• US States

Explore sports news

10 min read

NHL Power Rankings Week 13 Recap – Singing the Blues in St. Louis

Happy New Year, hockey fans, and welcome to the final NHL Power Rankings recap of 2022. With this last recap, let’s take a look at why the St. Louis Blues are struggling this season, and some upcoming potential issues for the Edmonton Oilers as they sort through some injury troubles. But first, a few highlights from around the league.

For the first time since Week 4, there has been a changing of the guard in the number one spot. The Carolina Hurricanes have usurped the Boston Bruins to claim the top position. The Hurricanes went undefeated in their two games this week with both games being shutouts from Antti Raanta. Last week was the warning that the storm surge was coming, and here it is ready to take over the league heading into the new year on the back of a ten game win streak.

Usually by this time of the season, the Buffalo Sabres are down and out of contention. And by mid-November, it looked that that would be the trajectory once again. But with the emergence of Tage Thompson as a star forward and a few strong games from potential future starting goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, the Sabres are in the midst of an eight-game win streak. Although they are still well shy of a playoff spot, this streak has kept them in the conversation.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is an awful week from the Montreal Canadiens. There were no real expectations on the team which is clearly in a rebuilding state. But a winless week, including a 7-2 loss to the Florida Panthers and a 9-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, has sunk them down to nearly the bottom of the NHL Power Rankings. It’s been a difficult stretch for the Habs, there was even a game in which they dressed five rookie defenders against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Struggles of the St. Louis Blues

It’s a bit of a weird sight. The St. Louis Blues struggling, sitting out of a playoff spot as they slowly slide down the NHL Power Rankings. There are glimmers of hope, as the Blues have been quite streaky and gets hot once in a while. But here we are are, after 37 games the Blues have 37 points, a -21 goal differential, and are four points out of a playoff spot with a couple of extra games played. Currently, they are on pace for the franchise’s worst season since 2007-08. Which begs the question, what has happened this season?

The Blues’ offense is in the bottom half of the league, for starters. A stark difference from last season, where they sat fourth with 311 goals. Now, they are on pace for 248. A drop of 63 goals. They are not getting the production they need from some of their most historically reliable veteran players, a group led by Ryan O’Reilly (16 points in 37 games). Beyond that, the depth scoring is lackluster, leading to a situation where the Blues are nearly scoring a goal per game less than last season.

On the defensive side of things, the Blues are struggling mightily. Again, significantly worse than last season. They are on pace to give up about 50 more goals than they did in 2021-22, in part due to having the fourth-worst penalty kill in the league.

Even though this is not generally a useful stat, it is worth noting how poorly most of the Blues’ best players are in the plus/minus category. Jordan Kyrou, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, Torey Krug, O’Reilly, and Colton Parayko are all -14 or worse on the season. So, some of the team’s best players on that list are not producing offensively, and they are all giving up way more even if they are scoring. Combined with the depth players not making up much of the difference, and it is a recipe for disaster.

The Blues are not in good shape for the second half of the season, and it’s in large part due to underperformance from some of their best players, despite those same players having outstanding starts to the NHL season. If they want to turn it around, a change needs to start with O’Reilly.

Edmonton Oilers Injury Woes

The Edmonton Oilers are not known for their depth, so even when they have a full lineup it can sometimes be a bit lacking. Now factor in when they start losing some of their best players to injury and the season could be in jeopardy.

Evander Kane has been out for the past couple of months already, Ryan Murray is out, Philip Broberg has been hurt, Klim Kostin suffered what may be a long-term injury, and Leon Draisaitl is injured with conflicting reports on the severity of his injury. These are all important players in the Oilers’ already shallow lineup, and some of them are even the players meant to replace other injured players.

Luckily, so far, all of the players are expected to return by or around the trade deadline. But that is still a lot of games away.

As the Oilers have very little cap space, trading is not really an option, though there are some targets that would make sense and help the team succeed. This means it comes up to the players on the roster to band together and find a way to win games. A good place to start is to learn how to shut things down defensively. Edmonton is one of the worst teams defensively, giving up the tenth most goals against thus far.

Now that Stuart Skinner has taken over the crease and is providing reliable goaltending, the Oilers need to continue improving defensively in order to stay competitive. If they’re missing two of their best offensive players, outscoring their problems is no longer going to be an option. They must find ways to stop the problems at their source, poor defensive play.

That wraps things up for this week’s NHL Power Rankings, click the link to see the full list. Who is ranked too high? Drop a comment down below!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

264 days ago
Rangers don’t make the playoffs with Buch. Now. St. Louis have our headache, no heart = no cup
0 replies
Hide replies

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest sports news, exclusive stories, and updates. Stay Up-to-Date!