Welcome to The Hockey Writers’ Energy Rankings, the top-13 groups within the NHL this week as ranked by members of The Hockey Writers. This week’s panel is Greg Boysen (Chicago Blackhawks), Jeff Morris (Ottawa Senators), Kevin Armstrong (Toronto Maple Leafs), Louis Pannone (Arizona Coyotes), Shaun Filippelli (Chicago Blackhawks), Pete Bauer (Columbus Blue Jackets), Dean Plunkett, Kyle Gipe, Alec Rudolph (Boston Bruins), Julian Mongillo (Edmonton Oilers), Matt Rothman (New York Islanders), Melissa Boyd (Montreal Canadiens), and Sam Nestler (Dallas Stars)
There’s a Rocky Mountain excessive on the prime of The Hockey Writers’ weekly NHL energy rankings.
The Colorado Avalanche, the most popular group within the league in the course of the previous month regardless of an 8-3 highway loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, jumped from third place to first this week. The Avs had been 13-0-2 earlier than the loss in Minnesota; their 15-game level streak was the longest within the NHL this season.
The Avalanche received 9of the 13 first-place votes. The Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs every obtained one.
Colorado supplanted its largest division rival, the Vegas Golden Knights, who had been first final week. Vegas dropped to seventh after going 1-2-1 final week, together with a regulation loss and a shootout loss in a two-game residence collection in opposition to the Wild.
The Hurricanes, who lead the NHL with a .724 factors proportion, moved from fifth place to second. Carolina gained three of 4 video games in the course of the previous week, most notably a 5-2 victory in opposition to the Panthers on Tuesday in a gathering between two of the three groups battling for first place within the Central Division.
Powerful Week for Lightning
The third member of the Central’s prime troika, the Lightning, dropped from second place to fifth after going 2-2-0 final week. Tampa Bay cut up two video games apiece with two of the 4 groups within the division which can be on observe to overlook the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Crimson Wings.
As was the case in every of the previous two weeks, there aren’t any newcomers to the top-13 groups within the rankings.
To create the THW energy rankings, 13 members of The Hockey Writers employees rank their prime 13 groups. The group picked first by a voter receives 13 factors, a second-place choice is price 12, a third-place vote will get 11, and so forth right down to No. 13, which is price one level.
Listed here are this week’s rankings:
1. Colorado Avalanche (26-9-4)
Final week: 3
Upswing: It’s no accident that the Avs took off after middle Nathan MacKinnon returned on March 10 after lacking three video games with an upper-body damage. He put up 23 factors (9 objectives, 14 assists) in the course of the 15-game factors streak, fueling a run that has moved Colorado previous Vegas to first place within the West Division. MacKinnon, who had a purpose and an help on Wednesday, is as much as sixth within the NHL scoring race with 47 factors (15 objectives, 32 assists) in 35 video games.
Downturn: Newcomer Jonas Johansson received his first win since being acquired by the Avs in a commerce with the Buffalo Sabres when he made 25 saves in a 3-2 win in opposition to the St. Louis Blues on April 2. However he has but to get one other begin, indicating that coach Jared Bednar isn’t bought on him as a dependable backup for Philipp Grubauer, who has performed 33 of Colorado’s 39 video games. Grubauer, who has by no means performed greater than 37 video games in an NHL season, was torched by the Wild on Wednesday, permitting 7 objectives on 18 photographs earlier than being lifted within the third interval.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (26-9-3)
Final week: 5
Upswing: Not like the Avalanche, Carolina is swimming in goaltending. Petr Mrazek returned Sunday after lacking two months with a damaged thumb and gained twice in three days — 1-0 in opposition to the Dallas Stars and 5-2 in opposition to the Panthers. Veteran James Reimer and rookie Alex Nedeljkovic greater than held down the fort throughout Mrazek’s absence. With three strong goalies, the Hurricanes might be ready to deal one earlier than the NHL commerce deadline on Monday to shore up any weak spots.
Downturn: It’s exhausting to seek out something incorrect with a group like Carolina, however one situation might be tiebreakers. The ’Canes have 18 regulation wins (the primary tiebreaker), trailing each Tampa Bay (22) and Florida (19).
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (27-10-3)
Final week: 7
Upswing: It’s been 75 years since a Toronto participant led the NHL in objectives (Gaye Stewart scored 37 in 1945-46, when the NHL performed a 50-game schedule). That drought might finish this season – middle Auston Matthews leads the league with 28 objectives, together with six in his previous six video games. He’s additionally making his objectives rely – Matthews leads the NHL with 9 game-winners.
Downturn: It’s exhausting to consider a group with gamers like Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares might wrestle on the facility play, however the Leafs are in a big-league funk with the additional man. They ended an 0-for-28 drought with a third-period power-play purpose in opposition to the Calgary Flames on Monday – one which got here lower than a minute after permitting a shorthanded purpose. Toronto is 1-for-33 in its previous 13 video games after going 0-for-2 in a 3-2 win in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
4. Florida Panthers (26-10-4)
Final week: 6
Upswing: Heart Aleksander Barkov has been red-hot since coming back from an damage. Barkov has three objectives and 5 factors in three video games, and he scored each of Florida’s objectives on Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to Carolina.
Downturn: The Panthers simply can’t get previous the Hurricanes at large moments. They’ve gained considered one of 5 video games in opposition to Carolina this season (1-2-2) and on Tuesday noticed a 2-1 lead after two durations in Raleigh flip right into a three-goal loss (the final two had been empty-netters). “We’ve been shut,” stated Barkov, Florida’s captain, “however not been capable of finding a method besides one time.”
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (26-11-2)
Final week: 2
Upswing: Tampa Bay has gotten a lift from rookie ahead Ross Colton, who scored his fifth purpose in 13 NHL video games on Tuesday in a 4-2 highway loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He additionally has three assists for eight factors and is plus-8.
Downturn: Colton’s scoring can’t offset the hunch by quite a few Lightning forwards. Blake Coleman has one purpose in his previous 12 video games, with linemate Barclay Goodrow hasn’t scored since Feb. 25. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn every have gone two weeks with no purpose, Tyler Johnson is goal-less in eight and Anthony Cirelli hasn’t scored in 9 video games.
6. New York Islanders (25-10-4)
Final week: 8
Upswing: Mathew Barzal was the NHL’s first star for the week ending on April 4, largely due to his spectacular three-goal, two-assist efficiency in opposition to the Washington Capitals final Thursday. However coach Barry Trotz and his employees additionally must be happy with Barzal’s two-way sport, which has been enhancing by leaps and bounds. Barzal has realized the best way to use his velocity as a defensive weapon.
Downturn: Kiefer Bellows received again into the lineup for the 1-0 win in opposition to the Capitals at Nassau Coliseum however performed simply 10:16 and continues to have hassle incomes Trotz’s belief. He nonetheless watches an excessive amount of as an alternative of transferring his toes, and too typically he tends to play like somebody who’s petrified of shedding his enjoying time. Nevertheless, Bellows’ enjoying time figures to shrink much more after the commerce Wednesday that introduced top-six ahead Kyle Palmieri (and middle Travis Zajac) to the Isles from the New Jersey Devils.
7. Vegas Golden Knights (25-11-2)
Final week: 1
Upswing: The Golden Knights save their finest for final. Vegas leads the league with 47 third-period objectives and have allowed simply 28, the fourth-lowest complete within the NHL. Their plus-18 purpose differential within the third interval is second to the Islanders, who’re plus-21.
Downturn: Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was 16-5-0 after the Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on St. Patrick’s Day, however he’s hit a tricky patch since then, going 1-5-0 in his previous six choices – together with a 3-1 highway loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Numerous the blame could be laid on the offense: the Golden Knights scored simply 9 objectives within the six video games (six within the 5 losses).
8. Washington Capitals (25-10-4)
Final week: 4
Upswing: The Capitals share the highest spot within the East Division with the Islanders largely as a result of they’ve thrived in one-goal video games. Washington’s 1-0 loss to the Isles at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday was its first one-goal defeat in regulation. The Capitals are nonetheless first within the NHL with a .737 successful proportion (14-1-4) in video games determined by one purpose.
Downturn: Washington went 2-3-0 on a five-game trek by means of the New York space, however each wins got here in opposition to New Jersey Devils, who’re all however assured of not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The protection got here unglued in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers and an 8-4 nightmare in opposition to the Islanders. After the 2 wins in opposition to New Jersey, the Capitals performed an excellent defensive sport in opposition to the Islanders, however the offense couldn’t rating. That sport was Washington’s eleventh in a row in opposition to the three New York-area golf equipment; the 2-3-0 journey adopted a 5-1-0 homestand in opposition to the identical three groups.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (24-13-2)
Final week: 9
Upswing: Jared McCann has given a spark to the facility play. He’s scored 4 occasions up to now six video games with the Penguins up a person, together with as soon as in every of the previous two. McCann initially was placed on the facility play after Evgeni Malkin was injured, however his manufacturing ought to maintain him there when Malkin returns.
Downturn: The place did the protection go? The Penguins had gone 15 video games with out permitting greater than three objectives till they misplaced a 7-5 observe meet in Boston on Saturday and adopted that with an 8-4 horror present of a loss to the Rangers in New York. Not even a group with Sidney Crosby goes wherever quick when it scores 9 objectives in two video games however loses twice as a result of it might’t maintain the puck out of the online.
10. Minnesota Wild (24-12-2)
Final week: 10
Upswing: The NHL’s next-to-last energy play (12.0 p.c) had a coming-out occasion within the rout of the Avalanche. Minnesota had scored simply 14 power-play objectives in 37 video games earlier than Wednesday, however lit up the Avs by scoring 4 occasions in 5 alternatives.
Downturn: The massive win on Wednesday was enjoyable for the gamers and followers, however the Wild completed the season collection 3-5-0 in opposition to Colorado (the Avs had been 5-2-1). The five-point differential virtually all the distinction between the third-place Wild and the first-place Avalanche; Minnesota is six factors behind Colorado with a sport in hand.
11. Boston Bruins (20-10-6)
Final week: 13
Upswing: The Bruins are with out their two common goalies, Tuukka Rask (damage) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID-19 protocol), however they’ve gotten strong performances from the Nos. 3 and 4 goalies of their system. Dan Vladar is 2-1-1 with a 2.25 goals-against common and .922 save proportion, and Jeremy Swayman was excellent in his NHL debut on Tuesday – he made 40 saves, together with 23 within the second interval, in a 4-2 highway win in opposition to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Downturn: Boston’s depth on protection is being sorely examined. Brandon Carlo, who missed 10 video games with a concussion, is out once more due to damage. Kevan Miller returned Tuesday after lacking seven weeks with a knee damage. However extra ominous is the play of Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, who’ve been struggling badly, and waiver acquisition Jarred Tinordi. With the group right down to its third and fourth goalies, the Bruins can’t afford any extra cave-ins on protection.
12. Winnipeg Jets (23-13-2)
Final week: 12
Upswing: The Jets proceed to get strong goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is third within the NHL with 18 wins (18-10-3) and has a 2.54 goals-against common and .918 save proportion regardless of dealing with extra photographs (957) than every other goalie within the league. For all of Winnipeg’s firepower, Hellebuyck is their most essential participant.
Downturn: Winnipeg can be with out captain Blake Wheeler indefinitely due to what the group says are concussion-like signs. He took an elbow to the pinnacle in Winnipeg’s 4-3 win in opposition to Ottawa on Monday. Wheeler has 32 factors (10 objectives, 22 assists) in 39 video games this season. He didn’t journey to Montreal for the opener of a five-game highway journey on Thursday and there’s no phrase if he’ll have the ability to be part of the Jets at any level in the course of the journey.
13. Edmonton Oilers (24-12-2)
Final week: 11
Upswing: It must be comforting for coach Dave Tippett to have the ability to put Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the ice collectively at key moments. They’re one-two within the NHL scoring race after McDavid scored the game-winner and arrange all three of Draisaitl’s objectives in a 4-2 highway win in opposition to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Pretty much as good as every is individually, they’re typically unstoppable after they play collectively.
Downturn: The Oilers are 10 video games over NHL .500 after the win in Ottawa — however that features an 8-0-0 mark in opposition to the Senators, who’re final within the North Division. The groups play for the ultimate time this season within the second of the two-game collection on Thursday.
Additionally receiving factors: Arizona Coyotes (19), Nashville Predators (11), Montreal Canadiens (1)
Dropped out: None
Longtime NHL author and editor. Lined first NHL sport in 1975 (and a whole lot since). Have achieved a number of books, a whole lot of journal/newspaper/on-line tales. Large fan of hockey historical past.