This is the third to last Thursday of the NHL’s regular season, so we are getting down to crunch time. With just over three weeks left our weekly power rankings seem to be getting more and more consistent with the teams familiar to the top of the rankings and teams that sit close to the basement.
It was another fantastic week of hockey in the league’s toughest division. The seven teams combined for a record of 16-7-3. This seven day stretch was in fact one of the better ones for the division in quite some time.
Three stars of the week
1. Jamie Benn (DAL) – four goals, three assists for six points*
2. Ondrej Pavelec (WPG) – 3-0-0 record, .980 save percentage
3. Justin Fontaine (MIN) – one goal, three assists for four points
Highlight of the Week
This week’s top highlight isn’t game footage. Instead it’s a first-hand look at just how incredibly skilled Patrick Kane is:
1. Minnesota Wild (42-25-7) LR: 3
The Wild find themselves atop the power rankings for the first time all season. They have been one of the hottest clubs in the league and their 3-1-0 week helped their cause for that title. Minnesota started the week with a loss to the Washington Capitals, then followed that up with three straight wins over the St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Islanders. Devan Dubnyk continues to be their workhorse and ended his four-game week with a .933 save percentage.
2. Dallas Stars (36-28-10) LR: 7
The Stars take a massive jump in the rankings, and rightly so. Dallas is one of the hottest teams in the NHL, going 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. The Stars got big wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Blackhawks earlier on in the week followed by a tough fought 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. They continued their streak of must win games with another win over the Calgary Flames in the shootout. With eight games left on the slate the Stars need to pretty much run the table if they want to make the postseason. It’s not impossible, but it’s close.
3. Chicago Blackhawks (44-23-6) LR: 1
The Blackhawks started their week with one of the more entertaining 1-0 games you may ever see against the New York Rangers. They then turned around to play a very hot Stars team on the road where they laid an egg in a 4-0 loss. They got back on track on Monday in Carolina with a 3-1 victory over the Hurricanes and then fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 to close what was an inconsistent week for the Blackhawks.
4. St. Louis Blues (46-21-7) LR: 2
The Blues had a very tough stretch dropping three of their four games to close out their six game road trip. They dropped three straight to start the week with losses to the Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings, and Wild. They did get a much needed win on home ice to close out the trip over the Pittsburgh Penguins. St. Louis sits atop the Division standings with 99 points.
5. Winnipeg Jets (38-24-12) LR: 4
After a 3-1-0 stretch over the past seven days the Jets continue to hang on to the final Western Conference wild card spot with 88 points. Their wins for the week came against the Edmonton Oilers, Capitals, and Blues. Michael Hutchinson started his first game in over a week against the Vancouver Canucks where he struggled to a 5-2 loss. Winnipeg has the Montreal Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Rangers all on home ice next week; so the pressure to hold onto a wild card spot is only growing.
6. Nashville Predators (45-21-8) LR: 5
Nashville did go unbeaten in their two games played over the past seven days, but it’s not enough to get them into the top half of the rankings. They shut out Buffalo to end a two game skid. Filip Forsberg then lit the lamp in overtime to defeat the Canadiens in overtime Tuesday night. The win over the Habs started the Predators’ first win streak in a month. The Predators are still just one point behind the Blues with eight games left in their regular season.
7. Colorado Avalanche (33-28-12) LR: 6
Nothing new here to see the Avs at the bottom on the list of power. Colorado defeated the Arizona Coyotes by the score of 5-2, then followed the win up with two back to back 3-2 losses to the Anaheim Ducks and Flames; both away from home. They then ran into an Edmonton Oilers team that has been playing much better and fell 4-3. Nine games left in the season, and the playoff hopes for Colorado are certainly out the window.