NHL Top 10 Power Rankings Post All-Star Break
10. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers fought hard in Pittsburgh before coming up short. Jakub Voracek scored in the final seconds of the first period on the power play. After Brian Elliott conceded three goals in the middle frame, Philadelphia showed their resiliency. Twenty-eight-year-old Tyler Pitlick beat Tristan Jarry late in the second period, then Scott Laughton of Oakville, Ontario put the team on equal footing. It gave them a single NHL point Friday, but a 4-3 overtime loss did give them a chance for them to get it right Saturday.
They certainly did just that against Colorado. They hit the front with Matt Niskanen and Kevin Hayes tallies. The first two times the Avalanche closed within one, the teenager Joel Farabee tickled the twine on both occasions. On the third occasion, the penalty kill stepped up as Kevin Hayes scored a short-handed goal. Laughton snuffed out any lingering doubts with his empty netter to finish off a 6-3 win.
Scott opened the scoring in their next game in Hockeytown almost midway through the second period against the Red Wings. The third period meant another short-handed goal off the stick of Hayes. Niskanen added his seventh of the year more than two minutes left, and Brian Elliott stopped all sixteen shots for his second shutout of this campaign.
On the docket will be New Jersey, then Washington away, then back to Philadelphia against Florida for games every other day starting Thursday. Though they will be on the second night of a back to back on Tuesday, they will not travel far to play the Islanders in Brooklyn.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
After some time off, Columbus was back to playing competitive hockey on Saturday. They went behind to the Buffalo Sabres on just the third goal by Evan Rodrigues. Net-minders Matiss Kivlenieks gave his side a chance, and in the third, Oliver Bjorkstrand beat his counterpart Carter Hutton to square the game at one. The Blue Jackets and Sabres finished the third period in a stalemate. Columbus did not get the second point as Jack Eichel had other ideas as the right-handed shooter ended the game after 60:36 of action.
They didn’t have much time to stew on it because the Montreal Canadiens were next the following day. This game went back and forth. Vladislav Gavrikov broke the scoring seal 12:45 into period one. Pierre-Luc Dubois, who assisted on the tally, scored on his team’s next two goals. With the Jackets clinging to a 3-2 lead, Gustav Nyquist, the former Red Wing struck his twelfth goal of the campaign, and Seth Jones, who was part of the skills competition at All-Star weekend in Saint Louis gained his twenty-fourth assist. Elvis Merzlikins made the lead stick and Columbus walked away with a 4-3 NHL victory.
Against Florida, Columbus found it very difficult to solve their former goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Merzlikins was up to the challenge on the other side of the ice. Both the Panthers and Blue Jackets were disciplined, only going to the penalty box one time each. Ultimately, it was the game’s seventy-seventh shot on goal by the stick of the twenty-two-year-old Zach Werenski that got the Ohio-based side over the finish line, 1-0.
The Blue Jackets look to carry on recent form with Detroit and Colorado on consecutive nights starting Friday. The team gets to continue to sleep in their own beds while preparing for Tampa Bay Monday before the home-stand closes.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning
On January 27th, Tampa Bay was in Texas and fought hard against the Dallas Stars. Steven Stamkos scored a pair of goals, the latter one coming after Andrei Vasilevskiy was exchanged for a sixth attacker inside of ninety seconds left in the third period. Ultimately they came up short in a game where they were outshot 35-25, losing 3-2 in overtime.
Wednesday, they fell behind in Los Angeles thanks to a numerical disadvantage following Kevin Shattenkirk’s slashing infraction. The deficit to the Kings was doubled in the second, but the superstars of the Lightning stepped up. Tyler Johnson and Stamkos got Tampa going into the third tied up. Erik Cernak, the defenseman that hails from Slovakia put his side ahead before Stamkos turned off the lights with an empty-net goal.
The team found themselves in another tense affair in Anaheim. Ondrej Palat and Cernak’s goals were wiped out by strikes by Rickard Rakell and Michael Del Zotto in the opening period. After Anthony Cirelli was the only scorer in the middle stanza, the Lightning found some more daylight on Nikita Kucherov’s twenty-third of the season. Tampa had just enough scoring, even though it was not Vasilevskiy’s best day at the office Friday.
They certainly locked things down the next night in Northern California at the expense of the Sharks. Stamkos, Kucherov, and Palat were at the forefront. Curtis McElhinney turned aside thirty attempts on target. It added up to a 3-0 win for the away team.
On Tuesday, the Golden Knights were in Florida. The Lightning did not skip a beat, never trailing. Brayden Point found his way past Marc-Andre Fleury. After William Carrier pegged the opposition level, Johnson was credited with a tip-in shot with 2:03 left in the first period. The score stayed 2-1 Tampa until Paul Stastny put Vegas on equal footing early in period three. The Lightning went up for good on Stamkos’ twenty-fourth goal of the year. The game was sealed by Alex Killorn’s wrister.
The Lightning has some big home games coming up with Penguins and Islanders. Tampa then meets a red-hot Blue Jackets team in Ohio Monday and will be in Pittsburgh the following night.
7. Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver began its post-All-Star break at home against Saint Louis on January 27th. It did not start out well as they fell behind early. Thatcher Demko did atone as he repelled thirty-six attempts on goal. Sixteen of those came in period two. The scoring came as J.T. Miller struck goals eighteen and nineteen in said frame. Both came almost nine minutes apart. Bo Horvat put the icing on the cake with the Canucks’ third on a vacant net.
Twice this past Wednesday in San Jose, Vancouver went on the back foot, and both times they responded. Defenseman Quinn Hughes hit a slap shot past Martin Jones with under nine minutes left in the initial period. Then, with visitors down 2-1 in the third period, Hughes gained his thirtieth assist along with Miller to set up Tyler Myers. Later, Jake Virtanen notched his fifteenth goal on a five-on-four situation. Almost exactly a minute of game time later, Miller picked up another helper as Brandon Sutter finished the play. The fifth player to get the puck inside of the red pipes was Tanner Pearson. The late NHL first-round pick by the Kings in 2012 slotted the puck with no sight of Jones on the ice for the home team.
It was the fourth straight win going into Saturday’s tilt against the Islanders. This time, they played from ahead in the early stages, thanks to the play of Miller, whose unassisted goal put Vancouver ahead 2:09 in. The goal did not hold up as New York replied prior to the first intermission. The second period saw Hughes and Tim Schaller get on the scoresheet, but the home side beat Jacob Markstrom in the late stages of the final two periods of regulation. The game’s seventh and final lamplighter came off of Hughes for his second of the game less than a minute into overtime.
Speaking of two goals in a game, Elias Pettersson did just that in Raleigh, North Carolina not including the first round of the shootout. Horvat could not extend the one-zone-one skills competition into a fourth-round which snapped the win streak at five.
The Canucks remain on the road versus the Wild Thursday before departing home. Vancouver hosts Calgary and Nashville Saturday and Thursday respectively.
6. Colorado Avalanche
Colorado went behind the eight-ball Saturday in Philadelphia for their first game since January 20th. Perhaps it should not have been a surprise that they were off their game. Still, they did make a game of it. Nikita Zadorov halved the deficit to 2-1 in the second period. Mikko Rantanen scored on the man-advantage which made it 3-2 at the time. Almost midway through the third, the Avalanche closed to within a goal off the stick of Andre Burakovsky, but the defense was not sharp enough in a 6-3 NHL loss.
The roles were reversed three nights later in Buffalo. There were six different goal scorers for Colorado. The most impactful was Burakovsky. He picked up four NHL points by setting up Nazem Kadri, Zadorov, and Valeri Nichushkin in the middle frame while his goal came earlier with just over six minutes left in the first period. Samuel Girard and Rantanen were the other players to penetrate Buffalo’s net in a 6-1 rout.
The Avs continue their road trip Thursday in Ottawa, then are back in the States Saturday night in Columbus. Colorado’s third game in four nights concludes in Saint Paul for a nationally televised game against Minnesota. The Senators will be in Denver Tuesday.
5. Dallas Stars
The Stars had a lot of time off before a competitive fixture was played. They hosted the Lightning on January 27th. Against one of the more in-form teams, they accounted for themselves quite nicely. Denis Gurianov recorded his twelfth and Jamie Benn hit a baker’s dozen in the third period. Still, they could not shake Tampa as Steven Stamkos sent the game into overtime, but in the three-on-three, Benn was able to move the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
They were unable to play from in front against a Toronto unit that seems to play a lot of high-scoring games. Gurianov twice got the better of Frederik Andersen. Alexander Radulov had the other for Dallas, but Mitchell Marner, Tyson Barrie, and Auston Matthews were very productive this past Wednesday in a 5-3 Leafs NHL win.
The Stars began their three games in the Tri-State region Saturday against New Jersey. Twenty-year-old Jason Dickinson tied the game at one in the second period. Then Jamie Oleksiak, in his second stint in North Texas assisted Joel Kiviranta for his first goal of the year. Still, they needed more than sixty minutes to finish off the Devils. Joe Pavelski of Plover, Wisconsin won the game on a backhanded goal in overtime.
Monday, the Stars visited Madison Square Garden. Pavelski did not lose his recent form. He scored twice on the man-advantage. Defenseman Stephen Jones beat Henrik Lundqvist to put his side ahead 3-2 in the middle period. Blake Comeau and Corey Perry provided enough offense for Dallas to get out 5-3 NHL victors.
The following night, the Stars and Islanders played a game of see-saw. Gurianov answered Anthony Beauvillier’s goal. In period two, Jason Dickinson put Dallas in front for the first time, but Derick Brassard equalized. John Klingberg picked up his third goal in the third only to have Mathew Barzal cancel it out. The game started with Beauvillier and it ended on his stick as the Isles won 4-3 after almost sixty-three minutes of NHL hockey.
Dallas looks to set things right with Minnesota after they were on the wrong side of a 7-0 scoreline in their last encounter. The Stars host the Wild Friday, then travel to Saint Louis the next night. They return to the Lone Star State to play the out-of-conference Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night.
4. Saint Louis Blues
Saint Louis was in action two nights after a few of their players participated in the All-Star Game. David Perron reached twenty-nine assists for the season after feeding left winger Zach Sanford, but from that point on, Thatcher Demko got the better of Jake Allen between the pipes. Vancouver scored thrice to force the Blues to go back to the drawing board.
The results showed against Calgary, but they needed every goal to get out with a win. Alex Steen got Saint Louis in front, but it did not last long. Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan erased the deficit. The game was back to even courtesy of Perron. After Travis Hamonic cross-checked Jordan Kyrou, the Blues went on the power play. Jaden Schwartz scores the fifth goal of the game in an eventful opening twenty minutes. The Flames picked up goals from Monahan and Mark Jankowski in the second period, but the road team got off the deck on Zach Sanford’s sixth with 19:09 remaining. There was no resolution in the extra five minutes, necessitating a shootout. Perron and Ryan O’Reilly converted their chances, while Jordan Binnington shut the door on Monahan and Tkachuk and Saint Louis were back in the NHL win column.
On Friday, Edmonton got the jump in Alberta. They took the lead on Leon Draisaitl’s twenty-eighth NHL goal. He would add another one in what has been an outstanding year for him. His second broke a 2-2 tie following goals by Perron and Robert Thomas.
The Blues were right back on the ice Saturday in central Canada. They dug themselves too deep of a deficit, but to their credit, they kept coming. Brayden Schenn and O’Reilly drew them to within one, but Binnington was pulled late and the Jets scored not one but two empty-net goals.
Against Carolina everything came together, Schenn and Sanford had a multi-goal game and Saint Louis put six past Petr Mrazek in a three-goal win. The Blues welcome in two of their NHL Central Division rivals over the next few days.
Winnipeg is Thursday, then Dallas Saturday. Then, they travel to California for a meeting with the Ducks almost seventy-two hours later.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
This past Friday night, Pittsburgh beat their in-state neighbors in overtime. Though Tristan Jarry’s net was breached last in the first period, things changed in the second. Evgeni Malkin tied the game at one, then the Penguins took advantage of undisciplined Flyers play through Bryan Rust and Kris Letang‘s wrist shots in the middle twenty minutes. Philadelphia scored twice at even strength, but at crunch time, Sidney Crosby was back in the center of things, connecting on a snapshot, not one minute into the three-on-three extra session.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the Penguins were able to get the better of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals by a score of 4-3. There were three goals scored in a 2:02 span past the midway point of period one. After Lars Eller reached a dozen goals, Sam Lafferty and Patric Hornqvist steered pucks past Ilya Samsonov. Pittsburgh was more polished than Washington as the commentators mentioned during the broadcast. After Dominik Simon made it 3-1, things got interesting, the home side hit the post in their comeback efforts. Eventually, the score got to 3-2 and after Pittsburgh soaked in pressure, they got some aid from Brandon Tanev, which would later stand as the game-winning goal in a 4-3 decision in an exciting NHL contest.
The Penguins return to the ice soon for the Florida swing. The Lightning is the opponents Thursday evening followed by the Panthers two nights later. After flying back home, Pittsburgh will host Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
2. Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin neither scored nor assisted on January 27th in Montreal, but they still found the net four times. Tom Wilson erased Jeff Petry’s lighting of the lamp late in the first period on the power play. The scoresheet belonged to Washington in the second period. Travis Boyd and Jakub Vrana got pucks past Carey Price. A backhanded effort from Nicklas Backstrom twenty-three seconds from time assured the Capitals yet another NHL win.
Wednesday was a high-scoring game against the Nashville Predators. Richard Panik put the Caps ahead on his sixth tally. It was not a fun time for Braden Holtby as he let in three in the initial frame. His offense did the best they could to let him off the hook. Ovechkin made it 3-2 for goal thirty-five. Panik got his second of the game in the second period and Wilson took advantage of Mattias Ekholm’s high-sticking penalty. It still was not sufficient because the Preds replied with Ryan Johansen’s eleventh. Nashville got the odd goal in nine thanks to the maiden goal by Yannick Weber with under five minutes remaining for a 5-4 NHL win.
The Caps dusted themselves off in Ottawa by continuing to outscore the opposition. T.J. Oshie got to one shy of twenty which gave Washington a 1-0 lead. Evgeny Kuznetsov earned the second goal for the Capitals. Ovechkin scored 3:12 after Chris Tierney’s twine-tickler to restore the two-shot margin. He would add a second to ice the game but not before Carl Hagelin was responsible for the fourth goal by the away side. 5-3 was the final score on Friday.
They came back home versus Pittsburgh and lost a wild game 4-3. Eller scored twice, and Kuznetsov had the other. It had the feel of a playoff preview Sunday, certainly would be a familiar refrain should it take place in a few months.
Tuesday, the Caps got back on track against the Kings. Jeff Carter for a while looked like he might be the show, but Ovechkin recorded a hat trick with all three coming inside the final six-plus minutes. His team doubled up Los Angeles 4-2.
Up next for Washington will be home games against the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday and Monday versus the Islanders.
1. Boston Bruins
Boston was locked in a defensive game. Tuukka Rask outdueled his counterpart Laurent Brossoit for thirty-seven stops in a comeback victory in Winnipeg. Patrik Laine’s goal was crossed out by Patrice Bergeron’s twenty-second, which came on a power-play inside the final minute of the first twenty. It was a game that saw eighty-four combined penalty minutes, so it definitely played a role in the outcome Friday. The stick blade of Jake DeBrusk decided matters just past three minutes elapsed in period three.
Three second period man-advantages helped the Bruins run and hide from the Minnesota Wild. Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak all feasted on Devan Dubnyk during a 6-1 dispatching from the visiting side. Anders Bjork and DeBrusk also found the net Saturday in the Twin Cities.
Rask was back in goal Tuesday, picking up where he left off against the Jets making all twenty-five saves versus Vancouver. Charlie Coyle and Charlie McAvoy made it happen on the ice. Coyle opened the scoring and assisted on the fourth and final one for Karson Kuhlman’s maiden goal. McAvoy assisted on Coyle’s tally and likewise with Marchand’s goal for Boston’s second. David Krejci also beat Jacob Markstrom.
Perhaps the only thing the Bruins have done wrong are the shootouts as they are winless in seven of those. Fortunately for them, the playoffs are not constructed that way.
The Bruins will be featured on Wednesday night in Chicago. They can be seen free on the NHL app Saturday afternoon when they host the Coyotes. Boston will then take on an Original Six side Sunday in Detroit in the next few days.
How would you rank the top 10 NHL power teams? Leave a comment below.
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Works cited: NBC, NBCSN, Fox Sports Southwest, NHL YouTube Channel