NHL Power Rankings: Bruins, Wild peaking at right time

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild continue to inch their way closer to the league’s elite thanks to their great play in recent weeks. While they may not be on the same level as Colorado, Florida, or Carolina in terms of overall record for the season, they are definitely starting to hit their stride at the right time.

The Bruins have been one of the hottest teams in the league for more than a month now and are shaping up to be a brutal opening round matchup for one of the division winners in the Eastern Conference.

In the West, the Wild have been on a 9-0-1 run over their past 10 games and have received a boost from Marc-Andre Fleury who is 3-0 with a .958 save percentage in his first three appearance with the team. Do not sleep on these two as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach.

We look at those teams and more in this week’s rankings.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Colorado Avalanche (Last week: 1). Just a total buzzsaw of a hockey team. Expectations will rightfully be through the roof. Anything less than the conference finals would be a massive, massive disappointment.

2. Florida Panthers (LW: 2). The best offense we have seen in the NHL in nearly 30 years. They can embarrass anybody on any given night.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 3). So good, so deep, so well rounded, and still such a young team. With the goaltending moves paying off there is no obvious weakness to exploit here.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 5). Steven Stamkos is still a beast, and they are still a serious contender.

5. Boston Bruins (LW: 6). They are 16-3-1 in their past 20 games. Starting to peak and hit their stride at the right time. Not a team you want to play in a best-of-seven series right now.

6. Minnesota Wild (LW: 9). Marc-Andre Fleury is off to a fantastic start here. This could make them scary.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 10). Just need to hope that goaltending situation is okay. That is a game-changer that could go either way.

[Related: Marner, Gaudreau, Crosby and the top scorers of 2022 so far]

8. Calgary Flames (LW: 4). They have cooled off a little bit over the past two weeks, but that defensive play, that goaltending, and that top line should still make them a fierce playoff opponent.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 7). Jason Zucker‘s injury could be a pretty big deal given how much they are hoping for him to round out their second line with Evgeni Malkin and new trade deadline acquisition Rickard Rakell.

10. New York Rangers (LW: 8). This is Igor Shesterkin‘s most significant slump of the season. This is not the right time of the year for that.

11. St. Louis Blues (LW: 14). They already have six 20-goal scorers this season. Incredibly deep offensive team.

12. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 16). Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both over 100 points again (already) and the team itself looks dramatically better after the coaching change. Still some concerns on the back end and in goal.

13. Dallas Stars (LW: 15). Jason Robertson is becoming a star (no pun intended) here. A fantastic player that deserves more attention.

14. Washington Capitals (LW: 11). Vitek Vanecek‘s play has not been good since they did not address goaltending at the trade deadline. Not good.

15. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 17). Just when it looked like their season was probably finished they won five in a row and seven out of nine games. A healthy Golden Knights team in the playoffs will be a problem.

16. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 13). Can not say enough good things about the acquisitions of Philip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson. Huge pickups that really transformed this team in the short term.

17. Nashville Predators (LW: 15). They have never had a 40-goal scorer in their entire existence, and they might have two (Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene) this season.

[Related: Josi, Shesterkin and the top goalies and defensemen in the NHL]

18. New York Islanders (LW: 19). Do not be surprised if they are back in the playoffs next season.

19. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 18). The thing to watch for here is if Kyle Connor can reach the 50-goal mark this season.

20. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 20). They really need a bounce back season from Elvis Merzlikins next season.

21. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 23). Is Tage Thompson a late-bloomer or is he just the guy that gets the most ice time and scores all of the goals on a bad team? If it is the former that would be a very positive development for the Sabres.

22. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 21). It is not going to result in a playoff spot but they really do look better under Bruce Boudreau. That should get him a new contract extension.

[Related: Canucks turnaround should lead to Boudreau extension]

23. San Jose Sharks (LW: 22). They just seemed destined to be stuck in mediocrity for a while.

24. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 24). Cole Caufield might still end the season with 20 goals, which would be amazing given the way he started.

25. Ottawa Senators (LW: 30). Their jump has more to do with what everybody else has done lately.

26. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 26). Such a promising start to the season followed by such a disappointing finish. Still some great pieces in place.

27. New Jersey Devils (LW: 27). Goaltending should be at the top of their offseason to-do list.

28. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 25). Trevor Zegras should not have to defend himself or fight for being talented and skilled.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 29). Nothing wrong with the way they handled Keith Yandle‘s streak. It was time. He has had a great career, the streak is impressive, but it was time for it to end.

30. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 28). Jonathan Toews deflecting a puck into his own net in overtime, against the worst team in the league, on the night they honored him for playing in 1,000 games is a perfect result for this season.

31. Seattle Kraken (LW: 31). Matt Duchene (likely 40-goal scorer) and Vladimir Tarasenko (59 points in 61 games) were both available to them in the expansion draft. Whoops.

32. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 32). Clayton Keller has been the big positive for this team this season, and then his season ended in a brutal way. That stinks.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.