In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at two of the bigger surprise teams in the league this season in the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators.
About halfway through the 2020-21 season we were looking at the Predators as a team that was on the verge of needing a major rebuild and maybe having some lean years ahead of them. They had won just 11 of their first 28 games, seemed to have hit their ceiling with the current core, and looked to be a team going nowhere.
Then Juuse Saros took over in goal and almost single handedly dragged them to a playoff spot.
They are positioning themselves for another playoff run this season and are currently on a five-game winning streak that has helped propel them up this weeks power rankings. Saros has been great once again, but they are also getting huge bounceback seasons from Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Johansen to help drive the offense.
Meanwhile, in Anaheim, the Ducks have at least one point in seven of their past eight games and maintain a playoff spot in the Pacific Division thanks to a huge year from John Gibson in goal and an unexpected breakout season from Troy Terry.
We take a look at all of that and more in this week’s rankings.
Where does your team rank?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Florida Panthers (LW: 1). They did lose a tough game to Colorado on Sunday but they still have the league’s best record by points percentage (.741) and did not really do anything to be overtaken from the top spot.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 10). Nice rebound week for them winning four games in a row before a tough loss in Vancouver on Sunday (without the services of Sebastian Aho).
3. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 7). If you are looking at their overall record and asking “Third? Really?” You are missing the fact they are 12-2-1 in their past 15 games and have by far the NHL’s best offense despite a significant injury list this season to their best players.
4. Minnesota Wild (LW: 3). The contender people are paying the least attention to right now.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 6). Setting the stage for another playoff run with their superstars healthy.
6. Washington Capitals (LW: 5). There are still not enough adjectives to describe what Alex Ovechkin is doing this season.
7. New York Rangers (LW: 2). Not a great week with two losses and a tight win against Buffalo (with the aid of a blown call that the NHL admitted to) but they are still in a really good position here.
[Related: Rangers have positioned themselves as contenders]
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 4). After being a great defensive team for the first quarter of the season they have allowed at least four goals in five consecutive games. Just a small little slump or something to keep an eye on?
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 14). Even with all of the injuries this season they enter the week on a 100-point pace for this season.
10. Nashville Predators (LW: 20). Is Juuse Saros going to drag this team to a playoff spot again?
11. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 12). Once they got their top players back the wins started to return.
12. Boston Bruins (LW: 13). That recent problem of a lack of secondary scoring is still lurking.
13. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 18). Even when they lose recently they are still collecting points and being competitive. Troy Terry remains one of the most improbable success stories in the league this season. Where did this come from?
14. St. Louis Blues (LW: 17). The injuries are really piling up here but they are hanging in. Bet they are glad they held on to Vladimir Tarasenko.
15. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 15). Kyle Connor has turned into quite the offensive star for the Jets. Best non-goalie on the team.
16. Dallas Stars (LW: 11). They have lost three games in a row and have a really tough stretch of Central Division matchups ahead. Big week for them.
[Related: Stars announce Ben Bishop’s career is over]
17. Calgary Flames (LW: 8). They have lost four games in a row and are now set to have the next few games postponed.
18. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 9). All of the flaws and questions that have been there for years are starting to show again. That is not good. They need some major fixes in some major areas.
19. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 16). Is this a playoff team this season? Probably not. But nobody expected them to be. Staying in the race and being competitive will be a big step. Next season, though, the pressure might be on a little more.
20. San Jose Sharks (LW: 21). After being their Achilles heel for a few years goaltending is a big part of what is keeping this Sharks team in the playoff race this season.
21. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 26). Jonathan Quick‘s turnaround is not something I saw happening this season.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 19). If they can get another goalie other than Elvis Merzlikins to contribute and get a healthy Patrik Laine back at some point maybe they can shock everybody. They are already exceeding expectations to a degree.
23. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 30). It might be too little, too late, but maybe Bruce Boudreau is what this team needed.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 25). Every year this team either has a crazy long winning streak or a crazy long losing streak that makes or breaks their season. This season it is the latter.
25. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 24). They are playing much better defensively since the coaching change. The offense is still a mess.
[Related: Fleury’s latest milestone strengthens Hall of Fame resume]
26. New York Islanders (LW: 28). This team is just absolutely desperate for offense.
27. Ottawa Senators (LW: 29). Absolutely wild stretch here with wins in four of their past five games, with three of those wins coming against Carolina, Colorado, and Tampa Bay.
28. New Jersey Devils (LW: 23). Really expected more from this team this season. Yeah, the Jack Hughes injury hurt. But things are not really much better since his return.
29. Seattle Kraken (LW: 22). Looked like they were going to maybe start turning things around and then a couple of ugly losses put them right back down near the bottom of the league.
30. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 27). How do you even begin to fix this? They have missed the playoffs for a decade and still look to be years — YEARS — away from getting back there.
31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 32). They are simply doing what everybody expected them to do this season.
32. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 31). The most disappointing thing about this team is it tried to be good. This is just the result.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.