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NHL Power Rankings: Panthers on a surprising run

The Florida Panthers aren’t anyone’s idea of a juggernaut, but they are making a surprising run. (AP)

Hey everyone, we here at Puck Daddy are doing real power rankings for teams Nos. 1-31. Here they are, based on only how I am feeling about these teams, meaning you can’t tell me I’m wrong because these are my feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. Please enjoy the Power Feelings.

31. Ottawa Senators (Last week: 31)

Even though they picked up a nice little win against Columbus (and man, who doesn’t these days?) it seems like as soon as you get fans chucking jerseys on the ice, you’re probably in the worst shape of anyone in the league.

The fact that the Sens got shut out more times (five) than they won (four) in December tells a pretty good story. Trade everybody.

30. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 30)

Is it good to give up 13 goals in your last three games?

29. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 28)

28. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 29)

With a win over the Pens on New Year’s Eve, the Red Wings matched their season-long winning streak. At two.

27. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 21)

Seems like it’s Go Time for these guys, huh? Four straight losses, with just three goals across the four games.

I was just telling someone the other day I really thought the coaching, Drouin trade and a good year from Carey Price put together with the general poor quality of the division would all but guarantee a 100-point season again, but I never thought that all the mismanagement would get us to the point that basically halfway through the season, the leading scorers on this team would be Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and Philip Danault (all with just 21 points each, a 43-point pace for the season). Or that Price would be .907.

This is all on Bergevin. I never thought we’d get to the point that Max Pacioretty was going to be traded, especially after he got picked over P.K. Subban, but here we are. I don’t know what the way forward looks like for these guys but boy oh boy.

26. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 27)

25. Calgary Flames (LW: 22)

So it’s starting to look like the Flames aren’t gonna make the playoffs. They don’t have a regulation win in almost two weeks. Mike Smith seems to be turning back into a pumpkin, but the team has bigger problems than that, for sure.

24. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 26)

23. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 21)

Hey, they beat the Lightning. That’s not easy to do these days.

22. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 20) 

21. Minnesota Wild (LW: 19)

20. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 18) 

Win four straight, lose three straight. This team is two games below .500 and conceded 13 goals in these three post-Christmas losses. When do we collectively give up on them?

19. New York Rangers (LW: 17) 

18. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 20)

These guys only have two losses since Dec. 12, and they’re now a point out of a playoff spot with a game in hand on the Islanders. Signs and wonders, man.

Is this really and finally the turning point at which this team overcomes a talent deficit, gets good goaltending for a few months, and actually makes the playoffs after years of having a very good process? It’d be nice!

17. Florida Panthers (LW: 25)

Five straight for the Cats! For everyone’s sake, let’s all agree we’re just gonna pretend the five wins weren’t against the Coyotes, Wild, Senators, Flyers and Canadiens.

It’s weird. They’re doing well against a soft schedule for the last little while, and I obviously think they’re awful, but almost everyone else in the low 20s and high teens in these Power Feelings is playing pretty rotten hockey right now.

The Panthers are not the 17th-best team in the league, or probably even all that close, and yet here we are.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 16) 

I cannot in good conscience put the Penguins below the Panthers but I’d really like to do it. I guess playing an extra half season over the last two years really does catch up with you. Just pretend I put them both at 16.5 and put a little angry frowny face next to them like this… >:(

By the way, have the “This is Crosby’s fault and his career is over” takes started yet? Pretty amazing to me that Jake Guentzel wasn’t a long-term solution next to him.

15. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 15)

These guys are playing some pretty bad hockey lately, coming off a five-game win streak of their own. Giving up a ton of goals and so on, but did you also know Patrick Kane is up 13 points on anyone else on this team in scoring? Toews has 24 points in 38 games. Saad only has 19.

14. New York Islanders (LW: 13) 

Yeah they got blown out on New Year’s Eve, but this team would be really good if it had any goaltending. I’m not sure what the solution there is because, like, there aren’t a ton of good goalies in the league these days, period, let alone actually available.

That playoff lead is slipping away fast given all the Carolina stuff above. It would be a shame for them to blow it and lose John Tavares, but that’s looking more and more likely these days, isn’t it?

13. Dallas Stars (LW: 14)

12. New Jersey Devils (LW: 11)

11. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 8)

10. St. Louis Blues (LW: 9)

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 7)

8. San Jose Sharks (LW: 10)

7. Boston Bruins (LW: 12)

Okay so teams Nos. 8-13 here I think are all pretty much equivalent in terms of their overall quality but are presented in the order of how well they’re playing these days. I can’t get over the damn Bruins, though. Tuukka Rask is really having some kinda season again and the depth is holding up better than it has any right to.

I wonder how long both of those things last, but for right now, when your goalie is over .950 in the past month, it’s tough to line up against them.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 4)

5. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 6)

I stayed with my friends for New Year’s and my friend Matt is very insistent that I say: “Golden Knights, more like Golden Frights, because I wouldn’t want to play them.”

I’m not happy about this.

4. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 5)

Winners of three straight, points in six of their last seven, and guys are starting to come back healthy (except Mark Scheifele, who’s out long-term). This might be the ceiling for these guys but they’re playing quite well right now.

3. Washington Capitals (LW: 2)

2. Nashville Predators (LW: 3)

Speaking of guys coming back, Ryan Ellis was on Roman Josi’s pairing at the team’s New Year’s Day practice, so it looks like he’s either good to go or close. This team is second in a tough division with two games in hand on the leading Jets, and got there without a very good No. 3 defenseman, who’s back now.

This team is about to make a nice little push here, I bet. Unless Ryan Ellis ruins the chemistry, in which case let’s all agree to get mad at him.

I’m feeling good about that Bolts/Preds Cup Final prediction, though.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 1)

I think when you’re up seven points on anyone in your conference and 10 points on anyone in your division on Jan. 1, that’ll just about do it for the playoff race. Start resting guys. All the stars get a day off here and there for another three-plus months, everyone finishes the season with 70ish games played, and you go into the playoffs fresh.

Might not be good for guys who want to hit their bonuses, but it might give you that little extra edge you need in the playoffs when the other team had to grind it out for 82 games then maybe play another 20-ish in the playoffs. Any advantage you can get, right?

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)