Claude Giroux is known to be a great player in the NHL, but it has been a while since he was near the top of the league in points. Another big week from Philadelphia’s first line, however, has put the Flyers captain into a tie for the second most points behind Nikita Kucherov. He needed to come up big, too, as the Philadelphia Flyers remained in a tie for the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with multiple teams going on their bye week.
One of Philly’s notable rivals, the New York Islanders, took a huge tumble in the NHL Power Rankings, while a notable trade was made this week.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: 65 points
Previously 1 (60 points)
Tampa Bay continues to run over the league, even though they looked quite disappointing in French territory. They will have to hope their luck against Canadian teams improves, because their last game before their bye week is Thursday against the streaking Flames. Slip up and the expansion franchise has a chance to take the league lead in points. Tyler Johnson reached triple digits in NHL goals just before the new year, but he has not had any milestone hangover. He picked up first fourth career hat trick in Tuesday’s tight win over the Hurricanes and first since the 2015 playoffs.
2. Vegas Golden Knights: 60 points
Previously 2 (56 points)
For the second straight season, the team that I predicted to be the worst team in the NHL is on the verge of racing past my predicted point total (Columbus did last year). Considering how easy it is to win in T-Mobile Arena, Vegas should get at least two wins before the All-Star break, and they are also five wins away from setting the NHL record for the most wins by an expansion franchise. William Karlsson continued his dream season with goals in both games this week, including the game-winner in Sunday’s low-scoring affair with the Rangers.
3. Winnipeg Jets: 59 points
Previously 4 (53 points)
Vegas has overshadowed everything that Winnipeg has done up to this point. The Jets have the third best offense in the NHL because of hot stretches like the one this week, especially on Tuesday. Kyle Connor led the charge in that win with two goals and one assist, and he now has eight multi-point games in his first full season.
4. Nashville Predators: 56 points
Previously 6 (51 points)
The week started off badly with an overtime loss in Arizona, but the Predators managed to get points in all of their games to stay ahead of St. Louis. Austin Watson scored two late goals to give Nashville a regulation win in LA for his first points in 13 games.
5. Los Angeles Kings: 53 points
Previously 3 (53 points)
It was a bad, short week for Southern California. Los Angeles would have had two wins if the second period had not existed, as six of their eight goals allowed came in the middle period. Now the Kings are closer to a wild card than they are to Vegas. Tanner Pearson gave the Kings a chance in Calgary with two goals and an assist, and he has a three-game point streak for the second time this season.
6. Washington Capitals: 57 points
Previously 7 (53 points)
It is not Columbus winning 17 straight last season, but Washington did become the first team to win 10 straight games at home this season. They walked the tightrope with visits from St. Louis and Vancouver this week, but they can extend their streak in a home-and-home with Carolina. Philipp Grubauer got his first start of 2018 on Tuesday, and he held the Canucks to one goal on 38 shots to pick up his third victory of the season and first in over a month.
7. St. Louis Blues: 55 points
Previously 5 (52 points)
St. Louis is probably the best roller coaster ride in Six Flags this year. This is nothing new, as this generation’s squad seems to writhe between winning streaks and funks without hurting their playoff chances. After getting a offensive shredding from three Eastern Conference foes, St. Louis will have to travel to the suddenly formidable Eastern Canada. Paul Stastny boosted a big week with the game-winner to sink Vegas on Thursday. He would get two more goals in losing causes.
8. New Jersey Devils: 52 points
Previously 8 (51 points)
New Jersey stumbled their way to the bye week with five straight losses, but four of those where decided by one goal or a shootout, including Sunday’s five-round shootout loss in Brooklyn. They have yet to slip in the standings, but are the Devils losing steam in the marathon that is the regular season? They have proven plenty of doubters wrong, especially after the Adam Henrique trade. Travis Zajac, who did not make his season debut until Nov. 16, scored twice in that shootout loss, and it was his first multi-goal game since tallying a hat trick at Chicago in December of 2016.
9. Boston Bruins: 53 points
Previously 9 (50 points)
The Bruins still have their 11-game point streak intact (we will never know if that Thursday postponement helped), but that Sunday loss had to hurt. They blew a two-goal lead and also had a chance to win on a Brad Marchand penalty shot with just 1:01 left in regulation. Instead, they have to settle for a second place tie in the Atlantic Division while on their bye week. Patrice Bergeron was delightful on Saturday, scoring four times and adding an assist in an offensive onslaught against Carolina. It was the second time a player scored four in a game this season (Alex Ovechkin did it in October) and the first time a Bruins player reached the milestone in over 18 years.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs: 53 points
Previously 10 (48 points)
Nazem Kadri had as many beard pulls as goals scored in Thursday’s shootout win, a game that Tyler Bozak finished off. Fortunately for the Leafs, they had significantly more points this week than beard pulls, which is why they are tied for second place in the Atlantic Division heading into their bye week. Bozak, who had four points this week, brought deja vu back to Air Canada Centre with his second shootout winner in three days in Toronto’s win over Vancouver.
11. Dallas Stars: 51 points
Previously 13 (47 points)
As other teams breathe down their neck, the Stars continue to roll. They have won four of their first five games in a six-game home stand and had full control of the first wild card spot entering their bye week. They go on a somewhat easier Great Lakes swing after Saturday. Alexander Radulov continues to produce week in and week out, but he really stepped up in a light week. He had a goal and two assists in each of their two games, including three points in the a dominant first period against Edmonton.
12. Columbus Blue Jackets: 53 points
Previously 11 (49 points)
They look like a borderline disaster on paper, but they continue to come through. After a huge comeback win in Toronto on Monday, it is clear that the small market in Ohio will not go away, even in the division in which they have residence. Columbus came back from a 2-0 hole in the third period on Monday, and points leader Artemi Panarin stashed the OT winner during the NCAA Football Championship Game. Alexander Wennberg is expected to return on Thursday.
13. New York Rangers: 49 points
Previously 12 (47 points)
New York did the same thing that most teams have done on the southwestern road trip, take down Arizona and slip up in Vegas. They went back to their previous struggles, however, in which reaching two goals was a premium. Both Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec were fantastic in their corresponding starts, and the King made 38 saves and defeated the Coyotes in a shootout.
14. Minnesota Wild: 50 points
Previously 16 (45 points)
Thanks to a big week in four games played, Minnesota climbed into the second wild spot. This week ranged from beatdowns on sorry opponents to a tight win against Chicago on national television. Nino Niederreiter picked up his second career hat trick in a little over a period in Thursday drubbing of Buffalo.
15. San Jose Sharks: 48 points
Previously 14 (46 points)
Is this just a tease? San Jose seems to make fans believe their age is getting the best of them with key skids, but they tend to make the playoffs anyway. After blowing a big third period lead in Ottawa and getting cranked in Winnipeg, the Ducks and Flames are breathing down their neck for third place. Will two games against the Coyotes turn things around? Logan Couture picked up three assists in Friday’s overtime loss, and he now has eight multi-point games this season.
16. Anaheim Ducks: 47 points
Previously 17 (46 points)
Kevin Bieksa and the Anaheim Ducks will never be accused of bowing down to fights, but they picked a bad time to slip up. They scored all three of their goals in the third period before losing a shootout to the Oilers and watching Dougie Hamilton rip their hearts out with 16 seconds left in regulation. They are helplessly waiting until Saturday to make up for lost points in the wild card and Pacific Division races. Ryan Getzlaf has been unconscious against the Flames over his career, as his 57 points against them is his second highest total behind Arizona. He continued that trend by tying Saturday’s game up with a hard slap shot goal.
17. Pittsburgh Penguins: 47 points
Previously 18 (43 points)
The offense is back. After a loss to Carolina put the Stanley Cup Champions on the verge of last place in the Metropolitan Division, they won in a back-and-forth with Boston and easily handled the Islanders in a crucial divisional road battle. That shutout win is why they are ahead of three teams instead of behind them. Tristan Jarry picked up his second NHL shutout with a 31-save night in Brooklyn, and the Pens have not given up a power play goal since before Christmas.
18. Calgary Flames: 48 points
Previously 21 (42 points)
Suddenly the Flames are putting the pressure on California. With some well-timed goals on both LA and Anaheim, Calgary is now tied with San Jose for third in the Pacific Division. Despite four straight wins, the Flames probably could have done better in the third period, as their blown leads eventually hurt them in helping Minnesota make a push in the wild card standings. Dougie Hamilton had a huge week, scoring the game-winning goal on the Ducks and netting the OT winner against the Wild.
19. Carolina Hurricanes: 46 points
Previously 20 (44 points)
Why are the Hurricanes at -12 for the season? They cannot seem to avoid clunkers like the one in Boston on Saturday. Patrice Bergeron and company did not stop scoring on Carolina until the game was in hand in the third period. Before two poor outings to finish the week, Cam Ward held Pittsburgh scoreless on 21 shots for his first shutout of the season.
20. Colorado Avalanche: 47 points
Previously 22 (43 points)
Columbus and Minnesota thought they could be competitive in Denver, but they both lost in dominating fashion. Jonathan Bernier shut out the Jackets on 34 shots despite very little offensive help, but the offensive onslaught was on when the Wild came to town. Because of their success at home, the previously laughable Avalanche have jumped right into the playoff mix. Bernier has been dominant over his last four appearances with his save percentage at 0.958. Colorado certainly does not miss Semyon Varlamov at the moment.
21. Chicago Blackhawks: 48 points
Previously 19 (44 points)
Chicago has remained an arm’s length behind in the wild card race, and they blew an opportunity to jump Minnesota with a low-scoring loss on NBC. They will need to redeem themselves for the rest of their lengthy home stand to avoid falling into the Central Division basement. Patrick Kane carried Chicago to an ugly 8-2 victory in Ottawa with a goal and four assists, and he is three points away from 800 for his career.
22. New York Islanders: 46 points
Previously 15 (44 points)
The Islanders ended their five-game losing streak by extending New Jersey’s losing streak to five in a shootout. Unlike New Jersey, however, New York’s streak had no extra time. That has resulted in a tie for last place in the Metropolitan Division. Sebastian Aho (not the one in Carolina) made his NHL debut this week and picked up his first points (a goal and an assist) to help the Islanders complete the comeback against the Devils.
23. Philadelphia Flyers: 46 points
Previously 22 (40 points)
Claude Giroux has not been this dominant since the last Winter Olympics, when he finished third in the league in points. He finds himself in the same boat after the first half of 2017-2018. The Flyers’ offense was dominant at Wells Fargo Center this weekend, and Giroux was in the middle of all of it. With five more assists in those three victories, the Ontario native has quietly matched Josh Bailey and Blake Wheeler for the second most helpers in the league. Jakub Voracek also had five assists in that span, and he leads the league with 43.
24. Detroit Red Wings: 41 points
Previously 25 (39 points)
Lucky Sevens! Detroit is currently at .500 with a 17-17-7 record. A recent four-game winning streak has kept the Wings near the playoff picture, and my prediction that they would win the NHL Draft lottery is starting to dwindle. Andreas Athanasiou continued his recent stretch of scoring by hitting the net 42 seconds into Detroit’s win over Florida. Yes, that came 42 hockey game seconds after his OT winner last Wednesday, and he is on pace to pass his career high in goals and recover from an abysmal stretch on the defensive end.
25. Florida Panthers: 42 points
Previously 24 (39 points)
Florida has a lot of work to do to pass Metro Division teams for a wild card spot, but the competition between them and Boston/Toronto for the top three in the Atlantic Division is thinning out. Florida’s lone win of the week was a offensive outburst in St. Louis. Aleksander Barkov capped off his big week with three points in that win, and he has started 2018 with a four-game point streak.
26. Montreal Canadiens: 40 points
Previously 26 (36 points)
Montreal took and faced plenty of shots in their two home games this week. They pulled off a huge upset against Tampa Bay and used a big third period to take out the Canucks. Carey Price had a big week, and he had 44 saves on the Lightning to climb closer to .500.
27. Ottawa Senators: 39 points
Previously 29 (33 points)
Allowing eight goals to Chicago ended up being the only blemish for a team that needed a big week. All three of their wins came against teams currently slotted in a playoff spot, and the Sens can jump back into playoff conversations with victories over St. Louis (twice) and again with Toronto. Ryan Dzingel scored twice against the NHL-best Lightning to cap off a three-game goal streak, and he assisted Thomas Chabot in what would be Craig Anderson‘s 250th win.
28. Vancouver Canucks: 38 points
Previously 27 (37 points)
All three of the Western Canadian teams are on long road trips, and it appears that Calgary is the only one of those teams that has any chance at a playoff spot. The Canucks have withered in their last two losses to Montreal and Washington and have now lost in 13 of their last 15 games. Daniel Sedin has points in all three games of the current trip.
29. Edmonton Oilers: 39 points
Previously 28 (37 points)
With the Oilers losing seven of eight and quickly falling out of the playoff race, frustrations seemed to boil over on Tuesday. Connor McDavid made headlines by saying the NHL should remove the offsides rule after a close reversal on a Nashville challenge nullified a game-tying goal in Nashville’s 2-1 victory. Regardless of what the NHL does or does not do, that does not change the fact that Edmonton’s offense has been atrocious all season. They have four goals in their last six games and Vegas will probably smother them on Saturday if things do not improve.
30. Buffalo Sabres: 29 points
Previously 30 (29 points)
Just a tip for those who like covering practice scuffles. Using the “passion” card is only useful for teams that are remotely near a playoff spot. It is also noteworthy that Evander Kane was involved because he has a history of being a bad teammate. The problem is that such incidents will hurt his trade value. Ryan O’Reilly led Buffalo with a goal and two assists in another defensive meltdown on Tuesday, and Linus Ullmark was recently called up because of the troubles in goal.
31. Arizona Coyotes: 26 points
Previously 31 (23 points)
Prior to their bye week, the Coyotes picked up just their fourth point streak of the season. After losing in a shootout to the Rangers, however, the lowly Yotes continue to own just one winning streak past the halfway point of their season. Anthony Duclair scored in each or Arizona’s two games this week before being traded to Chicago for Richard Panik.
Los Angeles scores at least five times against Nashville on Saturday. That would have just been enough in overtime…
Detroit knocks off Tampa Bay in overtime. Again, Tampa Bay seems to defy bold predictions.
Zach Werenski picks up at least two points in Toronto. He could only muster one assist in the comeback.
The Sharks take at least 40 shots against the Coyotes on Saturday.
Ryan Getzlaf nets at least eight points this week.
Viktor Arvidsson gets a goal and an assist during the second and third period on Tuesday.