Somehow we’re already into March and we’d be talking about the trade deadline in a normal season, but instead teams are approaching the halfway marks of the 56 game regular season with things starting to settle in the North Division. Here’s a look at the power rankings for this week.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-4-2, 3-0-0) Last Week: #1
Upcoming Games: 03/03 at EDM, 03/04 at VAN, 03/06 at VAN, 03/09 vs WPG
If there was any worry or doubt last week about the Leafs maintaining their #1 ranking, it has been swiftly dealt with thanks to a trio of victories including a pair of road shutout wins against Edmonton who had been pushing them for 1st. Oh yeah, and the Leafs won all three games this week without Frederik Andersen who was out with an injury, but is returning tonight. This team is a powerhouse right now, but we’ll see if that matters in the first round of the playoffs.
2. Winnipeg Jets (14-7-1, 3-1-0) Last Week: #3
Upcoming Games: 03/04 at MTL, 03/06 at MTL, 03/09 at TOR
It was a really solid week for the Jets, picking up three wins in four home games and have now won five of their past six in total. Good on the Jets for making hay at home while they could as they now embark on a five game Eastern road trip which kicks off a stretch of 12 of their next 14 games on the road. Winnipeg has done a good job working themselves away from the playoff cut line, but they’ll need to be a really good road team this month to avoid falling back down.
3. Edmonton Oilers (14-10-0, 1-2-0) Last Week: #2
Upcoming Games: 03/03 vs TOR, 03/06 vs CGY, 03/08 vs OTT
The Oilers had a hard crash back to reality with back to back shutout losses to the Leafs which snapped their five game winning streak. I’m not going to bump them too far down the list because a lot of teams in this division have lost to Toronto this year, but it’s something to watch to see if they can rebound over the final five games of their current homestand.
4. Montreal Canadiens (10-6-5, 1-1-1) Last Week: #4
Upcoming Games: 03/04 vs WPG, 03/06 vs WPG, 03/08 at VAN
Lots of questions still surround Montreal after their coaching change last week, which included the surprise firing of their goaltending coach yesterday as well. They seem to be treading water right now, which is all they need to do compared to the three teams below them, we’ll see how they perform over the next few weeks as things settle.
5. Ottawa Senators (8-16-1, 2-2-0) Last Week: #6
Upcoming Games: 03/04 at CGY, 03/07 at CGY, 03/08 at EDM
Ottawa climbs out of the bottom two spots for the first time since Week 1! The Senators spanked Calgary in two of three home games in their matchup last week before losing a 3-1 game to Montreal on Tuesday night. They head west for a five game swing with two more against Calgary and then three in Edmonton. While they almost definitely won’t end up back in the playoff conversation, they are certainly playing better hockey and can’t be taken lightly in this division anymore.
6. Calgary Flames (10-11-2, 1-2-1) Last Week: #5
Upcoming Games: 03/04 vs OTT, 03/06 at EDM, 03/07 vs OTT
I know it may be surprising for some to see Ottawa ahead of the Flames based on the entire season so far, but recently there’s no doubt in my mind that Ottawa is a team playing better and with more momentum than the Flames. Things are just a mess right now with Calgary and they can’t really seem to carry anything over game-to-game. On the bright side it looks like Jacob Markstrom will be back this week which might be the only thing that saves them from being 7th in the power rankings at this point.
7. Vancouver Canucks (9-15-2, 1-2-0) Last Week: #7
Upcoming Games: 03/04 vs TOR, 03/06 vs TOR, 03/08 vs MTL
The Canucks surrounded a rather impressive 4-0 victory over the Jets with not as impressive three goal losses on both sides. Vancouver will surpass the halfway mark of their season this week and haven’t made any ground up in getting back into the playoff conversation. At this point they will likely have to win 21 of their final 30 games, if not more to make the playoffs which will be a tough ask for this group.