Welcome back, hockey fans, to another week of NHL Power Rankings!
NHL Power Ranking Quick Bits
The Seattle Kraken are one of the biggest stories in the league this season as they have skyrocketed up the standings. They now find themselves catching up to the Vegas Golden Knights and are only four points behind the division lead. The question of sustainability comes into play now, however. Martin Jones, who appeared to be taking over the crease with his stellar play, had an eight-game stretch where he went 6-1-1 with a .947 SV%. In the past three games, that has dropped significantly to an .811 SV%. The team has won all three of those games, but needing to score six or more goals to win is not sustainable.
Has there been any team more streaky than the St. Louis Blues this season? A three-game win streak to start the year. Followed by an eight-game losing streak. Followed by a seven-game win streak. Finally followed by a six-game stretch of five losses broken up only by an overtime win in the middle. It is impossible to get a gauge on the Blues this season.
The hockey world has known for years that the Carolina Hurricanes are an extremely well-built team and they are showing it again this season with their 14-6-5 record. But so far, they are being led by a couple of unexpected players. Martin Necas, after he struggled in his sophomore season in 2021-22, leads the team in scoring with 28 points in 25 games. And with Frederik Andersen injured and Antti Raanta slumping, Pyotr Kochetkov is taking over the Hurricanes’ crease with a team-leading .919 SV% in his nine games played. Looking at the teams that Carolina will have to face come playoff time, seeing the growth of depth options will be a huge contributor to future success.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hot streak, along with their Ontario sibling the Ottawa Senators having a strong week of their own, deserve a bit more looking into in this week’s Power Rankings recap!
Toronto Maple Leafs Hot Streak feat. Mitch Marner
Earlier this season, there was some brief concern over the trajectory the Maple Leafs were on. A 4-4-2 record over their first 10 games was less than ideal for a team expected to compete for the division title. But in the 16 games since, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a hot streak, going 11-1-4 and are comfortably in a divisional playoff spot, even catching up to the Boston Bruins who had a historic start of their own.
There are a few huge factors contributing to the Maple Leafs’ success lately. And that is led by Mitch Marner. The Leafs’ leading scorer, with 31 points in 28 games, is currently on a 19 game point streak, now the longest in franchise history. In a season currently plagued by injuries and players slumping, his consistency and regular offensive contributions are giving the Leafs something they can rely on.
Going into the season, the goaltending tandem the Maple Leafs were going to use was questionable at best. But this experiment seems to be working out quite well. Ilya Samsonov is having by far the best season of his career through his first nine appearances. And most importantly, he has been consistent. Inconsistency and unreliability were two common knocks against him during his time with the Washington Capitals.
And in stories you love to see, Matt Murray, since his return from an early season injury, has been doing as good as he has in any of the last four seasons. So between him and Samsonov, the Maple Leafs appear to have two reliable goalies moving forward, which is huge considering how decimated the roster is due to injuries, particularly on defense.
This brings the last key factor contributing to the Maple Leafs" hot streak right now, being the team’s depth. Toronto is missing four of their top six defenders, and depending on the day those four might be the entire top four. This has thrown some players way farther up the depth chart than anyone would have expected. But these players are answering the call. In the 16 games since the slow start, around when the injuries started piling up, the Leafs have given up just 36 goals and currently sit with 66 goals against on the season. Good for fifth least in the league.
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The Start of the Turnaround for the Ottawa Senators?
The struggles of the Ottawa Senators have been well-documented thus far. They’ve led to head coach D.J. Smith being at the top of the NHL Coaches on the hotseat list. And despite them not being noticeably better in the standings quite yet, they’ve gone 5-5-0 in their last 10, led by a 3-1 record this past week.
The Senators have been inconsistent and just can’t find ways to win games. Despite having above-average shots they have a below-average shooting percentage and find themselves middle of the pack offensively. And even though they have an average save percentage, they give up a lot of shots and find themselves middle of the pack defensively.
Ultimately, they are just an extremely average-performing team that struggles to find ways to win games. But this past weekend, we may have seen what goes down as a key turning point for the season or for the Senators’ rebuild. A game versus the New York Rangers where captain Brady Tkachuk put the team on his back and did basically everything he could to keep the Senators competitive. And it worked.
He is very rapidly developing into even more of a star player than he was before. Leading the Senators in scoring with 29 points in 24 games, Tkachuk is a high-event player of a unique variety who piles on stats in every category and gets involved everywhere on the ice.
We might very well look back on this weekend from Tkachuk as a key turning point for the Senators. It shows that he is developing into a top-tier player and is already one of the most impactful captains in the league.
With those recaps on the Toronto Maple Leafs hot streak and the possibility of a turnaround for the Senators, that wraps up this week’s NHL Power Rankings. Who is ranked too high? Drop a comment down below!
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