Aside from the lucky players (or unlucky, depending on your perspective) who are in south Florida this weekend for the All-Star festivities, the rest of the NHL players have scampered off to their island of choice for a little R&R, making it a good time take a look at our monthly power rankings.
The top two spots remain the same. It would be surprising, frankly, if they don’t stay that way for the rest of the season. But there’s a lot of jockeying going on elsewhere. When the league returns for game action, the stretch run will be upon us. Here we go:
1. Boston Bruins: The B’s finally had a losing streak, but they went 10-3-2 without Jake DeBrusk, a top six forward who is now an all-situations contributor. Not bad.
2. Carolina Hurricanes: With just two fewer regulation losses than the B’s, the Canes should keep them honest the rest of way. If it comes down to a Canes-Bruins ECF, home ice could tip the scales.
3. New Jersey Devils: The young Devils survived what could have been a season-sinking slump and are back pushing the league’s elite. Impressive.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts are still in third place in the Atlantic but with four games in hand on the team directly in front of them, home ice for the dreaded 2-3 first-round matchup is very much in their grasp.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Still formidable offensively, they’ve looked a lot more like the loose Leafs of old in their last two meetings with the B’s. The presumed first-round series with Tampa should be entertaining, though ridiculously unfair.
6. Dallas Stars: The Stars had a rough January (5-4-4) but they still sit atop the West, barely.
7. Seattle Kraken: The NHL couldn’t find a replacement for Matty Beniers from the Pacific-leading expansion team? Really?
8. Winnipeg Jets: Rick Bowness’ club lost five of seven in late January and they scored just five goals in those losses. Offensively, the Jets are middle of the pack.
9. New York Rangers: The Blueshirts, 8-2-2 in January, are one good acquisition away from joining the list of legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
10. Vegas Golden Knights: After the news of Mark Stone’s back surgery, the Knights could very well be in a dogfight to make the playoffs yet again. The hot start may be the only thing to save them.
11. Minnesota Wild: Minny’s a decent playoff team. Not sure if they’re much more than that.
12. Colorado Avalanche: Does anyone else feel like the defending champs are just biding their time?
13. Edmonton Oilers: Defense and goaltending is still suspect, but McDavid-Draisaitl is the best 1-2 combo up front in the league. And the Oil is heating up right now.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens are scrapping with four other teams for one of the two wild cards. They’ve not been impressive, but I’ll still take the team that has Sidney Crosby to make it.
15. Washington Capitals: As with the Pens, age is showing on some nights, but they’ve still got some offensive talent that must be respected.
16. Los Angeles Kings: The Kings are second in the Pacific, but I have a hard time taking seriously a team that is minus-10 in goal differential at this point in the season.
17. Buffalo Sabres: A 5-1 home loss to Carolina on Wednesday should be sobering, but I expect the Sabres to be fighting for a playoff spot until the end. And if they make it, there’s no team that they’d rather take out a decade’s worth of frustration on than the B’s.
18. Calgary Flames: Whether Jacob Markstrom or Daniel Vladar is their No. 1 goalie, that key position just hasn’t been good enough.
19. New York Islanders: Can the Bo Horvat deal re-energize this stuck-in-the-mud team? It was worth a try.
20. Nashville Predators: With the Preds ranked 26th in scoring, goalie Juuse Saros is keeping them in the hunt for a playoff spot.
21. Florida Panthers: Can their comeback win against the B’s catapult the Panthers into the postseason? I won’t be holding my breath.
22. St. Louis Blues: It feels like a fire sale is imminent in the heartland.
23. Ottawa Senators: The Sens own not one but two wins over the Bruins yet they can’t break away from the pack of other also-rans.
24. Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman’s offseason spending spree has not paid off.
25. Philadelphia Flyers: Somehow, John Tortorella has gotten this team to .500, sort of (21-21-9). They’ve got a long way to do, but they’re harder to play against on most nights.
26. Vancouver Canucks: Now that the Bruce Boudreau saga is fading from view, it’s still anyone’s guess if Rick Tocchet will get this franchise back on track.
27. Montreal Canadiens: The NHL is a better place when the Habs are good and worthy of your hate. Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes have some work to do.
28. San Jose Sharks: Timo Meier or Erik Karlsson on a contender could change things a bit. They’re not doing much good here.
29. Arizona Coyotes: Even with a 10-8-2 record in their college rink, the ‘Yotes are firmly in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, which has been the plan all along.
30. Chicago Blackhawks: Ditto.
31. Columbus Blue Jackets: After signing Johnny Gaudreau, the Blue Jackets could not have expected to be in this spot again. Yet here they are.
32. Anaheim Ducks: Someone in the Ducks organization needs to tell one of their best players, Trevor Zegras, that incessantly trash-talking when your team is minus-80 is not a great look.
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