In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the Washington Capitals who find themselves in a very familiar position. In first place of their division, looking like a top Stanley Cup contender.
The consistency of the Capitals organization over the past decade-and-a-half is one of the most remarkable things about their success. Every year you know they are going to finish at the top of their division and be one of the league’s best teams no matter what is happening around them. Since the start of the 2007-08 season they have won 10 division titles over a 13-year stretch, finished in second-place two other times (once by just two points), and have finished lower than second just one time.
They enter this week tied for first place in the East Division (with a lead in points percentage) with the New York Islanders. Their recent seven-game winning streak, as part of a 14-3-1 stretch over their past 18 games, has helped put them in that spot. Alex Ovechkin is leading the way with seven goals in his past eight games for an offense that has been one of the league’s best.
The most impressive thing about this Capitals team is they are winning all of these games while getting only average (at best) goaltending this season. If that improves even slightly they are going to be a major contender.
This week, the Capitals sit second in the NHL Power Rankings with only the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of them.
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To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Vegas Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury‘s redemption season rolls on, while Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty form one of the league’s best forward duos.
2. Washington Capitals. Just imagine how good they will be with more consistent goaltending.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning. Just imagine how good they will be in the playoffs with Nikita Kucherov.
4. Florida Panthers. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are doing their usual thing offensively, while they are finally getting some secondary support.
5. Colorado Avalanche. They are starting to get on a roll. The forwards are great and get most of the attention, but their defense is scary good and what makes this team so potentially great.
[Related: Defense is what make Avalanche scary]
6. New York Islanders. They are really going to miss Anders Lee. A trade seems like a necessity at some point.
7. Carolina Hurricanes. Little slump at the end of the week, but still as talented and deep of a roster as you will find right now.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries are going to be a concern here for the short-term, but they are building a cushion, are through a tough part of the schedule, and should soon get some people back in the lineup.
9. Edmonton Oilers. Those three games against Toronto a couple of weeks ago seemed to be a wake up call. They have been a different team ever since. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are still like a video game.
10. Boston Bruins. They need another forward or two before the trade deadline.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs. They are playing better than their recent slump would indicate but goaltending is a big question mark right now.
[Related: Maple Leafs slumping as North Division is getting close]
12. Minnesota Wild. They are good. They are also a long way from being on the same level as the Colorado Avalanche.
13. Winnipeg Jets. They could really use somebody like Mattias Ekholm.
14. Vancouver Canucks. Thatcher Demko is single handedly keeping them in it this season, but it might be too little too late for the playoffs.
15. Calgary Flames. It is only a handful of games with Darryl Sutter behind the bench but it is the best this team has looked all season.
16. St. Louis Blues. They are struggling to find consistency this season, which is about what you would expect given the injury situation they have been dealing with.
17. Montreal Canadiens. Jake Allen has been exactly what they hoped he would be. They need more from Carey Price.
18. Philadelphia Flyers. What a weird week. They lost 9-0, let a 3-0 lead slip away in the next game before winning late, then lost 6-1 in another game. Defense and goaltending is a big concern.
[More: Your 2020-21 NHL On NBC TV Schedule]
19. Columbus Blue Jackets. This team might actually sneak into a playoff spot, which would be amazing considering all of the drama surrounding this team this season with trades, benching’s, and all of their struggles on the ice at times.
20. New York Rangers. Mika Zibanejad is starting to get rolling. It was only a matter of time.
21. Chicago Blackhawks. The big question here would be what happens when Kevin Lankinen‘s save percentage dropped below .940 and started to regress. We are seeing the answer. It is not pretty.
22. Los Angeles Kings. Cal Petersen has not played a lot of games for the Kings in his career, but he has been outstanding in the games he has played.
23. Dallas Stars. Offense continues to be a big problem, which is to be expected given the number of games Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, and Roope Hintz have missed. Even with them offense is going to be a struggle.
24. Nashville Predators. The special teams have completely ruined this team’s chances for two seasons in a row now.
[NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Predators changes can start with Ekholm trade]
25. Arizona Coyotes. They need more playmakers and goal scorers at forward. They scored only four goals on a recent five-game losing streak.
26. New Jersey Devils. Jack Hughes seems like the type of top pick that will go a few years with really good, productive seasons and then start being a 100-point player around year five or six. The Nathan MacKinnon path basically.
27. San Jose Sharks. Still seems difficult to see where the quick fix is here.
28. Detroit Red Wings. Robby Fabbri has been one of the few bright spots on this team the past two seasons.
29. Ottawa Senators. They are running out of goalies due to injury. That is already a position of concern this season due to their play on the ice.
30. Anaheim Ducks. At least they are getting to see Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale play at the NHL level right now.
31. Buffalo Sabres. Their most recent win against a team that is not the New Jersey Devils came on January 26, 23 games ago.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.