My apologies for missing last week’s power rankings as I had to deal with some stuff in my personal life, but we’re back this week to look at the North Division as things really start to get tight as we pass the halfway mark for all teams.
1. Winnipeg Jets (17-9-2, 3-2-1) Last Week: #2
Upcoming Games: 03/17 vs MTL, 03/18 at EDM, 03/20 at EDM, 03/22 at VAN
While the Jets have been playing better hockey as of late, the main reason I put them above the Leafs for now is how poorly Toronto has played over the last couple of weeks. Right now the Jets are looking pretty good, but not amazing, however they did manage to grab five of a possible six points in Toronto last week which is impressive. However, they followed it up with a home ice stinker against the Habs, and I think they’ll need a good week now to maintain their #1 position.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (19-9-2, 2-5-0) Last Week: #1
Upcoming Games: 03/19 vs CGY, 03/20 vs CGY
Coming off a frustrating 4-3 loss to Ottawa on Sunday, the Leafs have been sitting at home stewing over a stretch of five losses in six games. Due to this being an unusually quiet stretch in this condensed schedule, the Leafs will be looking to right the ship against Calgary this week as this back to back are the only games they play over the course of ten days. If they lose both, it could be full blown panic in Leafland, if it isn’t already.
3. Montreal Canadiens (13-8-7, 3-2-2) Last Week: #4
Upcoming Games: 03/17 at WPG, 03/19 vs VAN, 03/20 vs VAN, 03/22 vs EDM
Wow that’s a funky looking record. Spots three through five in these rankings are extremely close and I’m not quite ready to move Calgary past either team despite having beaten both of them over the past week. After losing both games in Calgary, the Habs did get a strong victory over Winnipeg and if they can do so again tonight, it will certainly be an impressive feat. They have at least a point in 9 of their last 12 games and have been better but still not great since the coaching change.
4. Edmonton Oilers (18-13-0, 4-3-0) Last Week: #3
Upcoming Games: 03/17 at CGY, 03/18 vs WPG, 03/20 vs WPG, 03/22 at MTL
I’m still not fully bought into the Oilers given that 10 of their 18 wins have come against the bottom two teams in the division, but one thing going for them is that they are certainly taking care of business against those bad teams. Being 7-0-0 against Ottawa can be looked at as their record being “inflated” but on the flip side, they’ve also been perfect against a team they should beat on most nights. Can’t say that about the other teams in the division.
5. Calgary Flames (14-12-3, 4-1-1) Last Week: #6
Upcoming Games: 03/17 vs EDM, 03/19 at TOR, 03/20 at TOR, 03/22 at OTT
Listen, I know we’re a Flames site and should be biased, but I just need to see a bit more from this team before I put them ahead of Montreal or Edmonton, but at least they’re in the conversation now. Consistency has been the issue all year long and that’s why I’m hesitant. I’m a very strong believer in Darryl Sutter and the way this team is trending, but if they can put together one more solid week this week against good teams, then I have no problem moving them further up. They’ve moved from a distant fifth over the last few weeks to at least in the conversation for as high as third.
6. Vancouver Canucks (14-16-2, 5-1-0) Last Week: #7
Upcoming Games: 03/17 at OTT, 03/19 at MTL, 03/20 at MTL, 03/22 vs WPG
The Canucks have been the best team in the division over the last two weeks and have been getting tremendous goaltending from Thatcher Demko over that stretch. They still have a long ways to go, but the Canucks look like they’re at least starting to play up to their potential but the hole they dug may be too deep already. If for the sake of argument Edmonton or Montreal goes .500 the rest of the way, the Canucks will need to win 16 of their final 24 games to catch up. If those teams continue at their current points pace, Vancoouver will need at least 18 wins. Considering they only won 14 of their first 32, it’s a tough ask. Perhaps a good finish will be enough to save the coach and GM their jobs.
7. Ottawa Senators (10-20-2, 2-4-1) Last Week: #6
Upcoming Games: 03/17 vs VAN, 03/22 vs CGY
Well Ottawa, it was fun having you in fifth but now it looks like it’s back to normal. Aside from an impressive home win against the Leafs, there hasn’t been much going the way of Ottawa as of late, but that’s not surprising given what we’ve seen and expected from them this year. At this point they’re just running out the clock for next year while Tim Stutzle potentially makes a run for the Calder. They certainly have good pieces there, but likely won’t be competitive for another year or two. I’m glad the Flames probably won’t be in their division long term.