The Dallas Stars had the best record in the NHL for the first three months of the season.
It appeared a new power had emerged in the Western Conference after Dallas’ hot start, but three wins through 11 games in January dropped the Stars below the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, raising some concerns over their legitimacy as a top Stanley Cup contender.
February has been much better for the Stars. They’re 6-1-1 with wins over the two best teams in the league, the Washington Capitals and the Blackhawks. Dallas also has the fifth-best possession numbers (55.6 Corsi percentage) this month.
The Stars should take an “all-in” approach leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline. They are built for the long haul with several really talented young players, but they also have as good a chance as any team to win the Cup right now.
Here are this week’s NHL power rankings. All records current as of Feb. 17.
1. Washington Capitals (41-10-4, Last week: 1): Washington still has the league’s best record and goal differential. In fact, the Capitals are on pace for the fourth-most points in league history.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (37-18-5, Last week: 2): You’re never going to believe this: Chicago will play the Minnesota Wild in an outdoor game Sunday.
3. Dallas Stars (37-15-6, Last week: 4): Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin rank second and tied for third, respectively, in the NHL scoring race.
4. St. Louis Blues (33-17-9, Last week: 6): The Blues are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and own a three-game win streak. They still need some help on the blue line entering the trade deadline after No. 1 defenseman Alex Pietrangelo recently was put on injured reserve.
5. Los Angeles Kings (33-20-3, Last week: 3): After defeating the Bruins 9-2 on Feb. 9, the Kings have lost three of their last four games.
6. Florida Panthers (33-18-6, Last week: 5): The Panthers have righted the ship with a 6-3-1 mark in their last 10, which has helped them maintain their lead atop the Atlantic Division. On an unrelated note, Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr received a sweet 44th birthday cake earlier in the week.
7. Anaheim Ducks (29-19-8, Last week: 10): Anaheim has won three in a row and eight of its last 10. First place in the Pacific now is an attainable target for the Ducks given the Kings’ recent struggles.
8. Boston Bruins (31-20-6, Last week: 13): B’s winger Loui Eriksson’s overtime goal in a 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night put him at the 20-goal mark for the sixth time in his career. His value is increasing as the trade deadline approaches.
9. New York Rangers (32-18-6, Last week: 12): The Rangers rank 26th both in penalty killing and power-play percentage, but they rank third in 5-on-5 goals scored with 116.
10. New York Islanders (30-19-6, Last week: 8): The Islanders hold a slim one-point lead over the Devils and a two-point edge on the Penguins for the third and final playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (28-19-8, Last week: 9): Pittsburgh has the best adjusted possession numbers in the league over the last 25 games. The Pens have a 51.7 Corsi percentage on the season, which ranks ninth.
12. Detroit Red Wings (29-19-9, Last week: 11): Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek entered Sunday’s game against the Bruins with the league’s best save percentage and then proceeded to allow five goals. The 23-year-old is having an excellent season — his first as the full-time starter — but let’s not assume he’s going to play at his current pace the entire campaign and through the playoffs.
13. New Jersey Devils (29-22-7, Last week: 14): The Devils, who’ve won three of their last four games, need to add some depth to their forward group before the trade deadline. New Jersey ranks 30th in goals scored per game and No. 1 in GAA.
14. San Jose Sharks (30-20-5), Last week: 15): San Jose has won back-to-back games, six of its last 10 and has earned points from eight of the last 10.
15. Tampa Bay Lightning (30-22-4, Last week: 7): Steve Yzerman issued a statement saying he will not trade captain and pending UFA Steven Stamkos before the trade deadline. What we don’t know is if this was Yzerman’s decision or Stamkos is refusing to waive the no-movement clause in his contract.
16. Nashville Predators (26-21-10, Last week: 16): Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has a .902 save percentage, which would tie the worst mark in a single season for his career.
17. Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-10, Last week: 17): Back-to-back wins and six victories in the last 10 games has kept the Hurricanes in the race for a wild-card playoff spot. Carolina has accumulated the third-most points in the league since Dec. 5.
18. Minnesota Wild (24-22-10, Last week: 19): The Wild fired head coach Mike Yeo after losing to the Bruins on Saturday, and the team responded by winning its next game. There’s still lots of work left for Minnesota, a team that should be in the playoffs but currently sits outside a wild-card berth by four points.
19. Montreal Canadiens (27-26-4, Last week: 20): Ouch.
20. Colorado Avalanche (29-26-4, Last week: 18): The Avs have been hammered in puck possession with a 36.1 Corsi percentage in February, which is by far the worst in the league.
21. Philadelphia Flyers (25-21-10, Last week: 22): Here’s one bright spot during an otherwise disappointing season in Philly:
22. Ottawa Senators (26-26-6, Last week: 21): Sens defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the league with 52 assists and ranks tied for third in scoring with 63 points. He’s the overwhelming favorite to win the Norris Trophy again.
23. Arizona Coyotes (26-24-6, Last week: 25): The Ducks and Sharks are pulling away from the Coyotes, who now trail third place in the Pacific by seven points.
24. Vancouver Canucks (22-22-12, Last week: 23): Vancouver is 3-5-2 in the last 10 games and should start to think about selling at the deadline to ignite its rebuild.
25. Winnipeg Jets (24-26-3, Last week: 24): The Jets have the third-best possession numbers in February, but they’re shooting just 6.8 percent, which ranks 24th in the league over that span.
26. Calgary Flames (25-28-3, Last week: 26): Calgary ranks 27th in GAA, 29th in power-play percentage and 30th in penalty killing. That’s a recipe for being near the bottom of the league standings.
27. Buffalo Sabres (23-28-7, Last week: 27): The Sabres have zero regulation losses in their last eight games against Atlantic Division teams.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (23-28-7, Last week: 28): The Blue Jackets aren’t very good, but they make you earn every goal. Columbus’ hard work has started to be rewarded, too, evidenced by its 6-1-3 record in the last 10 games.
29. Edmonton Oilers (22-30-6, Last week: 29): Connor McDavid’s 1.20 points per game should vault him into the Calder Trophy race despite missing a lot of games with an injury earlier this season. He’s been the most impressive rookie so far.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (20-26-9, Last week: 30): The Leafs have a ton of salary on injured reserve right now, resulting in their active roster salary cap payroll being under $40 million on most nights.
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images