As a hockey fan above all else, I love to keep up with the NHL and all 31 teams (soon to be 32) and what life is like for all the organizations. I have never really been given a platform to share my weekly thoughts on what is transpiring around the league, and since starting these writeups ten weeks ago, it has kept me involved and honest in my research to stay up to date with the latest.
After taking last week off, the picture has shifted quite substantially in the top ten rankings league-wide. Teams are falling, enduring injuries and/or stoppages that will seemingly affect the entire order.
In the north division, we saw our very first COVID-19 halt in the scheduling for a pair of Canadian squads. After the Montreal Canadiens places two players on the COVID-19 protocols list, the long contact-tracing process forced the NHL to postponed a two-game series between the Habs and Oilers.
"It's even more important to stay on top of things and make sure everybody in our locker room is staying safe and wearing a mask and doing all the things we've been doing."
With 4 games postponed, Habs' COVID-19 issues a concern across the North Divisionhttps://t.co/SQsPUFbUcW
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) March 26, 2021
This put the Leafs and Jets on center stage this week and made the two teams at the top in the north look that much more powerful. Winnipeg handled the Canucks and Flames in three of four victorious games, and the Leafs have a goalie controversy on their hands with this rise of Jack Campbell between the pipes.
In the central, Tampa Bay has dropped two in a row for the first time since dinosaurs were around, and their Florida rival lost their Norris trophy caliber defenceman Aaron Ekblad for what is expected to be a very long time.
The Carolina Hurricanes appear to be the number one team to beat in this division after another victory over the defending champion Lightning, and the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot is also getting tight with Nashville picking up steam.
Looking at the East, all of a sudden Washington is coming in hot, winners of three in. row and 10 of 11 games. Sidney Crosby is leading the Pens without Malkin to a steady rise up the standings, and the Philadelphia Flyers goaltenders are single-handedly ruining the team’s season…
carter hart tonight: pic.twitter.com/eF5OJAmByC
— ✰ava✰ (@goaIcaufield) March 26, 2021
Finally out west, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are getting healthier and the games are getting even better. The two top dogs in the division split a two-game set in Denver over the weekend, as every other team in the division goes through the downs of their campaigns.
NHL Top 10 Rankings – Week 10:
1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 4)
The Avs make the much-expected jump back up into the top spot this week, as they continue to get bodies back from injury, they also continue their potent offensive output.
The big-three upfront of Mackinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog are too much to match up against unless your name is the Golden Knights, and there really isn’t any way this team is going to slow down barring any more injuries.
As long as Phillip Grubauer continues his steady play in the goal, Colorado should end the season quite strong and make their case for the Presidents trophy.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 1)
Tampa takes the drop due to a couple of bad losses this week against Dallas and Carolina. Giving up 2-0 leads in a matter of minutes in both games led to some rare blown games, something we aren’t used to seeing from the champs.
I am sure they will get back on track as they enter a week with the struggling Jackets in their crosshairs, but it may be time to start getting more from Brayden Point on the offensive end.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 2)
Vegas has the best defense in the league and I concluded that in their win over the Avs in OT on Saturday. After getting embarrassed the game before in a 5-1 loss, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore and the rest of their stacked backend took charge and shut down the NHL’s hottest line in a tight win.
Shea Theodore collected his 100th assist with the @GoldenKnights and added his name to the franchise record book as the first defenseman to hit the milestone with the club. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/lITw1MDDLd
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 23, 2021
4. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 5)
The Canes have been very impressive this year especially after going through multiple stoppages and having inconsistencies in the lineup department. Ever since they lost their top point-getter in Vincent Trocheck, Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas have truly overtaken the role of producers.
Accompanied by their underrated defence core, Carolina has a lot of things to look forward to down the stretch once they integrate Trocheck back into the lineup.
5. Washington Capitals (Last Week: Unranked)
Definitely, the team that has taken the biggest leap since the last time I did my power rankings, Washington has been virtually unstoppable over the last 14 days.
Winners in 10 of their last 11, they are getting production from all of their top performers, and the great Alex Ovechkin has also been lighting the lamp. Their powerplay is running at a league-high clip right now, and with Ilya Samsonov back in the mix, the Caps goaltending is not to be worried about.
The first team to 50 points in the East?
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) March 28, 2021
They are currently sitting at number one in the East division and for a team that didn’t get off to the greatest start, they now appear to be running at full throttle under head coach Peter Laviolette.
6. New York Islanders (Last Week: 3)
Although the results haven’t varied much, the loss of their captain Anders Lee is hurting this team. It is evident in the games against top players on the opposition, like Crosby or Ovechkin when the matchup roles play such a big part in the outcome, that Lee is very missed for coach Barry Trotz.
I don’t think the Isles can get written off, but it sure isn’t a good thing to lose one of your best point producers and shutdown centers for the entire year.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 7)
There is a new goalie controversy city in Canada and it ain’t Vancouver!
With Frederik Anderson on the shelf, Jack Campbell has used this extended starters time to propel himself into the full-time starting conversation. The Leafs have won three in a row with Campbell between the pipes and he has recorded 77 saves and a shutout in the process.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: Unranked)
As I mentioned above, Evgeni Malkin is currently out of the Pens lineup but it really hasn’t hurt them one bit. The Pens have benefitted from their games against the lowly Sabres, but also taken down the Bruins and Islanders on route to this newfound success.
— NHL (@NHL) March 28, 2021
9. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 9)
The most underrated team in Canada this year is the Winnipeg Jets. That Pierre-Luc Dubois trade all of a sudden looks like a steal for the Jets, and after pounding the Canucks in back-to-back games flexing their offensive muscles, I love the Jets to be a tough out, come playoff time.
10. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 6)
The B’s are sinking due to their inability to ice an entire roster of NHLers, simple as that. Today they had NINE players on the inactive list for their game against the Devils, including Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand.
Boston remains in the rankings because when healthy, they are competing with Washington, NYI and the Penguins for the East’s top spot.
Evan Power, Evolution 107.9