Well, it’s safe to say a lot has happened since the last power rankings update. We’ve had drastic winning streaks, losing streaks, personnel changes and even more COVID chaos. As such, there has been a changing of the pecking order for Canada’s seven teams.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto takes the top spot partly due to struggles in Alberta but also on their own merit. The Leafs have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 with standout performances including a 5-1 win against the Ducks, 8-3 against the Avalanche and a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. There have been some hiccups, but they are still in a strong position, sitting second in the Atlantic, and as long talent such as Matthews, Tavares and Nylander keep firing, then perhaps the Leafs can dare to dream they’ll make a deep run in the playoffs.
2. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers will be hoping that they’re over the roughest patch of their season. In a six-game stretch that saw Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combine for nine points (low by their insanely high standards), the Oilers lost every single game reaffirming a criticism often thrown at Edmonton. When McDavid and Draisaitl aren’t firing, the Oilers aren’t either. The Oilers are in second place here based on their form before that six-game stretch where they were one of the best and strongest teams in the league. But another run of games like that will see them slide down the rankings. Thankfully from an Oilers perspective, the team has won their last two games, giving them some much-needed momentum going into a Battle of Alberta clash against Calgary on December 27th.
3. Vancouver Canucks
Where was this for the first 25 games of the year! After a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh, ownership finally made changes with Coach Travis Green and GM Jim Benning being relieved of their duties. They have been replaced by Bruce Boudreau and Jim Rutherford (interim GM) and results have been dramatically different for Vancouver. Vancouver defeated the LA Kings 4-0 in Boudreau’s first game and haven’t looked back, vastly improving their special teams and going on a six-game winning streak. The Canucks have actually given themselves a legitimate shot at the playoffs now, something that only a few weeks ago would’ve seemed completely out of the question.
4. Calgary Flames
It’s hard to talk about the Flames right now, they haven’t played a game since December 11th and have been having to ride out a massive covid outbreak that has shut them down since. As much as it’s a situation no one wants, perhaps a silver lining is it has helped Calgary stop the bleeding. The Flames immediately preceded their shutdown with a four-game losing streak which saw them concede eleven goals in three games, not the worst statistic but enough to account for 19.5% of their total goals conceded this season. A high-stakes Battle of Alberta against Edmonton might be exactly what Calgary needs to restart their season and leave their COVID struggles firmly in the rearview.
5. Winnipeg Jets
The second team to make a head coaching change in this article. After bouncing around below expectations for the season, head coach Paul Maurice stepped aside and resigned leaving Dave Lowry as the man to lead the Jets. Winnipeg is six points back in the race for an automatic playoff spot and earlier defats such as 1-0 to Arizona and a shootout loss to Vancouver may prove costly for this team down the line. Maurice thought he needed to resign for the Jets to reach the next level, only time will tell if the Jets can do that. A 4-2 win against division rivals the ST. Louis Blues does at least give new guy Dave Lowry and the team something to build on when they take on the Wild on December 27th, an important game for the Jets if they want to be amongst the best in the Central division.
6. Ottawa Senators
A 5-4-1 record in their last ten games is a respectable record for the Sens given where they sit in the league. Ottawa has won just nine games all season so their recent form has given the nations capital reason to be optimistic. They even managed to win three games in a row in early December and have held their own against teams much higher than them in the standings. Wins against the Avalanche, Panthers, Lightning and Hurricanes will hopefully stand this team in good stead after the Christmas break. Was this a purple patch of form or a genuine sign that the young core in Ottawa is about to take the next step? Games against the Capitals, Bruins, Penguins and Leafs after the break will be a good test of what the rest of the season will have in store for them.
7. Montreal Canadiens
Let’s keep it short for the second-worst overall team in the league. The good news, fans don’t have to suffer watching this team repeatedly lose in the Bell Centre in the short term, plus Shane Wright might look good in red and blue? The bad news, (sighs) literally everything else since last season’s Stanley Cup final.