The Win Column Power Rankings is a weekly feature that will highlight the current rankings of all the NHL teams during that specific week. While their place in the standings will be taken into affect, each team’s’ weekly performances will have the greater effect on how high, or low, they end up ranking.
It’s officially December, which means that Christmas is just a few weeks away and the holiday season is in full effect. This week on the TWC Power Rankings we will be looking at what each team will be putting on their wish list. Could be a player, statistic, or trend that has each team hoping for Santa to bring it before the end of the year. It’s safe to assume that all 31 teams are hoping for the Stanley Cup, but we have to be realistic in our analysis. Teams are still ranked based off of the normal criteria, and not on the specificity of the wish. Before Santa makes his list and checks it twice, enjoy the rankings!
31. Buffalo Sabres
| 6-15-4 | SAME| LW 1-2-0
Wishing for: A defenseman
This may be overtly critical, but the back-end simply isn’t doing enough in Buffalo this season. Rasmus Ristolainen, who missed nine games to injury, still sports the most points out of the group with seven assists. He also has posted the only HDCF% above 50%, most likely due to missing a few lopsided contests. Some of the players have been able to post moderately respectable possession numbers, but the group as a whole still hasn’t contributed a single goal. It would be great if this wish list item could arrive before Christmas, as they need it sooner rather than later.
30. Arizona Coyotes
| 6-18-4 | -1 | Last Week 1-2-1 |
Wishing for: Oliver Ekman-Larsson to stay put.
The Coyotes organization has to be wishing John Chyka doesn’t trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, now or in the future. The return could be substantial, but isn’t a young number one defenseman what every team wants to build around? He holds the best individual CF% at 5v5 on the Coyotes at 51.08% through the dreadful start, and has increased his offensive production the last few games. Please Santa, make him stay in a Coyotes uniform and give him the “C”.
29. Philadelphia Flyers
| 8-10-7 | -2 | LW 0-1-2
Wishing for: Little bit of this, little bit of that.
Flyers fans are clearly wishing the #FireHakstol trend continues, but in reality it’s a combination of many factors that have led to this current nine game losing streak. The goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth have let in a combined 33 goals in the nine games, second highest in the league since that point. With sub-par goaltenting, the team has given up the third highest number of shots during that time at 309 shots. This is not a favourable mix. The penalty kill also ranks third last at a 70.3% success rate. There is more than just one thing the team should be looking for at the moment, perhaps asking Santa to push the reset button would help. A bit more luck going their way and they should see the light soon enough.
28. Ottawa Senators
| 8-9-6 | -5 | LW 0-3-0
Wishing for: Matt Duchene
How is it possible to wish for something you already have? There has been tons of media coverage surrounding this topic for a while now, especially since the Senators have lost seven straight, but there is no denying the significance. The Senators gave up one of their best two way players, perhaps even the best on their team to acquire Duchene, and it hasn’t paid dividends yet. Moving between two completely different coaching styles and systems has to be challenging on a player, but Kyle Turris has found plenty of success in Nashville. The top of the Senators wish list would be for the real Duchene, with a Mark Stone PPG coming in a close second.
27. Detroit Red Wings
| 10-11-5 | -3 | LW 0-2-2
Wishing for: Overtime Goals
The Red Wings have been to the extra frame 7 times this season, posting a 2-5 record during that time. Both wins have come in the shootout, while four of the losses have come during 3 on 3. With a -4 OT goal differential, the Red Wings are missing out on the valuable extra point. With dynamic play-makers in their forward group, you would expect them to have at least scored once. It’s not a priority for a team to focus on the extra frame, but with five missed points so far this season the team is wishing that this doesn’t come back to hurt them.
26. Edmonton Oilers
| 10-14-2 | +2 | LW 2-2-0
Wishing for: Goals
The Oilers haven’t been good this season, and things don’t look to be turning the corner yet, but I think there is cause for some optimism. Edmonton ranks second among teams in both CF% and SCF% at 5v5. They are getting plenty of scoring chances, with 52.8% of them being high danger opportunities. They just aren’t being converted into goals at the moment and really haven’t been all season. It’s wishful thinking to hope that pucks start to fly into the net, and the statistics show that, but there is still cause for concern on whether this season can be saved.
25. Colorado Avalanche
| 12-9-2 | -4 | LW 1-1-1
They’ve used up their holiday wishes
Colorado has already received their wish list this season. Better goaltending? Check. More offensive production? Check. Almost half-way to last years point total through 23 games? You betcha! A generous return on a prolonged Duchene trade? Of course! I would say in comparison to last season, the Avalanche have redeemed all of their holiday wishes during the last calendar year. You are still technically allowed to wish for something, so I guess you could say more magic away from Denver? Can’t be too greedy!
24. Anaheim Ducks
| 11-10-4 | -6 | LW 1-2-1
Wishing for: Possession
The Ducks are still hanging in the playoff hunt, even without the majority of their key players. That being said, based on their advanced statistics, this trend may not continue for much longer. Ranked dead last in SF%, SCF%, and HDCF%, which is not a good look. On top (or bottom) of all that, Anaheim also ranks last in CF%, at 45.7%, which most likely has caused the other categories to be skewed negatively. If they can’t control the puck, they likely won’t have higher success in those offensive metrics. If the Ducks wish for more control over the puck, they may continue to survive until the reinforcements make it back.
23. Carolina Hurricanes
| 10-8-5 | -5 | LW 1-1-1
Wishing for: Shot Conversion
Carolina sits at 17th in the league in GF/GP. Middle of the pack scoring is nothing to be concerned about right? That would be the case if the Canes weren’t leading the league in Shots/GP and SCF%. You would expect that so much offensive production would lead to better results. This 17th ranking is most likely due to the fact that 56.5% of the Hurricanes chances are coming in low danger situations. That being said, getting shots on net is never a bad thing – regardless of their quality. If the Canes can wish for just a tad more shot conversion, it would make all the difference in the world.
22. Florida Panthers
| 10-12-2 | +4 | LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: Less Shots Allowed
We touched on this point before in a previous edition of TWC Power Rankings, and the fact they haven’t altered their course doesn’t bode well. Allowing 35.5 shots per game, the Panthers are giving up too many opportunities. They also are sixth in goals allowed, which means that a high proportion of these shots are finding their way into the back of the net. Bob Boughner’s system will take some time to catch on, but for the moment the Panthers need to get these shot levels down. They sit 26th in the league in blocked shots at 331, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the way you look at it (spoiler, it’s bad). For now, Santa should bring something to turn the shooting tide the other way in Florida.
21. Vancouver Canucks
| 12-10-4 | -6 | LW 1-2-1
Wishing for: A Derek Dorsett front office job
Sometimes there are moments in a season that are bigger than hockey and this is one of them. An absolute pest on the ice, Dorestt was a strong locker room guy and was on pace to destroy his career highs in almost every statistical category. It is tough to see someone’s career cut short due to injury, especially after having fought back to play again. If there is one thing that needs to get done quickly, it’s getting him a job in the Canucks organization. It is what the majority of the league is hoping for after yesterday’s news.
20. Minnesota Wild
| 12-10-3 | +2 | 2-2-0
Wishing for: Less Matt Cullen
It was a great story for the 41 year old to return to his former team this off-season, but it has been less than a storybook tale. Cullen sports one of the worst individual CF% for someone who has played 20+ games, with a 36.5%. It’s clear to see that with his -10 rating this season, that he has been without the puck and getting scored on more often than not. There are others who have had bad possession numbers as well (Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba are a combined -76 Corsi at 5v5), but for a fourth line center it’s becoming a liability for the Wild.
19. Boston Bruins
| 11-8-4 | +6 | LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: Reduced Charlie McAvoy TOI
Before this is misinterpreted, its safe to say that McAvoy has the most impact by a rookie defenceman this season. He leads his rookie class in ice time with 23:42 TOI/GP, which ranks him 26th in the league. This time is to be expected of a top pairing defenseman, but in his rookie season you do not want to burn him him out too quickly. Even Samuel Girard, second in rookie ice time, is nearly a full four minutes less per game in ice time. McAvoy has risen to the challenge so far, but in an 82 game season for a rookie you hope he can still be an impact player near the tail end and potentially even further. It would be wise to wish he spends just a TINY bit less time off the ice, like just a really tiny bit.
18. Montreal Canadiens
| 12-12-3 | +12 | LW 4-0-0
Wishing for: A healthy Carey Price
What a difference a week can make. Since returning from injury, Carey Price has posted a 4-0 record, 1.25GAA, and a 0.960 SV%. Vaulting his team back into the playoff conversation in the East, the difference in the team’s confidence is night and day. There is an argument to be had that his numbers should always be this good based on his history, but its a welcome relief to fans to have him back. Here’s to wishing that he stays there long past the holiday season, as right now they are in a playoff spot but are looking down at teams with more games in hand.
17. Chicago Blackhawks
| 12-9-4 | +2 | LW 2-1-1
Wishing for: Salary cap relief
With the continued pressure to find players to fit their limited budget, the Hawks have been fine this season. They are still as dangerous, but haven’t been able to reach the normal expectations we have for them (which are extremely high). The Hawks have to be ecstatic and petrified at the performance of Alex DeBrincat this season. A potential future star in this league perhaps, but also a potential costly situation in three seasons should his play continue. Lots of time to figure out even more salary cap headaches, but there are ways to alleviate the pressure. Maybe Santa can take one of these massive contracts with him on his way back North?
16. New York Rangers
| 13-10-2 | -4 | LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: Better Road Game Performances
Currently the Rangers have only played 8 out of their 25 games on the road this season, and they own a 3-5-0 record. This ties them for the lowest amount of road wins with the lowly Sabres. Still playing inspired hockey, the Rangers haven’t really gotten the chance to prove themselves on the road. With only six road games during the month of December, most coming in between home games, that is a possible 12 points to jump them back into a playoff position. They have the highest number of home-ice wins this season with 10, so its wishful thinking top hope these records level out.
15. San Jose Sharks
| 13-8-2 | +5 | LW 2-0-1
The goaltending tandem of Jones and Dell are the clear choice if the Jennings was handed out today. Both have been absolutely lights out, leading to the Sharks having a 2.17 GA/GP, the best in the NHL. Their combined 13 wins have kept San Jose in the playoff hunt, extending their Stanley Cup window just a tiny bit longer. In addition to the goaltending, wishing for strong back half from the big name offensive weapons wouldn’t hurt as well. The team has the third highest FF% in the league, which means a high proportion of shots are getting to the net. This leads you to believe the goals will come, and with the same goaltending, this team could be scary.
14. Calgary Flames
| 14-10-1 | -4 | LW 2-2-0
Wishing for: A Bottom Six
The Flames have gotten very little production from their bottom six forward group. Of the 10 players that have occupied a place in the bottom six this season, they sport a combined 24 points in the 25 games played— and that is after five points from the 3rd line last night. It is a virtual night and day comparison when looking at the top six and bottom six forward groups. There has been little consistency in the latter. When the top lines have an off night, there is little to no support from the supporting cast to push this team forward. Kris Versteeg looks to be out for an extended period of time, so everyone in Calgary better be putting potential replacements all over their wish list.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins
|13-10-3 | +1 | LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: A Goaltender
Pittsburgh ranks 2nd last in both GA and GA/GP, and that was before Matt Murray was injured. The Penguins have been bleeding goals all season long, and everyone is hoping Tristan Jarry will right the ship. While a strong prospect, it would be difficult to assume that he can handle the starting gig for a month (maybe). With respectable numbers through four career starts, he may be serviceable, but for safety a goalie should be acquired. The pickings are slim at the moment, so perhaps wishing for Jim Rutherford to conjure up some holiday magic is exactly what is needed.
12. Washington Capitals
| 14-11-1 | -1| LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: Less Penalites
The Capitals have taken 119 penalties this season, 4th in the league, and have been short handed for 285 minutes. With the 22nd ranked PK in the league this season, Washington cannot afford to be shorthanded as much as they have been. This not only benches their offensive superstars for longer periods of time, but will cause them to lose the special teams battle. They are currently sporting a PIM/GP of 10:57, which isn’t the worst in the league, but for a team fighting for a playoff spot there will be plenty of wishes that the discipline increases.
11. Vegas Golden Knights
| 15-8-1 | -2 | LW 2-2-0
Wishing for: An identical first quarter
After winning five straight games, and sitting at the top of the Pacific Division for a little bit, the Knights have lost two straight. With how they have played so far this season, no panic button needs to be pushed on the Vegas Strip. With the combination of strong hockey and emotional backing from the city, the Knights would love to just repeat the first 20- games over four times (besides the goalie carousel). With big decisions coming in the new year, they should really start classifying themselves as a playoff contender or pretender soon so they can enjoy the holidays that much more.
10. Dallas Stars
| 14-10-1 | +3 | LW 3-0-0
Wishing for: 3rd Period Scoring
The Dallas Stars have only scored 17 3rd period goals this season, placing them in a tie for last place. Excluding their three goal comeback against the Flames, that leaves only 14 for the entire season. While they place in the top 10 for both 1st and 2nd period goals, the lack of scoring in crunch time is a tad worrisome. Combined with the fact they let in the most goals in the 3rd period, it is safe to see why some of the games haven’t gone their way. Whether they are losing the lead late, or unable to come back, this is something that I’m sure Ken Hitchcock is wishing improves over time. Of course with his defense first mindset, maybe a lock-down final frame is exactly what he is looking for? Does someone have a copy of his wish list?
9. Los Angeles Kings
| 15-8-3 | +7| LW 3-0-1
Wishing for: A Drew Doughty Extension
A stir was caused this past week when Doughty started talking contract situations, which he does an awfully lot of. This is simply his demeanor as we have seen the past few seasons, but it gets you thinking if this is the perfect time to start wishing for an extension. Doughty is among the top defensemen in the NHL, potentially pushing for the #1 spot. With the Kings being able to re-tool their lineup this season, without losing any key pieces, it would be unwise to trade or let the man walk in the off season. That may seem like common sense, but there is no denying big contract situations can be tricky. This is a guy you need on your team if you want to win, and it’s never too early to start wishing for him. (No Maple Leafs fans, that doesn’t mean you.)
8. New Jersey Devils
|14-6-4 | -3 | LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: GM of the Year Award
Taking a step back from the Devils stellar on ice play to focus on the man in charge: Ray Shero. During his tenure, he has turned Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi, two 2nd’s, and two 3rd’s into Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Marcus Johansson and the recently acquired Sami Vatanen. In addition to stealing Will Butcher and drafting Nico Hischier, Shero has quietly been the most dominant GM in the league. These smart player acquisitions are most likely a strong cause for this seasons surprise outcome, and set the future of this team up nicely as well. While not the most glamorous item on the wish list, an award for their GM is just what this team deserves.
7. Nashville Predators
| 15-7-3 | -3 | LW 2-1-1
Wishing for: Continued FOW%
It is no surprise that the addition of Kyle Turris has boosted the center ice position for the Predators. Since his arrival, the Preds boast the second highest FOW% during that time, and are tied for first for the whole season. Winning face-offs is a blessing in this league, especially if they can get the puck to their dangerous blueline. Wouldn’t be shocked to see this number improve even more over time. With the way the Preds are playing with these FOW% numbers, they are wishing the trend does continue.
6. Winnipeg Jets
| 15-6-4 | +1 | LW 2-1-1
Wishing for: More SOG
The Jets sit in 7th in GF this season at 39, and are tied for last place in SOG. It is impossible to continue that kind of shooting percentage moving forward into the rest of the season. Winnipeg, with so many offensive weapons, should be getting an exponentially higher amount of shots on goal than they currently have. With a +11 goal differential, they are winning the battle at the moment, and it would be easier for this skilled team to increase their GF than to decrease their GA. just imagine if this team was getting even more shots on net per game? Now that would be a holiday treat.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
| 17-9-1 | +1 | LW 3-1-0
The Leafs are currently 2-0 on their Western Conference road trip, and will likely continue their winning ways throughout the holidays. The one thing this team would need from, an outside perspective, is another top defenseman. Cole looks to be available, and is a UFA after this season. It’s not clear if Bozak is being made available, but the organization will most likely move on from the centreman this off season due to the upcoming contracts they must give to their young stars. Pittsburgh is looking for an additional man down the middle, should Evgeni Malkin miss time due to injury. The stars appear to be aligning for this deal to get done, and the two teams have traded before. This would be a win-win for both clubs, so maybe this should be on both of their lists?
4. New York Islanders
| 15-7-2 | +3 | LW 3-0-0
Wishing for: Consistent Goaltending
The Islanders have developed the leagues most potent offense over the last month, but still find themselves struggling to stop the puck. Thomas Griess and Jaroslav Halak, while they have a combined 15 wins, sport lackluster GAA’s and SV%’s. Ranking in the bottom half of the league in both statistical categories is not exactly the kind of net support the team needs moving forward.It’s constantly debated which guy will take the reigns, and it can’t be more true at this moment in time. While the offense can’t be expected to remain at such high production levels, at some point there needs to be consistently strong games from one or both of the men in net.
3. St. Louis Blues
| 17-7-1 | -1 | LW 1-2-0
Wishing for: Good health and good fortune
The early season injury bug was impacting this team to the extent that we questioned their ability to keep up. While not as dreadful as some teams this season (*cough* Anaheim *cough*), the Blues were still hindered by some key injuries. Now that Patrik Berglund has returned from the IR, the Blues are *almost* back to full capacity. With Robby Fabbri not expected to play this season, Zach Sanford out for months, and Magnus Paajarvi nursing a foot injury, we can’t say the team is completely back to the full roster. I would say there is a strong backing for this team to finally achieve some playoff success this season. This team was able to weather the initial injury storm, and I’m sure they could do it again, but they’re still wishing for good tidings this season.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets
| 16-8-1 | +1 | LW 2-1-0
Wishing for: Powerplay Goals
Stop if you’ve heard this before, but the powerplay in Ohio is just brutal. With an 8.8% success rate, and only 6 goals for, it’s unnatural that this team is performing as well as they have been. Even though they have spent the third lowest time on the power play this season (TOI = 117:33), the two teams below them have more than double the amount of PPG. Normally the team that wins the special team battle wins the game, but this isn’t the trend in Columbus. The Blue Jackets are a tad greedy this December, as even though they are playing world class hockey, they are desperately wanting more PPG.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
| 17-6-2 | SAME | LW 1-3-0
Wishing for: The Stanley Cup
Many of the top teams have legitimate shots at the cup this season, we are only allowing for one team to put it on their wish list. A 1-3 week should have them falling out of this spot, as previous rankings have shown, but they are still the best team in the league and will remain #1 on this week’s power rankings. There is still plenty of time left in the season, with the Cup only being awarded in about six months, so this may change over time. With every aspect of Tampa’s game looking to be in-sync, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be optimistic when preparing their list for Santa. The real question is, what team, if any, is going to play the Grinch come playoff time?
What are your thoughts? Disagree? Who else are you thankful for? Sound off in the comments below.
Stats from: Natural Stat Trick