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Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Penguins turning up the heat

The Penguins are fast becoming the team we suspected them could be. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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. Arizona Coyotes (Last week: 28)

Not the best week for the always-not-good Coyotes, even by their standards. In their two games post-All-Star break, they got outscored 10-1. Very difficult to do that, even when you’re this bad.

30. Buffalo Sabres (Last week: 27)

29. Ottawa Senators (LW: 31)

28. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 29)

The Canucks are run in the most incredible manner imaginable.

This was supposed to be the point at which everyone smartened up and realized “Ah yes this team stinks and that’s all well and good so let’s tank.” But now they’re definitively not going to trade Erik Gudbranson, who’s terrible but somehow sought-after in the league. They’d like to re-sign him this summer for inexplicable reasons.

Anyway, they won two of their three games this week so actually they’re good again.

27. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 30)

26. Florida Panthers (LW: 26)

The Panthers are doing that very Panthers-y thing of getting on a run again. They do it a lot. So far this season, they’ve had winning streaks of five games and three games, the latter being current.

But they’ve also had losing streaks of five and three, the latter happening FIVE times. In fact, this current winning streak was immediately preceded by one of those three-game losing streaks. Watching this team 82 games a year must give you vertigo.

25. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 25)

24. New York Rangers (LW: 20)

Seems like the Rangers going 0-fer this past week was enough to get them into a definitive “seller” mode. It was reported yesterday that they asked for Rick Nash’s trade list and if that’s happening, they’re probably just offloading everyone.

It was reported a few days earlier that teams across the league widely believed a few Rangers who will likely become trade targets will just go back to the club this summer, and I love that. Pure rentals, then they just wanna go home again. When Keith Tkachuk did it with the Thrashers? That was a precious gift. Rick Nash doing the same? Sign me up.

I have been advocating for a Rick-Nash-to-Boston trade because a) The Bruins could use some scoring help, and b) they already have Riley Nash, meaning we would get the possibility of the team having to put RIC. NASH and RIL. NASH on their jerseys. I want that.

23. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 24)

22. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 23)

21. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 22)

Chicago moves up not so much because they did anything of note but because the teams around them had pretty bad weeks.

The thing with this team is they don’t have a lot of selling options (having already made that Anthony Duclair trade that half the league should still be mad about), but it would be good if they could find a couple guys to move. Plus, there still doesn’t seem to be a timeline for Corey Crawford to come back, so who knows.

We’re reaching decision time with this club, because the playoffs are basically guaranteed not to happen at this point — they’re five points out with four teams between them and the No. 8 seed — and if you’re gonna look for this team to not just go into a nosedive over the next few years, you gotta do literally anything to change the status quo.

Except, y’know, don’t fire Quenneville. But that should go without saying.

20. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 21)

19. New York Islanders (LW: 18)

18. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 17)

Saw where the Ducks had a big meeting about their week — they went 1-1-1 — and basically said they didn’t think how they’d played is reflective of their ability. Buddies, have you seen your performance not just this week, but the entire year? This feels right.

Sure, early in the year you could blame injuries, but now not so much. My theory, and I know it’s a wild one, is that this team just isn’t that good. Something to consider!

17. New Jersey Devils (LW: 19)

Ah, the Devils are winning again now. Despite being 17th in these here power rankings, they’re also second in their division with games in hand on everyone. Please note here that the power rankings are not always going to be reflective of a team’s record or goal difference.

They’ve won three in a row, but that was after losing four in a row, but that was after winning two in a row, but that was after losing six in a row, but that was after winning five in a row.

They’re the Panthers but better. And I only say that because I’m not sure I can say in all honesty, “They’re the Panthers, but good.” I think they’re probably mediocre. But they’re probably gonna make the playoffs. To what end? Ah, well…

16. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 16)

15. Calgary Flames (LW: 14)

The Flames are in this weird category where, on paper, they should be better than the standings suggest. They’re not in a playoff spot right now but they’re pretty definitively better than everyone in their division but Vegas and San Jose. They are, to be fair, only a point behind LA.

But I dunno, this is a frustrating team. Maybe, all things being equal, you would have accepted that a Mike Smith-backed Flames team would be two-below-zero in goal difference and a point out of the playoffs at this time of year. But this hasn’t been Smith’s fault. I dunno.

14. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 13)

I don’t think the Flames are worse than the Avs but they have a plus-15 goal difference and the same number of points with a game in hand so right now I gotta tell ya: Let’s see how things go without Nathan MacKinnon for up to a month.

13. Minnesota Wild (LW: 15)

12. St. Louis Blues (LW: 9)

11. Dallas Stars (LW: 10)

10. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 11)

As per WWL yesterday, this is a pretty big “we’ll see” thing with the Leafs. Roman Polak is just about back healthy and if they start going back to him and if Mike Babcock goes back to him I’m gonna be mad. This team could be so good but it chooses not to be. Very frustrating.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 8)

The Jackets entered last night’s games a point above the playoff floor and sliding fast. This, too, is a much better team on paper than it has been on the ice. You wonder if there’s a workable solution that doesn’t involve a big trade, since again, they should be better than they are just based on their talent level throughout the lineup.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 12)

Since the start of the new year, the Pens have been in total killbot mode. They’ve only lost four games since 2018 began (thanks in large part to their schedule affording them nine home games and just five on the road). Three of those losses were away from PPG.

But the numbers here are scary: Not only is Pittsburgh 10-4 in this stretch, it’s also not getting by on absurd luck, and broadly just outplaying its opponents in all situations.

One wonders how much of a push they can make in the division (though it’s fair to say the No. 1 spot is out of reach unless something incredible happens).

And hey remember earlier in the year when the Pens had a huge negative goal difference? After just two games, they were already minus-10, then suffered two more 7-1 setbacks before the end of October.

Well on Jan. 30, with a 5-2 win over a good Sharks team, they finally got north of zero for the first time literally all season. They’re now plus-2 and looking unlikely to sink below zero again. Wild.

7. Washington Capitals (LW: 5)

Yeah, the Caps being four points up on Pittsburgh with two fewer games played probably helps a lot. Although, if you’re looking at the Metro 1 vs. Wild Card 1 matchup, the prospect of it being literally any one of the other Metro teams probably isn’t too exciting.

6. San Jose Sharks (LW: 7) 

5. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 6)

There was a quote from the Vegas dressing room over the weekend after the Knights got worked by Minnesota that was something to the effect of, “We realize we’ve been getting lucky lately and we need to start playing better or it’s not gonna last.”

But yeah, when I say stuff like that I get a bunch of 500-word crybaby emails from people who don’t understand either the sport or how statistics work.

4. Boston Bruins (LW: 3)

3. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 4)

Damn the top of the West is gonna be wild down the stretch. Vegas is first with 74 points, three up on the Jets with a game in hand. But the Predataors are only five points back with two games in hand on Vegas, so you can very easily see them making a run.

2. Nashville Predators (LW: 2)

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 1)

They have a plus-53 goal difference in 52 games. Teams that finish with a higher goal difference than the number of games played are incredibly rare in the shootout era. Here’s the complete list:

Boston 2013-14: Plus-84

Chicago 2013: Plus-53, in 48 games

Washington 2009-10: Plus-85

Ottawa 2005-06: Plus-103 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Detroit 2005-06: Plus-96

Fair to say, then, that the only really “normal” seasons in which this happened were ’09-10 and ’13-14. Both those teams were among the best in recent memory. Although neither won the Cup. What a sport.

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

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)