It has only been three weeks since the last power rankings article, the games are coming thick and fast! With the trade deadline looming, we are well and truly in the business end of the regular season, and there is plenty at stake for Canada’s seven NHL teams. Heading into the last twenty-two games, let’s take a look at where they all stand.
1. Calgary Flames
It’s hard to believe that many people at the start of the season thought the Flames were at best, on the edge of playoff contention and that a rebuild was on the horizon. Despite a surprisingly heavy 7-1 defeat to Vancouver, the Flames are sitting pretty at the top of the Pacific Division and have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten, and have the second-best record in the Western Conference. It’s not a question of if they get to the playoffs, it’s now when do they secure a playoff spot? Tyler Toffoli has been a great edition since Calgary acquired him from Montreal, with fourteen points in fifteen games. A scary forward line has become even scarier.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
I really wanted to put them lower, but they have a significantly better points total than the teams below them so for now, I’m gonna keep them second but consider them much closer to third than first. It was all going so well, and now after losses to beatable opposition in Buffalo (twice), Arizona, Vancouver and Columbus, the Leafs are now just two points ahead of Boston and in danger of falling into a Wildcard spot. Toronto conceded at least five goals in six consecutive games and at least five goals in eight of their last twelve. It goes without saying that Toronto has goaltender issues, Jack Campbell is out short term, and backup Petr Mrazek has struggled in relief, bottoming out with a .667 game against Arizona. If Toronto wants to make this the year they beat their demons, they know what the immediate issue to fix is. However, rookie goalie Erik Källgren recorded a thirty-five save shutout against Dallas, perhaps giving Toronto some renewed optimism at the position!
3. Vancouver Canucks
This team has been a rollercoaster all year, but this is now the most confident I’ve been all year about their playoff chances. Despite the disappointment of recent home losses to Washington and Tampa, the Canucks have pulled many important wins in the last ten games, most notably a 7-1 win against Calgary (shoutout to those black Canucks jerseys) and road wins against Toronto, the Rangers and Islanders. They have one of the easiest schedules left in the league and are within touching distance of a playoff spot. J.T. Miller has been on fire! The American centre has put up twenty-two points in his last ten and is now almost certainly un-tradable this season. Demko has continued to excel in goal, but he can’t play every game. Backup Jaroslav Halak has been used sparingly, he hasn’t played since February 29th and he was pulled after giving up six goals on fourteen shots. For their playoff sakes, Vancouver will hope that either Halak becomes more dependable, or Demko can continue to be an iron man who doesn’t get fatigued.
4. Edmonton Oilers
There’s not much between Vancouver and Edmonton at the moment, there’s every chance their rating will flip in the next article. But for now, Edmonton is fourth. The Oilers are 5-4-1 in their last ten and lost their first Battle of Alberta against Calgary recently, but three-consecutive wins including home wins against Washington and Tampa have left Edmonton in a good spot, sitting third in the Pacific with games in hand on fourth place Las Vegas. McDavid and Draisaitl have combined for 168 points so far, a phenomenal record that if they can maintain, Edmonton will be very confident of punching in a playoff ticket.
5. Winnipeg Jets
In a very competitive Central Division, Winnipeg finds themselves in sixth place but just two points off a Wildcard spot. They have been inconsistent for most of the year, but currently have a 6-3-1 record in their last ten that has given the Jets some potential playoff momentum. It’s still too early to say if they make it or not, but they need to maintain this winning form to really spark those playoff hopes, and back-to-back wins against the Blues and Golden Knights will certainly help. A big part of that will be Connor Hellebuyck. Usually ever-dependable, the 2020 Vezina Trophy winner has been sub .900 in five of his last seven games. If Winnipeg is going to put together a winning streak, he’ll need to recapture his best form.
6. Montreal Canadiens
For the first time since the first-ever power ranking this season, the Habs are off the bottom. Perhaps it is bittersweet for Habs fans to see their team playing so well with the season absolutely lost, but seeing them go 6-3-1 with wins against Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton must give them plenty of hope for the future. Interim coach Martin St. Louis has worked wonders with the team’s young talent. Cole Caufield has fifteen points in ten games, more than double his point tally on the year beforehand. Nick Suzuki has also been tallying the points recently as well which is very exciting for the future of the franchise. In the background, longtime franchise stalwart Carey Price is now back on the ice, and although there is no return date, the eventual return of the Habs goalie is even better news for the Montreal faithful, who now have a much better outlook going into next season than this time six weeks ago or so.
7. Ottawa Senators
It feels harsh to put the Sens at the bottom, its largely down to the surging form of Montreal. But they are 2-8-0 in the last ten, with losses against lowly Arizona (twice) and Chicago. But a theme of Ottawa all year is their ability to give playoff teams a bloody nose, and they beat St Louis 4-1 and Minnesota 4-3 recently to further prove that they can compete with most NHL teams on the day despite their record. Ottawa has made progress this year, the painful part of the rebuild looks to be behind them, going into the 2022/23 season it’ll be very interesting to see where this team goes next!
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