinger ranks first in wins (five), fifth in save percentage (. 943, at least three GPs) and fourth in GAA (1.65). They are now three points clear of second place in the Midlands and possess the best goal difference in the West at +35.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (25-9-7, +33. CF%: 13, xGF%: 5)
The play of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov caused some anxiety last week, but after the Kraken attacked 5-1, they outscored their opponents 10-3. Does any of this matter, though, when the Leafs fail to advance in the playoffs? As it stands, they will face Tampa in the first round and then Boston in the second round. Yikes.
4. New Jersey Devils (26-12-3, +32. CF%: 3, xGF%: 2)
Hopefully the worst is behind them. They’ve won four of the past six, including two wins over rivals Metro. I wonder what John Constantine sold to Beezlebub and Azrael (agents of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, I’m sure) to make the Devils so exciting because they haven’t been very fun to watch for 30 years.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (25-9-7, +17. CF%: 1, xGF%: 1)
Bad news: Piotr Kochetkov has allowed four goals in each of his past three starts. Good news: Max Pacioretty has scored three goals in three games, and the balls really jump his way.
6. Winnipeg Jets (26-14-1, +27. CF%: 19, xGF%: 20)
With Nick Eilers, Blake Wheeler, Cole Perfetti and Nate Schmidt back in the lineup, there are no holes in this lineup. Even Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin couldn’t help but curse this team.
7. Vegas Golden Knights (27-13-2, +20. CF%: 20, xGF%: 8)
It’s been a quiet week for the Knights with only two games to go, but there’s little to worry about since they’ve lost to the Kings twice since Christmas. Since going 12-4-0 in the first two months, Logan Thompson is 6-6-1/.904/2.94.
8. New York Rangers (23-12-7, +22. CF%: 12, xGF%: 18)
He’s been one of the hottest teams since December 1, going 12-3-3 with the fourth-best fielding percentage in the league. When the Rangers had control of the ball, they didn’t win games. There is probably some logic to allow Igor Shesterkin to see more action, and he’s 9-2-3/.920/2.38 over that period.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (25-13-1, +24. CF%: 7, xGF%: 4)
Losses to the Wild and Jets knock the Lightning out of the top five, and to be fair, ranking the Lightning so high seems a little strange, considering they weren’t really in the top five teams at any point this season.
10. Seattle Kraken (24-12-4, +22. CF%: 11, xGF%: 17)
The key to the Kraken’s success is their attack, while their aim ebbs and flows as they please. When they get both, it’s like magic in the water with six straight wins.
11. Washington Capitals (23-14-6, +22. CF%: 15, xGF%: 14)
The Caps modestly go up to two points, but remember that both victories were over the mediocre Jackets. However, this team is definitely headed with two good keepers and the return of Niklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. The Caps lost a bit of their edge after winning the Cup, but the narrative shifted slightly from Alex Ovechkin’s goal-scoring chase to a possible last dance as rival pens.
12. Buffalo Sabers (20-17-2, +17. CF%: 9, xGF%: 21)
Excuse me, but swords will cut it too soon. All of their past three wins have come via overtime, and their most recent loss was a failed comeback against the Kraken. They only register in groups, especially when they wear black goat heads, or not at all.
13. Minnesota Wild (22-14-4, +13. CF%: 16, xGF%: 16)
Tough week for the Wild with a savage performance from Marc-Andre Fleury and losing three in a row, even if two of them were in overtime. They’re hooded but still have several holes in their slate, and it’ll be interesting to see what Bill Guerin does. He is not afraid to make big strides.
14. Los Angeles Kings (24-14-6, -1. CF%: 10, xGF%: 11)
We’re running out of superlatives for Phoenix Copley, who is writing one of the best stories in the league this season. Without it, Kings 13-12-6.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (21-13-6, +12. CF%: 17, xGF%: 10)
Glory to snap on a six-game losing streak, but they beat the Coyotes and Canucks. If they lost those, they might be in a panic. The gain has got them a bit of time, but they need to know what to do if Tristan Jarry is no longer around because Casey DeSmith-Dustin Tokarski’s battery is as useful as AAAA batteries.
16. St. Louis Blues (21-18-3, -15. CF%: 28, xGF%: 24)
Another week like this and the Blues are back in the playoff conversation. There’s something to be said about letting kids have a right-of-way, and while it’s unfortunate, injuries to veterans have given Robert Thomas and Jordan Kerro the reins. So far, so good.
17. Calgary Flames (19-14-9, +2. CF%: 2, xGF%: 6)
There is no reason or rhyme to this team, and they have failed to get more than three straight wins at any point this season. They lost two straight goals, both in overtime, but even more inevitably, one of the teams they lost to was the Hawks Hawks.
18. Florida Panthers (19-19-4, -7. CF%: 4, xGF%: 7)
There’s nothing the Panthers can do in and out of the game, and it doesn’t even matter if Spencer Knight or Sergey Bobrovsky started. With sticks (twice) and Jets, Paul Morris outdid his welcome. How long before the Panthers realize they made a mistake?
19. Colorado Avalanche (20-16-3, +1. CF%: 5, xGF%: 13)
They finally snapped their five-game losing streak in overtime against the Oilers, but note that the Avs haven’t won in regulation since December 17 against the Preds.
20. Edmonton Oilers (21-18-3, +4. CF%: 18, xGF%: 19)
Their last hope may just be that Evander Kane returns sooner than expected. The Oilers lost four out of five, including two to divisional opponents. That Stuart Skinner misses a few games (his wife is giving birth to a baby) is more anxiety than it really should be. It’s like you’re sitting and thinking you’re going to be involved in a tearful drama Whale Only to realize Darren Aronofsky is directing it and suddenly prepare to see the worst in humanity. Well, I guess they play in Edmonton…
21- New Yorkers (22-17-3, +14. CF%: 23, xGF%: 23)
They are 1-3-1 to start 2023 with all three upcoming organizational losses on the way. This is a shadow of last season when they started out on a 13-game road trip, losing three of their first four games.
22- Nashville Predators (19-14-6, -4. CF%: 22, xGF%: 22)
Just when you think they’re pointless, they score four straight wins against some tough opponents. Of course, that’s only because Juuse Saros has been playing out of his mind, including a historic 64-save win against a team they’d have no chance of winning otherwise.
23- Ottawa Senators (18-19-3, -7. CF%: 8, xGF%: 12)
The Sens had a light week with two games to go, but they were ugly losses. First, an 8-4 loss to the Kraken after a three-day break and then being eliminated by the Preds in the next game. Four of their next five matches are on the road, where they weren’t very good either.
24- Detroit Red Wings (17-15-7, -13. CF%: 27, xGF%: 25)
It might have been the fourth straight loss if it weren’t for an unexpected night from Connor Hellboick. It wasn’t long ago that the Wings were in the playoff spot, but that seems to be a long way off now. It’s worth noting that Jonatan Berggren has moved up to the second row, which is fun to watch.
25. Philadelphia Flyers (16-18-7, -19. CF%: 25, xGF%: 26)
Of course, the secret to their success is the third-string goaltender who made his Flyers debut five years after being drafted and had just 23 games of North American AHL experience under his belt! The answer was very clear! Sarcasm aside, we should remember one thing: His name is Samuel Irson.
26. Vancouver Canucks (17-20-3, -20. CF%: 26, xGF%: 27)
It was an ugly stretch for the Canucks as goaltending was simultaneously the best and worst parts of their games. Believe me, their matches wouldn’t have been so close if it weren’t for some saves made by the goalkeepers. It was getting hard to watch the Canucks die such a slow, painful death.
27- Anaheim Ducks (12-25-4, -73. CF%: 30, xGF%: 32)
They won twice last week, including a win over the Stars. This may actually be the high water mark of the season.
28. San Jose Sharks (13-21-8, -27. CF%: 21, xGF%: 9)
If the Sharks don’t have Erik Carlson, the only noteworthy thing about their season might be their new home, road and reverse of the uniform.
29- Chicago Blackhawks (10-25-4, -58. CF%: 32, xGF%: 31)
Alex Stalock deserves a positive mention because he is somewhat over . 500 with a 0.923 save percentage and 2.54 GAA. Even Benoit Blanc would be confused.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (12-26-2, -55. CF%: 29, xGF%: 28)
They can’t score, which is funny because they have Johnny Goudreau, Patrick Lane and a lot of young talent. Since December 1, the Jackets have only won 3 games in regulation.
31- Montreal Canadiens (16-22-3, -47. CF%: 24, xGF%: 29)
Coyotes may be last, but the Hab has taken a toll that only a mother could love.
32- Arizona Coyote (13-22-5, -39. CF%: 31, xGF%: 30)
Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks was their sixth in a row, and it was also the second time they’ve lost six in a row this season.